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Great Ways for Groups to Give Back in San Diego

Volunteer options abound for meeting attendees

San Diego is a destination that inspires a whole lot of affection, and many visitors want to know how they can contribute to the community while they're here. So why not offer giving-back options to attendees during your next meeting in San Diego? Here’s a look at 24 excellent options.

Featured Organizations

365 Events San Diego

365 Events San Diego brings together socially responsible corporations and nonprofits through the creation of custom corporate volunteer engagement activities and other high-impact events. With their expertise and organizational savvy, the 365 team aims to make it easy for companies that are in San Diego for meetings and conventions to offer do-good options, from community garden improvement to graffiti paint-overs. As 365 puts it: "All the client has to do is pick a cause and RSVP!"

Ocean Connectors

A participant in the San Diego Tourism Authority's Tourism Accelerator program, Ocean Connectors is an innovative company whose aim is to connect young people with coastal wildlife. As part of that mission, Ocean Connectors welcomes volunteers in a number of roles, including habitat restoration and eco-tours. It's a great way to discover San Diego's natural world while helping youths learn about coastal ecosystems and conservation.

Out of the Ordinary Group Adventures

The folks at San Diego's Out of the Ordinary are seasoned experts in organizing great team-building events for groups, and their lineup of activities includes a generous range of giving-back options. Among them: A charity backpack team challenge, a charity toy build and a Good Deeds Bus Experiment, as well as Operation Bike Ride: Helping Veterans Move On.

Feeding San Diego

Give back to the community by taking a stand against hunger with Feeding San Diego, a leading San Diego nonprofit focused on food rescue. The organization has numerous ongoing volunteer opportunities for food sorting, distribution and other activities.

More Organizations

Farms, Food & More

Community Farms

Want to get your green thumb on at a local farm? San Diego has some 5,100 of them, and more than two-thirds of those are less than 9 acres in size. Pitch in on such needs as seeding, weeding and mulching at several farms, including Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas and Wild Willow Farm near the border with Mexico.

Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank

Together with its North County Food Bank chapter, this organization is the largest hunger-relief concern in San Diego County, serving on average 350,000 people per month countywide. Ways to get involved include cleaning and packaging fresh produce for distribution, and inspecting, sorting, boxing and labeling food donations, as well as assembling food packages.

HandsOn San Diego

Turn volunteering into a fun family outing with HandsOn San Diego's "flexible volunteer vacations," which include numerous kid-friendly options. The organization works with other local nonprofits to offer projects that visitors can plug into even on short notice. They can even schedule shifts that are convenient to your hotel.

Protecting the Environment

I Love a Clean San Diego

San Diego is composed of 100 diverse neighborhoods, and taking part in a community cleanup is a great way both to discover those neighborhoods and help keep them beautiful — whether you're a local or just want to experience San Diego like one. I Love a Clean San Diego offers numerous volunteer events around the county, including regular beach cleanups as well as such specialized projects as invasive species removal.

Seas Lyfe

This environmental nonprofit's mission is to reduce the devastating impact of human activity on the world's oceans. Groups can arrange to go out on a boat with fishing nets and assist in extracting trash and debris from San Diego Bay.

TreePeople

TreePeople has made a mission of inspiring and engaging locals and visitors alike to take responsibility for the urban environment, in a way that's safe, healthy, fun and sustainable. To that end, the organization offers tree-planting activities for groups of up to 60 people.

Supporting Service Members

Operation Courage is Beautiful

The mission of this nonprofit is to bring joy into the lives of active-duty, deployed U.S. servicewomen through care packages tailored for women. Volunteers can arrange to host a fundraising event, create kits or whole care packages, help in the organization's prescheduled packing events, or host a "thank you for your service" letter writing party.

Wounded Warrior Foundation Freedom Station

This nonprofit supports current and former members of the armed services, with a focus on those who have suffered serious injury or PTSD, are undergoing physical or occupational therapy or are medically retired in the local community. The group welcomes help via financial donations, soliciting goods, shopping for warriors, and gift basket preparation, among other services.

Helping the Unhoused and Underserved

Love Volunteers

If you're looking to build a whole trip (or a good chunk of it) around volunteering, check out Love Volunteers, a global organization that partners with San Diego nonprofits for projects focused on low-income families and unhoused populations. Love Volunteers also helps coordinate transportation from the airport and to project sites from a downtown hostel. Volunteer shifts are typically three to five hours per day, four or five days a week. That leaves plenty of time to explore more of the city.

United Way of San Diego County

The UWSD works with partner organizations to help residents of underserved communities. Volunteer experiences can be customized to a group or company's budget and the causes they're most passionate about.

San Diego Rescue Mission

A faith-based organization, the San Diego Rescue Mission works to serve the needs of the poor, addicted, abused and unhoused, and improve the quality of their lives. Volunteer options include helping with meal service, assisting in the warehouse, supporting special events, hosting food drives and supplying hygiene kits.

PATH

PATH reaches out to unhoused individuals and families, envisioning a world where every person has a home. Volunteer options include helping provide home-cooked meals to residents in PATH facilities, assembling care kits, helping furnish homes with basic needs, and hosting donation drives.

The Lucky Duck Foundation

The Lucky Duck Foundation's mission seeks to alleviate the suffering of the unhoused in San Diego County, and has directed millions of dollars to fund bridge shelters, employment programs, meals and more. Involvement opportunities include helping pack, sort and load food and water for outreach teams to distribute throughout the county. Volunteers also can sort and distribute such items as face shields, masks, hygiene kits, EMPWR Coats and clothing.

Alpha Project

The Alpha Project, which serves the unhoused in San Diego County, strives to empower individuals, families and communities by providing work, recovery and support, with the goal of helping achieve self-suffiency. Volunteers can help organize a donation drive as well as engage in homeless outreach, offering food, water and clothing.

Services for the Disabled

Challenged Athletes Foundation

San Diego is an outdoor-recreation paradise, and the locally based Challenged Athletes Foundation is a leader in helping people of all abilities get out there and enjoy all the region has to offer — whether in the ocean, out on the trail or on the field of play. The organization has numerous volunteer options, from general support to assistance with field clinics, all toward the mission of empowering lives through sport.

Fresh Start Surgical Gifts

This charity deploys a volunteer medical team to provide reconstructive services to children with physical deformities. Nonmedical volunteers are needed to serve meals to patients and families, pack supplies and help provide support services during surgery weekends.

Animal Assistance

Bee Monitoring Project

Take in the stunning beauty of Torrey Pines State Reserve's seaside trails, and do your part for science besides, by contributing to the reserve's Bee Monitoring Project. All you need is a smartphone with a camera, some good walking shoes and a little time to snap a few shots of the resident bees while strolling through one of San Diego's greatest scenic wonders. And while you're there, check out other volunteer opportunities, such as helping remove non-native plants with the Whacky Weeders.

San Diego Humane Society

The local Humane Society works to care for animals and make sure that none who are healthy or treatable are at risk of euthanasia in San Diego County. The society welcomes volunteers to help walk adoptable dogs at agreed-upon trail or beach locations; it also offers animal interactions during meeting breaks, a San Diego Humane Society campus tour with related activity and other volunteer/engagement opportunities.<

Pitching in for Kids

Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego

Ronald McDonald House Charities® provides a home away from home for families with a child who's being treated for a serious, often life-threatening illness or injury at a local hospital. Volunteer groups can help serve meals, sponsor an event or donate money or goods.

Monarch School Project

The Monarch School works to serve unhoused students in San Diego, helping them build hope for the future by attaining necessary skills and experiences for personal success. Groups can get involved by helping host and serve family dinners or hosting supply drives.

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