The Scoop: Donating your time to a cause you’re passionate about can also be a good way to meet someone who shares similar interests. Over the last 20 years, VolunteerMatch.org has connected more than 14 million volunteers with organizations in their communities. While volunteers work to make a difference in their communities, they can enjoy the many benefits of giving back, including making new friends and possibly meeting other singles.
According to Basil Sadiq, the senior marketing manager for VolunteerMatch.org, the benefits of donating your time to help others are so numerous they often get overlooked.
By donating even a few hours every week or month to a nonprofit, a volunteer can learn new skills, improve his or her portfolio or resumé, and even prepare to take on more of a leadership role at a job. Studies also show that volunteering can improve your health, reduce stress, put you in a good mood, and boost self-esteem.
Volunteering is also a great way to connect with people who share common interests and values. You can make new friends and, possibly, find someone who you’re interested in romantically, Basil said.
“By just giving back, we’re expected to feel good about ourselves. That’s not the wrong way to think about volunteerism because it’s true. But there are so many other benefits,” he said. “For example, studies show that volunteering mitigates feelings of loneliness by giving volunteers an opportunity to meet with new people in their communities and create lasting bonds with one another.”
VolunteerMatch has been a leader in connecting people with nonprofits for more than two decades. The organization helps nearly 15 million visitors each year learn about 100,000 volunteer opportunities listed by more than 122,000 nonprofit partners.
It’s one of the easiest ways to find a project to benefit a charity you care about.
“Our mission is to match inspired people with inspiring causes,” Basil said. “From day one, we set out to build a place where both volunteers and nonprofits can come together to connect and achieve remarkable outcomes.”
The World’s Largest Volunteer Network Has Impacted Nonprofits Since 1998
VolunteerMatch was founded in 1998, the same year as another famous website: Google: The organization’s Founder, Greg Baldwin, helped create the initial website from his college apartment in Boston, and, over the years, VolunteerMatch has had a major impact on nonprofits that support meaningful causes.
“Since our founding in 1998, we have helped generate more than $13 billion in social value to nonprofits around the world. Our mission is to attract talent and match it with the needs of the nonprofit sector,” Basil said. “That’s what we set out to accomplish.”
The organization recently celebrated its 14 millionth match between a volunteer and a community service opportunity, and the website makes it easy to create a profile using an existing Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn account.
Once you sign on, you can search for volunteer opportunities that align with your passions, whether that means serving a meal at a homeless shelter or helping clean up a local park. Find nonprofits based on age categories and projects good for couples, families, or seniors. Volunteers can also sign up for Opportunity Alert emails, which offer eight personalized ways to get involved every month.
“The site delivers those emails directly to volunteers, which is a simple way to stay up-to-date with what’s happening in their communities and the needs of local nonprofits,” Basil said.
The redesigned VolunteerMatch.org website simplifies connecting with the nonprofits and causes, too. And the organization is always soliciting feedback from users — both volunteers and partners — to improve its services and help make communities better places to live.
Site Updates Make It Easier to Find a Cause You Care About
Another feature the team has worked on improving is its VolunteerMatch Member tool. The Volunteer Membership is for nonprofit agencies that partner with the site and allows them to find volunteers with specific skills and qualities they need to make a greater difference.
“We improved the tool to help nonprofits save time recruiting volunteers through our network. Another tool we recently implemented is an integration with the nonprofit industry’s leading background check provider for volunteers,” Basil said. “Nonprofits can now request background checks directly from the VolunteerMatch.org dashboard. What’s exciting about this partnership is that Verified Volunteers, the background check provider, always puts communities first.”
VolunteerMatch opened its network to six large corporate giving partners to make community service a critical part of their business models. Now, employees can find volunteer opportunities, track service hours, and, possibly, receive matching gifts or dollars for doers.
“We want to be the leading resource for employees and companies to connect and volunteer with the nonprofits in their community,” Basil said. “In 2018, a big focus was making our nonprofit tools easier to use. In 2019, we’re still focusing on that, but we also want to make our services easier for volunteers.”
That’s because the site’s team has been noticing trends in volunteering through the U.S. and around the world that demand an improved system. This will make it easier to connect with the causes — and people — making a difference in communities.
Meet Like-Minded People While Improving Your Community
People often experience benefits of donating their time to a worthy nonprofit that go beyond just helping others. They can learn new skills, gain a sense of personal satisfaction, or even meet a like-minded special someone. Yet, volunteering rates saw a steady decline in the years leading up to 2016.
VolunteerMatch made data-driven decisions based on those studies to attract more philanthropic people because the need for volunteers was greater than ever. Then, something shifted dramatically beginning in late 2016. Basil said the site noticed that the trend of decreased volunteerism was changing — fast.
“A third of the volunteers who responded to our survey indicated that the political climate was a motivation for them to volunteer. Almost 10% of volunteers said it inspired them to become volunteers for the first time.” — Basil Sadiq, the senior marketing manager for VolunteerMatch
“We noticed that with some of the highest days of traffic to VolunteerMatch.org in its history of our operation. Our website traffic increased as much as 70% following the presidential inauguration in 2017, leading to some of the highest days of traffic to VolunteerMatch.org in our organization’s history,” he said.
That made the site’s team question whether the political climate impacted the rate of volunteerism. They hired a volunteer engagement expert to conduct a scientific analysis. The study determined that the election played a pivotal role in encouraging people to help their communities.
“A third of the volunteers who responded to our survey indicated that the political climate was a motivation for them to volunteer,“ Basil said. “Almost 10% of volunteers said it inspired them to become volunteers for the first time.”
If politics doesn’t motivate you — perhaps finding someone who shares your passions will.