15 International Volunteer Day Ideas for Work

By: | Updated: October 12, 2022

Here is our list of the best International Volunteer Day ideas.

International Volunteer Day ideas are activities you and your team can complete to give back to the community on December 5th. For example, hosting a fundraiser, organizing a clothing drive, or working at a soup kitchen. The purpose of these activities is to honor International Volunteer Day through acts of service.

Ways to celebrate the occasion include group volunteering, online community service, virtual fundraising, and charity team building.

This list includes:

  • International Volunteer Day event ideas
  • International Volunteer Day project ideas
  • International Volunteer Day activities
  • International Volunteer Day quotes

Let’s get to it!

List of International Volunteer Day ideas

International Volunteer Day, typically recognized each year on December 5, is an opportunity to give back to your local community. Here are different ideas for International Volunteer Day that you and your team can participate in together.

1. Get your team motivated with inspirational quotes

To get your team in a positive mindset, we recommend asking each member to share their favorite International Volunteer Day quotes.

A few examples:

  • “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew
  • “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou
  • “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Audrey Hepburn
  • “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” – Winston Churchill
  • “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” – Muhammad Ali
  • “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” – Kofi Annan
  • “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck
  • “Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.” – Albert Schweitzer
  • “A true healer is not the one with magical powers, but the one who does everything in their power to help those in need.” – Abhijit Naskar
  • “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” – Sherry Anderson
  • “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa
  • “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
  • “Even if you just change one life, you’ve changed the world forever.” – Mike Satterfield
  • “Volunteerism is the voice of the people put into action. These actions shape and mold the present into a future of which we can all be proud.” – Helen Dyer
  • “Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” – Robert Kennedy
  • “Helping others is the way we help ourselves.” – Oprah Winfrey

Inspirational quotes about helping others are a great motivation booster. Sharing these quotes is also one of the best ways to get folks excited to give back on International Volunteer Day.

Similarly, here are quotes about teamwork.

2. Volunteer at a soup kitchen

If you are looking for International Volunteer Day activities that will give your team a change of scenery, then we recommend volunteering at a local soup kitchen. Working in a soup kitchen requires teamwork and cooperation, making it an ideal team building exercise.

In a soup kitchen, team members cook and serve food to those in need. Bringing your team to a community kitchen is a great way to give back while building team morale.

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3. Host a fundraiser

One of the best hands-on International Volunteer Day project ideas is hosting a fundraiser. There are many types of fundraisers you can host at work, such as:

  • Selling chocolate bars
  • Holding a bake sale
  • Hosting a charity gala
  • Organizing a “Tricky Tray”
  • Hosting a silent auction
  • Putting together a community carnival
  • Organizing a team car wash
  • Planning a charity golf tournament
  • Selling seasonal gifts and decor

Before hosting your office fundraiser, we recommend choosing a nonprofit organization where you can donate any proceeds. For example, you can support St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, a nonprofit that funds childhood cancer research and treatment.

Choosing the nonprofit as a team is best so you can pick a cause that appeals to most team members.

4. Write letters to nursing home residents

Elderly folks living in nursing homes may get lonely, especially around the holiday season. We recommend writing letters to nursing home residents for International Volunteer Day.

Here are a few ideas for what to include in your letter:

  • Friendly introductions
  • Words of encouragement
  • Warm holiday messages
  • Positive affirmations

Sending letters to residents of nursing homes is one of the best International Volunteer Day project ideas that members of your team are sure to enjoy. This project is not time-consuming and is doable without much interruption to the work day.

For inspiration, here is a list of motivational quotes.

5. Offer career advice to students in need

Your team most likely consists of professionals who have been in the workforce for years. Therefore, it can be a good idea to have these team members volunteer by sharing their knowledge with early-in-career talent.

Here are a few starting points on the type of advice to share with students:

  • Resume and cover letter tips
  • Tips for job interviews
  • Insights into specific job fields and industries
  • Ways to get an entry-level job or internship
  • Answers to common interview questions

Since students in need may not readily have this type of support, volunteering your time and advice is an honorable activity.

6. Collect canned goods for a local homeless shelter

If you are looking for a classic volunteer activity ideal for the office, then consider holding a canned food drive. To organize this volunteer event, you should print out a list of canned goods for employees to donate.

For example:

  • Soup
  • Pasta
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned fruits
  • Beans

Once you have collected donations, choose a charity to donate all the items to, such as a local homeless shelter or food bank.

The best part about this volunteer activity is the ease of organizing a food drive in the office. Simply set a deadline and ask employees to bring in their donations before that timeframe, making it a simple International Volunteer Day activity.

7. Organize a clothing drive

An outstanding International Volunteer Day idea for the winter is to hold a clothing drive. As part of this activity, you can purchase gloves, hats, and warm socks for donation. Folks may have clothes they have outgrown or no longer use, and a clothing drive is also a great way to get rid of unwanted clothes.

Here are a few items you can donate for a clothing drive:

  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Coats
  • Skirts
  • Shoes
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Scarves

In the winter months, staying warm is crucial to survival. Unfortunately, the homeless population often faces difficulties during the harsh cold as they cannot stay warm. Holding a clothing drive and donating the items to a local homeless shelter is a great way to get your entire team involved in supporting a meaningful cause.

8. Hold a toy drive

Collecting toys for children in need is a great way to get into a positive spirit while giving back. To organize this event for International Volunteer Day, choose a deadline by which employees should bring in their toy donations.

We recommend collecting toys for a broad range of age groups. For example, younger children may appreciate stuffed animals, whereas older children and pre-teens might love board games.

Once you have collected enough toys, you should choose a nonprofit organization to receive the donation. If there are children’s hospitals or underfunded schools in your area, then these are ideal places to receive donations.

9. Conduct pro-bono work

Conducting pro-bono work is a great way to get more employees to participate in your volunteer activity. Pro-bono is a Latin word that means “for the public good.” For this volunteer event, offer your services free to underfunded organizations or populations.

For example, you can host mock interviews and a resume workshop if your team works in recruitment. These pro-bono events will help underrepresented communities prepare for their job hunt by sharpening their resume and interview skills. Or, if you run a marketing team, then have employees pen a few blog posts for a local organization.

The best way to conduct these activities is by having your recruitment experts volunteer to share their insider tips and tricks with attendees.

10. Run a company 5K marathon

If your team consists of athletes and fitness enthusiasts, then one of the best International Volunteer Day event ideas for you is a 5K charity run.

To successfully conduct a 5K fundraising campaign, first, put together a list of runners willing to participate. Then, each runner collects pledges from folks willing to donate money for each mile run.

The organizer should then send pooled funds to a nonprofit organization the company chooses to support.

11. Assemble care packages

One of the best hands-on International Volunteer Day activities is putting together care packages for deployed troops. Service members on missions far from home may become homesick. Sending care packages is a great way to show troops they are appreciated and honored at home.

Example items:

  • Socks
  • Undergarments
  • Toiletries
  • Snacks
  • Playing cards
  • Books

To conduct this activity, schedule some time in the office to assemble care packages with these essentials. We recommend setting up a station where team members can create the packages together. To enhance the experience, you can also play music in the background and provide light snacks and refreshments for volunteers.

Putting together care packages is a great volunteer activity for work because it promotes team building as you positively impact the military community.

Check out more care package ideas.

12. Host a blood drive

One of the most popular International Volunteer Day event ideas is hosting a blood drive. During a blood drive, folks volunteer to donate their blood for a good cause.

There are many benefits of donating blood. For instance, your donation could help a cancer patient or surgery patient who may need an urgent blood transfusion. Whether you have a universal or rare blood type, your donation will make a difference.

Donating blood is an incredibly impactful volunteer activity. In fact, just one donation of blood can save up to three lives. If you have hesitant employees, remind teammates of how beneficial it is to donate blood for a good cause.

13. Donate in your company’s name

Donating in your company’s name is a volunteer initiative that allows your entire team to get involved. This activity is not as hands-on as other volunteer events, such as a blood drive, however, it is equally as impactful.

The first step to properly executing this volunteer activity is to get your team together to choose a cause. From wildlife conservation to funding scientific research, there are many causes to support. Next, encourage your team to pick a cause that all team members are passionate about.

A few examples include:

  • Cancer research
  • Environmental causes
  • Hunger and homelessness
  • Immigration
  • Military
  • LGBTQ+ youth
  • Education and literacy
  • Human rights
  • People with disabilities
  • Senior citizens
  • Health and medicine

Once your team reaches a consensus, search for a nonprofit organization that supports your cause. For example, if your team chose LGBTQ+ youth, then you should consider donating to The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.

The final step is to get together a generous donation on behalf of the company and present it to your chosen nonprofit organization.

14. Organize a neighborhood clean-up

Hosting a litter clean-up is a great way to positively impact the local community. You can even turn the clean-up into a friendly competition and team building exercise. For instance, the first team to pick up the most litter in one-hour wins.

Be sure to gather and provide necessary supplies like trash pickers, garbage bags, gloves, and rakes.

After picking up litter in the neighborhood, your team will see the results of their work immediately.

15. Share volunteer stories

A great way to celebrate International Volunteer Day is to get your team together for coffee or lunch. During this time, team members should read their volunteer stories or their favorite International Volunteer Day quote.

Team members can talk about their favorite part of the experience and what they learned by volunteering.

By sharing volunteer stories, teams can spread awareness around the importance of volunteering while encouraging others to give back. In addition to sharing stories with coworkers, employees can share stories and pictures of their volunteer experience on social media.


Celebrated annually on December 5, International Volunteer Day is a great time to bring your team together for a worthy cause. Volunteering allows teams to become more unified while improving their communication and collaboration skills. In addition, you can get your team excited to volunteer by choosing a cause that all members value.

One way to get your team excited for International Volunteer Day is by sharing stories and reflecting on past volunteer experiences that have impacted each member. By sharing volunteer experiences, teammates can look into what causes make coworkers passionate. Volunteering is an excellent way to give back and positively impact the world while growing with your team.

Next, read up on companies with employee volunteer programs and nonprofit books.

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FAQ: International Volunteer Day ideas

Here are answers to questions about International Volunteer Day ideas.

What is International Volunteer Day?

International Volunteer Day, celebrated on December 5, is a day to recognize and promote volunteerism. On this occasion, folks around the globe are encouraged to give back through acts of service. The United Nations General Assembly started the holiday in 1985.

How do you celebrate International Volunteer Day at work?

One of the best ways to celebrate International Volunteer Day at work is by having your entire team participate in a volunteer activity. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Work at a soup kitchen
  • Assemble care packages
  • Organize a litter clean-up

Group volunteering at work is a great way to promote team building while giving back and making a difference.

What are some good International Volunteer Day ideas for the office?

There are different ways to honor International Volunteer Day in the office. For example, your team can host:

  • Canned food drives
  • Clothing drives
  • Toy drives

Gathering items to donate to communities in need is an impactful way to engage employees. For this activity, team members will need to bring in clothes, food, or toys to donate to nonprofits.

Author avatar


People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at teambuilding.com. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.


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