If you’re looking to make a difference by donating some time to those in need, but aren’t sure exactly HOW you want to spend your time, we offer the following suggestions from Points of Light and  Corporation for National and Community Service.  We hope these will help you develop your selection criteria as you begin to search our site for specific volunteer opportunities.


Meaningful action begins with passion. When you know what issues are important to you, action is a natural result; you will be driven to act on your passion and convince others to join you.

You can be passionate about a huge global issue, such as HIV/AIDS, or about something closer to home, such as the neglected state of the playground in your neighborhood. The important thing is to know what fires your passion—and then figure out how to use that to change our world.

  • What issues make you stop and think?
  • What news stories make you want to DO something?
  • When you walk or drive through your community, do you see the effects of poverty?
  • Are the rivers and streams polluted?
  • Have you, a friend or a family member been personally affected by a disease?


Take some time to get to know your community. Then figure out how your passion fits into what you see. Make sure what you want to do is truly needed by the community. For example, you might be passionate about homeless pets and you want to paint the outside of the local animal shelter. However, a little research might reveal that the shelter has a population of 75 animals but can only feed 50. How might this change your project plans?

How do you make sure that you’re dedicating yourself (and your supporters) to the most productive and effective activities related to your passion? Easy: Ask the community!

  • Find out all you can about the issue in the community where you are serving.
  • Talk to the people who live there.
  • Visit your local volunteer center or other community agencies that are already working around your issue of interest.
  • Search the internet for information about the issue in your community, such as statistics or trends over the past few years.

The important thing is to focus on the community’s actual needs, not just on what you think they want or need. By working together with community members, you will build community awareness and help ensure community buy-in and support for your campaign activities.

Reprinted Courtesy of Point of Light Foundation.

Points of Light logo

600 Means St NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
Tel: 404-979-2900

Fax: 404-979-2901
Email: info@pointsoflight.org

CNCS additional help - 12 easy ways to volunteer