Ever since the pandemic left me isolated at home, I’ve been looking for new ways to connect with something outside of my own life. Watching people struggle to find hospital beds, employment, food and money while I sat in the comfort of my home shook me out of my privileged stupor and swung me into action.
I made a list of credible volunteer groups, non-profit organisations and charities in Mumbai that I could contribute to with my money or time. I even added some options for when I didn’t have those things, but an intention to contribute. Here’s my list for you. Hopefully, you’ll find a cause to relate to as well.
For when you have time to do good:
Mentor kids from low-income groups on creating a successful career
When in doubt, we seek encouragement and advice from our more sorted friends and family. Unfortunately, underprivileged students don’t have access to mentors who can give them feedback or focus their efforts on setting goals.
This is where you can help. Sign up with the Freedom Employability Academy to talk to students about their educational and professional journey. Just listening to you and asking questions is known to have a big impact on their future.
How you can volunteer: Based on your availability, five 90-minute Zoom calls are scheduled with a student (one every month). No formal preparation is required. All you need to do is share your profile and talk to the students.
Sign up to become a mentor here.
Walk, groom and feed deprived stray dogs
The number of stray dogs is hopelessly increasing in our country and recently even the Supreme Court weighed in on whether citizens should be feeding them or not. “India has the largest number of stray dogs and highest number of rabies cases in the world,” the Times of India wrote.
And this is the problem that Mumbai’s The Welfare of Street Dogs is trying to tackle. They aim to eradicate rabies from the city and reduce the street dog population using humane methods. The non-profit is always looking for volunteers to help them in their efforts to take care of these friendly animals.
How you can volunteer: Download and fill up their volunteer form to indicate your interest in dog care, fundraising or awareness activities. You will get a callback or email to brief you on the next steps.
Volunteer to spend time with dogs here.
Coach football and change someone’s life
Born into extreme poverty, Pankaj Mahajan’s life changed when he joined Slum Soccer. From a shy boy, he blossomed into a confident leader and even played for the Indian National Homeless World Cup.
The Slum Soccer NGO uses the sport to bring together underprivileged boys and girls to play the game that transcends race, religion and language. It’s an uphill battle to convince the parents most times, but their efforts have improved the kids’ aerobic abilities and helped them stay out of trouble.
How you can volunteer: Check out the available volunteer opportunities here and fill up the associated form to apply.
Further reading: Rescued by Football, Ex-Alcohol Addict Gives Back to Society In Most Heartwarming Way
Help plant trees and save the planet
Environmental NGO Green Yatra is on a mission to plant 10 crore trees across India by 2025. Why? To give metro cities some much needed clean air, increase habitats for fauna, empower farmers and help them find a source of income, and to rejuvenate degraded land.
Many scientists the world over have claimed that planting trees has great potential to tackle the climate crisis. So if you’re looking to contribute, then this can be a fun and easy way to get hands-on and do some good for the world.
How you can volunteer: Fill in the volunteering form here and wait for Green Yatra to get in touch with you.
For when you have money to do good:
Donate to help the marginalised get access to legal aid
When the law is on your side and you can seek redressal for your issues, life becomes just a tad bit easier. The Lawyer’s Collective is a group of lawyers who aid and assist the marginalised sections of society such as women and the LGBTQ community in using the law to address workplace sexual harassment, matrimonial issues, domestic violence matters and other crimes and violations of the law.
How you can donate: If you believe that everyone has the right to a lawyer, then donate to the Lawyer’s Collective via cheque. All details to donate are given here.
Help people fight depression and suicidal thoughts
“The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide,” a recent report by the World Health Organisation noted. It also called for countries to take their population’s mental health more seriously and set up support services.
Mumbai-based Aasra is way ahead, though, and has already helped more than 8,00,000 people struggling with mental health issues. This crisis-intervention centre has a 24×7 helpline on which volunteers listen to you and provide professional and confidential advice and care.
How you can donate: Contribute to this public charity by making cash deposits and bank transfers. Find the bank and other details here.
Support the LGBTQ community in securing their human rights
The Humsafar Trust has been working for the rights of the LGBT community for 28 years. With the slogan ‘Where your identity is a reason for pride and not a reason to hide’, the trust makes efforts to provide support in the areas of health, advocacy, law enforcement, mental health and crisis management.
If you believe in the pride of the community and support equal rights then this is a cause that you should align yourself with.
How you can donate: Log on to this page to donate money to one of the Humsafar Trust’s projects
Contribute to protecting the health of vulnerable women and children
The lack of awareness and health facilities makes women and children vulnerable to poor health and nutritional outcomes. With its 490+ team, SNEHA is working to change that. Using a data-driven and technology-backed approach, this non-profit organisation drives evidence-based interventions. Since its launch in the 1900s, SNEHA has launched programs to tackle domestic violence, malnutrition, maternal and newborn health and much more.
How you can donate: With just a click, you can easily donate to SNEHA’s many impactful initiatives here.
For when you have the intention to do good:
Get your recyclable scrap picked up from home
ReCircle, formerly known as RaddiConnect, collects old newspapers, glass bottles, clothes, plastic, wood and any other recyclable material right from your doorstep. It cleans and treats the items to repurpose them into new products, which are then circulated back into the economy.
The best part is that the proceeds from your sale to them go to a cause of your choice. So not only do you contribute to a sustainable future but this has to be one of the easiest ways of giving back to society.
How you can donate: Check out the list of items that you want to give away and schedule a pick up on ReCircle’s website. Your stuff will get picked up and weighed and a confirmation message will be sent to you via email and SMS.
Further reading: Donate Scrap & Fund Your Favourite Cause: Mumbai Duo Raises Rs 20 Lakh in 4 Years
Donate old books to a library from your doorstep
Back in 2007, four friends identified gaps in how people read and acquired books and started Librarywala in Mumbai. Today, it is considered to be India’s first and largest online book rental library. You can rent books online for a small cost and those books are delivered and picked up from your house. Librarywala has over one lakh books to choose from in more than five languages.
How you can donate: Log in to the website, fill up the donation form, and get your books picked up from home.
Put your old furniture to good use
Share At Your Doorstep or SADS picks up your old furniture from home and delivers it to an NGO where it can be used and loved by others. And you earn points each time you donate something. These points can be redeemed for all kinds of rewards and vouchers – from Kama Ayurveda and Cult.Fit to Airbnb and Book My Show.
And from time to time SADS brand partners even send surprise gifts to donors as a way to thank them.
How you can donate: Log on to their website, pick a convenient slot and order a pickup.
Edited by Yoshita Rao