Volunteering at a charity or donating to local charities benefits your community. For example, when you volunteer at a homeless shelter, you're doing more than just filling residents' stomachs. You're also hearing their life stories and giving them encouragement, as well as contributing to a larger effort to help them live independently again. Giving money or goods to a charity can also go a long way to getting necessary resources and services to persons in need.
Talk to friends or neighbors. If you're looking for a charity that accepts used clothing and housewares for low-income families, ask friends or neighbors if they know of any local charities that do this. If they give you a list of names, numbers or addresses, contact these charities and find out what specific items they're currently seeking from community residents.
Look in your local phone directory. When searching for organizations, look under categories such as "Charities," "Non-Profit Organizations," "Community Groups" or "Associations." Write down the names of these organizations, contact them and find out what their specific needs are and how you can help.
Visit Idealist.org, a website that lists current volunteer opportunities for various nonprofit organizations in different states. Type in your city's name, then click on the links to each local organization to get additional information on how to help them serve their communities.
Check on an organization's reputation. Before you donate money or goods to a local charity, carry out an informal investigation of the organization you have in mind to make sure it is reputable. Visit your local branch of the Better Business Bureau's website to find out how the organization rates.