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The Short Version: Founded in 1993 by “Melrose Place” actor Andrew Shue, DoSomething is a one-of-a-kind organization where volunteers come together to make a difference and meet others who share their passion for philanthropy. Their campaigns provide opportunities for people to address topics such as animal welfare, discrimination, the environment, and sexual abuse and harassment. With more than 5.5 million members and numerous ways to get involved, DoSomething is an ideal way to start making your community and world a better place and bond with others over life-changing projects.
The 1985 Tom Hanks comedy “Volunteers” tells the story of Lawrence Bourne III, a rich, entitled college kid with a gambling problem. After a fall-out with the wrong bookie, and with his wealthy father’s refusal to help with his debts, Lawrence had little choice other than to jump on a plane bound for Southeast Asia to volunteer with the Peace Corps. It’s a fish out of water story that ends (spoiler alert) with Lawrence learning valuable life lessons about giving back and just how rewarding it can be.
Most people don’t get into volunteering because they’re fleeing from debtors, but many do want to help inspire positive change for the world. Luckily, would-be volunteers don’t have to drop everything and go to Thailand — there’s a more local solution to help make big impacts.
DoSomething is an organization where more than 5.5 million charitable-minded young people gather to participate in campaigns that benefit the greater good. Their site has over 270 active campaigns that ensure there are volunteer opportunities to pique the interests of almost anyone. Not only do volunteers attain a sense of accomplishment by contributing to society, but DoSomething campaigns are great ways to meet new like-minded people who care about similar issues.
Started by “Melrose Place” actor Andrew Shue, DoSomething has been bringing people together for decades, helping them volunteer for causes close to their hearts.
“DoSomething.org is the largest organization for young people and social change with over 5.5 million members,” said Colleen Wormsley, DoSomething’s PR Director. “We’re a movement of young people who take action on different social causes through our campaigns. Today, we have over 270 different volunteer opportunities young people can join to make a real impact on a cause.”
The organization has done some big things over recent years — clothing over half of the teens in America’s homeless shelters, cleaning up 3.7 million cigarette butts, and donating 589,008 feminine hygiene products to shelters. And those are just three campaigns worthy of praise. With participants aged 13 to 25 in every U.S. zip code and 131 countries, DoSomething is fulfilling their mission statement to “make the world suck less.”
The team who behind it all is a self-described quirky bunch who would rather be known by wacky childhood pics than duck-lipped selfies. The board is lovingly referred to as “old people who give us major love.” With this sort of attitude and fun atmosphere, you know the campaigns must be truly inspired and a blast to work on.
At DoSomething, young men and women can be part of something bigger than themselves and make new friends who have common passions. Whether your philanthropic interests lie in cleaning up the environment, engaging with seniors, or giving back to a local shelter, there are plenty of creative and fun ways to spread awareness and affect real change in your community and beyond.
Every campaign makes a positive contribution to society — some in significant ways and others more subtly. Take, for instance, the Power to the Period campaign run in partnership with Kotex. A staggering 50,259 DoSomething members participated in efforts to wrestle up 585,965 individual pieces of feminine hygiene products– some of the most needed items at shelters nationwide.
Colleen told us about another campaign that sheds light on something often silenced in society: unhealthy relationships.
“One campaign we ran addressed unsafe relationships and was called 1 in 3 of Us,” she said. “We used the trend of metallic tattoos to highlight the stat that one in three young people will be in an unsafe or unhealthy relationship. People who signed up got three bracelets as well as a guide to spotting the signs of an unhealthy relationship.”
Members were encouraged to post pictures of themselves wearing the metallic tattoos and a phrase with a “text to” number on their social media profiles. The aim was to increase awareness and educate people on red flags to look for in their relationships so they don’t become another statistic.
DoSomething has also gotten the conversation going about consent, even in safe and respectful relationships. A current campaign, Get Some (Consent), centers on finding new ways to do so without totally massacring the mood. Posting flyers around school with hot tips on how to ask for permission, posting to social media, or having talks with peers are some of the many ways to make asking for the go-ahead a bit easier.
Every campaign doesn’t necessarily have to be serious either. For example, no one likes to feel alone or forgotten on their birthday, so DoSomething partnered with Johnson & Johnson for the Birthday Mail campaign, where participants made and mailed thousands of cards (157,809 to be exact) to some of the 2.5 million U.S. youth who go homeless each year.
“Everyone has a birthday, and it’s something our members could relate to,” Colleen said. “Plus, they were able to use their creativity to help other young people.”
While the primary benefit of getting involved with DoSomething is, of course, doing good for others and our communities. A bonus benefit is being around like-minded people. Engaging in an activity, like Soup Something (a campaign encouraging people to volunteer at soup kitchens during the holidays) might give you the opportunity to make a life-long friend or companion.
Volunteers can bond with friends new and old over a fun and insightful campaign like Thumb Wars. Here, members are encouraged to make and share thumb socks to prevent friends from texting and driving.
“Studies have shown that peer-to-peer tactics are more effective at reducing texting and driving than scare tactics,” Colleen said. “We also used the campaign to remind people not to play Pokémon Go while driving!”
DoSomething also helps students stay on top of their reading game with activities like Blind Date Book Party. Volunteers can sign up to host or attend a party where everyone brings a must-read book with its cover wrapped in paper. Books are then swapped based on personal reference, and participants are entered into a $10,000 scholarship.
Lawrence Bourne III was rewarded with the epiphany that giving back can change lives, and his new outlook connected him to people he probably would have never met. DoSomething makes it easy for you to do the same.
It’s no secret volunteering can have huge impacts on communities and fosters a sense of well-being and accomplishment. However, those participating in DoSomething campaigns have the opportunity to experience even bigger rewards.