How to Find Your Ideal Volunteer Opportunity Right Online

These Matching Services Make It Easy to Volunteer

Volunteer leading kids on a fielf trip.
••• Mike Watson Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

It has never been easier to volunteer, and it's becoming more popular than ever as people of all ages and abilities look for ways to improve their communities and support other causes close to their hearts.

If you're looking to make your own contribution, start with this guide to find volunteer opportunities online, and turn up an assortment of great causes with contact information.

Besides the online volunteer resources listed on this page, volunteer centers exist in many states and cities. Looking locally might turn up the largest list of volunteer opportunities right in your backyard. You can also visit the Points of Light website for a list of . They are located everywhere.

Getting Started

Before you commit to a new volunteer gig, check out and getting the most out of it. too, so document your experience and add it to your and your such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

General Online Volunteer Matching Sites

Start by perusing the following list of sites to get a feel for the types of opportunities available. If you find yourself honing in on a particular cause, you can then research more specifically to turn up volunteer needs in that area. Try these first:

U.S. Government-Sponsored Volunteer Programs

These established government-sponsored programs offer many opportunities for volunteer work and travel, both domestic and international.

  • (Portal for the and its campaign, 'United We Serve,' to get Americans to volunteer and engage in national service.)
  •  (Not just for recent college grads. The "new" Peace Corps welcomes all adults, including retirees and seniors. Also, there are short-term opportunities in addition to the traditional two-year commitment)
  •  (A US-based version of the Peace Corps. There are several types such as State and Vista. Full-time placements pay a stipend)
  •  (Servicing seniors by seniors)
  • (Pitch in for America's Natural and Cultural Resources)
  • (Focus on emergencies like fire, flood, and hurricanes)

International Volunteer Opportunities

Many international volunteer opportunities require you to pay for the experience. Some people find this acceptable and a great way to travel. Find out why and . 

Volunteer Opportunities for Students and Youth

Get your kids started early and help them gain valuable experience to broaden their personal horizons and enhance their college applications.

  • (for kids 5-18)

Volunteer Opportunities for Professionals and Executives

Put those valuable years of work experience to use by helping others in need of guidance for their small business or financial management.

  •  (Mentor Entrepreneurs)

Volunteer Opportunities for Older Adults and Retirees

Many of the volunteer programs on this page welcome older Americans. Here are a few specifically designed for that group.

  • - AARP
  • , ,  - For volunteers 55 and over. Run by the Corporation for National and Community Service
  •  - AARP (Tutoring in schools)

Virtual and Micro-volunteering

Some of the organizations listed above provide ways to through your mobile devices or computer. Many virtual volunteer opportunities are also "micro" in that they are tasks that you can do in just slivers of the time you have available. 

Here are some sites with a focus on virtual volunteering or that have the ability to search for virtual opportunities.

  • has virtual opportunities for skilled volunteers.
  • has a virtual volunteer list that is well stocked.
  • focuses on virtual, micro-volunteer actions.
  • was created by the authors of "The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook." It has definitions and other information.

Besides searching volunteer portals for ways to volunteer virtually, check out the numerous sites for people with specific interests. For instance:

  • Amateur historians can  to help make historical documents accessible.
  • Birdwatchers can help . 
  • Weekend astronomers can contribute to mapping the skies at Zooniverse.
  • Virtual globetrotters can work with  to do good around the world. 

Special Volunteer Days and Weeks

Don't forget all the special opportunities during the year when volunteering is promoted. Here are just a few.

  • - 3rd week in January
  •  - 3rd week in April
  •  - Saturday before Thanksgiving

Regardless of the type of skillset you're willing to offer, there's a cause out there that wants your help.