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Volunteer Opportunities: Finding them online

Updated on March 22, 2014
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Volunteer Opportunties

Community service is one of the most rewarding, self-less things a person can engage in. Helping others with your time can make a huge impact on someones life. With that said, you want to engage in a project that is suited for your needs and interests. Finding that special project can sometimes be harder than the volunteer work itself. Provided is a list of online web resources that can help you find the perfect volunteer match. But first, the best place to start is locally! Check out the library, local school, senior centers, colleges, etc to find opportunities there. Online town searches can also generate local up-to-date matches. You can then broaden that to state online volunteer searches.

Idealist.org

This commonly used site can help you locate not only volunteer services, but also employment, organizations and internships. With an advanced search, you can type in the desired location. With an advanced search, you can add keywords, specifying the exact wording. At the same time, this search engine allows you to express words you do not wish to include in the results.

Searching "animal" in Chicago generated 6 valuable volunteer results. On the results page, you have the ability to specify an area of focus, a distance restriction, duration, schedules, appropriate targeted group, restrictions, housing availability, and language. For example, if you wished to extend this search to distances within a 150 mile range, 11 more results would surface. If you wanted an opportunity lasting less than 3 months, only 2 results would show.

Idealist.org is one of the top online resources for finding volunteer opportunities. The site allows you to restrict many of your options to find the perfect volunteer match. It is easy to navigate your options and apply for the project as well as receive additional information as the site is kept up to date. The site, however, generates less results than some of the others. So while Idealist.org is specific, it is also limited.

Volunteer.gov

Sponsored by the United States government, this site focuses on natural and cultural volunteer opportunities. Different from many of the typical search engines, you are able to view an event calender and investigate various agencies of the US government and possible volunteer opportunities within them. Some of them include the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Veterans Affairs.

This website is a great tool for anyone interested in the environment and conservation. Campground hosts, trail maintenance, educators, tour guides and map editor are just a few of the many unique volunteer opportunities provided on Volunteer.gov. While these are highly different, similar to Idealist.org, there are a smaller amount of opportunities generated with each search.

DoSomething.org

Do Something is aimed at young people making a difference world-wide. ON their website you can view the various campaigns that they're currently involved in, including the "Bully Text" and "Peanut Butter and Jam Slam". It is easy to get involved in these campaigns and learn more about other opportunistic as well.

There is the option to look up various amounts of other causes - animals, troops, discrimination, disaster, education, human rights, etc. DoSomething provides resources and links on how to get involved in these causes. This site is unlike other search engines in that it is a global company focused on getting young adults involved in the hot topics of our time.

gviusa.com

This site focuses on volunteer abroad opportunities in places all over the globe. These are great for a summer commitment or alternative spring break. Some of the projects include marine conservation, health care and education.

You can either search using a cause of by place. If you wish to work with sports in Asia, there is the opportunity to teach disadvantaged youths soccer in India. A search for healthcare in Mexico will bring you to a project devoted to horse therapy for special needs children. The opportunities are endless! While these can be exciting opportunities, they also run at a cost. Housing, food, planes, etc can put you in the thousands. This site provides a unique tool to the world traveler hoping to spread some good.

VolunteerMatch.org

This simplistic site goes back to the typical volunteer search engine. You have the ability to browse various interests including arts and culture, advocacy, animals and human rights. At the same time, you can also search by keyword eliminating the restrictions of the broad categories. Similar to some of the other sites, there's also the ability to search by place; therefore, you can find a local organization in need of your help.

VolunteerMatch has a great tool which allows you to set up your own profile so they can find the perfect match for you. You can plug in your interests, skills, etc. This will generate long lists of opportunities you can always check. This is by far the most personalized search engine. Applying for these is just as easy, simply click on the "Apply Now" button along with the description and write a quick message to the volunteer director. They will get your memo and see that you're interested. It's just as easy as that! VolunteerMatch also has an immense amount of search results. It can sometimes be daunting; however, for someone wanting plenty of options, this is the perfect site for you.

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