Volunteering year round is encouraged, but if you need that extra push there’s a special day dedicated specifically to doing good. Here we will outline what International Volunteer Day is, the importance and history behind it, and fun ways your team can join in and give back.

Getting together and volunteering as a team has a far larger impact than you may expect. Not only does volunteering and corporate giving benefit the cause, but it also has several internal benefits for the company. These benefits relate to employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and overall brand awareness and reputation. Advocating for or setting up a volunteering day is a simple way to get started when creating a company give-back initiative.

What is International Volunteer Day & Why Do We Celebrate it?

International Volunteer Day falls annually on December 5th and serves as an opportunity for volunteers and volunteer organizations to celebrate their accomplishments, promote their work, encourage government support, and inspire others to join in on their efforts.

We celebrate International Volunteer Day for the same reasons, and to thank volunteer organizations for all their hard work and dedication throughout the year. It also serves as a perfect volunteering day for companies and employees to honor that hard work through giving back themselves.

The History of International Volunteer Day

In 1985, the United Nations designated International Volunteer Day as an internal observance day to celebrate the power of volunteerism. It has continued to be celebrated by almost 80 countries annually.

The act of volunteering is seen all around the world and throughout every culture. Global estimates place the number of yearly volunteers at 970 million. And each year, approximately 63 million Americans — 25% of the adult population — volunteer their time, talents, and energy to make a difference.

Why Is International Volunteer Day Important?

International Volunteer Day allows different organizations to raise awareness of the contributions they make to the community. But teams and individuals can observe and celebrate this day by making similar contributions to a cause that is important to them. Here are 3 reasons why International Volunteer Day is important:

Strengthens local and international communities

Many nonprofits and organizations rely on volunteer efforts to support their cause. In fact, there is a handful of nonprofits that don’t have paid staff and are run entirely by volunteers. Without them, they are unable to do the important work that has such an impact on both local and international communities. Initiatives like Paint Soles for Souls, Operation Cancer Care, Helping Hands, The Do Good Bus, and many other charitable programs, make local communities better, safer, and a happier place to live for all.

Allows you to meet people with similar values

Whether you are having a volunteering day by yourself or doing it with your company, it opens the door to meeting people with similar values. Especially at work, you may connect with someone you may have never expected based on their passion for a certain cause.

Creates a ripple effect to encourage others to volunteer

Whether you are building beds for animals in the shelter, cleaning up your local park, or giving donations to a food pantry, volunteering is inspiring. If you volunteer, share your experience. You may be surprised to find others who want to join you for your next volunteering day.

Team posing for photo at end of event with their finished doggy beds

How do you celebrate International Volunteer Day 2023?

The best way to celebrate International Volunteer Day is by dedicating a day to volunteering and getting others to volunteer with you. At work, encourage your team to have a volunteering day where you can all get together and do something fun while supporting an important cause. Below are some great events and ideas to give back to your team for International Volunteering Day:

1. Donate to a local or international organization

The best thing about a volunteering day is you can’t go wrong. There are so many different nonprofits and organizations that always need support. Host a blood drive, collect and donate books or create a Little Free Library, sponsor a wheelchair. Trust us when we say there is something for every team.

2. Host a Donation Station event to get others involved

If you want to plan a larger volunteering day for your team or company, it may be best to get help putting the event together. With the Donation Station, just focus on giving back and we can take care of the rest. Your team will work together to make personalized donation bags for an organization of your choice. This is charitable giving, made easy. You choose what kind of organization you want to support, and we take care of the rest.

3. Host a clothing drive at work

This is a volunteering day idea anyone can do. We all have clothes we no longer wear and have hoarded away in our closets. Especially during the winter, clothing that is donated is a necessity. Why not organize a day at work, say December 5th, to bring in clothing to be donated? At the end of the day drop off all the items to your local Goodwill, Volunteers of America, or organization close to you.

If you want to make this idea more of an event, check out Corporate Project Runway.

4. Build bikes to donate to local children’s organizations

We have been delivering The Charity Bike Build for over 15 years. This means thousands of bikes, happy kids, and stronger teams. This program not only inspires teams as they work to assemble the bikes but leaves them with a feeling of purpose when they see the direct impact they’ve made.

5. Ride the Do Good Bus to a volunteer location with your team

Giving back to your community always feels good. But, getting out into that community while you’re giving back is even better. Working side-by-side on projects at the causes we visit, your team will forge authentic connections. Your team will make a direct community impact while learning about the cause, it’s a win-win.

6. Write letters and cards to those in need

Another simple way to go about a volunteering day with your team is by creating cards and writing letters to those in need. A few example causes could be cancer patients, domestic violence survivors, or those in nursing homes. A nice note letting someone know you are there for can make all of the difference.

7. Build care packages for military personnel

Celebrate International Volunteer Day by assembling care packages for donation to U.S. military personnel at overseas bases or stateside hospitals. Your special gifts make a huge impact, both for them and your team.

You can also build care packages for cancer patients, students, or the homeless.

charity team building

8. Pet Wheelchair Build

Another great idea for International Volunteer Day that encourages corporate social responsibility is Mission ImPAWssible. In this deeply impactful program, you and your team unite to build pet wheelchairs that will be donated internationally to animals in need. Your team’s efforts will not only empower one another but empower pets to live a life without limits.

9. Clean Water Connection

The Clean Water Connection filter build offers a meaningful, hands-on experience that will impact communities around the world with clean water. Build relationships, purpose, and passion as you connect and give back.

10. Scavenger Hunts

Celebrate International Volunteer Day 2023 with a scavenger hunt where your team can give back. Combining adventure, giving back, and technology, Go Give is a charity challenge where teams select a giving project and complete GPS-triggered challenges that positively impact the chosen project. With real-time updates, feedback, and scores, the experience is engaging and exciting, and our unique ‘follow arrow’ feature of the app guides teams to their chosen waypoint, making it easy to navigate through the adventure. Or give back to your Heathcare Heroes!

Get Started Planning Your International Volunteer Day at Work

There are numerous ways your team can celebrate and honor International Volunteer Day. Choose a cause that means something to your team and company and go from there. And if you need help planning the perfect volunteering day, contact us to learn more about all of our charitable programs and ways we can help you give back.


Anna Webber

Team Contributor


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