I Love Memphis Volunteering and Giving Guide
Updated June 2020
This is the I Love Memphis Blog—and what better way to show your love for this city than to give your time or money to a local non-profit? Here is the charitable giving & volunteering guide to non-profits in Memphis and the Mid-South.
I put this list here because I hope that you’ll decide to:
- spread the word
I hope you’ll decide to do these things not just for Giving Tuesday but all through the year. Want to hear directly from Memphians about their personal favorite non-profits? Check out this post.
This list is by no means complete – there are hundreds of incredible organizations in this city that are worthy of your love. If there are any organizations you work with or support that aren’t on the list, please leave them in the comments with some details on what they need so that everyone can see them.
Here’s your list of ways to Give Back in Memphis!
What they do: This faith-based non-profit provides local children and families with healthy homes through early childhood programs, school-based initiatives, workforce readiness, homeless services, counseling, adoption and foster care. Agape has served Memphis for nearly 50 years.
What they do: AOVS provides housing and essential supportive services to disabled and displaced military veterans so that they can be empowered to reintegrate back into society. AOVS has served nearly 10,000 veterans in and around Memphis since being founded in 1987.
What they do: The Alzheimer’s Association Mid-South Chapter offers care support, research and advocacy for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. They offer a 24/7 help line (800) 272.3900, facilitated support groups, care consultations, referral programs advocacy, and more.
How you can help: You can donate to your local West Tennessee chapter or volunteer by calling 901-565-0011 or sign up for their next Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
What they do: ACS fights every cancer every day in every community through research, education, advocacy, and service.
What they do: BGCGM provides academic, recreational, and mentoring programs for young people in need in Memphis. Read more on my post here.
The Chickasaw Council is a chapter of the BSA that serves boys in 17 counties in TN, AR, and MS. The mission of the BSA is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law (responsible adventure, citizenship, leadership).
What they do: BRIDGES works to inspire diverse young people to become confident leaders through camps and programs like Bridge Builders, internships, team building programs, and education.
What they do: The Child Advocacy Center provides services to some of Memphis’ most vulnerable, the victims of child abuse, that help them recover from abuse and return to normal childhoods. They provide counseling, prevention services and advocates to children and families in need.
CHOICES is a nonprofit health clinic proudly serving the Memphis/Mid-South community that provides professional medical care in a judgement-free space and help people make informed decisions about their reproductive health.
How you can help: Make a financial contribution, volunteer, or attend the annual Condomonium fundraiser party (I’ve been to this event for several years, and it’s now on my list of can’t-miss Memphis events).
What they do: The Church Health Center provides medical, vision and dental care to Memphians who have jobs, but lack health insurance. They also run the Church Health Center Wellness, a pay-what-you-can fitness and community center (pictured above).
What they do: Creative Aging improves quality of life for Mid-South seniors by providing them access to the arts where they live and gather.
What they do: The DeNeuville Center’s mission is to educate women of all backgrounds, both in school subjects (like English, art, reading math and GED classes) and practical skills (like budgeting and parenting).
How you can help: The center can always benefit from monetary donations, but they’re also in need of volunteers to babysit, tutor the center’s clients in ESL, GED prep and preparing for the U.S. Citizenship test. They also need people to help maintain the building and answer the phones.
What they do: The Dorothy Day House of Hospitality provides food, shelter and clothing to homeless families, then works to get them back on their feet, even after they’ve returned to permanent housing.
How to help: The house is always in need of donated supplies, monetary donations, and volunteers to provide childcare, work on the house, tutor, prepare meals and more.
What they do: Imagine finally landing a big job interview, but not being able to afford an outfit that will allow you to dress to impress. Dress for Success provides professional clothing, job mentoring and career services to women in need.
What they do: Friends For Life helps Memphis-area people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS to live well. They provide free HIV testing, prevention services, education, housing, a food pantry, pharmacy, mentoring and support, transportation and emergency financial assistance.
How you can help: Make a financial donation or volunteer as a Spanish language translator, food pantry attendant or meal prepper, or for other projects.
This organization’s mission is to help families with sick children with all their non-medical needs and to support the hospitals that treat them. Think counseling, support groups, supplies, toys, and more.
Girl Scouts Heart of the South introduces girls to inspiring role models, offers unique skill-building opportunities in a safe environment, and sets the stage for lifelong friendships.
What they do: The Halal food pantry at Masjid Al-Mu’minun is the first food pantry in Memphis to provide strictly Halal food to Memphians in need.
How you can help: Call (901) 789-1904 or visit the food pantry’s Facebook page for details on helping out.
What they do: H.O.P.E. is a Mid-South Peace and Justice Center-sponsored organization that advocates for and provides resources people who are currently or have formerly experienced homelessness.
How you can help: Reach out to H.O.P.E. directly to donate or inquire about how to support this necessary organization.
What they do: The Hope House works with families impacted by HIV/AIDS. They’re the only organization in Tennessee that provides preschool and family-centered care to severely impoverished families affected by HIV/AIDS.
What they do: The Humane Society provides shelter, medical care and adoptions to injured and abused dogs and cats.
How you can help: Adopt one of the Society’s adorable dogs or cats (some of them, who have been there the longest, have free adoption) or volunteer to walk dogs, keep kennels clean, or foster an animal.
What they do: LMS estimates that there are more than 120,000 Memphians who can’t read well enough to apply for a job. They work to improve the literacy rate in Memphis by providing literacy classes to all ages and skill levels, professional development help and one-on-one tutoring.
This non-profit children’s hospital depends on the generosity of the community to provide care for children from the region.
How to help: There are plenty of ways to give back, from donating to volunteering to fundraising.You can also support the FedExFamilyHouse, which provides a comfortable place for family’s to stay while their children are treated at the hospital.
This grassroots group provides relief efforts for asylum seekers passing through Memphis, particularly those arriving via Greenhouse bus. They provide clothes, medicine, shoes, food, and more to families and especially children.
What they do: The MCIL is an integrated community that equally welcomes all members, and advocates for and supports people with disabilities so they may live independently.
How you can help: Donate to the Memphis Center for Independent Living online.
The Memphis Farmers Market is a nonprofit that supports local farmers, makers, and artisans by coordinating a weekly market event at the Central Station Pavilion downtown from April through October every year.
The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center is a multi-issue, multi-race organization that engages, organizes, and mobilizes communities to realize social justice through nonviolent action. They educate and train community leaders to lead campaigns for racial, economic, environmental and social justice.
What they do: OUT Memphis (formerly Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center) provides a safe, welcoming space for Memphis’ gay, lesbian, bi and transgendered community. They provide free HIV testing, support groups, counseling referral, and support to LBTQ youth in need of support and care.
What they do: The MOSD focuses on developing listening and spoken language skills for thousands of children with hearing loss.
What they do: The Food Bank fights hunger in the Memphis area by providing food, basic necessities and nutritional education to those in need. They serve 30 counties (not just the city of Memphis) and offer over a thousand meals every weekend to school kids.
How you can help: Financial donations go a really long way because the Mid-South Food Bank can buy food in bulk from manufacturers (see warehouse photo above – that’s just a tiny part of the facility). You can also volunteer. If you feel like you won’t make a difference, know that just one dollar can provide two meals to someone in need.
What they do: Spay Memphis offers affordable spay and neuter surgeries to pet owners in order to reduce pet overpopulation and reduce euthanasia or healthy pets,with a special emphasis on ensuring that low-income and senior citizens have the opportunity to use our services
How you can help: Make a financial donation, or volunteer for clinic assistance or special events.
What they do: MIFA (Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association) works directly with some of Memphis’ most vulnerable senior citizens and families. They provide Meals on Wheels, companionship services and transportation for seniors, emergency housing to families in crisis, mentoring and college prep for teens, as well as help find homeless families permanent homes.
What they do: The OPC is in charge of 184 acres of public parkland, including the Old Forest State Natural area, Rainbow Lake, Veteran’s Plaza, the Greensward, and more.
Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi offers confidential reproductive and related health care to women, men and teens regardless of ability to pay.
How you can help: Click here to see a list of ways to get involved.
Playback Memphis uses improvisational theater and interactive storytelling to connect with the community; they have several programs including Memphis Matters shows, Be the Peace! Anti-bullying program for school, and more.
How you can help: Donate to the Be the Peace Camp fund, which provides transportation for rising 6th graders in North Memphis to attend the camp, or purchase your holiday cards directly from Playback Memphis this year.
What they do: Porter-Leath works primarily with children and families. They provide Head Start preschool, parenting classes, foster grandparents, foster care and a shelter for runaway youth.
What they do: Project Green Fork contributes to a sustainable Mid-South by helping reduce environtmal impacts, with a focus on strengthening homegrown restaurants. PGR has a certification system for restaurants so diners can choose to support eateries that are committed to Project Green Fork’s mission.
What they do: The Ronald McDonald House provides a comfortable home away from home to non-local St. Jude patients and their families while they’re receiving care at the hospital, free of charge.
What they do: Room at the Inn is a Memphis network of churches that provide shelter, food, and amenities to people experiencing homelessness during the coldest months of the year (Nov. 1 – March 31). Their philosphy is that no one should sleep in the cold while churches are warm and empty each evening. They are also working to open a facility, the Carpenter’s House, in downtown Memphis.
What they do: SRVS provides job training, jobs, eductaion, clinics, housing, and a supportive community for Memphians with developmental disabilities. They also provide support to the families of the people they serve.
How you can help: If you’re a warm, friendly person who likes to smile a lot (because you will smile a lot), volunteer to work with SRVS. They’ve got all kinds of hands-on opportunities, most of which come with the instant gratification of knowing that you’ve made someone’s day better.
I hope you’re already familiar with the life-saving work that St. Jude does to treat and cure children with cancer, and the hospital’s impact on medical research and care around the world. Thousands of people donate to St. Jude every year, and every penny is needed, because no family or child has to pay for any part of their treatment.
How you can help: There are myriad ways to give and get involved, but as Memphians who share a home city with St. Jude, we can do something unique and specific: donating blood and platelets directly to St. Jude. This saves the hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars! It’s easy and free to do, just takes a few hours of your time. Look into it.
What they do: The Streetdog Foundation rescues, rehabilitates, and re-homes stray and abandoned dogs in Memphis. They are not a shelter, so they rely on volunteers, foster dog owners, and donations.
What they do: At 4,500 acres, Shelby Farms is one of the largest public parks in the United States with trails, a Greenline, horseback riding, lakes, playgrounds, disc golf courses and a home for a herd of buffalo.
How you can help: Shelby Farms can always use monetary donations, but the most fun way to do it is through the Adopt a Buffalo program. You can also volunteer for one-time and long-term service projects in the park.
- Vitalant (formerly Lifeblood)
What they do: Lifeblood is the Memphis region’s only non-profit volunteer blood center. Through its neighborhood donor centers and full schedule of mobile blood drives that come to business, schools, and places of worship, Lifeblood provides opportunities to donate blood year round.
How you can help: There is no substitute for human blood and you can save up to 3 lives by donating 1 pint of blood. It can be done on a lunch break, after work, on the weekend and is a unique way to give back to the Mid-South. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit vitalant.org.
What they do: Volunteer Memphis provides a network of non-profits, businesses, and volunteers to help volunteers connect with organizations and help companies create volunteer programs.
What they do: Volunteer Odyssey matches volunteers with opportunities in the Memphis area, with a particular focus on matching you (or your team’s) interests and abilities with what local non-profits really need.
How you can help: Volunteer Odyssey needs monetary donations which you can easily do here. Check out the Volunteer Compass if you have a few hours here and there to volunteer in town. Bonus! Every month, I publish a list of extra-fun volunteer opportunities through Volunteer Odyssey called “Ways To Give Back” so be on the lookout for that throughout the year.
What they do: The Wolf River Conservancy protects and enhances the Wolf River corridor watershed as a sustainable natural resource, as well as works to complete the Wolf River Greenway
How you can help: Make a financial donation, volunteer your time, or become a member. The Conservancy also hosts occasional happy hours where part of your drink proceeds benefit the org; follow them on Facebook for the next Green Drinks event.
What they do: Youth Villages provide kids and teens in Memphis with crisis services, foster care and adoption, housing, mentoring, transitional living and in-home services.
How you can help: You can volunteer, make donations, or give back in other ways, or attend the annual Soup Sunday event.
Like I said, these are only a few of the many, many local organizations that are worthy of your time and contributions this holiday season. If you know of or are involved in others, please leave them in the comments so that everyone can see them. Be sure to mention what the organization does and how people can best help them. Consider this the most positive comments section in town, a continuation of the post, and another way to spread the word about great things going on in Memphis.
Originally published in 2017. Updated 2019.