Maybe you have some extra time on your hands, or maybe you’re just in the giving spirit. All we know is there are more than enough great causes in San Diego to donate your time to. Whether you’re an animal lover, an artsy type, a natural mentor, or an outdoor enthusiast — there’s a nearby volunteer opportunity for you.
Here are 40 ways to get involved in America’s Finest City. 🤝
🥗If you have a passion for community members in need
- Feeding San Diego | Help relieve hunger by sorting + packing produce for families in need, support a local distribution site, call donors, and more.
- San Diego Food Bank | Clean + pack fresh produce for distribution, inspect and label donations, and assemble packages for San Diegans facing food insecurity.
- Meals on Wheels | Deliver meals — and smiles — to seniors across the county, many of whom are isolated or homebound.
- Alpha Project | Organize donation drives for essential supplies like shampoo, toothbrushes, blankets, socks + shoes to distribute to locals experiencing homelessness.
- Mama’s Kitchen | Deliver meals along a specific route to San Diegans at risk of malnutrition due to critical illnesses, help plate dishes, or assemble grocery bags.
- Jewish Family Service | Deliver meals, keep older adults company, support youth + families, or help refugees feel more at home.
🐾 If you’re an animal lover
- San Diego Humane Society | Support the daily care of shelter animals, foster a pet, or help with community engagement.
- Rancho Coastal Humane Society | Work with dogs, cats + rabbits to keep them mentally and physically healthy as they wait for forever homes.
- Lions Tigers & Bears | Care for the big cats + bears at the exotic wildlife sanctuary, help plan a fundraiser, or build infrastructure to support the facility in Alpine.
- Helen Woodward Animal Center | Walk the animals, lend a hand at a local event, help in the office + more.
- The Rescue House | Love kitties? This opportunity is the cat’s meow.
- Second Chance Dog Rescue | Volunteer at adoption events, transport animals to veterinarians, help with social media, or aid in community outreach.
🌇 If you live + breathe San Diego
- Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego | Step up to care for families whose children are hospitalized by providing the comforts of home — meals, activities, hospitality — to make an overwhelming situation more manageable.
- Comic-Con Museum | Provide support for unforgettable guest experiences and bring your expertise, passion + personality to the one-of-a-kind museum in Balboa Park.
- Kitchens for Good | Help at the pre-loved kitchenware shop, serve food at the cart at The Rady Shell, or work the front-of-house at apprentice-run mock restaurants.
- Monarch School | Tutor in math + literacy, support classrooms, and help make this a place of hope for unsheltered local students.
- Father Joe’s Villages | Serve meals, tutor kids, or help with maintenance + beautification projects.
🌊 For the outdoorsy types
- I Love a Clean San Diego | Join monthly cleanup events + help keep San Diego beautiful via this organization that’s been around since 1954.
- San Diego Coastkeeper | Participate in a beach or neighborhood cleanup + help remove trash before it floats into our coastal waters.
- Surfrider Foundation of San Diego County | Take part in beach cleanups, help advocate for eco-friendly Surfrider policies, monitor beach preservation + access, or tap into the organization’s water testing and education program.
🎨 The artsy types
- San Diego Museum of Art | Assist visitors at the front desk or at special events, help with projects, serve in the art reference library, or train to become a docent.
- ICA San Diego | Greet visitors, conduct tours, answer questions, and share info about artworks, artists, programs + events.
- ArtWalk San Diego | Be part of the grand celebration of arts + culture.
🍎 Natural-born teachers + mentors
- Just In Time Foster Youth | Share important life lessons with foster youth — from grocery shopping to budgeting — by facilitating workshops, forging friendships + providing emotional support.
- YMCA of San Diego | Support programs + special events, coach, or fundraise to make communities a better place to live.
- Make-A-Wish of San Diego | Make a child’s dream a reality as a “wish granter,” volunteer as a translator or interpreter, help at special events, and use your special skills for good.
- Reality Changers | Tutor students in grades 8-12 and help local youth achieve their goal of going to college.
💕 If you want to be there for abuse victims
- Casa de Amparo | Organize special activities for kids impacted by child abuse + neglect, help at the holiday donation center, or clean and landscape campuses.
- WRC | Provide crisis intervention + information to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, volunteer at a local shelter, mentor children, or support the organization’s thrift store.
- Home Start | Sort thrift store donations, help with garden projects, or provide tax assistance while helping to strengthen families impacted by abuse + neglect.
⚒️ For handy individuals
- San Diego Habitat for Humanity | Build homes — and hope — for those in need.
- USS Midway Museum | Maintain + restore historic aircraft aboard the iconic naval aircraft carrier on the Embarcadero.
- ElderHelp of San Diego | Grocery shopping, mail sorting, companionship visits, light gardening, pet care, and rides to appointments or errands to help seniors remain independent and live with dignity.
📚 Self-proclaimed bibliophiles
- San Diego Public Library | Process new books + audio materials, tutor adults, enter data, work in the office, or help with literacy programs.
- San Diego Council on Literacy | Tutor adults, youth + families via literacy programs.
- Words Alive! | Read to kids + teens, deliver books, or prepare crafts for families as you inspire a love of reading for underserved locals.
- Traveling Stories | Read virtually to kids in grades 1-3 and mentor them to build literacy skills.
🤝 If you’re passionate about supporting local minority groups
- United Way of San Diego | Sort items at the food pantry, read to kids, and help with toy + food drives.
- SD Refugee Tutoring | Work 1:1 with refugee students on foundational skills like English + math via educational games at this City Heights organization.
- Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego: Refugee + Immigrant Services | Mentor a newly-arrived family, assist a case manager, or help at shelters providing support to migrants + asylum seekers.