A recent study by the Corporation for National and Community Service¹ found that 77.4 million Americans volunteered in 2018, serving 6.9 billion hours to better their communities, for an estimated economic value of $167 billion.
One of the highest-impact and fastest-growing areas of volunteering and activism is in the highly-charged political arena. A study from Pew Research² found that 67% of Americans surveyed had participated in politics, through volunteering or activism, in the past five years.
In New York, especially, there is an enormous population of underserved and overlooked citizens that can benefit from the efforts of political volunteers, made up of fellow New Yorkers like you.
Volunteers have a direct effect on the political climate in their community – by promoting organizations that actively work to change local policies to protect and serve community members. There is a long-term impact associated with political volunteering as well, creating bridges – between individuals, non-profit organizations, governments, and corporations – and starting a cycle of community that can repeat itself for generations to come.
Individuals benefit from the act of volunteering, too – sometimes in surprising ways. Volunteerism has been found to reduce stress, improve mood, lengthen lifespan, and reduce anxiety and depression among volunteers³.
Volunteering can also give a person the opportunity to investigate a new avenue of employment, develop new skills, and even improve the chances of landing a new job: one study from CareerBuilder found that 60% of hiring managers view volunteerism as a valuable asset while recruiting for open positions⁴.
If you’re interested in volunteering in New York, here are some organizations to consider:
Amnesty International is a long-standing global human rights organization. Volunteers for Amnesty International can become involved in many different ways: by joining a local group or the Urgent Actions committee; by applying to be a coordinator for student activists or other groups, hosting a Write for Rights event, or becoming a leader for grassroots change. Even if you have only five minutes to spare, your efforts can make a difference to Amnesty International.
For more information on volunteering with Amnesty International, click here.
Human Rights Watch
The Human Rights Watch is a New York-based non-governmental organization (NGO), raising awareness and fighting to improve the lives of people throughout the world by ending child labor, banning landmines, closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center, and more.
Learn more about participating in Human Rights Watch here.
The New York LGBT Center is focused on creating a safe, open space for New York’s vibrant LGBT community, preserving their history and addressing quality of life issues as well. Programs include art and culture, health and wellness, family, recovery and more.
Volunteers at the LGBT Center can work with youth outreach, committees, social media and events promotion, in the library and archives, and more.
For more information about volunteering at the LGBT Center, click here.
New Leaders Council
The New Leaders Council is dedicated to fostering the next generation of progressive leaders, by identifying, recruiting, educating and training those with the skills to become influential progressives of the future.
Through the New Leaders Council’s New York chapter, NLC alumni participate in #GothamTalks, a discussion on a variety of social and policy issues affecting NYC residents: from campaign finance to gentrification, elder care to connecting with underserved youth.
Videos of #GothamTalks can be viewed here, while opportunities to participate in NLC’s national agenda are posted here.
New York Anti-Trafficking Network
The New York Anti-Trafficking Network (NYATN) is an organization that helps keep people informed about human trafficking – whether through developing news reports, or laws and regulations that may have an impact on survivors of trafficking. Find information, advice, articles, and events to learn what you can do to help fight human trafficking in New York here.
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
The NY Civil Liberties Union formed in 1951 as an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union and like it, is an organization created to protect the civil rights of citizens of New York. Primarily, these include freedom of speech, press, petition and assembly; freedom of religion; and the rights to privacy, to equality, and to due process before the law. The NYCLU offers volunteering opportunities at several different levels of involvement, from becoming an ambassador or organizer, or donating time, skills, or money. Learn more about becoming involved with the NYCLU here.
OutRight Action International
OutRight Action International works to advance the interests of LGBTIQ people globally, by building bridges between the public, government, and leaders with local OutRight Engagement Committees. These committees work in their communities to support activists and leaders to advance LGBTIQ inclusion, equality, and rights.
To become involved with the OutRight Engagement Committee in New York, click here.
There are hundreds of different ways to volunteer in New York City because there are thousands of New Yorkers that can benefit from the skills, knowledge, and effort that you can bring to the movement. Every person in New York has something to offer those less fortunate – whether you have an hour, an afternoon, or more. Check out the NYXT community calendar and find an event that interests you, and learn more about how your efforts can have a positive impact on your community.
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