In a Nutshell: Thousands of nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations rely on volunteers to help them with accounting, bookkeeping, and other business-related tasks. These organizations often have tight budgets that don’t allow for advertising and other promotion, which leaves them dependant on word-of-mouth communication to find the right help. VolunteerMatch was founded 20 years ago to be the bridge connecting worthy organizations to good people. The site, which can filter searches for available volunteer positions by zip code, cause area, and skills, has helped make more than 13.5 million nonprofit volunteer connections. More than 100,000 opportunities are currently listed, including more than 7,000 “virtual volunteer” positions that can be completed from home. //
Americans were volunteering well before it was the charitable thing to do. Colonists helped each other plant crops, build shelters, and hunt for food while they settled the New World. Benjamin Franklin helped open the first volunteer firehouse in 1736, creating a tradition that still exists, as 55% of the more than 1 million active US firefighters are volunteers.
More than 200 years later, volunteer organizations sprung up in all parts of the country to meet the needs of a growing population. Today, opportunities exist for people to donate their time and skills to thousands of causes in an array of fields.
The US has no shortage of worthy organizations in need of volunteers, but pairing the right cause with qualified assistance can be difficult since most nonprofits don’t have the money in their budgets for advertising or promotion.
That problem was one VolunteerMatch aimed to solve when Greg Baldwin started the website in his Boston dorm room in 1998. Twenty years and more than 13.5 million nonprofit volunteer connections later, Baldwin’s organization is the premier place for professionals to find volunteering opportunities to help a worthy cause while improving their résumé.
“VolunteerMatch makes it easy for good causes and good people to connect,” said Basil Sadiq, Marketing Manager at VolunteerMatch. “Our website hosts volunteer opportunities everywhere. We touch every zip code in the US.”
The web’s largest volunteer engagement network promotes more than 100,000 volunteer opportunities to over 7 million registered volunteers. Users can find out what type of volunteer they are and then respond to postings looking for help in those areas. At the time of publication, nearly 1,400 accounting- and finance-related opportunities were posted for professionals — including posts for bookkeeping, financial auditing, and financial planning.
“Nonprofits and other organizations don’t want to recruit just any volunteer,” Sadiq said. “They want to find a volunteer who is the right fit for their program and someone who can get the job done.”
VolunteerMatch members aren’t limited to nonprofits, though over 119,000 of the causes on the website fall in that category. Organizations with tax-exempt statuses, like government institutions, schools, and hospices, can also list opportunities in the database.
The website’s search engine allows users to filter volunteer opportunities by zip code and skills required as well as any of the 29 cause areas — including work with animals, children, the elderly, and several other options.
Volunteer Opportunities in Accounting and Finance
Finance professionals use VolunteerMatch to help causes near to their hearts while sharpening their skills and improving their résumés.
Many of the organizations seeking help are flexible with their needs and offer to work within the volunteer’s schedule. Many of the tasks can be completed from any location, so volunteers can help causes all over the country from the comfort of their own home.
Users with specific skill sets can use the search engine’s skills filter to find opportunities more relevant to their craft. The tool is one Sadiq says helps volunteers find mutually beneficial opportunities with worthy organizations.
“Volunteering is a great way to strengthen your craft,” he said. “So many people work with organizations to get experience in different areas and improve their skills.”
Sadiq said VolunteerMatch understands part of pairing the right volunteer with the proper organization is making it simple for every user to find opportunities that are appealing and convenient.
“We try to make it easy for volunteers to jump right in by entering their location in the search bar,” he said. “From there, they can filter the search results to find the opportunity that’s the right fit for them.”
Give Back In Person or From the Comfort of Your Home
Most people’s mental picture of volunteering involves a group of people rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty to complete a task. Sadiq said that, while those opportunities do exist, many users are able to donate their time and talents without leaving their couch.
“Very few people realize that they can volunteer from home,” he said. “That’s a great way to give back and be flexible.”
Virtual volunteerism can include blog writing, auditing, coding, or any other task that doesn’t require the worker to be present. More than 7,000 opportunities are posted to VolunteerMatch’s database, allowing users to help a cause without getting out of their pajamas.
Singles, couples, and groups — including children, teens, or senior citizens — can also find in-person or virtual volunteer opportunities.
“There are so many opportunities available out there,” Sadiq said. “There’s literally something for everyone.”
Website Redesign Aims to Make Volunteering Easier
In 2017, VolunteerMatch began a website redesign intended to improve the user experience and make it easier for organizations to post their volunteer openings. The new homepage is already functional and updates to the search engine and nonprofit landing pages are underway.
“All of the information volunteers look for is now very easy to find and placed right up front so they don’t have to search everywhere for it,” Sadiq said.
VolunteerMatch members benefit from a set of tools designed to make finding the right volunteer easier — including the ability to send customized email greetings, automated custom questionnaires, as well as tracking and reporting tools and donation buttons for 501(c)(3) organizations.
Sadiq said the most popular tool is the one-click reposting feature that allows organizations to increase the visibility of their posting with one click by bumping it to the top of the opportunity list once per day.
“There are so many ways to make the most of your VolunteerMatch experience through these tools,” he said.
Sadiq said the platform and tools helped one member organization recruit 117 volunteers in the last year, compared to 150 in the combined 10 years before they joined VolunteerMatch.
That exposure comes from 13 million annual visitors to the VolunteerMatch website, as well as partnerships with outside firms that promote listings.
Postings seeking specific tagged skills are listed on the LinkedIn for Good volunteer network under those skills. The company also partners with more than 100 corporations, including Starbucks, Groupon, JetBlue, and Under Armor, to promote its postings to employees who are looking for ways to give back.
In April of 2018, VolunteerMatch will be celebrating its 20th birthday with several events planned on its website. The occasion ironically coincides with National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 15-22. The nationwide exposure and promotion of volunteerism show how far we’ve come —from planting crops in untilled land to completing volunteer financial accounting tasks for a nonprofit that serves needy communities.