Six Ways to Give Back to the Community This Holiday Season

A man and woman wearing masks in the grocery store
| 6 min read Crowdfunding

Helping others has always been a hallmark of the holiday season. From sharing a few kind words to building food baskets for families in need, people have always spent the final months of the year finding ways to give back to the community. But what does lending a hand to others look like in the midst of a global pandemic? If you’re wondering how to give back this year, we have a few ideas of how you can bring hope, kindness, and holiday cheer to others while staying safe.

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Safe holiday giving ideas to try this year

From helping those affected by COVID-19 to supporting animal rescue efforts, there are countless ways to give back during the holidays while brightening someone’s day, week, or year. If you’re uncertain about how to be generous while staying safe during a pandemic, choose from one of the ideas below or come up with your own. You’ll be on your way to helping your community in no time.

1. Run a virtual food drive for hungry families

Millions of Americans are struggling to put food on the table, and the coronavirus pandemic has only made it more difficult to stay nourished and find food assistance. This year, you could provide a holiday meal to a family—or multiple families—who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.

Running a virtual food drive to feed hungry folks in your neighborhood is simple but impactful, and a great alternative if volunteering at a soup kitchen isn’t a safe option this year. Start a fundraiser and accept donations online, then donate the funds to the food bank or organization of your choice. Don’t forget to read up on some fundraising tips before getting started so you’re set up for success.

2. Brighten someone’s day with a random act of kindness

A meaningful way to give back during the holidays this year is to perform a random act of kindness for someone in your community. The beauty of these little acts is that they can spread a lot of joy without taking too much time or money on your part. Here are some ideas:

  • To help the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in your city, create care packages for those experiencing homelessness and safely drop them off to a homeless shelter. The packages could include basic toiletries and socks and underwear.
  • Reach out to your elderly neighbors and see if anyone needs you to pick up a few grocery items on your next trip to the store. Or, have the items shipped directly to their home through online grocery services.
  • Arrange for lunch or dinner to be delivered to essential workers at your local hospital. It’s a simple way to thank them for all they do while keeping them nourished.

3. Send holiday cards to those isolated during the pandemic

Who doesn’t feel a spark of excitement and joy when opening up their mailbox to find a handwritten note waiting for them? You can bring this feeling to those who can’t be near their families during the holidays this year, like senior citizens who are isolated in nursing homes.

Writing holiday cards to people may be a small gesture, but it can certainly mean a lot. Fill your cards out with words of encouragement and hope, then mail them to a nursing home where they can be safely distributed to residents.

4. Send supplies to local animal shelters

There are many ways to help animals in need, but what most organizations truly need these days are donations. Frannie Joseph, who is just 12 years old, recognized this need and decided to help the animals in her local Texas community after Hurricane Harvey displaced many of them. She turned to online fundraising to fund her project and ended up raising over $20,000 over the course of a few years. Now, Frannie continues to donate the money she raises to local animal shelters. What started as a small project ended up having a huge impact on the animals in her community.

You can support your local animal shelter through a fundraiser, too. First, reach out to ask what supplies your local shelter needs, then set up a fundraiser to pay for these items. Be sure to outline the animal shelter’s exact needs in your fundraiser story, because donors like to know what their contributions are being used for.

5. Support students, teachers, and parents

With the coronavirus sweeping the nation, single parents, teachers, and students are all trying to cope with a new way of learning and teaching. To grow educational opportunities in your community and support learning, make one of these ideas a part of your holiday giving plan this year:

  • If you know someone struggling to cover homeschool costs, rally your friends together and chip in as a group to buy them new school supplies or educational books and resources.
  • Do you have a gently used laptop or iPad that you no longer need? Consider donating it to a local school so they can give it to a student who can’t afford to buy one.
  • If you’re passionate about everyone having access to higher education, consider starting a scholarship fund for local children.
  • Donate funds to bring a little free library into your neighborhood, or even build your own!

6. Make a big difference by donating to a GoFundMe Cause

This year, we’ve made it even simpler to help those in need by creating GoFundMe Causes. With the thousands of fundraisers on our site, it’s sometimes overwhelming trying to decide where to give your money. When you make a donation to one of our five causes, this allows GoFundMe.org, our 501(c)(3), to give grants to people and charities that need them most.

For example, you can support both students and teachers across the nation through our Learning & Education Cause, or help offset monthly bills for those struggling financially through our Basic Necessities Cause—all without spending time sorting through fundraisers. Afterward, we’ll even send you updates so you can stay in the loop and find out how your donation has helped others.

Browse our five GoFundMe Causes and find a category you’re passionate about:

Ready to give back to your community this holiday season?

Whether you want to do something nice for essential workers or plan a toy drive—or anything in between—GoFundMe makes it simple to raise funds for the holidays. Sign up to create a GoFundMe of your own, or simply donate to a GoFundMe Cause that inspires you. Even the simple act of sharing a fundraiser that matters to you on social media and encouraging others to donate can make a difference. Together, we can make our communities a little brighter this year.

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Written by Jenna Davis

Asking for help is never easy, but it's my hope that our resources make it a bit easier and empower individuals and organizations to reach their fundraising goals. I believe we can create a better future through generosity and compassion—all it takes is a little bit of support from each of us.