October 27, 2009

Ready to Make Social Change a Reality? Start Volunteering!

We talk about working to make social change a reality, but where does one start? First, there is the light-bulb moment. The time when one realizes today is the day, now is the time to make a difference.

The next step is often harder – getting started. Where does one begin? How do you decide which organization to work with?

I’ve developed a short list of organizations that should kick start your research into volunteer work. And if you have any other ideas, or suggestions, please add them in the comments!

HandsOn Network

If you live in New York City, you know them as New York Cares. But did you know that there are actually 250+ affiliates of the HandsOn Network across the U.S. and 11 international locations? Their structure is based on an online model. You must first attend an orientation session in person. Then, you are eligible to volunteer during the day, evenings, or on weekends for organizations serving children, animals, the environment or adult job readiness, just to name a few.

United Way

The United Way’s programs focusing on three issue areas: education, income and health. A worldwide organization, there are nearly 1,300 local United Way locations in America alone. To volunteer, one is directed to their local United Way organization through the official global website. Once on the local site, there are options for individuals and corporations looking to donate their time.


This is another online source for volunteering. The difference here is that all contact with VolunteerMatch is virtual and the site functions much like a large job-search engine, which allows you to search for volunteer opportunities in various cities and communities across the country. Once a “match” is made, VolunteerMatch leaves the scheduling and details to the non-profit organization and the volunteer.

Volunteers of America

This is a national, faith-based organization with 38 offices serving 44 states. To volunteer locally, contact the appropriate office nearest your home or work. Volunteers of America offers help for the homeless, mental health, senior citizens and veterans.

Do you have other organizations you volunteer through? Do you have other ideas on how to start volunteering? Add them to the comments!

This post was written by Leslie Marie, a volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. Leslie lives in New York City and has done outreach and research for the Ad Council. For the past year she directed the marketing and recruiting efforts for an alternative teaching certification program run by a national education consulting organization. Please leave your comments or send us an email with your questions.

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