Young volunteers package bagels to give to those in need.
When a new year comes along, many of us make resolutions, such as to eat better, lose weight, or spend less time in front of televisions and computers. For some, it’s about making a commitment to give back to their communities and support causes they are passionate about through volunteering.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have time,” or, “I don’t know where to start.” With this Social Good Spotlight, we’ve made it easier by listing some of our favorite organizations that can help you connect with nonprofits and find the right volunteer opportunity, one that fits your interests and schedule. So here’s to making a New Year’s resolution to give back – you might find it’s the best gift you can give yourself.
VolunteerMatch is the largest volunteer engagement network on the internet, with more than 90,000 participating nonprofits, 160 network partners and 10 million visitors each year. You can search for local volunteer opportunities as well as virtual ones (opportunities that can be done from anywhere, at any time, and not all necessarily require a computer).
HandsOn Network is the largest network of local volunteer centers around the world with 250 HandsOn Volunteer Action Centers. In addition to skills-based opportunities in your community, the website makes it easy to find ways to contribute to disaster relief efforts, as well as learn about full-time volunteer opportunities through AmeriCorps National Direct and VISTA programs as part of the HandsOn Corps. Each year, HandsOn Network and other national service partners organize and promote a national day of service and dialogue to honor the memory of Dr. King on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (click here and go to the “Find a Project” section to learn about volunteer opportunities this Jan. 21, 2013).
Volunteers in Philadelphia on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2012
Idealist connects people, organizations, and resources to “help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.” In addition to volunteer opportunities, you can also find internships and job opportunities in the nonprofit sector.
Craigslist is a local classifieds and forums with more than 700 local sites in 70 countries. While most people use craigslist to find jobs/housing and buy/sell stuff, the website also offers volunteer and nonprofit job postings.
GreatNonprofits aims “to inspire and inform donors and volunteers, enable nonprofits to show their impact, and promote greater feedback and transparency.” Similar to Yelp, Tripadvisor or Epinions, the website contains reviews and ratings posted by people who have been impacted by a nonprofit and want to share their story about it (typically volunteers and clients of the nonprofit).
The following resources specialize in microvolunteering, a relatively new way to volunteer for people who can’t commit a lot of time and prefer short-term assignments through the web. Examples of microvolunteer actions include participating in online brainstorming sessions for fundraising event ideas to creating logos for a newsletter to conducting online research to add names to a distribution list.
Sparked offers a “platform that delivers on the promise of Social Business.” Using its Sparked Community product, Sparked promotes microvolunteer opportunities that provide professional expertise to a global network of nonprofits. Over 70,000 volunteers and 6,500 nonprofits have used Sparked to connect and exchange ideas and resources. While many of its volunteers come through corporations with social responsibility/employee volunteerism programs, anyone can sign up to microvolunteer. You must register to see postings by nonprofits seeking help.
Help From Home is a community website that promotes and encourages participation in easy, no commitment microvolunteering opportunities. A United Kingdom-based service, many of the listings on the website are for opportunities to engage with nonprofits located in countries around the world.
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