Soliciting Volunteer Ideas

1 10 2011

During our upcoming travels, Yair and I will be in locations for as little as one day and as much as one month.  I’ve given a lot of thought about how to volunteer over the next six months and have picked the brains of a few friends for ideas.  Here is what we have come up with so far:

1. Senior homes and hospitals:  Theoretically a good idea, but – due to formalities like paperwork and background checks – this is not a practical option for short-term volunteering. (Update: We spent this afternoon visiting a Jewish senior home in Portland, which apparently has more lax protocols than the others!)

2. Food banks and soup kitchens:  Many soup kitchens only take group volunteers or have required training on how to interact with their clientele, however food banks could be a great way to volunteer for a few days or longer.

3. Remote volunteering:  Several organizations offer employment services free of charge and are looking for volunteers to review resumes and coach applicants on the search process.  I really dislike being chained to the computer and prefer human interaction, so this isn’t an ideal fit but could be a great way to volunteer a few hours each week regardless of my location. (Update: I just signed up as a resume reviewer and job search counselor for the Orthodox Union’s job board.)

4. Local parks:  I’ve heard that some city and state parks need short-term volunteers to run programming, staff information booths and do park clean ups.  I don’t envision that this would be the most fulfilling experience for me, but I won’t discount it as an option.

5. Animal shelters:  There is often a background check or paperwork involved.  Either way, I love animals but helping people motivates me much more.

6. Not-for-profit consulting:  I have a background in management consulting and worked with a lot of non-profits during my previous life at Deloitte.  Yair suggested spending one week with an organization and helping them identify institutional problems and fix them.  On paper, this sounds good, but I feel like there would be a lot of leg work, coordinating and politics to dance around.

7. Random acts of fun:  Wishing people a wonderful day, handing out chocolate to strangers, running impromptu yoga sessions in public places.  These are all fun, but – because I thrive on structure – these would make a good supplement to my volunteer activity without being the main event.

Most importantly, it’s time to solicit your volunteer ideas.  Whatcha got?

posted by ayo




6 responses

2 10 2011

I work as an activities assistant at an assisted living facility. We have people coming in all the time to entertain our residents. I don’t think there is any formal background check on them. The residents love these special events. We have had belly dancers and singers and speakers of all kinds. I am sure the residents would love to hear about your travels, astronomy or even watch a demonstration of hooping.

2 10 2011

Veterans shelters and centers! Of course, being government-run, the paper work may be overwhelming

Make a bunch of peanut butter sandwiches and hand them out in the park.

2 10 2011
Cherie @Technomadia

If there’s an election coming up, campaigns are always looking for volunteers. Whether it be a small local candidate or cause to a Presidential size one.

While neither of us is overly political, in the final month of the 2008 Presidential election we had a definite preference. So, we went to the nearest swing state where we could make the most difference, found the rural campaign headquarters – and 3 days later with little training we were sent into small rural town to establish and run a campaign office. We ended up there for a month – working 15-18 hr days/7-days a week, and it was an absolutely amazing experience. Aside from helping get out the vote, we focused on uniting local folks in this small community of the political minority who had no clue they were of such like mind with each other.

I think we had to sign one piece of paper in the process, and there was no background check.

So, that might be an option for you to consider as well, if there’s a candidate or cause that speaks to you. It’s a great way to work with locals, help a cause you care about and impact change in the world. And getting in can be as easy as finding the local meet-up group for the campaign and showing up.

12 11 2011

All really good ideas. I was just re-reading this post and realized that I forgot to thank all of you for your suggestions, so thank you! 🙂

8 12 2011

We’ve been able to find volunteer work once a week for 10 months on the road. It’s not easy, but there are one-time opportunities out there. You can see where we’ve been here: or look at the posts from the volunteer opportunities here:
Let me know if you have specific cities/towns or things you want to do and I can try to connect you.

9 12 2011

Thanks, Sharon! Cherie recently recommended your blog and I’m hoping to catch up on some of your posts this weekend.

I’m always down for suggestions and we’ll be in San Diego, Las Vegas, Tucson, El Paso, Houston and Austin over the next few months.

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