Top 10 Best Sites
Looking for a dating site you can trust? Search no more.
|Amber Brooks • 7/19/16|
The Short Version: VolunteerMatch brings people together under a common cause. On this site, you can search for a volunteer event and a chance to meet new people while serving your community. Based on your skills and interests, VolunteerMatch will suggest opportunities in your area. It’s a perfect way to meet someone special who shares your love of the arts, animals, children, health, housing, or community involvement. Over 100,000 nonprofits have registered and posted requests for a helping hand. From crisis support to tutoring, there are a variety of service areas to browse through, so you can easily find what you’re looking for.
When I was fresh out of college, I got a job as an organizer in the field for a presidential campaign. Basically, I was a volunteer recruiter and wrangler.
That was, by far, the most fulfilling and exhausting time period of my life. I loved my volunteers (OK, not all of them, especially not the one who continually referred to me as “Amanda”) because most of them were just good people. To the core, they were people who wanted to make a difference. Despite our different ages, backgrounds, and beliefs, we bonded over that simple fact.
To make their shifts more fun and productive, I often tried to play matchmaker when scheduling my volunteers. I found if I matched up similar people, they’d become fast friends while working together and come back laughing, chattering, and asking when they could go back out together.
For many of my happy-go-lucky volunteers, door-knocking became a social outing. My regulars took to asking, “Well, when’s Raynelle coming? I’ll come then, too.” They even organized a potluck on Election Day.
I’ve seen strangers become best pals in a matter of weeks, so I know the unique social opportunity that VolunteerMatch provides by connecting people with nonprofits. These events aren’t solitary ventures but things that require teamwork, and when you cooperate with people, you naturally end up caring about each other. For singles, it’s an awesome opportunity to meet people (particularly women, who volunteer at higher rates than men).
A worthy cause is just a click away. Whether you’re interested in health, education, animals, housing, or pretty much any salient issue in society, VolunteerMatch offers over 103,000 in-person and online volunteer opportunities for participants. Find out how your skills can lead to a rewarding experience by logging on and searching for upcoming events.
Vicky Hush, Vice President of Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, told us the site just celebrated its 11 millionth connection made between volunteer and nonprofit. After almost 20 years in business, the site continues to grow. Each day, VolunteerMatch welcomes 37,000 new visitors and makes 4,300 new connections, so when you join, you won’t be alone.
VolunteerMatch Founders, Craig Jacoby and Jay Backstrand, were once just guys looking to help their community. It was 1998, and they had a great time using their tech savvy to put together computer networks for a local school. After that positive experience, they wanted to find more ways to help, but back then that meant going to a volunteer center, in person, and waiting while someone went through a rolodex of nonprofits.
Inspired by the Internet’s ability to simplify the way people connect with the world, Craig and Jay decided to build a less time-consuming way to bring volunteers and nonprofits together online.
“Now nonprofits can say what they need, and people can find them,” Vicky explained. “That’s what spurred VolunteerMatch, and we’ve been so proud over the years to help nonprofits have a really great volunteer program.”
The goal is to be a fantastic tool for nonprofits and volunteers alike, saving time by matching them up perfectly.
From the comfort of their own home, anyone can create a free account on this website and search for opportunities to volunteer. If you put in your skills, interests, and location, VolunteerMatch will make it even easier and recommend causes to you via email.
You can also search for group volunteer opportunities if you want to make a date out of it.
“Volunteering is one of those things that you can go into with super high expectations, and your experience there will still surpass that.” — Sharon Reasonover, volunteer at Ronald McDonald House
Over the last couple decades, the site has seen about 96 million unique visitors, so if you’re looking for a way to get active and meet people, you’re not alone. VolunteerMatch estimates their social value — the worth of all those volunteer man hours — is around $9 billion. In 2015 alone, the site contributed about $1.6 billion in social value.
Those volunteers successfully matched with a nonprofit show impressive levels of commitment. Vicky told us the average staying time for the volunteers who actually show up and participate hovers around two years.
“We’ve heard plenty of stories over the years of folks who’ve met because they started volunteering,” she said. “It makes perfect sense that if you’re passionate about something and it makes you feel good, that’s an awesome way to start a conversation, meet new people, and potentially find someone whose interests match yours.”
Vicky has been working at VolunteerMatch for 10 years now because she believes in the power of engagement to transform an individual and a community. “I love VolunteerMatch,” she said, “I love the people, the mission, and being able to work with nonprofits, companies, individuals, and technology — there’s never a dull moment!”
She’s not the only employee fired up about her work. This tight-knit team is so passionate about volunteerism that many of them volunteer at various organizations in their spare time, on average spending eight hours a month giving back.
Vicky, for example, acts as a mentor for adolescents and teenagers through I Could Be, a nonprofit that helps high school and middle school students set career goals.
Company-sponsored volunteer days also provide an easy way for coworkers to bond and volunteer as a group. Every few months, the team goes out into San Francisco, where the main office is located, to give back. On one memorable excursion, they did some gardening on Alcatraz Island.
With a foosball table in the kitchen and an annual softball game, VolunteerMatch fosters a positive work environment equally committed to fun and social good.
With educatiional webinars and content, VolunteerMatch is available as a helpful resource for nonprofits and companies seeking ways to recruit, interview, or train volunteers. Online at the Learning Center, the team has an abundance of free training programs.
The volunteer management program focuses on action-oriented tasks that are important day-to-day for volunteer managers. Companies can also find corporate solutions endorsed by this experienced team.
Some webinars examine broader ideas than the minutiae of management. Thought leaders are encouraged to explore innovative techniques that impact volunteers.
“We’re always trying to stay ahead of the game with our technology,” Vicky said. “There’s so much that people are accustomed to now when interacting with a website. It isn’t like in the late ’90s when the Internet was young, and you could have a big list to go through in a one-way conversation.”
VolunteerMatch focuses on being engaging and serves as an active part of the conversation and the process of volunteering. Offering resources to nonprofits, companies, and volunteers, this site turns inclination into action.
Volunteering for a cause you believe in is beyond rewarding — it’s life changing. I’ve witnessed firsthand the amazingly strong emotional connections that come from activism, from teamwork, and from community service, and I’ve got the Thank You cards to prove it.
At VolunteerMatch, you can search for a cause you care about and then immediately sign up to help. The nonprofits posting on this site have a range of mission statements from solving housing issues to addressing LGBT rights. Whatever fires you up, you can find an event among the thousands of opportunities for social engagement on this online platform.
“Ultimately, our goal is to make it very easy for nonprofits to find people,” Vicky said. “That’s the guiding principle for how VolunteerMatch uses technology and company partnerships to drive really great volunteer organizations where they’ll be able to make the most difference.”
If you’re burned out on online dating and sifting through shallow users, try a new approach (and give back while you’re at it). Uniting altruistic souls under a common cause, this site is a great way to meet people. So get out there and make a difference while you make an acquaintance. You never know –those few hours of quality time could nurture a bond that lasts for years to come.