Making a difference this Christmas

At NCVO we receive a large number of enquiries about volunteering opportunities over the Christmas period. Christmas is a great time to volunteer and there are lots of one off opportunities to help people less fortunate as you, as well as getting a taste of how rewarding volunteering can be.

Christmas is also a very popular time to volunteer, research from nfpSynergy shows that more than a quarter of people (28%) plan to volunteer over the Christmas period, so an early application will avoid missing a place on some of the great volunteering roles available this year!

Volunteers can choose to participate in a range of opportunities over Christmas – we’ve listed a couple below. Please do also visit the I want to volunteer page on the NCVO website where you can search for your local volunteer centre, who will be able to provide information on volunteering opportunities near you. Small local charities can sometimes struggle to recruit volunteers during this period so contacting your local volunteer centre is a great place to start if you want to have an impact in your local community.

You can also visit the Do-it website to browse other volunteering opportunities at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year.

Help the homeless

Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time of year for a person cut off from their family and home. A number of homeless charities will be looking for volunteers during the festive season to help with a wide range of tasks from serving food, to sorting through donations and providing support and friendship to vulnerable people all over the country.

To find these opportunities you can either speak to your local volunteer centre, search on the Do-it website or apply to some of the national charities. Crisis run Christmas centres all over the UK and need over 10,000 volunteers to help more than 4,000 homeless guests this Christmas. They need people with specialist skills (like dentists, hairdressers, lorry drivers and performers) as well as an army of general volunteers. Read more about how Crisis recruit, train and support volunteers for Crisis at Christmas.

Community Christmas

As half a million older people are predicted to spend this Christmas day alone, Friends of the Elderly and Community Christmas are calling on hundreds of people to Be a Friend by organising a local Christmas activity.

Organising a local Christmas activity is easy – it’s not just about the turkey dinner, you could get people together to watch a Christmas film, share a glass of sherry and a mince pie, or enjoy a Christmas day walk.

Whatever you decide to do, you will help make sure more older people, who would otherwise be alone, have something to look forward to on Christmas day.

Find out how you can get involved on the Friends of the Elderly website


There are a range of different festive fundraising ideas you can get involved in over the festive period from Christmas carolling, to Santa fun runs and Christmas jumper days. Alzheimer’s UK have provided their top 10 festive fundraising ideas for this year. What better way to make use of that tasteful jumper you received last year?

Christmas gifts and donations

A number of organisations are running local Christmas present appeals over the festive period. Join in by donating gifts for children, families, older people and homeless people in need this Christmas, or pack a gift wrapped shoebox full of donated gifts to children all over the world through Operation Christmas Child. Lots of charities are also taking donations this Christmas. Shelter are running a campaign to encourage donations to provide urgent support to homeless children over the festive period.

Volunteering isn’t just for Christmas

Research from nfpSynergy shows that a third of people who want to volunteer at Christmas time do so because they see it as ‘a time of a giving and want to get into the festive spirit.’  The extra time people have over the holidays is another big factor, with a quarter of volunteers giving this as one of their reasons.

But of course volunteering isn’t just for Christmas – it’s something that can be enjoyed all year round. For organisations looking to retain their volunteers after the festive period, there are some great tips on Knowhow.


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Kathryn Harrington was NCVO’s volunteering development team assistant. She supported our work on volunteer management and good practice and supported the Investing in Volunteers Quality Standard.

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