Give Time, Things, Support: 20 Ways to Make a Difference This Fall Around Chicago

Whether you can give your time by volunteering, things by donating unwanted or unused items, or support through monetary contributions or attending a fundraiser — give back to these Chicago-area nonprofits and show your appreciation for their commitment to our city and suburbs.

Give: Time and Support

Breakthrough partners with those affected by poverty to build connections, develop skills, and open doors of opportunity. Volunteers are needed to serve meals in shelters, distribute food in the food pantry, tutor youth, sorting donations, and more. Donations are also needed, with $100 supporting Breakthrough in moving people experiencing homelessness into stable housing.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Give: Time and Support

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention aims to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. They carry out this mission by funding research, educating the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocating for public policies in these areas, and supporting all those affected by suicide. To help further their mission, AFSP welcomes people to get involved by partaking in their Out of the Darkness Community and Campus Walks, hosting their own fundraisers, volunteering, helping educate their community about suicide prevention, and advocating for suicide prevention legislation. If you or someone you know is in immediate crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Give: Support

One of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s amazing keepers with orphan elephants

For the past 43 years, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has helped conserve wildlife and habitats in East Africa. Their projects across Kenya include safeguarding the natural environment, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, and enhancing community awareness on these matters. You can help this organization in various ways: by making a monetary donation, purchasing merchandise from their shop, adopting an orphan, or simply spreading the word about their mission.

Cycling Without Age
Give: Time and Support

Trishaw ride around Big Bear Lake, Vernon Hills

From the seat of a trishaw bike, the Cycling Without Age North Shore team integrates seniors into society one ride at a time. CWA-North Shore Chicago is a 501c3 organization that aims to help local seniors better experience their surrounding neighborhood and nature. You can join CWA’s mission by volunteering to be a trishaw “pilot,” volunteering to help with administrative work, or donating to their cause. 

Give: Support

@Rise empowers women to smile again!

&Rise helps empower women to be the fullest version of themselves regardless of barriers or past adversities. Your monetary donations will help further this goal by contributing to free counseling, free support groups, and other free or affordable events for women in need of help.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore
Give: Time

The YWCA welcomes volunteers to assist with preparing and serving dinners for the residents of their new Family Support Center for survivors of domestic violence. Overall, this organization is devoted to “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace justice dignity for all.” Volunteers will work shifts from 2:00-4:30PM or 4:30-6:30PM, Monday – Friday. They ask that volunteers commit to at least one shift, every week, for 12 weeks.

Urban Autism Solutions
Give: Support, Time, Things

Helping young adults with autism and related disorders build a better life, Urban Autism Solutions provides a multitude of social and vocational opportunities for individuals through innovative, community-based programs. They are currently seeking monetary donations, as well as winter jackets, gloves, hats, socks, and boots. Volunteers are also needed to help out at their Growing Solutions Farm in the Illinois Medical District.

The Nora Project
Give: Support

A student sending a custom Friendship February postcard to an essential worker (challenge number 17).

The Nora Project is on a mission to promote disability inclusion by empowering educators and engaging students and communities. Supporters can encourage their students by making a donation or pledging $1, $2, or $5 for every challenge completed (students complete challenges each Friendship February to raise money for their schools).

$50 provides a classroom kit to a Nora Project classroom, including books from their kindness library, empathy reflection journals, team building activities, and more.

LINK Unlimited Scholars
Give: Support

LINK Scholars pose during a pre-COVID event.

Connecting Black high school students with mentors, resources and foundational skills required for success, LINK Unlimited Scholars is seeking small gift cards (Visa, Target, food delivery services, etc.) or other new items that would be exciting to teenagers. “After months of virtual learning both at school and through our program, we continue to look for new ways to encourage our Scholars to show up and engage with our offerings. Incentives for participation go a long way,” they said.

Meals on Wheels Northeastern IL
Give: Support

Meals on Wheels fosters health and independence by delivering nutritious meals to homebound older adults and others unable to care for their nutritional needs, regardless of income level. Donations offset the expenses to make this possible, with just $16 a day feeding an older adult. Donations can be made online or by mailing to 1723 Simpson St, Evanston, IL 60201.

The Gray Matter Experience
Give: Support and Time

Students at the 2nd Annual Pitch Black student pitch competition.

The Gray Matter Experience (TGME) “unlocks the self-determining power of Black youth, and strengthens their ties to community through real world experience in entrepreneurship.” Volunteers are needed to mentor their budding entrepreneurs and for corporate office-days/tours. In-kind donations are requested as well.

Chicago Run
Give: Support

Chicago Run uses running as a catalyst for youth development and healing.

With a mission to promote the health and wellness of Chicago children, Chicago Run provides equitable access to the healing power of sport and physical activity in under-resourced Chicago neighborhoods that lack the opportunity for safe and affordable recreation. Your donation helps Chicago Run empower young people and develop critical social and emotional skills through the power of sport.

Austin Childcare Providers Network
Give: Things

Austin Childcare Providers Network empowers early childcare providers in Austin to create engaging early learning environments and develop sustainable businesses. They are currently seeking in-kind donations of laptops or Chrome Books to help children with the challenges of remote learning. Please contact Ruth Kimble at to coordinate drop-off times.


Sept. 18: PAWS 5K 

Photo by Christine Irvine

PAWS Chicago (Pets Are Worth Saving) is an organization committed to bringing an end to the killing of homeless cats and dogs. They find homes for 5,000 dogs and cats annually through its adoption centers and operate one of the largest high volume free and low-cost spay/neuter clinics in the country. This year’s annual Walk/Run will be held on September 18, and will help to further PAWS’ mission to build a No Kill city. 

Sept. 20-26: NorthShore University HealthSystem American Craft Exposition 

All week long art admirers can tune into the American Craft Exposition’s virtual show week — presented by The Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem. The craft show incorporates over 100 artisans exhibiting their one-of-a-kind pieces, including jewelry, ceramics, furniture, and basketry. Proceeds from the event will go towards research initiatives at NorthShore University HealthSystem. 

Sept. 28: After School Matters 30th Anniversary Gala

After School Matters is a nonprofit organization that provides after-school and summer programming to almost 19,000 Chicago public high school students each year. They aim to provide these students with new opportunities, so that they can see their potential and develop their talents going into the future. The organization’s 30th Annual Gala will take place virtually on September 28, where all proceeds will go towards supporting After School Matters programming.

Sept. 30: Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Gala

To celebrate 30 years of their organization, the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is hosting an awards gala this fall. The IHCC aids the success and growth of the Hispanic Business community in Illinois. Festivities will take place at Chicago’s Hyatt McCormick Place. 

Oct. 1: The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center 2021 Fall Benefit 

The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center works with the Medical Center itself to help provide the best healthcare possible for the diverse communities Rush serves. The Board helps support outstanding patient care, research and community outreach initiatives. This October, they’ll be holding their annual fall benefit to raise money to support Rush University Medical Center’s education, research and community service programs.

Oct. 2: American Cancer Society Discovery Ball

The American Cancer Society’s annual Discovery Ball is an extravagant event held in the Hilton Chicago. This coming fall, attendees will come together at the Ball to “be a H.E.R.O.”, in helping ACS support their “Health Equity in Research Operations” campaign. This night will be filled with celebration and unity as everyone works towards ensuring “fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat and survive cancer.” 

Oct. 2: WINGS Purple Tie Ball

Allison Cuca (right) is a WINGS Metro Associate Council member. Photo courtesy of WINGS.

WINGS’ Purple Tie Ball is a night dedicated to commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month and celebrating their strong Domestic Violence survivors. The WINGS Program Inc. 21st Annual Purple Tie Ball will be a spectacular evening filled with music by Maggie Speaks, silent and live auctions, and the presentation of the David K. Hill Award to a remarkable WINGS Program Inc. graduate. Throughout the year, WINGS Program Inc. aims to “provide housing, integrated services, education and advocacy to end domestic violence”

Oct. 16: Reclaim13 Cherish the Dream Gala

Reclaim13 is a Chicagoland organization devoted to ending the cycle of sexual exploitation through efforts in prevention, healing, and community engagement. Their annual Cherish the Dream Gala supports this mission through a meaningful night of dancing, dining, auction, and live entertainment.

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