Seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, it's natural to wonder what you can do to help those in your community. Sites like Volunteer Match (free in iTunes) and United We Serve can help you find the right organization or initiative to join and you can vet smaller organizations through sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar. If you’re looking for a one-time project, you can find opportunities that take anywhere from minutes to weeks and range in skills from ladling soup to designing websites.
Everyone has pockets of downtime, whether it’s at the airport waiting to board a flight, in the doctor’s office or in a conference room when your meeting’s been pushed back. Sparked lets you put that time to good use microvolunteering, as the company calls it. You input your skills and interests and you can browse a list of challenges that nonprofits post. For instance Heaven’s Family is looking for feedback on its tag line, the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation needs advice on getting the most out of Twitter and VE Global needs help translating their October blog entry from Spanish to English.
Find yourself with a free afternoon? Just input your address into Volunteer Finder (free on iTunes) and see what volunteer opportunities are available that day, weekend, week or month. For this week, I found an assisted living center that’s looking for people to escort seniors to the polls and a food bank that needs help with dinner service. Load up Catalista (free on iTunes) as well. It pulls from a different set of volunteer listings.
If you have a more substantial chunk of time to donate your professional skills, check out Catchafire. Current projects include helping the Biocom Institute develop its brand messaging, working with SHARE its donor relations strategy and developing a WordPress website for the Interactive Institute for Social Change. The site acts as a match maker between qualified professionals and the nonprofits that need their skills. You pick a project to join, apply and the nonprofit makes its selection based on the pool of applicants.