Giving Back + Volunteering

Giving Back

Support any local, national or international charity whose mission speaks to you.

Having worked in the nonprofit industry for a long time, I can tell you that winter/spring is the worst time of year in terms of charity fundraising. Sure, the holidays are generous and that generally gets everyone through but sometimes it's close. If you have a favorite charity, a spare $20 bucks could make a difference for them right now.

An easy way to give back right now, from your phone:

Coin Up App

The easiest way to donate to charity is round up your digital spare change every time you shop. That's what the Coin Up App does for you. Download the app, choose the max amount you want to donate each month, select your favorite charity and you're done! Turn spare change into meaningful change.


Volunteering offers a positive feeling of accomplishment in return for some hands-on experience. I've attended Bonnaroo many times, in many ways and the most rewarding option for me, by far, has been as a volunteer. That's not to say it's easy. Doing all the Bonnaroo stuff on top of a volunteer shift makes for a long flipping day. But you're getting a free ticket to a magical place AND you're doing something good for world. When I look back each year, the effort was totally worth it.

I receive lots of inquiries each year about volunteering in exchange for a ticket to Bonnaroo. Your first stop should be with C'roo, the official Bonnaroo volunteers. You'll work three six-hour shifts before or during the festival. Repeat volunteers get seniority and better choices.

If that doesn't suit you, check out Clean Vibes and their events page. They service a lot of festivals nationally in case you're looking to attend other events. You'll buy a ticket to the festival through their system and they'll refund you once your service is completed. You can work shifts before, during or after the festival.

Another option is volunteering with a vendor or organization that is exhibiting at the festival. If you don't know anyone affiliated with such a group, I recommend networking online. Inforoo and a number of the Facebook groups talk about volunteer opportunities. If you start looking for volunteer stuff, you'll definitely find a position. Be a good volunteer and a positive inspiration for others!

Be on the lookout at Bonnaroo: You'll discover a handful of organizations at the festival in an area called Planet Roo. All sorts of organizations are represented, ranging from Oxfam to the Tennessee River Coalition, each with a unique mission. Find Planet Roo and go say hi to these folks. I promise you'll be inspired.

Back Home

If you have the time to volunteer at home, you can make a difference year round, and in your own backyard. In 2018, Bonnaroo charity partner We Are Neutral came to my area in Florida and organized a clean up of a local water inlet and estuary. I personally picked up 13-pounds of trash! Multiply that by the other 40 or so volunteers and you get an idea of the impact even a small group can have together.

I suggest Googling volunteer options in your area or look at Volunteer Match. Once you start looking for ways to volunteer, you'll notice them all the time. As the old Jewish saying goes ... If I don't take care of my brother, who will? And if not now, when? 

Good Orgs

Looking for inspiration right now? Here are six unique charity organizations that I support:

Photo by Bonnaroo Chris, Zimbabwe 2019

ONETrack International

Global Orphan Support - OTI provides long term support to orphans and orphanages in Africa, Southern Asia and Central America. OTI provides for education, health and caretaker support for each child.

Why I like it: This charity focuses on providing each child with support until they finish school. As a part of the the Africa visit in 2019, I saw first hand the opportunities the children now have, as well as the environment they'd be left in if the charity didn't exist. Lots of intern opportunities available!


Photo by Alyce Henson, Rotary International

Rotary International
International Service - The largest service organization in the world works to provide humanitarian service, as well as advance goodwill and peace around the world.

Why I like it: Apart from being something your grandparents talk about, Rotary actually has a chapter in nearly every country on the planet. The organization is filled with good people doing good work.


Photo by Erich Schlegel, ShelterBox USA

International Disaster Relief - A global charity that deploys basic shelter and other life-saving items such as solar lights, water purification, tools, and blankets. Aid items are tailored to meet the demands of each disaster situation and hand delivered by a volunteer Response Team.

Why I like it: An emergency organization with a lot of volunteer options, including being able to deliver critical aid items to people displaced anywhere in the world.


Southern Poverty Law Center
National Civil Rights and Public Interest - A nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation. Fighting hate, seeking justice, teaching tolerance.

Why I like it: SPLC has been a force for good since the heydays of the KKK. It's a lean organization that tackles powerful issues.


Photo by Bonnaroo Chris, Jerusalem 2010

The Jewish Federations
The Jewish Federations of North America is the umbrella organization representing 148 Jewish Federations and 300 independent Jewish communities across North America. Touching more Jewish lives than any other organization in the world.

Why I like it: The Federation network does great work on the behalf of Holocaust survivors, Israel, the Arts, and the Jewish people. Lots of volunteer opportunities at the local level.


Photo by Bonnaroo Chris, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2018

To Write Love On Her Arms
International Mental Health - A nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. WLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

Why I like it: We all know family and friends who could use some inspiration. Sometimes I need it myself. I recommend watching the movie "To Write Love On Her Arms" on your preferred streaming service.

Laugh To Feel Good dot com

Laugh To Feel Good

Patients and caregivers of cancer and Parkinson's may each find free ongoing virtual laughter wellness workshops here:

 Thank you for reading! 

For tips and ideas about attending Bonnaroo, be sure to read my overview page.

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