Volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic

There are many ways to support organizations that provide needed services during this time. You may choose to volunteer in person or remotely. You may also choose to support with monetary donations which help organizations continue to provide their services.

We encourage you to start your volunteer search locally since there are likely to be many needs right in your own community. Please be in direct contact with any organization with which you want to volunteer before you start so that there is a clear understanding on the part of everyone as to the nature and the logistics of the task(s) to be completed. Do not show up to volunteer without this understanding.

  • Start with your church or other local organization that you may already be connected to. They may know of wider needs in your community.
  • Your local school system may need volunteers to help with food programs or other tasks.
  • Many states have established volunteer agencies sponsored by the government. Examples include MarylandGives and Volunteer Florida. Your state and/or county emergency management agency may have lists that you can use to learn about additional local volunteer opportunities. A list of state agencies can be found here
  • State or territory Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) offices may also have lists of volunteer needs. A VOAD list is available here
  • Search the internet for additional local (city, county, regional) government and non-profit volunteer hubs that are already established in your area. An example is the Volunteer Center Serving Howard County (in Maryland).
  • Additional resources to find either in-person or online volunteer opportunities are listed below. This list will be updated as we find additional information.

Volunteering remotely — there are many possibilities

Even if you are under severe travel restrictions during the pandemic, there are still ways to make a difference while staying at home.

Volunteering in person—consider the risks to you or your loved ones

Community volunteers are generally considered essential and are permitted to travel outside the home to volunteer even during severe travel restrictions. However, before deciding to volunteer in person with a local organization, it is important to carefully and prayerfully consider the risk that doing so will have on you, your family and/or others with whom you live.

You will need to take all precautions available for your own safety and for the safety of others, including those who you will serve. Please DO NOT volunteer in person if any of the following is true:

  • You or anyone with whom you live are sick or has been in contact with anyone who was sick within the last 14 days.
  • You have traveled outside of the United States or on a cruise ship within the last 14 days.
  • You are at higher risk of getting very sick. Those at higher risk are over the age of 60 or have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease.

Any organization with which you work will have its own safety protocols. At the very least this should include the following CDC guidelines, but may also include stricter guidelines, depending on their own requirements.

  • Stay home when you are sick or have a fever.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. By wearing a face covering, a person is protecting others in case they themselves are unknowingly infected with the coronavirus.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow, even if wearing a face covering. Replace the face covering if it becomes soiled or wet.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Always wash immediately after coughing/sneezing/blowing your nose, removing gloves, after contact with an ill person, after eating, and after going to the bathroom.
  • If soap and water are not readily available and hands are not visibly dirty, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. Limit close contact with others as much as possible (at least 6 feet).
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your eye, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Volunteer organizations and resources

American Red Cross

Give blood; delivery services in the community; support blood donations (Blood Donor Ambassadors, Transportation Specialists, Blood Donor Screeners); serve virtually from home. Serves on a national and local level.

Learn more

Meals on Wheels

Provides meals for homebound people. Current possible need for on-call drivers to deliver meals. Volunteers may also call the homebound for welfare checks. Serves on a national and local level.

Learn more

Feeding America

A national network of local food banks, pantries and meal programs which provide meals for those in need. Volunteers jobs may include helping with food prep, sorting and packaging, distribution and delivery, etc. Serves on a national and local level.

Learn more

United Way

Connects volunteers with local United Way organizations to find volunteer opportunities. Volunteer roles vary. Serves on a national and local level.

Learn more

VolunteerMatch

An online resource that matches volunteer interests to local and online opportunities. Volunteer roles vary. Serves on a national and local level.

Learn more

Mutual Aid Hub

An online resource that lists volunteer opportunities by area. Volunteer roles vary. Serves on a national and local level.

Learn more

Points of Light

Lists resource links to connect volunteers with volunteer opportunities. Includes many virtual volunteer opportunities.

Learn more

If you are able to volunteer in any way in response to COVID-19, please be sure to track your hours as they can be helpful toward state and local reimbursement thresholds (required state and local match for federal reimbursement). Check with the organization you are serving with to be sure they are tracking and reporting your time. Or if your church is running independent programming, be sure you are tracking volunteer hours and direct costs to which should be reported to your county emergency management agency.