June 10, 2019

5 creative community service ideas

From clean-ups to music festivals, the community projects experts at the nonprofit ioby share some of their favorite ways to get the whole neighborhood involved.

Fun and creative resident-led service projects can transform the whole community. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part list. Read five more ways you can launch a creative community service project in your neighborhood, from the community project experts at ioby.

Opportunities to serve our communities are everywhere, and can take many forms. Some of the most popular community service ideas are rooted in volunteering with an existing organization—like a soup kitchen, school, or house of worship. We at ioby think this type of community service is stellar, and we applaud anyone who makes the time to get good done with an organization they love.

But we also know there are some that are moved to act by the unique issues in their own neighborhood, and want to imagine, build, and execute their equally unique community service ideas. That’s why we’ve been helping residents bring their good ideas to life for over 10 years. ioby’s community crowdfunding platform—and the expert fundraising support that goes with it—gives people the tools and information they need to raise the cash, awareness, and buy-in necessary to take the positive change they envision from idea to reality.

Below, hare are five of our (many) favorite ioby projects that illustrate how creative, fun, and impactful resident-led community service ideas can be.

1. Idea: Host a community conversation

Examples: Gentrification Community Conversation & A Bridge that Bridges

The community service idea: Leaders in Tucson and Cleveland, respectively, wanted to talk with their neighbors about difficult topics: gentrification and displacement in downtown Tucson, and longstanding racial divisions in Cleveland. Both called on residents’ deep knowledge of their city to help people communicate openly about problems and discuss solutions.
How ioby helped: Gentrification Community Conversation’s leaders raised almost $950, and A Bridge that Bridges’ leaders raised over $2,000 on ioby to pay for professional facilitators, flyer printing, art supplies, and other costs of hosting community conversation events.

2. Idea: Help make transit more user-friendly

Example: Timely Trip & MARTA Army

The community service idea: When Binh Dam moved to Atlanta, he quickly saw that many bus stops lacked posted schedule and route information. He got permission from the city’s transit agency, MARTA, to install temporary signs at several stops. His efforts were immediately appreciated and led to the founding of MARTA Army, a grassroots action group that works with the agency to improve the rider experience across the system.

How ioby helped: Binh raised over $500 on ioby for the materials needed to print and install his first batch of temporary signs.

3. Idea: Keep your neighborhood clean

Example: Bags n’ Blocks

The community service idea: Anti-litter campaigns often become attacks on people of color and the poor. Bags n’ Blocks doesn’t want to do that. Instead, they create individual litter pickup routines that give neighbors the opportunity to meet each other where they are and form empathetic bonds with everyone who shares their Pittsburgh community—all while spreading the benefits of a cleaner neighborhood.

How ioby helped: Bags n’ Blocks’ leaders raised over $3,700 on ioby to buy litter grabbers, trash cans, rubber gloves, and other litter clean-up supplies for scores of volunteer neighbors.

4. Idea: Support houseless neighbors

Example: Walls of Love

The community service idea: For people dealing with houselessness, getting help can be difficult and degrading. Cleveland’s Walls of Love was created by a formerly houseless resident to collect and distribute warm weather gear and toiletries to those who need them. Volunteers put the items in plastic bags, then secure them to a fence—creating a “wall of love” that community members can choose from as they need.

How ioby helped: Walls of Love founder Holly J. raised $1,700 on ioby to buy thousands of winter clothing essentials and hygiene items, and the bags, zip ties, and signs needed to affix them to area fences.

5. Idea: Organize a guerilla music festival

Example: Crash Detroit 2018

The community service idea: Crash Detroit is a free, annual, two-day summer music festival founded in 2014. It invites street bands from across the country to perform in public spaces and businesses through the city, adding surprise and delight to residents’ days.

How ioby helped: Crash Detroit 2018’s leaders raised over $1,900 on ioby to pay for portable restrooms, signage, documentation, and other event costs.

Check back tomorrow for five more ways to create a community service project!

This article was first published on ioby’s blog.

Noah Lumbantobing ioby

Noah Lumbantobing


Noah Lumbantobing supports communications and storytelling work at ioby, helping to let people in on the poorly kept secret of community-led decision making for change–through crowdfunding! He is passionate about racial justice and collective agency, and is excited about the ways he can contribute to that everyday through ioby. He comes to ioby after previously working at the NYC Mayor's Office of Strategic Partnerships, supporting government, philanthropic, and private sector partnerships that advance the public good.

Noah holds a B.A. in Politics and Government from the University of Puget Sound. Originally an Oregonian and Indonesian, he spends a lot of time shuttling around the world meeting old friends, making new ones, and eating plenty of good food. When he can stay put he enjoys shell fishing, visual design, and geeking out over urban planning and local governments.
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