A Beginner’s Guide to Giving Back: Finding Local Volunteer Opportunities

Build House blog

When volunteers spend time giving back, it helps to create strong communities. In addition to the various benefits that you can offer those in need, giving back also has significant benefits for volunteers. Volunteering your time can make you happier and healthier, but what if you just don’t know where to start?

Often, people are compelled to give back, but find themselves asking, “how do I get involved?” Luckily, there are a vast range of resources to help you identify organizations that could benefit from your help. In this beginner’s guide, you will discover how to find those organizations and how to identify which nonprofit is a good fit for you.


Working for nonprofit organizations with a wide reach

If you are truly a beginner, you may want to do some outreach via national or global organizations that have seasoned and structured volunteer programs. Following are some nonprofits that could help you get started.

Platforms for finding nonprofits specific to local areas

Volunteering is a rewarding experience, and although the above nonprofits are impactful organizations, it is sometimes a better fit to spend time giving back to a local-area charity. Because these organizations are smaller, it can sometimes be more difficult to identify them. Here are some resources to help you find a good fit for local volunteering.

  • VolunteerMatch: VolunteerMatch is a resource for helping to match passionate volunteers to their corresponding cause. Simply enter your zip code and find volunteer opportunities in your local area.
  • JustServe: JustServe matches volunteers to their ideal opportunities and can be helpful in determining the different options near you. Idealist: Idealist allows you to match yourself to your ideal opportunity based on your interests and schedule. Just select “organizations” to find the nonprofits near you.
  • GiveGab: GiveGab allows you to explore local volunteer opportunities and even lets you sort by type, such as “family friendly” or “ongoing opportunities.”
  • CatchaFire: This volunteering platform matches skill sets with giving opportunities. CatchaFire allows you to pinpoint volunteering that can benefit from your expertise.

Local resources for finding volunteering opportunities

Sometimes, you may want to find a nonprofit or organization in need that is unlikely to have a presence on volunteering platforms. In that case, here are a few places you can start.

  • Human resources: Often your human resources department will have a handle on local organizations in need. Many businesses also set up organized volunteering opportunities or offer chances to give back as a company. At DEFENDERS, we are constantly partnering with local organizations to help make a difference. We even encourage our local participation by offering our team members paid Giving Days.
  • Ask around at work: Even if your company doesn’t organize structured volunteering, colleagues can be a great resource for discovering local organizations in need.
  • Library: Local libraries are great for finding places to give back. Often, community boards will advertise needs. If that isn’t successful, librarians can usually direct you to more information.
  • Faith-based organizations: Local areas of worship are almost always in need of charitable help. Consult a member to inquire about opportunities.
  • Consult local shelters: Local-area shelters are another option and are usually in need of volunteers and supplies. Most offer opportunities throughout the year to help with those in need. 

How to find a good fit for volunteering

Volunteering can be an extremely fulfilling experience. But, you are still devoting time and energy to an endeavor and finding a good fit can help to maximize your contributions and make it a more enjoyable experience. When finding where to volunteer, consider the following points.

What are you passionate about?

At DEFENDERS, we pride ourselves on our ever-expanding influence and for being humble servants. Consider your passions and seek to find an opportunity that matches that enthusiasm. Volunteering is a chance to engage with like-minded people and offer value to those in need. If you are passionate about the cause, you are likely to take more away from the experience.

What are you good at?

You want to make sure your time is worthwhile. Volunteers are likely to feel that they are offering more if they can provide specific skills.

Where will you feel like you are making a difference?

Ultimately, volunteering is about making a difference. If you sign up with a charity to help children but end up doing bookkeeping tasks instead of working with underprivileged kids, you are unlikely to feel that you are contributing to the cause. Choose an organization that can help you make an impact.

What if your volunteer program isn’t working out?

Remember that volunteering is a generous undertaking and there are tons of organizations that can benefit from your time. If an opportunity isn’t working out, take your leave by giving notice and move on to a different passion. Giving is a wonderful way to help others and make our world a better place to live. Regardless of which program you choose, your community will be strengthened by your service.

Come join our team of givers!