8 Ways to Give Back to the Community (That Don’t Require Giving Money or Cash)

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 24 September, 2021

Giving cash isn’t the only way to make a difference. Here are eight other worthy causes you can help support with your time, skills, effort or unwanted items. 

Giving back to the community is not just a trendy activity to generate content for your next TikTok video. 

Studies show that that warm glow of satisfaction you feel when engaged in altruistic acts is real, most likely brought on by a lowering of your blood pressure and stress hormones, along with a whole host of other health benefits.  

But giving back doesn't necessarily mean having to dig into your bank account (which may already be under pressure thanks to COVID-19) and giving away money you can hardly afford to spare. 

Keep your cash. Here are eight other meaningful and satisfying ways you can give back, without giving away a single cent. 

Read to kids at the library

Remember those fond times when your favourite uncle would sit down with you, reading your favourite book? 

Well, you can pass on those happy memories with the National Library Board’s kidsREAD volunteer programme, where you can read books to underprivileged children. 

Don’t underestimate the power of this simple activity. Cultivating a liking for books can lead to the useful habit of reading, which is an affordable and accessible way for anyone to learn anything - and just maybe better their lot along the way.

Simple, sweet and satisfying. 

Your commitment

Anyone aged 15 and above, is comfortable with English, and has a love of books and interacting with children can volunteer. You’ll need to be able to commit to at least an hour each week, for at least six months. 

How to volunteer

Sign up at the kidsREAD website.

Support mental health advocacy with Silver Ribbon Singapore

If there’s one good thing about the pandemic, it’s that it brought the importance of mental health to the forefront. 

Silver Ribbon Singapore works to advance positive mental health, a mission arguably made more urgent in the face of continued uncertainty and anxiety. 

You can contribute to the cause by volunteering your time and skills for any of several open roles, including photography, speaking, event coordination, graphic design, IT and admin at the time of writing. 

Your commitment

Due to the different natures of the roles involved, your commitment will vary. Do reach out to Silver Ribbon directly to find out exactly what’s needed for the role you’re interested in volunteering for. 

How to volunteer

Download and fill up this online form, then email it info@silverribbonsingapore.com when you’re done.

Help feed the hungry at Food From the Heart 

Food From the Heart (FFTH) is focused on two worthy causes: reducing food waste and feeding the hungry. Instead of letting perfectly good food go to waste, the team redirects extra, unwanted food to those who need it. 

For example, under their Bread Run programme, unsold - but still edible - bread is collected from bakeries (that would otherwise dump them out), and redistributed to those in need. They also do the same with food collected from the public.

Besides Bread Run, there are several other ways you can contribute, from basic tasks such as sorting and repacking donated food items and helping out during events, to more specialised roles such as taking up ambassadorship, photography or videography, graphic and multimedia design, and admin work. 

Your commitment

For Bread Run, you’ll need your own car or van to make the deliveries. For other roles, all you need is the time and willingness to contribute. 

How to volunteer

Go through the online tour on FFTH’s website to view and understand the various ways you can help, as well as their requirements. You can sign up for your preferred role at the end. 

You can also initiate your own food drive, and solicit support from the organisation as necessary.   

Cook and pack meals for the needy at Willing Hearts

Secular soup kitchen Willing Hearts cook, pack and deliver over 9,000 meals to more than 40 locations, 365 days a year. That’s a whole lot of cooking and packing!

And those of you who’ve spent time behind the stove or in the kitchen would know that food preparation can be more time consuming than the actual cooking of the dish itself. 

Add to that the need to wash and clean pots and pans, as well as having to scoop, portion and pack meals, and you have a recipe that calls for many, many willing hands. 

That’s where you come in. Sign up as a volunteer to help Willing Hearts meet its enormous task, and get those meals piping hot and ready.

Your commitment

There are four shifts for you to choose from, starting from 5am in the morning, with each lasting four hours. Parents are encouraged to volunteer together with their children as a family unit. 

As you’ll be handling food directly, you must be willing to follow strict guidelines and use the necessary hygienic equipment (such as hair nets) that will be provided. 

How to volunteer

Have a look at the detailed requirements to volunteer. There’s a link you can click at the bottom of that page in order to register your interest.

Befriend the elderly at Lion’s Befrienders  

The elderly often face loneliness and neglect, which can take a toll not just on their mental health, but their physical wellbeing as well. Being old, frail and sick can be difficult for even the hardiest among us.

Lion’s Befrienders make it a point to seek out and befriend the lonely elderly, providing a much needed source of companionship and help. 

Besides regular house visits to check up on their charges, volunteers also accompany the elderly on medical checkups and remind them to take their medication. They may also help with minor tasks such as cleaning up

Your commitment

As a Befriender, you can expect to make weekly house visits, and provide psycho-emotional support to seniors, in addition to other duties. You should be able to commit to at least one hour per session, twice a month for a year (weekends and public holidays included). Volunteers must be at least 21 years, and should be able to converse in your mother tongue and at least one other dialect. 

How to volunteer

A detailed summary of volunteering can be found here. Do remember to check out the other two available roles too, in case being a Befriender isn’t quite suitable. 

Pass on old baby clothes and bottles to Babes

Starting off as a crisis support centre for teenage pregnancies, Babes has now grown into a full-fledged resource centre for pregnant teenagers in need of help. Their focus is on providing support, guidance and advice to help their clients navigate the difficult journey.  

You can help support these young persons by passing them your old baby stuff, such as clothes, bottles, pacifiers, cots, prams and bathtubs. Babes also welcome donations of essential supplies such as unopened infant powder and diapers.

How to donate

Send an email to hello@babes.org.sg to get in touch with your donation.

Give unwanted (but still usable) items to Pass It On

Outgrown your fridge and thinking of an upgrade, but loathe to get rid of the old one because it’s still working perfectly well? Pass It On may be able to help you - and someone in need.

The organisation connects people looking to give away their old (but still usable) items with people who have need of them. 

You can donate most anything, from furniture and appliances to mobility aids, clothes, toys, utensils, and even health supplements (unopened and unexpired, of course). 

How to donate

Making sure that your item is in good condition, snap a picture and take down the measurements. Next, sign up as a member (or sign in) to the Pass It On website to list your item. If there is someone who wants your item, they will contact you directly to arrange for delivery. You can also check the wish list on the homepage for an idea of the current items needed. 

Use your old books to help special needs individuals learn basic entrepreneurship with Dignity Mama 

Active at hospitals around Singapore, Dignity Mama fosters basic entrepreneurship skills and opportunities in special needs young adults with the help of your old books. 

All tomes donated are sorted and categorised by the team, and then put up for sale. What’s unique about Dignity Mama is that the stores are managed by young adults with special needs. 

With the guidance of a volunteer partner, Dignity Mama kiosks allow special needs individuals to develop crucial skills in entrepreneurship and other areas, while providing them with the opportunity to contribute to society. 

Additionally, by making available second hand books at reduced prices, Dignity Mama also hopes to encourage more reading among Singaporeans, while saving perfectly good material from the landfills. 

How to donate

Simply pack your unwanted books into grocery bags or A4-sized boxes, and then drop them off at the Dignity Mama kiosks at either Ng Teng Fong Hospital, or National University Hospital. Please note that each drop off is limited to four bags or boxes of books at a time.  

If you are financially able to help, consider buying an elderly person or lower-income family a meal or some groceries. Charge these to the right credit cards and you can even earn some rewards while doing a good deed.

Read these next:
7 Best Thrift Shops in Singapore That Offer Sustainability and Style
Where To Donate And How To Help Charities During COVID-19
9 Things To Do With Your Inheritance Money In Singapore
5 Of The Best Things You Could Do With Your Investment Dividends
Uniquely Singaporean Things We Do To Accumulate Wealth

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


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