Get Involved: Great Community Service Opportunities

Written by Kristen Wright, Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service Manager

One of the best ways to get to know your community is through service, and Washington, DC is a great place to get involved.  The nation’s capital is home to hundreds of nonprofit organizations that are looking for eager volunteers to help out with one-time projects as well as more regular commitments.

These opportunities not only make a huge difference, but they are a fun and valuable way to develop personally and professionally. Many nonprofit organizations are looking for people with computer skills, language abilities, a social media background, or tutoring experience to assist in advancing their mission.

If you’ve never searched for nonprofit organizations to volunteer with before, looking for projects and deciding where to lend a hand can be challenging.  Here are a few tips to help you pursue your philanthropic goals.

  1. Search the Web: There are websites that do a great job of posting volunteer opportunities and providing you with all of the necessary contact information to get involved.  A few resources are Idealist, Volunteer Match, and the United Way.
  2. Participate in a Day of Service: There are a few times during the year when large scale service projects take place in Washington, DC.  In the fall HandsOn organizes “Make a Difference Day” and in the winter the Corporation for National and Community Service plans “MLK Day of Service”.  Both are great opportunities to serve the community, do a trial run with a particular organization, and get the ball rolling for a longer term commitment!
  3. Personal Reference: One of the best ways to find a good project is to ask someone! Check with friends, coworkers, or family members to find out what organizations they have volunteered with in the past and how their experiences impacted them.
  4. Go with what you know: Look for nonprofit organizations whose mission you personally support. You are more likely to continue with the opportunity if you are passionate about the cause!

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