Websites where you can find unique and life-enhancing volunteer positions.
We know there are hundreds of websites that list volunteer opportunities, but that in itself can be problematic. Sometimes it’s hard to get started or figure out what to do because there’s just too much information. So we’ve put together three great websites that can simplify the process and make it easier for you to find a volunteer opportunity wherever you live and that suit your specific interests and needs.
Besides, some of the opportunities presented on these websites are not your run-of-the-mill soup kitchen kinds of positions (not that there’s anything wrong with those). But many of these are unique and life-enhancing, and we’re all about unique and life-enhancing.
They claim to list more than 100,000 nonprofits around the world. And that may be an accurate number — when I plug in my little town on Long Island, NY into your search box, over 500 organizations pop up. That’s impressive, but what I particularly like about this website is they go to great lengths to match you up (hence, the name) with a position that matters to you. You can, for example limit your search to just those organizations that focus on animals and wildlife, health and medicine, education/literacy, children, homeless and housing, environmental issues — in fact, to almost anything to which you feel an emotional connection. For example, as a retired entrepreneur, I was able to find volunteer positions to mentor foreign born students and young professionals right in my little town.
To learn more, go to volunteermatch.org.
Idealist is an interesting website in terms of the opportunities they provide. As to this website’s mission, it’s “All about connecting idealists – people who want to do good – with opportunities for action and collaboration. Idealist helps people move from intention to action all over the world.”
They also claim to list a huge number of opportunities — more than 120,000 — but not all of these are volunteer positions. Some are non-paying intern posts and some are actually jobs. In reality, only about 13,000 are for volunteering, but still that’s a sizable number. This is a great place to search out positions in foreign countries, such as teaching English, Health, and Ecology in Bali, working at a wildlife center in Uganda, or performing at Friedman Place in Chicago, which is a supportive Living Community for blind and visually impaired adults. However, for the last of these, it would be a good idea if you could actually perform, i.e., can sing or play a musical instrument, etc.
As a note of caution, some of their volunteer positions are very short-term, and some you have to pay for the privilege. In other words, you have to think about them as an alternative way to spend a vacation (or maybe as a reverse job — you pay them to work.)
To learn more, go to idealist.org
This organization is the volunteer segment of the Points of Light Institute, which is a large nonprofit inspired by President Bush’s Daily Point of Light Award for people who have made a difference. Hands On Network is similar to VolunteerMatch.org and Idealist.org in that you can find opportunities across a range of fields and locations.
Within their own organization, they don’t list as many positions as the other two. However, they have a network of affiliate organizations located in more than 250 cities across 37 countries, as well as “Action Centers” you can contact to find local opportunities. The kinds of opportunities they offer are also wide-ranging, including health, business consulting and mentoring, education, civil and human rights causes, and environmental issues.
To learn more, go to pointsoflight.org