(credit: Animal Haven)

From volunteer matching apps, to sharing your artistic skills, here are some of our favorite ways you can donate your time to others and make a difference in your community. By Carly Petrone.

(credit: DEED)



DEED makes it easy to volunteer in your neighborhood with a press of a button. All you have to do is sign into their on-demand app, choose your location, and local charities will start popping up in your feed to let you know how you can help. It’ll also tell you if any of your mutual friends have volunteered and you can refine your search by time, day, and borough.

(credit: Big Reuse)

Big Reuse

More: NYC Botanical Gardens Guide

Let Big Reuse help you compost your scraps! Their NYC Compost Project is part of a community-scale composting network that works to rebuild our soils by providing NYC residents with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities they need to produce and use compost locally. There are more than 14 drop-off sites where you can bring your food scraps, which will then be composted at their processing site under the Queensboro Bridge in LIC. You can even request the finished compost to help improve the soil in your neighborhood. Learn more here.

(credit: Animal Haven)

Animal Haven

More: NYC Animal Adoption Guide

If you’re an animal lover, then sign up to volunteer at Animal Haven. Your help is vital to keeping this furry family in order, and you can do everything from dog walking, to feeding to greeting guests, and bathing animals. Get even more involved with the entire adoption process by assisting with potential adopters or speaking to the public about Animal Haven’s mission. The minimum commitment is a standing 2-hour shift each week for at least six months and volunteers are required to make a $30 donation, which covers the cost of your volunteer t-shirt, online scheduling, training and application processing. Learn more here.

Ciara is one of many dogs that could use a good human. (courtesy: ASPCA)

Animal Care and Control of NYC

Locations in all five boroughs
Call 311 for more information.

American Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

424 E. 92nd St. NYC 10128
(212) 876-7700

Animal Care and Control needs people to walk dogs, play with cats and clean cages as well as perform administrative tasks. Interested in animal activism? Start your own neighborhood watch program and spot stray animals with tips from the ASPCA. Or use Petfinder.com to get in touch with animal rescue organizations.

(credit: Art Start)

Art Start

More: NYC Arts and Crafts Guide 

Do you have a creative streak that you want to share with others? Volunteer your time at Art Start and mentor an underserved child (ages 5-21) whose dreams surpass their immediate circumstance. Art Start workshops take place on weeknight evenings between 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. and most workshops are 1.5 hours long. Subjects range from visual arts, dance and music. to photography, gardening, and music recording. Volunteers must commit to a full three-month “session,” one night per week, with no more than two absences. If you’re in Bushwick, Brooklyn, South Bronx, or Harlem, this creative outlet will not only change your mentee’s life but yours, too.

(credit: Ali Forney Center)

The Ali Forney Center

More: Local LGBTQ Resources 

There are plenty of ways to help out LGBTQ youth at the Ali Forney Center. Whether you want to take part in meal prep, counseling services, fundraising, administrative assistance, or tutoring, there’s tons of opportunity to reach out to today’s young homeless population. Most commitments are for at least three months and require a background check, an in-person interview, and a two-hour “Standard of Care” training workshop. Help save the lives by empowering LGBTQ young people with the tools they need to live independently.

(courtesy: NYCService)

NYC Service


Volunteering at the community level can make a big impact on a lot of lives. With NYC Service’s website, search by zip code or area of interest to find opportunities right in your own neighborhood. Whether it’s planting trees in parks, teaching yoga to seniors or tutoring children, this site has hundreds listings and is updated daily.

(courtesy: New York Cares)

New York Cares


Want to inspire your children to be better citizens? New York Cares has volunteer opportunities for teens as well as entire families. Whether you only want to donate to their holiday coat drive or teach children financial literacy, this organization finds the best opportunity for you.

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Carly Petrone is the founder of Petrone on the Rocks, a lifestyle site about food, drinks, beauty, travel, and more. She lives in New York City.

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