View Full Version : Where do you find new volunteer opportunities?

1-8-11, 10:33am
I'm currently unemployed, and in a bit of a pity party. I'm thinking that volunteering for a larger effort would at least get me focused externally, and keep from wallowing in my "not good enough"-ness, as well as potentially being useful to others.

Last year, I volunteered for a work-related effort, and while that was fun, it required a weekly hour's drive in each direction. I'm not particularly tuned in to my community as I usually work 45-60 minutes from my home towards a metropolitan area and most of my friends and acquaintances are out there as well. I also don't have children.

How might this introvert find out about possible volunteer opportunities that would suit my skills and temperament? FYI- For work, I manage software testers, and have skills in sequencing work, and making processes simpler. For play, I like to garden particularly with herbs.

Mrs. Hermit
1-8-11, 11:22am
The National Park Service has volunteer programs available. Your local YMCA, church council, or grocery store bulletin boards may carry advertisements. Your librarian might be a good person to ask--they would at least know who to ask if they didn't know (or couldn't make you useful at the library!).

Poco Pelo
1-8-11, 12:28pm
United Way has a list of non-profits under their funding. Schools, libraries, community centers, senior centers,hospitals,homeless shelters,food banks all use volunteers.
You can teach someone to read or use computers in a library or senior center. Take meals to shut ins for Meals on Wheels. Go play dominoes at a nursing home. Help distribute food,help pick up food. Join a CSA and help grow food. or.. Take an old person shopping for food. Old people rock!

Is that enough to getya started ? i got more

1-8-11, 3:20pm
There might be a school near you that would love an herb garden!
You can also look here

1-8-11, 3:42pm
how about becoming a volunteer tutor? We run training this time of year, so there might be one in your town.

1-8-11, 4:13pm
I'd start by volunteering at the library.

1-8-11, 6:11pm
I think your local 211 service might have a list of opps. If not, they could point you to someone who does. Before calling I'd sit down and brainstorm what my passions are, and how best to apply them. It's okay to point and shoot at volunteer listings, but not quite so effective.

Also it helps a lot to do something close to your profession to keep your hand in. For instance if you're an accountant you could work with one of those debt management nonprofits. Or if you're a doctor, something at a free clinic. Prospective employers love applicants who stay involved, and you never know what professional contacts you might make.

1-9-11, 1:02pm
I like gardening too and other nature-related activities. Google has been my friend in that respect as I have found many volunteer opportunities in my area using search words garden, volunteer, etc. Almost too many to choose from but since I still work 9-5, I am limited to eveings and weekends. If you are looking for work, volunteering lets you meet new people and try on different hats. Good luck!

1-10-11, 10:04am
Thanks all for the suggestions. Just as an aside, I wasn't looking for /any/ volunteer position, I was looking for one that fit my specific interests. So a number of you listed ways I could search for particular opportunities. Thank you.

1-10-11, 10:19am
Try idealist.org.

1-10-11, 12:13pm
Another site to try: volunteermatch.org

1-10-11, 12:40pm
I used to volunteer at a non-profit public botanical garden. Loved that. If it wasn't for the volunteers, it would be overrun by weeds and grasses.
My DH is a chef at a retirement community; they have an herb garden there the residents putter in, but it always needs help. The community's recreation manager often sets up classes for the residents. They have done gardening workshops taught by volunteers.

1-10-11, 2:26pm
I have volunteered for a couple of things by going through the REI site. From their home page I type in volunteer in the search box and am taken to a site partnered with volunteermatch. There's probably other ways about it, but that's how I do it. They have things in categories of interest (all sorts of things, not just outdoor stuff) and distance from home which is sort of neat. My last stint with HawkWatch International doing migratory raptor counts. It was sort of fun and very interesting.

3-17-11, 9:17pm
Also try Volunteermatch.org! If you have very specific interests or talents, they often have opportunities for volunteers to do their work from home.

11-13-11, 2:00am
Try idealist.org.

idealist.org is also a great place to look for work that blends paid work with service.

11-13-11, 6:29am
Could you become a master gardener? I believe they have to offer community service hours. It is a great way to share your love/knowledge of plants with others. The local agricultural extension office might have info. Along similar lines, see if there is a horticultural society or organization devoted to particular plants you like in your area. 4-H might be interesting to explore, too. And if there are any farms in your area that participate in WWOOF, that might be another nice way to make a contribution while building your own knowledge/skill set and networks in the community.

If there are nurseries in the area maybe you could start plant appreciation/gardening classes for them -- somethign like that might start as volunteer work, but morph into a job if you become something that draws people in.


11-16-11, 4:02pm
If you have a VA hospital or medical center near you consider volunteering there. They are always looking for volunteers and they usually will have a hotline to call to see what kind of opportunities are needed. Nice way to give back to those who served.

11-16-11, 11:21pm
You started this thread quite a while ago, herbgeek. Did anything pan out? How about the job situation (sorry if I have most likely spaced updates about this already . . . )

11-17-11, 4:24am
Well, Ihano beat me to it but a Master Gardener would fit the bill. Also volunteer.gov/gov and WWOOF.org as well as http://www.squarefootgardening.org/ Square foot gardening, helping others learn about gardening and teaching others about food.

Last one again through SFG: http://www.squarefootgardening.org/teaching#!__teaching
Basically teaching others, but you might actually get extra money for it. Not exactly sure how it all works, but he has been around for a long time and they have great methods.

11-17-11, 7:37am
fidgiegirl: To be honest, I hit a depressed lull after posting this, and did not actively pursue any volunteer work, though its still on my to do list. I would love to become a Master Gardener, but this program is not offered in my area. The closest place I could pursue this is about an hour away, which wouldn't be a problem, but the classes are held weekdays during the day, which would preclude me looking for work.

I am still looking for work- there are typically weeks with a handful of things I apply to, then a few weeks with nothing. I'm pretty annoyed/frustrated at recruiters at the moment. They usually know nothing technically about the position, they only know to match a particular keyword, even when I explain how I have something very similar on my resume. In this market, I guess they look for an exact match. I've had a couple of conversation with recruiters on contract jobs, how the contract is hot, and they call a reference or two, and then they never get back to me or answer my email/phone queries. On one position, I used LinkedIn to find the hiring manager for a position and approached them directly, only to get a nasty mail from HR chastising me for doing so (guess they don't want anyone who shows initiative or persistence ;)). Its quite discouraging and humbling.

I have a couple of degrees, have always been active in relevant user groups related to my profession, I read a lot and participate on mailing lists for technical stuff, take classes, attend conferences, and the like. And I'm considered not employable because I've been out of work for > 6 months, though I know a number of people who just show up and do the bare minimum (sometimes not even that), have a bad attitude, last learned something new 20 years ago, who get to keep their jobs. Its frustrating to say the least. Once I get in front of hiring managers, I usually have a good shot at the position (I'm often in the top 2 or 3 candidates), but there is something very wrong with our recruiting systems that is screening me out.

11-17-11, 7:07pm
How frustrating!!! Sorry to hear this is how it's going. I have no good advice, just can try to empathize.

12-10-11, 4:59pm
Herbgeek. I have to wonder could it be age related? There is a definite age bias out there.

1-24-12, 6:26pm
Herbgeek, I'm sorry for what you are going through. Believe me, I've had my own set of troubles with job recruiters etc. Hang in there...

Re: my own experience with trying to volunteer. I'm trying to get a volunteer gig at a local library branch. quite frankly, they don't seem interested. I filled out an application and I got a letter saying they "weren't hiring." I called the library three times about this already--and the last time the woman I spoke to said she would talk to the executive director (who sent the letter, misunderstanding that I wanted volunteer work) and then called me by the wrong first name, after telling me she had a "long list" of things to discuss with the director, and hanging up at that point.

My friend, who is a librarian, says that often volunteers are more trouble to train than they are worth. WTF?! With library funding being cut, you'd think they would be happy to accept you. Plus, I've thought of going to library school, and everyone I know says it would behoove me to have practical experience in addition to the MLS degree.

Very frustrating...I guess I will just try another library branch.

1-30-12, 4:48am
Ladyinblack - it might just be that 1. the person was having a bad day with too much on their plate,
2. So many people are looking for jobs that she immediately assumes that this is a job you are looking for and not a volunteer position,
3. If they do not show volunteer positions on their website, they might not have any openings for volunteers,
4. Your friend could be right, it takes ~ 40 hours to train a person whether they are a volunteer or a paid person. With budget cuts and people stretched thin to begin with, they may not feel there is enough time in the day to train someone else.
5. I would suggest finding out if they have reading time to children. IF they do, ask if you could help out. If they do a book drive or a fundraiser, ask if you could be on the volunteers called. Start off small, very small. Slowly make your way in. But also check out other libraries as well, including school libraries. See if a school might need help with their libraries. Especially with grammar or middle schools. By the time it is high school, it is more likely that the high schoolers are volunteering there for their community projects. BUT definitely keep plugging away at it.

7-6-13, 6:10pm

And thank you very much that you are willing to work as volunteer. It is a great choice....

I and many friend of me find here work: http://www.workingabroad.com
also this site is very good: http://www.unitedplanet.org
and for charity work and also volunteer you can find more links here: www.e-njoy.us/there-are-too-many-people-who-need-help-you-can-help-them/

I hope you find soon something, good luck

kind regards...

7-10-13, 11:14am
Oh man that stinks! Have you looked into the Big Brother Big Sister foundation? http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962335/k.BE16/Home.htm

7-22-13, 2:39am
I think one of the best way to volunteer is to look for fundraising stuff and join.In Finland i just join in an fundraising and participate as an volunteer in fact we do sell some socks at http://www.pilkkoset.fi/ where we collect a lot of funds and help and charity which is my first time to do.

2-15-15, 2:28pm
Openings for good jobs are so few right now. I read that the true unemployment rate in the US is closer to 24% when you count in people who have run out of benefits yet who are still unemployed or vastly underemployed. Good luck to people who are looking!

My library has a Friends of the Library group. Perhaps you could check there.

There are things you could help with but not make a big commitment, like setting up food at the Food Bank once or more a week. Weeding at a community garden, as mentioned, is another. Howe about offering to teach something to kids at a girl scout or similar meeting? How to use the camera on cell phones, etc. You could schedule it on a weekend to keep your weekdays free for job interviews, etc.

I want to teach "chair dancing" at the senior center in my new town once I've moved. I have a BA in dance and used to teach but knees and one hip seem to be far older than the rest of me. Dancing with arms, hands, and torso is a lot more fun than simpler moves - like in gym class. I want to teach how-to seminars, not weekly classes, so my schedule stays open.

Is there a way you could turn your skills into a self-employed situation?

Best of luck!