Go Glocal & Volunteer
What are you good at? What do you like to do?
How do these two things line up with the needs of your local and global community? Let your answers guide your volunteering experience.
Each hour we volunteer in the United States equals about $20 in value to the organization. Volunteering plays a key roll in going glocal. The best place to find volunteering opportunities are your existing contacts at school, church, or any organizations you belong to already. Ask around. You’ll be amazed to learn how connected your acquaintances are to your community and the world. My mother-in-law is a hairdresser in a town with a population under 5,000 and she’s put me in touch with people in places from France to Ethiopia.
If you’re still not sure where to start, here are some resources to help you find the right volunteering opportunity for you locally and around the world.
VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. Our popular service welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 76,000 nonprofit organizations.
My take/Tips: This is the Mac-daddy of them all. There are so many awesome opportunities here, I wish I had more time to give. You can search by your interest homelessness, environment, mentor. Sort by “distance” to find opportunities the most “local” to you.
HandsOn Network inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. Our network, now the largest in the nation, is leading people from impulse to action, turning their ideas for change into impactful projects, like wheelchair ramp construction, watershed protection projects and tutoring programs.
My Take/Tips: I couldn’t believe how many opportunities the search found in my childhood hometown (Greenville, Ohio). But my current hometown yielded no opportunities. I think this site is a bit of a hit and miss and depends on how strong HandsOn is in your are. There’s talk of this program receiving some budget cuts too. The site offers great guidelines for starting your own project. The project recipes are very in-depth and walk you through everything from organizing a school supply drive to leading a resume preparation workshop.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism, including the mobilization of volunteers. It serves the causes of peace and development by enhancing opportunities for participation by all peoples. It is universal, inclusive and embraces volunteer action in all its diversity. It values free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity, which are the foundations of volunteerism.
My Take: The UN is everywhere. I especially like the ability to find tasks that organizations around the world need completed. As a writer, this allows me to contribute to important programs around the world from my office in Indiana.
VolunteerSpot launched in Spring, 2009 with the mission of enabling ANYONE to quickly mobilize and coordinate volunteers in their community, congregation and social network. VolunteerSpot’s simple sign up application makes it easy for community members to participate and say YES to volunteering. No waiting for approvals and passwords, no software to install, just easy, free scheduling and sign up tools for everyday heroes making a difference.
My Take/Tips: If you want to lead and make stuff happen on your own, this is the site to help you. Gives you the tools to manager volunteers. Start with their great selection of free ebooks on everything from how to raise money by having a bake sale or talent show to kid-friendly fund raisers. The target of the site is school-age kids, parents, and teachers, but the tools and resources could be applied to all volunteer organizing.
DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the US that helps young people rock causes they care about. A driving force in creating a culture of volunteerism, DoSomething.org is on track to activate two million young people in 2011. By leveraging the web, television, mobile, and pop culture, DoSomething.org inspires, empowers and celebrates a generation of doers: teenagers who recognize the need to do something, believe in their ability to get it done, and then take action.
My Take/Tips: This is geared at teens, but the site allows you to easily find what’s important to you, education on that subject, and actions to take. I think that do-it-yourself projects can be inefficient because they come with a learning curve, but getting students engaged in positive action at an early age is priceless.
Idealist connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.
A Note on Volunteering Abroad: There are many organizations that help you find and facilitate volunteering abroad. Cross-Cultural Solutions
and International Volunteer HQ are two examples. These placement services do a lot of the logistics for you, but can be pricey. If you’re new to traveling and volunteering and have some cash to spend, they might be the right option for you, but I think giving your time shouldn’t cost you a lot of money.
Want to talk to a volunteer expert?
Meet Joshua Berman, author and tranquilo traveler. Joshua worked in the Peace Corps and spent his year-long honeymoon vacationing with his wife. Hop over to his blog, stop by his facebook page, and ask him your volunteer-related questions.