Sustainable Development Goals Service Activity Guide

Want to Give Back to Your Community?

Engaging your UNA-USA chapter in volunteer opportunities can be a great way to get more involved in your community and spread your message! With over 20,000 members and more than 200 chapters across the country, UNA-USA members are united in their commitment to global engagement and their belief that each of us can play a part in advancing the UN’s mission and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Choosing a Volunteer Activity

Take your pick! With 17 SDG’s there is something for everyone! The activities vary in difficulty and planning. Discuss with your UNA-USA chapter what is going to be best for you. Regarding COVID-19 concerns: be sure to follow local guidance on social distancing for your activities. Many of these activities can be done online.

No Poverty 

  • Call local homeless shelters and ask for a list of items they have need for. Compile the list of sites and supplies into one document to share with your community, and encourage them to drop-off supplies or donate!

Zero Hunger

  • Volunteer at a food pantry.
  • Hold a contactless food bank donation drive. Organize a drop off site where the donated food can be collected, preferably outdoors and making sure social distancing is possible. When your donations have been collected drop them off at a local food bank or homeless shelter.
    • Encourage your chapter members to sign a pledge to reduce their food waste. 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year!
    • Get involved with The Farmlink Project, a non-profit that rescues surplus food from farms and donates it to communities in need. Visit to find ways that you can be a part of the mission! One of the easiest ways to do this is to volunteer your time virtually by signing up for a research or calling Power Hour to connect with farms and find surplus food.

Good Health and Well Being

  • Host a virtual 5K fundraiser. Set a collective start time and anyone can participate from anywhere. Decide on how to collect money: registration fee or by encouraging voluntary donations are great ways. Then donate it to an organization that promotes Good Health and Well Being, like a local sports club or hospital.
  • Grab a DVD or YouTube video of an inclusive exercise, like yoga. Head over to your local park and have a group work out together!
  • See if one of your members is a physical trainer, yoga teacher, or fitness fanatic. Invite them to lead your group in a fun activity outside, make it free for the public.

Quality Education

  • Host a book drive.
  • Host a virtual book club to discuss a book related to the SDGs. See UNA-USA’s reading list here.
  • Tutor Mate: Tutor and work with a student for 30 minutes each week. As a volunteer you read a story with your assigned student, asking them questions to see how well your student understood the story, and other activities like word play. Readings and activities are assigned based on the student’s reading level.
  • Upchieve: UPchieve is an online platform which allows you to help low-income students with homework and college guidance through a virtual format. They will provide you with all the necessary tools you need to be a successful and effective tutor.

Gender Equality

  • Volunteer at a women’s shelter.
  • Take a bystander education course on how to spot the signs of domestic violence or abuse.
  • Host a gender equality bake sale (e.g. $1.00 per cookie for men, 75 cents for women, 55 cents for LGBTI members, etc.).

Clean Water and Sanitation

  • Outdoor clean ups: Go to your local park, schoolyard or near your office and clean up!

Affordable and Clean Energy

  • Lights off campaign: easy as turning off the lights once you leave a room!
  • Track your dorm’s or house’s energy use and try find ways you can improve your energy usage. Organize a competition to see who can reduce their energy use by the highest percentage!

Decent Work and Economic Growth

  • Support local businesses. Promote small business Saturday by spreading awareness about shopping at Black-, woman-, or LGBTI-owned stores to support those in your community and then – go shop!
  • Host a discussion in collaboration with your local library about decent work.
  • Hire Heroes USA: Through this platform you can help veterans find jobs by conducting mock interviews, career counseling, fundraising, or guiding federal sector applicants.

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 

  • Teach Technology literacy for community members.
  • Host a meeting for community members where you explain a program that your chapter might be fluent in. Examples include Microsoft Office programs or social media channels.
  • CrisisCommons seeks to advance and support the use of open data and volunteer technology communities to catalyze innovation in crisis management and global development. By volunteering you can apply your IT skills and help others during disasters. Sign up HERE.

Reduced Inequalities

Sustainable Cities and Communities 

  • Host a case competition with your chapter to brainstorm ways that your community could be more sustainable and attend a City Council meeting to present your group’s winning ideas.
  • Reach out to your representatives and advocate for sustainable changes within your city or community. Improve public transport, provide curbside composting or ask for a youth or disability community program.

Responsible Consumption and Production

  • Host a recycling day.
  • Explain all of the different types of recycling that is available in your community.
  • Challenge your UNA-USA members to go zero waste for a day and write about their experiences on social media or blog for the UNA-USA website.

Climate Action

  • Join a climate strike virtually or in-person

Life Below Water

  • Host a beach clean-up event.
  • Raise money for beach clean-ups.

Life on Land 

  • Host an outdoor clean-up event.
  • Go hiking and promote the motto: Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos.

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

  • Attend a mindfulness retreat.
  • Take the “Be Fearless, Be Kind” pledge and encourage others to join you. Read the pledge here!
  • Encourage people to register to vote online and to complete the census

Partnership for the Goals

  • For students, reflect on and celebrate service you’ve done this school year. Submit your volunteer hours from this school year by April 15 to earn a National Community Service Award. Record your service hours here.
  • Check back on the UNA-USA website to see our webinars and toolkits for more ideas!