Diary of a Volunteer: Where to Look for a Volunteer Opportunity


Diary of a Volunteer: Where to Look for a Volunteer Opportunity

By: Francisco Gallegos | Volunteer Services and Service Learning Assistant
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Last month’s diary entry self reflection exercise allowed me to narrow down the type of volunteer position I was looking for as well as the skills and knowledge that I wanted to get from it. Although it was not an easy thing to do, I realized that those steps would facilitate my search and narrow down the volunteer positions I wanted to target. My next step was to start the daunting task of searching for my ideal position.

At the beginning I was a bit lost because I did not know exactly where to begin my search. I imagined that it will be as simple as type “Volunteer Positions” in Google and wait for the results to give me the best opportunity. I came to realize that I was pretty naïve, and believe it or not, I was more confused than before I started the search. Looking for a position required a little bit more preparation than I had thought, but not because of the lack of opportunities; au contraire, my Google search gave me over 1,200,000 results. There had to be an easier way to narrow my search and find that perfect opportunity that I was eagerly looking for, but how?

The first useful site that I found was GoVolunteer.ca, an online database managed by Volunteer Vancouver. This site has about 1,000 short and long term positions available in British Columbia and Alberta that are updated regularly. One of the greatest features of this site is that it allowed me to search for a position based on the type of activity, organization or location. In my case I was able to look for a non-profit organization focused on international development, located in Vancouver or Burnaby where I could improve my leadership and organizational aptitudes, as well as my marketing and computer design skills. What I loved from this site is that each position is carefully described and information such as the position title, the days of the commitment, the duration (whether short or long term) and the locations are clearly stated. Through this site I was able to find two great long term volunteer positions in NGOs focused on international development like SAWA Global Foundation or Peace it Together Society, where they needed some help with promotion, marketing and design.

Another helpful site was VolWeb.ca, a site managed by 2010 Legacies Now. The advantage of this site is that it allowed me to set up a personal profile outlining my interests and skills, information used by the site to recommend the most suitable volunteer opportunities. This site let me search for opportunities but at the same time allowed event organizers to contact me based on my profile and interests. The only conflict I had with VolWeb.ca is that the volunteer opportunities in this site are usually short term (like sporting, cultural and charity events) and I have been looking for long term opportunities.

The third site that caught my attention was Charityvillage.com. As with GoVolunteer.ca, I was able to narrow my search based on the type of organization, the organizational focus, and the location. Moreover, like VolWeb.ca, in Charityvillage.com I had the options to create a personal profile that allowed me to receive updates with all the volunteer opportunities and enhanced services provided by the site. The advantage of this site is that it allowed me to search for opportunities from all over Canada.

I found all of these sites listed at the SFU Volunteer Services website, under the “Find an Opportunity - Off Campus” link. The sites mentioned here are only samples, so go ahead, take a look, and give them a try. They certainly made my volunteer search easier. If after this you have not found the opportunity that you are looking for, stay tuned because next month I will let you know how you can create your own volunteer position.

Posted on March 03, 2011