How to Serve
What can you do? Lots.
Want to repair the world, but feel overwhelmed or unsure about where and how to start? Whether you have five minutes, an afternoon, a year or an entire lifetime to devote to service and social justice, you can make a vital difference. The categories below outline different ways to get involved on the issues that matter to you.
You can also check out our “Do It Yourself” section here.
QUICK SERVICE (1-10 minutes)
Petitions: Taking a moment to sign a petition on a topic you care about is always worth the time. If you receive the petition over email, Facebook or Twitter, an extra 30 seconds lets you forward it along to friends and continue spreading the word.
Phone call: Calling a representative is easier than it sounds and something you can do on your lunch break, walking between classes or meetings, or from the privacy of your home. The non-partisan news and civic engagement organization, Congress.org can connect you to an issue. Then, find your representative’s contact information here and call, email or tweet them your message.
Apps: Have an iPhone? There are hundreds of service and social justice-related apps that can connect you to information and ways to get involved in a few seconds. If you’re iPhone free, the website Sparked.com links you to “micro-volunteering” opportunities that you can complete from your computer in a few minutes.
SHORT TERM SERVICE (1 day-3 months)
One-time volunteer: Many direct-service projects simply require that you show up once, or commit for a week-long project: to paint a house, serve dinner at a shelter, plant trees in a neighborhood park, visit residents in the VA hospital, or flier for a organization.
Alternative Spring Break: Spending a winter or spring break engaged in service is becoming increasingly popular amongst college students. In addition to getting a tan, participants get to make a difference in a community and meet other students from across the country. Interested? Check out the alternative break programs through American Jewish World Service (AJWS), Hillel, Jewish Farm School (JFS), Jewish National Fund (JNF), Jewish Funds for Justice (JSFJ) and the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
Project Organizing: Organizing a discrete project — like a canned food drive, a fundraiser, installing solar panels on your home, or inviting a speaker to educate your community — takes a bit of time and planning, but the payoff is worth the extra effort.
Campaigning: Whether it’s for an issue you care about or a politician you believe in, signing on to volunteer for a campaign is a direct way to make a sustained impact.
Fundraising: Joining a walkathon like the AIDS Walk or bikeathon like Hazon’s Jewish environmental bike ride is a profound way to raise both money and awareness for an organization or cause, while having an amazing time.
LONG TERM SERVICE (3 months-2 years)
Jewish Fellowships: The Jewish community also has several long-term service fellowships like Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps, the JDC’s Jewish Service Corps and Ralph I. Goldman Fellowship, Adamah the Jewish Environmental Fellowship, and the Jewish Organizing Initiative (JOI).
PUBLIC SERVICE (1 year-a lifetime)
Most people identify public service as governmental work — everything from being a firefighter to running for elected office. But working for a non-profit is another meaningful form of public service that allows you to be directly involved in the life of a change-making organization.
Non-Profit: If you have the financial resources to give big — great! — but you do not need a million dollars to support the work of an organization. Virtually all non-profits have links on their website that allow you to give as little or as much as you can online. And don’t just wait until the end of the year – your donation is important all year round.
Micro-Loan: Donating through micro-loan organizations like Kiva extends the life of your gift. The money you give supports new business ventures in developing countries, and eventually is paid back, allowing you to “re-donate” the funds to someone else.
In-Kind: Giving charity is not just about money. You can also donate goods like an old car, clothing, cell phone or computer to directly provide for people in need, or support the work of a start-up organization.
Connect to service opportunities across the country and globe via Repair the World’s service database.