How VolunteerMatch Works

A little one slide his hand over mine while on a recent trip to Rwanda,Africa.
More than 65,000 nonprofits list their projects and volunteer needs on VolunteerMatch, the largest online network of volunteering opportunities.

It used to be that your primary options for finding volunteer work would be to read your church newsletter or scan the community center bulletin board. Not anymore. Now, finding volunteer work is a lot like trying to find a love interest online -- complete with profiles that include pictures, testimonials and reasons why you'd be the perfect match.

More than 65,000 nonprofits list their projects and volunteer needs on VolunteerMatch, the largest online network of volunteering opportunities. Persons seeking charity work can search for opportunities by location, interest area or keyword.


Launched in 1995 by four MBA grads who wanted to make it easier for busy executives to get information about social causes and the organizations in need of help, the San Francisco-based Web site claims it has made more than 4 million volunteer referrals in the past 10 years [source: VolunteerMatch].

The goal is to tap the millions of online users who may be willing to donate money to a good cause or lend a hand, expanding the reach of nonprofits that typically have limited marketing and recruitment funds.

Organizations that list their volunteer openings on VolunteerMatch include the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, National MS Society, Easter Seals, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and the Peace Corps [source: VolunteerMatch].

The site also helps corporations like Charles Schwab, Dell Computers, Exelon, Google and General Mills match their employees to community projects, track employee volunteer hours and manage their own charitable campaigns [source: VolunteerMatch].

Read on to find out more about how VolunteerMatch helps nonprofits get the help they need.


VolunteerMatch at Work for Nonprofits

VolunteerMatch allows any tax-exempt organization -- including charitable, civil, social, educational, governmental and political groups -- to recruit volunteers through its site. The organization and non-profits have even joined forces in the past to produce public service announcements that spread their volunteering message [source: PR Web].

The basic service on the Web site is free and requires filling out a series of online registration forms that take about 15 minutes to complete. As part of the registration, VolunteerMatch requires organizations to submit their employer identification numbers (EIN) to verify their status as a nonprofit.


Other than that, organizations simply post their listings, whether it's a request for greeters at a one-time event or tutors for an ongoing program that serves inner city youth, and wait for the volunteers to click on their links.

VolunteerMatch also provides an upgraded option called Community Leader that gives nonprofits a greater range of Web tools to boost their recruitment efforts, manage existing volunteers and promote their mission.

For $8.95 a month (or $75 a year), Community Leader allows nonprofits who subscribe to the service to repost their listing to the top of search results, send interested volunteers questionnaires and informational sheets, receive monthly account activity summaries and solicit financial donations through the site [source: VolunteerMatch].

Community Leader also gives nonprofits a 15 percent discount on postings in more than one zip code and highlights their listing in blue, giving them greater visibility to site visitors.

VolunteerMatch also has an online learning center for nonprofits with research on national volunteering trends, tips on how to recruit and keep good volunteers and webinars on everything from making the most of their online posting to managing difficult volunteers and attracting Baby Boomers [source: VolunteerMatch].

Read on to learn how VolunteerMatch helps volunteers find charities they like.


VolunteerMatch at Work for Volunteers

If you live in a big city like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, just plug in your zip code and you're likely to get more than 1,000 listings of where you can help. The site has proven popular; it's referred more than 100,000 volunteers across the nation to organizations that could use their help [source: Volunteer 211].

For volunteers, VolunteerMatch's best feature is its search page, where users can find openings at particular organizations as well as find opportunities specifically for kids, teenagers, families and groups. From setting up tables for a fundraising marathon to designing Web sites for social services groups, you'll discover scores of places that may need your special talents.


And if you need work that's closer -- well, actually in your home -- VolunteerMatch also has a section where you can search for "virtual" volunteer opportunities -- work such as data entry, writing and designing brochures that you can do at home on your computer [source: VolunteerMatch].

When you do a search on the site, the listings are presented with the newest postings first. But by using the dropdown menu at the top of the form, you can re-sort the list by distance from your home, duration of service or date. You can also set up an e-mail alert to notify you when a listing matching your interests is posted to the site, upload your volunteer resume, invite other people to volunteer with you and sign up for VolunteerMatch's monthly newsletter.

Once you find a listing that interests you, simply click on "I Like This Volunteer Opportunity" and complete the required form. When you're done, an e-mail is sent to the organization signifying your interest. The organization should contact you after getting the referral.

The site also provides a resource center for volunteers with tips on how to make the most of charity work and how to choose the right organization as well as webinars on those topics.

To learn more, visit the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Martin, Scott. "Creating Baby Boomer-friendly Volunteer Opportunities." World Volunteer Web. 1/24/06. (Accessed 5/13/09)
  • PR Web. "New Awareness Campaign from VolunteerMatch Celebrates the Contributions of America's Leading Volunteers." Press Release Newswire. April 15, 2009. (Accessed 5/13/2009).
  • Volunteer 211. "VolunteerMatch." (Accessed 5/13/2009).
  • Volunteer Match. "At-A-Glance VolunteerMatch." (Accessed 5/13/09)
  • Volunteer Match. "Learning Center." (Accessed 5/13/09)
  • Volunteer Match. "Services." (Accessed 5/13/09)
  • Volunteer Match. "Virtual Search." (Accessed 5/13/09)
  • Volunteer Match. "Volunteer Match Solutions." (Accessed 5/13/09)
  • Volunteer Match. "Volunteers." (Accessed 5/13/09)