The websites linked below provide megalists of volunteer opportunities. Some are international, some are based in the U.S. or world regions, and some provide ways of finding local opportunities where you live. Some focus on disaster relief. Many of these sites require you to sign up in order to use them as a way to search for opportunities. Many of them provide valuable information about choosing and planning your volunteer experience.
More about checking out a volunteer organization is explained below.
Americorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects more than 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet our country’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. AmeriCorps members serve with more than 2,000 nonprofits, public agencies, and faith-based and community organizations. Web address: http://www.americorps.org/.)
Association of Voluntary Service Organizations (AVSO) is a European platform of non-profit organisations offering opportunities for long-term, full-time international and/or national voluntary service. Many of AVSO's member organisations are international networks and associations themselves. Including their members, AVSO represents more than 110 national organisations across Europe. See: www.avso.org/
Disaster News Network is a Web site for those who want to volunteer their time in response to U.S. domestic disasters. DNN Volunteer News is sponsored by national disaster response organizations and offers list of volunteer opportunities in different states. See www.disastervolunteers.org/
Energize, Inc. is an international training, consulting and publishing firm specializing in volunteerism. It primarily serves organizations that use volunteers. It provides a list of volunteer "supersites" at: www.energizeinc.com/prof/volop.html.
The International Volunteerism Resource Center, a project of idealist.org, is a free, comprehensive online source of information, tools, and strategies for making informed decisions about engaging in meaningful international service. See www.idealist.org/en/ivrc/index.html.
The International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) is an alliance of nonprofit, non-governmental organizations based in the Americas, that are involved in international volunteer and internship exchanges. International volunteer programs offer unique hands-on learning experiences which promote cross-cultural understanding, cooperation, and solidarity among individuals and communities around the world. For more information go to www.volunteerinternational.org.
If you are in the Morris County, NJ area and would like to volunteer your services, the New Jersey Self-Help Group Clearinghouse is looking for volunteers to help search the Internet, newspapers, and other sources for new local New Jersey support groups, assist with updating existing support groups, and other projects that arise, for which they feel up to challenge. Please contact Michael Reale at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
SERVEnet.org lists volunteering opportunities throughout the U.S., searchable by zip code, type of service, dates and times, and service type. SERVEnet is a program of Youth Service America (YSA), which commits to having volunteer opportunities on SERVEnet for every zip code in America. Web address http://servenet.org/.
United Planet is an international, non-profit organization offering both individual and group service trips from 1 to 52 weeks in over 40 countries. The underlying principle of the programs is the concept of Relational Diplomacy—recognizing that the relationship between people of diverse backgrounds is the basic building block for uniting the world. To see the types of projects available across the world, and get more information, consult http://www.unitedplanet.org/
United Way offices list volunteer opportunities in the area they serve. To find your local United Way office and contact them about volunteer opportunities, see http://national.unitedway.org/
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program is an IRS sponsored program to help low to moderate income persons, including anyone eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), have their tax returns prepared by IRS tax law certified volunteer at no cost. EITC is the largest federal anti-program and has helped lift individuals and families out poverty by boosting their household income. VITA volunteers ensure that eligible families are receiving all of the credits for which they are eligible. All volunteers will receive free training and IRS tax certification (good for 1yr). To locate the nearest VITA site, call 1-800-906-9887.
Volunteer Match offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. It provides a volunteer opportunity search engine for locations throughout the U.S. See www.volunteermatch.org/volunteers/.
World Volunteer Web [www.worldvolunteerweb.org/] is posted by the United Nations Volunteers program in partnership with other organizations. The World Volunteer Web supports the volunteer community by serving as a global clearinghouse for information and resources linked to volunteerism that can be used for campaigning, advocacy and networking. Lists of volunteer organizations worldwide are posted at www.worldvolunteerweb.org/take-action/be-a-volunteer.html. (Listing of organizations is not meant to indicate endorsement or quality assurance.)
Youths Organization for International Volunteers is a non governmental, non partisan and non profit making organization. Its goal is to offer services to the Kenyan community, through volunteering, that target and address the most serious issues affecting our community: HIV/AIDS, healthcare and nutrition, environmental conservation, child rights (including the rights of orphans, street children and other vulnerable children), gender based violence, sustainable agriculture, home based care, teaching and training amongst others.
Youths Organization has been established with the following key focuses in mind:
- To work with Kenyan and international volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life.
- To reduce the dependency syndrome and help Kenyans become self-sufficient.
- To give volunteers a rewarding volunteer experience, working on the ground, with people in need.
- To utilize volunteers to the best of their potential.
- To ensure that our community, government, private sector, public sector, churches, other volunteer organizations and all of our volunteers world wide can work together in a collaborative, positive and open environment with a view to improving living standards in Kenya.
Often people who are about to travel halfway around the world to volunteer for an organization they had not previously heard of ask how they can know that they are putting their goodwill into good hands. Following are some things to consider:
If you found the organization listed on one of the websites linked above, examine that website to see what the requirements are to be listed. Some of those services, such as idealist.org, investigate the organizations they list, and you can see what kind of information was necessary for them to be included.
Examine the organization's own website. How do they describe themselves under "About Us." What kinds of other organizations do they cooperate or affiliate with.
When you communicate with the organization, what is your experience? Are they responsive? Are they prepared to provide answers to the kinds of questions such an organization would typically receive from volunteers? (E.g., What should I bring? What expenses should I expect?)
Ask for references from affiliated organizations and from former volunteers. Try to communicate personally with a couple of recent volunteers.
- If the organization is based in another country, ask them what kind of licensing is required by their government and check on it. You may also contact the country's U.S. embassy or a consulate and ask what ministry or section of their government to address an inquiry to.
A few helpful links:
Questions to Ask Before Volunteering: www.cnvs.org/volunteers/questions_to_ask.php (from Catholic Network of Volunteer Service).
10 Tips on Volunteering Wisely:
http://www.networkforgood.org/volunteer/volunteertips.aspx (from Network for Good)
Top 10 Myths About Disaster Relief: http://donation.worldvision.org/atf/cf/%7BBAC3E0C2-25A1-4ED2-9A84-06DA1AFAFD25%7D/CR_TOP_10_MYTHS.PDF (from World Vision)
Aid Experts Debunk Post Disaster Myths: www.alertnet.org/thefacts/reliefresources/112904062889.htm (from Reuters Foundation).