How to Find Your Ideal Volunteer Opportunity Right Online

These Matching Services Make It Easy to Volunteer

Volunteer leading kids on a fielf trip.
••• Mike Watson Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Why People Love to Volunteer

It has never been easier to volunteer, and it's becoming more popular than ever as people of all ages and abilities look for ways to improve their communities and support other causes close to their hearts.

The Corporation for National and Community Service reports that as of 2017, one in three Ameican adults volunteered for an organization. That means almost 77.4 million Americans volunteered 6.9 billion hours in that year. The estimated value of that volunteer service was close to $167 billion. 

Furthermore, people of all ages have found that volunteering makes them feel better. United Health found in a study that 76% of people who had volunteered in the past year said that their volunteer work had made them feel healthier.

Volunteering also helps people find work, whatever their gender, age, ethnicity, or geographical area. Employers also value the volunteer work of job applicants. A study by Deloitte found that more than three of every four Human Resource executives consider a job applicant's volunteer experience when making hiring decisions.

Volunteer experience is also highly valued by employers too. For instance, the Corporation for National and Community Service found there is a clear link between volunteer service and paid employment.

So document your experience and add it to your resume and your social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Getting Started

If you're looking to make your contribution, start with this guide to find volunteer opportunities online and turn up an assortment of great causes with contact information.

Before you commit to a new volunteer gig, check out these tips for picking just the right volunteer spot and getting the most out of it.

Besides the online volunteer resources listed on this page, volunteer centers exist in many states and cities. Looking locally might turn up the most extensive list of volunteer opportunities right in your backyard.

You can also visit the Points of Light website for an app that helps you find the nearest volunteer opportunities that fit your talents and interests.

General Online Volunteer Matching Sites

Start looking for a volunteer gig by perusing the following list of sites to get a feel for the types of opportunities available. If you find yourself honing in on a particular cause, you can then research more specifically to turn up volunteer needs in that area.

U.S. Government-Sponsored Volunteer Programs

These established government-sponsored programs offer many opportunities for volunteer work and travel, both domestic and international.

  • Corporation for National and Community Service
  • Peace Corps (Not just for recent college grads. The "new" Peace Corps welcomes all adults, including retirees and seniors. Also, there are short-term opportunities in addition to the traditional two-year commitment)
  • AmeriCorps (A US-based version of the Peace Corps.) Full-time placements pay a stipend)
  • Senior Corps (Servicing seniors by seniors)
  • Volunteer.gov/gov (Pitch in for America's Natural and Cultural Resources)
  • Ready (Part of the Department of Homeland Security. Focus on emergencies such as fire, flood, and hurricanes)

International Volunteer Opportunities

Many international volunteer opportunities require you to pay for the experience. Some people find this acceptable and a great way to travel. Find out why and how to combine volunteerism and travel

Volunteer Opportunities for Students and Youth

Get your kids started early and help them gain valuable experience to broaden their horizons and enhance their college applications.

Volunteer Opportunities for Professionals and Executives

Put those valuable years of work experience to use by helping others in need of guidance for their small business or financial management.

Volunteer Opportunities for Older Adults and Retirees

Many of the volunteer programs on this page welcome older Americans. Here are a few specifically designed for that group.

Some of the organizations listed above provide ways to volunteer virtually through your mobile devices or computer. Many virtual volunteer opportunities are also "micro" in that they are tasks that you can do in just slivers of the time you have available. 

Virtual and Micro-volunteering

Here are some sites with a focus on virtual volunteering or that have the ability to search for virtual opportunities.

Besides searching volunteer portals for ways to volunteer virtually, check out the numerous sites for people with specific interests. For instance:

Special Volunteer Days and Weeks

Don't forget all the unique opportunities during the year when volunteering is promoted. Here are just a few.

Regardless of the type of skillset you have, there's a cause out there that wants your help.

Article Sources

  1. Corporation for National and Community Service. "Research." Accessed March 15, 2020.

  2. United Health Group. " Doing Good Is Good For You," Page 4. Accessed March 15, 2020.

  3. Deloitte. "Executive Summary: 2013 Deloitte Volunteer IMPAACT Survey." Accessed March 15, 2020. Download "Skills-based volunteerism."