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5 Factors to Consider When Deciding Where to Volunteer

Group of Volunteers in the Park.You’ve decided to start volunteering…now what?

You want to find a charity whose mission you are passionate about. You want to make sure the work you do is meaningful. Most importantly, you want to make sure that your rights as a volunteer are protected and your information is secure.

Luckily, you can find a nonprofit that will match all of your requirements with minimum time and effort on your part. Follow GuideStar’s 5 simple steps to ensure you have the best volunteer experience possible.

1. Clarify Your Values

Charities are as diverse as their donors. Be proactive, don’t just sign up for the first one that solicits you. Consider the type of charity you want to support:

  • Small or large
  • Start-up
  • Established
  • Local, national or international

2. Vet Their Information

Once you decide what kind of charity you’re looking for, narrow down your options with the new GuideStar search. The user-centered design allows you to identify organizations relevant to your research in real-time. Find information on the nonprofits you’re interested in volunteering for by the state, cause area, nonprofit profile participation level, and more.

Looking to vet nonprofits for your company’s corporate social responsibility efforts? GuideStar advanced search provides richer and deeper filters, including financials such as total income, expenses, assets, etc.

 3. Discover Their Commitment to Transparency

You’ve narrowed down your options to two or three organizations. Now it’s time to ask yourself, is the nonprofit accurately measuring the difference it’s making toward its mission? Ensure the nonprofit you’re investing your time and resources into shares timely information on their qualitative and quantitative programmatic results by claiming and updating their GuideStar nonprofit profile. With seals ranging from the Bronze to Platinum participation level, the higher their level is, the more information their nonprofit has provided to GuideStar as their commitment to transparency.

Remember: if you can’t find a charity on GuideStar.org, further investigation is required. Ask to see their IRS letter of determination. If the organization is faith-based, ask to see its official listing in a directory for its denomination.

4. Read Peer Reviews

Every GuideStar Nonprofit Profile includes External Reviews from Great Nonprofits. This “Yelp for Nonprofits” enables you to see what real users (and volunteers) have to say about an organization. This may paint a clearer picture and help you decide if you can see yourself volunteering there.

5. Protect Your Information

You’ve looked at all the information organizations have provided—now, make sure those organizations are taking actions to secure your sensitive information. After all, you’re providing them with a service. Each year, the average nonprofit benefits from volunteer labor valued at over $100,000!

Ensure your nonprofit of choice uses VolunteerHub’s volunteer software. You’ll be able to update your own contact information, and organizations will have an easy dashboard to protect your volunteer information.

Volunteering is your decision and should be made at your convenience. Before you commit to donating your time somewhere, make sure to make the experience worth your while. Using the information from these resources can simplify your search and help you make the most of your volunteer experience. For more tips on using your head and heart when interacting with nonprofits this holiday season, click here.

Headshot of Abbie Wade

About Abbie Wade

Abbie Wade is a Communications Coordinator for GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. She is currently a junior at The George Washington University, studying Journalism & Mass Communication and Political Science.

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