Where do you find your volunteer opportunities?
December 8, 2005 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Where do you find your volunteer opportunities?

I am a volunteer manager for a national non-profit and am looking to find new on-line venues to recruit volunteers in different regions.

I currently use Volunteermatch.org, idealist.org, upcoming.org and occasionally craigslist to post events and opportunities, but am looking for other places people might use. Especially ones local to your city/region.

Where in your community do you look?
posted by karmaville to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Our local charities run a number of multi-charity events, mostly in shopping malls, this time of year. These serve not only their primary purpose, fundraising, but also as great ways for people to comparison shop for volunteer activities. Many of the people who look for volunteer opportunities either don't use the net for that sort of thing, or it's not the first thing they think of using. The face-to-face can work really well to get people involved in something they feel connected to.
posted by bonehead at 10:09 AM on December 8, 2005

Churches are a huge, huge resource. You'll need to get involved with individual churches, and find out what their needs are (for example, do you tell the bulletin's typist two weeks in advance, or do you call the minister the day before?). But I still think this could be extremely worthwhile. I know I find out about a lot of opportunities through my church.

You can also try through schools. Some high schools have community-service requirements to graduate (mine did, and by senior year, everyone was desperate to find places to volunteer). Lots of colleges have willing volunteers, if you can find a dean or someone to work through.

I have no idea what your nonprofit is, or what it's looking for, but have you checked with local police departments? Community service is a common sentence for lesser offenders. If it's picking up trash, you might appreciate their help; if they would be giving water to Special Olympics contestants or something, it may not be the perfect match.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:10 AM on December 8, 2005

Response by poster: Sorry, I should have been more clear about the non-profit and our opportunities.

It is a disease related non-profit and most of the volunteer opportunities are advocacy and medical outreach related.
posted by karmaville at 10:19 AM on December 8, 2005

Offline as well. Whenever we have an event at my museum, we place a sign-up sheet and a volunteer at a table near the exit, along with some signage saying "Get involved!" or "Want to Help?!" We gather 100s of names, then send a broadcast e-mail. Though perhaps only 10% respond, we get great volunteers this way.

We also recruit at the local college volunteer & internship fair. Since so many colleges now encourage or require community service, it would be worth getting in touch with the institutions near you. Start by inquiring at the career services office.
posted by Miko at 10:22 AM on December 8, 2005

I use Craigslist, Idealist, and Hands On Bay Area (which I think exists for other cities, too). I've also done Google searches if there are types of places I'm looking for -- I wanted to do something with tourguiding or architecture, for example, but didn't know any particular organizations in San Francisco, and "Architecture volunteer San Francisco" led me to the Architectural Heritage Foundation. I also try to make note of organization that sound interesting when I'm reading the paper or surfing the web, so general PR can also be a good thing.
posted by occhiblu at 10:24 AM on December 8, 2005

I love, love, love Hands On Tampa Bay.
It's our local United Way. Go to a brief, 45 minute orientation and then you can go to the website and sign up for projects on dates that are convenient for you.
posted by willmize at 10:26 AM on December 8, 2005

I use New York Cares website, which aggregates all of their volunteer opportunities for the entire city of New York on a month to month basis. I don't know if there is a similar organization where you are, but what NYCares does is server as a middle man between non-profits/charities that need volunteers and the large number of people in NY that would like to volunteer but have difficult schedules. What happens is that you join NYCares and attend an orientation and then you get access to the website where you can search for available slots and sign up directly through the site. It is very convenient and helpful and lets you target the specific area you like to put your energy towards. For example, I like to do soup kitchens/missions so I can search specifically for those.

posted by spicynuts at 10:26 AM on December 8, 2005

I think your disease related non-profit, advocacy and medical outreach related would have a very great appeal to university students who have an interest in pursuing a career in medicine, dentistry, optometry, etc.

My university has a jobs / volunteer website, has volunteer fairs and a number of volunteer type clubs.

I'd epsecially look into contacting clubs that are along the lines of 'Pre-medical' or 'Pre-dental' as it seems (at least at my university) that they always have a very large membership and yet don't really have anything for their members to do. I'd send an email to the club exec of all the different clubs for universities / areas you're interested in recruiting from. The exec would probably jump at the opportunity to inform their members (as it's not much work for them and yet they get to seem like they're doing something).
posted by curbstop at 10:35 AM on December 8, 2005

I found my current volunteer job through a local newspaper's "Volunteer Opportunity" section. I'd recommend the local "real" newspaper as well as any smaller weeklies you might have in the area.

The only place I recall looking online was through the United Way site. They have an option on the site to search for local charity volunteer positions.
posted by divka at 10:55 AM on December 8, 2005

the hands on network, through its affiliate, chicago cares. also, the local bar association, my alumni association, my parish and the local red cross.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:58 AM on December 8, 2005

OneBrick here in the SF Bay Area. On occasion, MixerMixer seems to have some volunteer stuff sometimes too.

When you attend an event (at either place) you can always ask folks about other ways to find opportunities.
posted by drstein at 11:28 AM on December 8, 2005

VolunteerMatch is excellent. VolunteerSolutions provides a couple of Baltimore-area websites-- Baltimore County and BVU Maryland. Volunteer Maryland is run by the state, and I think manages one of those VolunteerSolutions websites (though I'm not sure).

ServeNet and Just Volunteers are other websites. Though God knows why I maintain our listings, as they haven't recruited crap.
posted by Anonymous at 11:56 AM on December 8, 2005

Ditto curbstop on finding universities with students that fit your needs. You can then go through either departments, student groups/organizations, or public service groups. I'm at MIT, and if I were looking to find people to fill those positions, I would go to the Public Service Center, Biology Undergrad Student Association, Alpha Phi Omega (community serivce club - not actually a frat) and the Biology Department. I pick on bio because I'll bet that is where most of our pre-meds are, but they truely come from all over (engineering departments and chemistry too, and they all have departments and student clubs).

It's different from the databases you have been listed in, because you will have to either send email to someone and ask it to be forwarded to their relavent mailing lists or make more direct and continued contact with human beings. But, it does sort for skills, present your organization apart from the thousands of others on idealist, and even builds opportunities for continued projects or perhaps additional funding for potential projects.
posted by whatzit at 4:29 PM on December 8, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the great answers. I appreicate the info.
posted by karmaville at 10:53 AM on December 9, 2005

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