Interested in volunteering, but not sure where to start? Check out the largest local listing of volunteer opportunities here. You can browse the full list, or narrow it down by your skills, the issue area you care most about, the activity type, your availability and more.
Court-ordered service is assigned to individuals by the judicial system to engage them in positive service activities for the community where they live. It may be assigned in lieu of paying a fine or at a judge’s discretion. Not all nonprofits accept court-ordered service, however there are a few ways to find volunteer opportunities that fulfill this requirement. View the listing of opportunities that are appropriate for court-ordered service.
We have lots of resources to help students get involved in volunteering! Visit our Youth Volunteering page to see the VolunTEENS listing, learn how to apply online or print an application, read our top tips for youth volunteering, print out forms to track your hours, read stories from other students and view the requirements for the Michigan Student Service Award.
Be part of something bigger than yourself. Join hundreds of other volunteers on one of our four community-wide Days of Service: MLK Day(January), Global Youth Service Day (April), 9/11 National Day of Service & Remembrance and Make a Difference Day (October). Click here to see details or register for an upcoming Day of Service!
Whether you’re getting together to volunteer with a church group, a school group, an employee group or just a group of friends, we can help! Group volunteering can be an extremely rewarding experience, but takes some planning. If you’re looking for group opportunities, first read our tips for getting involved as a group and then check out our group opportunity listing.
Volunteering as a family is a wonderful idea! But, it takes some planning and patience, so we’ve gathered all of the top tips and resources into one place to make it easy on you.
Nonprofit board service is a different, but vital level of volunteer commitment. A board of directors is the governing body of the organization. Board service can be a hugely rewarding experience that allows individuals to benefit an important cause, share their skills to work toward a mission, broaden their networks and gain various leadership skills. We’re here to help you learn how to be an effective board member or find a board opening that works for you!
Occasionally, we feature an important article on our website. See all of the previous Featured Stories here. Past topics include: “Serving Those Who Serve”, “Top Tips for Youth Volunteering” and more.
Finding the best fit
Many of us are motivated to help others but sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. Volunteer Kalamazoo”s online database makes it easy to find opportunities, but how do you find the volunteer job that will be best suited for you?
Consider the following questions . . .
What do you hope to gain from Volunteering?
Think about the reasons why you want to volunteer. Are you only interested in the improvement of your community, or is your own personal or professional development also a consideration? Don’t worry if you want both – many volunteer opportunities can accomplish both objectives.
- Do I want a volunteer position that will help me gain or enhance skills related to my work?
- Am I hoping to make a significant impact on my entire community or in the life of just one person?
- Do I want to gain new professional or personal contacts?
- Am I looking to learn more about a specific issue or concern?
How much time do you have to contribute?
For most people, time is biggest barrier to active volunteering. As you look at opportunities, consider how your volunteer activity will fit into your normal routine. Start by reviewing your schedule and current time commitments. Will you be able to make a regular, ongoing commitment to an organization, or is your schedule better suited to the occasional special project? We recommend that you start slow and underestimate your availability a bit. You can always increase your level of participation as you become more involved and most organizations will do their best to accommodate your needs.
Who do you want to help?
Connecting with a cause that you believe in, will make your volunteer experience more meaningful. What agency, cause or population do you want to work with? Maybe you enjoy being around senior citizens or working with children. Is there a particular cause that interests you . . . the environment, animals, housing, or community development? Do you want to learn more about social issues affecting your community? Don’t be afraid to try something new. By shopping around you’ll be more likely to find an opportunity that truly matches your interests and needs.
What can you contribute?
What type of job would you like to do? Are you handy with a hammer, savvy when speaking in public, or capable on a computer? Your interests and talents can benefit a nonprofit organization and its clients. You may want to do something completely different from your daily work routine… that’s okay too. Make your experience fun and interesting!
What can you expect from the organization?
Once you have selected an organization, many things may happen before you actually initiate your volunteer activity. You may be asked to complete an application with references and other paperwork by the organization’s volunteer coordinator or another staff person. An interview may be scheduled to discuss the volunteer assignments available within the organization to determine which ones may spark your interest. Depending upon the type of volunteer assignment and the population with which you may interact, a criminal background check may be required. Volunteer positions involving vulnerable populations (such as the elderly or young children) in isolated situations (such as home visits or mentoring) usually require this type of documentation.
Upon completing the application and screening process, the organization should provide you with an orientation and training related to your volunteer assignment. Training programs vary depending upon the complexity of your assignment. It is important that you feel comfortable and qualified to perform the duties assigned to you, so never hesitate to ask for additional guidance or training if you feel it is needed.
Most organizations will retain a record of your volunteer experience. Your file may include your original application, documentation of reference and background checks as necessary, time records illustrating your volunteer hours, and evaluations of your performance. You should be permitted to review your file upon request. It is also a good idea to create your own documentation of your volunteer experience. Keep a log of the hours you volunteer and the type of activities you perform. Document the training you receive and the skills you gain – they may transfer to your current work or help you improve your resume. Ask for letters of reference or recommendation from the organization that could assist you in an employment search or entrance into a higher education institution. Many colleges and universities have initiated preferential admittance policies and/or financial aid benefits for individuals who have performed volunteer service.
What if I can’t volunteer on location?
Virtual volunteering is a form of volunteering in which the tasks are completed, in whole or in part, via the Internet and a home or work computer. It is also known as online volunteering, cyber service, telementoring, teletutoring, and various other names. Virtual volunteering allows agencies to expand the benefits of their volunteer programs, by allowing for more volunteers to participate, and by utilizing volunteers in new areas.
Many people actively search for volunteer opportunities they can complete via home or work computers because of time constraints, personal preference, a disability, or a home-based obligation that prevents them from volunteering on-site. Virtual volunteering allows anyone with Internet access to contribute time and expertise to not-for-profit organizations, schools, government offices and other agencies that utilize volunteer services, from his or her home or office. Virtual volunteering is similar to telecommuting, except that, instead of online employees, these are online volunteers.
With Virtual Volunteering you can volunteer from “virtually” anywhere – just by using your computer. Check out the opportunities below:
After answering these questions, you’ll have a good idea of the kind of job you want. So go ahead, become a volunteer. You’ll be glad you did and so will those you help! Start your search - Click here to get started now!
Be sure to allow time for finding your volunteer opportunities as many nonprofit agencies will have an application and screening process in place.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
- Volunteer Kalamazoo is Hiring! May 23, 2013 Libby Ziemelis
- Introducing Carrie Vanderbush, Executive Director of Volunteer Kalamazoo May 17, 2013 Carrie Vanderbush
- Pressing Needs… May 17, 2013 Amanda Reel
- Volunteer Kalamazoo Recognized as Michigan’s Volunteer Center of the Year April 30, 2013 Libby Ziemelis
- Hope Network: Hope On Wheels April 16, 2013 Amanda Reel