Idealist by the Numbers: National Volunteer Week Edition


Girl Scout volunteers plant trees on Earth Day. (Photo: vastateparkstaff, Flickr/Creative Commons)

Last week was National Volunteer Week. If you got swept up in the spirit, we’ve got some great tools to get you started any week of the year:

Volunteering can take lots of forms, from helping out at a one-time event to serving on a nonprofit’s board of directors. Here’s a little snapshot of what you’ll find if you search Idealist for ways to get involved:

13,179: Current volunteer opportunities on

3,962: Opportunities outside the U.S.

11,163: People whose profiles say they’re looking for a volunteer opportunity.

Volunteer whenever you can:

184: Opportunities that take less than one hour, one time

3,560: Opportunities to help out during the weekend

8,362: Volunteer opportunities with a flexible schedule

817: Late night volunteer opportunities

Enjoy the perks:

4,891: Volunteer opportunities that provide training

3,158: Opportunities that provide housing

3,022: Opportunities that provide language and cultural support

Volunteer full time:

431: Americorps volunteer opportunities

Help people help out:

19: Volunteer Coordinator jobs

72: Volunteer Coordinator volunteer opportunities

Find something for everyone:

92: Opportunities that involving hiking

24: Opportunities that involve clowns

1: Opportunity that involves line dancing

129: Opportunities that involve singing

443: Opportunities that involve Facebook

Volunteering is a great way to expand your knowledge, help out your community, and apparently spend some time on Facebook in the name of the greater good. There’s something for every skill, interest, and schedule, so take a look at the needs in your community.

What’s the best volunteer experience you ever had? Looking for something specific we can help you find? Let us know in the comments!

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Want to volunteer? Our Volunteer Resource Center can help


Volunteers work to reinforce sandbag levees in North Dakota. (Photo by US Army Corps of Engineers, Flickr/Creative Commons)

Did you know there are more than 13,000 volunteer opportunities listed on right now? Whether you can spare a few hours or an entire year,  we have an opportunity for you.

If this is your first time volunteering (or you just need a refresher), here are some highlights from our Volunteer Resource Center:

Who can volunteer? Just about everyone. Check out our resource center for more specific information on volunteering for youth, students, families, retired folks, those of you currently in the workforce, and those of you with special needs.

What can I do as a volunteer? Again, just about anything. While you can certainly go to a shelter once a week to dish up food, volunteering can take many other shapes. Broad categories covered in our resource center include serving on a board, participating in direct service or disaster relief, creating your own project, volunteering online, offering your skills pro bono, and volunteering in a different community or even a different country.

How do I start?

  • With so many options available to you, you’ll first need to identify your interests and your goals, and the time commitment that you’re willing and able to make.
  • Search Idealist to find potential partner organizations that you’d like to work with. Do some preliminary research to make sure they are a good fit. Some example questions are below; click here for a more complete list. If you’re considering an international opportunity, make sure you check out our International Volunteerism Resource Center as well.
    • What is the organization’s mission?
    • What would your responsibilities as a volunteer be?
    • Is there a time commitment for volunteers?
    • Make sure to ask questions specific to your situation: building accessibility, physical ability required for the position, transportation options, accommodations for a restricted diet or certain religious/cultural practices, etc.
  • Make a decision and follow through with your commitment!

If you need some convincing to get started, take a look at some benefits (to you!) of volunteering, and the importance of volunteerism to your community, and yes, to the economy (…to the tune of $162 billion U.S.).

Find a volunteer opportunity that suits your interests and needs here.

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Volunteering, 2010-Style

By Erin Barnhart. Editor’s Note: We originally wrote this post earlier in the month, and postponed it in light of the situation in Haiti. To learn more about how you can assist with disaster relief efforts there, please read our blog post from earlier this week and visit the Disaster Relief Volunteering page of our newly revised Volunteer Resource Center.

From Flickr user dheuer (Creative Commons)

Ah, the new year. It’s a time of renewal, fresh starts, and great expectations. Part of this calendar-shifting ritual for many people is to come up with personal resolutions for the year: getting into better shape, paying off debts, traveling to new places. For many of us Idealists, this also includes getting involved in new ways, fitting service into our busy lives, and lending a hand in our communities.

So, just in time for our 2010 goals for doing good, we’re proud to announce that we’ve launched an all-new, revised, sparkling-for-the-new-decade version of our Volunteer Resource Center (VRC). While we’re still putting the finishing touches on a few of the pages there, you can visit today to learn more about the enormous range of volunteer activities and roles that exist out there, how to figure out what you hope to gain from the experience (note: not only is it ok to do this but it’s actually a good idea!), how to identify the kinds of volunteer opportunities that best fit your interests and availability, and a step-by-step strategy for finding—or even creating—your ideal volunteer opportunity. In addition, we’ve got new web pages focused on a volunteer’s rights and responsibilities, resources for volunteers with disabilities, volunteering in a community other than you own…you get the idea.

While we may not be able to help you with your resolutions to finally read “Ulysses” or fit in six hours of cardio exercise each week, we can help reach your goals to make a difference in the world this year. Ready to dive in and get started? Check out our new and improved VRC here.

Happy 2010!

[This blog entry first appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]