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Finding Volunteer Work in Your Area
Volunteering is a great way to get involved with your community, help those in need and do something for the greater good. It can also do yourself some good in return — you can meet new people, learn new skills and challenge yourself to try something different. Plus, it simply feels good to give back!
But where to start and how to find a place that works well with your schedule and talents takes some careful consideration and planning. The good news is there’s always a place to volunteer, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time — you just need to find the right fit for you!
Let’s get started!
Volunteer Posting Sites for Local Opportunities
Local volunteer posting sites are a great way to get started. They can give you all the details you need about volunteering for different organizations. Many of these websites post information about a variety of groups so you can research different opportunities in one place.
No matter what kind of volunteer work you’re interested in, these websites can help you find an opportunity that matches your skillset and interests.
- United Way is an international organization whose mission is to “improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.” It connects people to volunteer opportunities in their communities. On the United Way website, you can search by city, areas of interest and more.
- JustServe helps people find local volunteer opportunities. You can search by project, organization, interests, skills and more. The site also shares success stories with descriptions, photos and details that might help you decide which organization is right for you.
- VolunteerMatch makes it easy for good people and good causes to connect. Since 1998, the organization has connected 16.7 million volunteers with great places to volunteer, helping more than 135,000 organizations create real impact.
- DoSomething calls itself a “youth-led movement for good.” It helps young people who are interested in making a difference in their communities find a cause that fits their passions. It even helps members earn scholarships through community service!
- Engage can connect you to all kinds of volunteer opportunities in your area. You can search for causes — and if you don’t find a good match, use the site to start a new project in your community! You can also search for other volunteers near you, or recruit friends and neighbors to join your cause.
- Catchafire matches professionals who want to share their skills with nonprofits in need. Skills-based volunteering allows nonprofits to tap into a range of professionals they might not be able to afford to hire, such as accountants, engineers, marketers and more. All that expertise adds up — the average volunteer project on Catchafire provides professional services worth $5,200!
- GivePulse lets you easily engage with local causes you care about, then measure and understand the positive impact of your efforts. Since 2012, it’s helped more than 100,000 groups bring millions of people together to make positive social change, with more than 10 million verified impacts across North and Central America.
Places to Volunteer
When thinking of ways to give back to your community, consider looking right outside your front door. Starting local in your philanthropic endeavors is a great way to ensure your area gets the right support, curated to its specific needs. It can also mean you can receive better resources, connect with your community and create the biggest impact with your time and effort.
Looking for volunteer activities near you? There might be more than you think! There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in your surrounding area — you just may not know about them yet. That’s where we can help! Here are 12 types of organizations that might be looking for volunteers in your area.
1. Food banks and food pantries
Supporting your local food bank or food pantry helps combat food insecurity and provide hunger relief to individuals, families and children in your community. While each food bank and food pantry might operate a little differently, they often need volunteers to support their day-to-day operations, such as receiving and packaging food donations and restocking shelves. Call local organizations or check their websites to see how you can get started.
2. Public libraries
No matter how large or small your community, chances are there’s a public library nearby. And it almost certainly could use your help! Public libraries often look to volunteers to help with daily tasks like reshelving books, sorting library materials, providing technical support for library visitors and supporting community programming, such as a summer reading program for children. Visit your public library system’s website to learn about ongoing programs that could use help, or call your local branch for opportunities.
3. School districts
School districts open their doors to community volunteers who can help strengthen the connection between schools and the community. Schools provide a wide range of opportunities for volunteers — tutoring students, helping in the library, and monitoring lunchrooms or playgrounds are just a few. Most school districts have volunteer information on their website that includes available opportunities, expectations, how to sign up to volunteer and which positions may require a background check.
4. Local shelters
Shelters help provide safe, secure housing for all. Volunteering at a shelter is about more than supporting a nonprofit — it’s about truly helping people. Each shelter has different needs, so it’s important to first contact your local shelter or go to their website to find out how your talents and skills can help them with their unique needs. And the sooner you reach out, the sooner you can change someone’s life.
5. Neighborhood human and civil rights organizations
Getting involved with human and civil rights organizations gives you an opportunity to take action and advocate for issues relevant to you and your community. These organizations protect the rights and safety of individuals such as immigrants and refugees, people from the LGBTQ+ community, and racial or ethnic minorities. Volunteer opportunities can include everything from driving people to appointments or work, sorting donations or supporting administrative tasks based on your skillset and experience. Get involved by searching online for nearby organizations or local branches of national groups that align with your values and interests.
6. Community parks and recreation departments
Volunteering with your city or county parks and recreation department is a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while giving back to the community. Volunteer needs usually vary depending on the time of year and current projects within the park system. Many departments need help with natural land management work, like spring cleanups, garden maintenance and leaf collection. They also need volunteers throughout the year for special park-sponsored events. Check with your local parks and recreation department for details about volunteer opportunities that allow you to enjoy nature while lending a helping hand.
7. Nearby state and national parks
Sharing some of your time and skills with the state or national parks near you can make a big difference for the many people who use them. Volunteers can provide much-needed maintenance and programming support so these natural treasures can continue offering outdoor opportunities to people of all ages and from all walks of life.
The National Park Service offers the Volunteers-In-Parks program, which provides a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups to work behind the scenes or in community-facing positions in park locations throughout the United States. Find service opportunities at federally managed parks and natural areas near you at volunteer.gov, or check your official state park system website to find opportunities at state-managed parks.
8. Animal shelters and adoption centers
Love animals? Put your passion to good use at your local animal shelter! Animal shelters and adoption centers always need volunteers to help care for their furry friends. Check out animal protection societies such as The Human Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to find a reputable organization near you.
Or you can start your own animal shelter! That’s what Randy Grimm did when he founded his nonprofit, Stray Rescue of St. Louis. Since 1998, Randy’s dream has grown from a one-man operation to a network of thousands working every day to save abandoned and abused dogs from some of the country’s most dangerous streets — proving that one person’s passion truly can make a difference.
9. Retirement homes and long-term care facilities
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities can always use extra help supporting their residents’ need for companionship, socialization, creativity and exercise. Volunteers can bring smiles to residents’ faces by teaching them basic technology skills, delivering mail or facilitating fun social activities, such as trivia and bingo. There are also plenty of opportunities to provide respite care for caregivers who may need a break from caring for a loved one.
If you’re looking to volunteer at a nursing home, care facility or as a respite care provider, the easiest way to find a position is by searching online for opportunities in your area. Parishes, churches, community resource programs, nursing homes and hospitals typically have a volunteer coordinator who can help you make a connection.
10. Local community centers
Many communities have at least one community center that serves the area with a variety of support and programming. No matter the size of your community, there’s likely a need for mentoring young people, helping students with homework, supervising after-school programs, or hosting arts and crafts projects. Stop by your local community center or check the website to learn about volunteer opportunities that may interest you.
11. Arts and cultural organizations
Cultural organizations like history museums, art museums and theaters often need volunteers to help with ticket sales, food and beverage service, and directing patrons around the venue. In museums, teachers and trained experts can volunteer to help run seminars and guide tours. In some community theaters, volunteers can help with behind-the-scenes work, such as set design and lighting. If you know where you’d like to volunteer, check out opportunities on their website, or talk to friends or colleagues who are already involved.
12. Local hospitals
Local healthcare facilities always need help, and they are typically very welcoming to volunteers. And you don’t need to have medical experience — you just need a willingness to lend a hand! Most hospitals rely on volunteers to supplement their staff’s daily nonmedical tasks, from greeting families to delivering flowers. Call your local hospital or check the website to find out if they’re accepting help from volunteers.
Ready to Volunteer? Find Volunteer Work in Your Community!
Now that you know where to look for volunteer opportunities and have some local options, it’s time to get started! Volunteering for organizations you care about not only helps your community today, it’s a promise for a future that can empower others to dream big and continue the chain of change. Whether you volunteer every day or every so often, your time and skills can make real, positive change for an individual, family or whole community.
At American Family Insurance, we share your passion for creating stronger communities. We believe it’s our responsibility to show up for our communities –– our dedication to philanthropic efforts has been engrained in our company culture for over 90 years. That’s why we created our social impact resources collection. Take a look!
This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.