It’s not always easy to find free time, but when you do, there are few better things to do with free time than to give back. Here are 7 ways to find volunteer opportunities in the Bay Area, no matter how or why you are interested in volunteering.

Photo Credit: Jewish Home

Volunteering makes you feel good and helps you contribute to a good cause. It can also be great for your career:

  • Get experience: If there's a field or function you'd like to work in, but you don't have any experience, volunteering can be a great way to add that experience to your resume.
  • Get a job at a nonprofit: If there's a nonprofit where you'd like to get a job, volunteering there first can help get your foot in the door.
  • Fill a resume gap: If you’re between jobs, volunteering is a smart way to fill a gap in your resume while on the job search.

Or, if you’re already in a job role, volunteering is a fun way to do some team building with coworkers or friends.


1. The Volunteer Center

The Volunteer Center serves San Francisco and San Mateo counties, which are home to a lot of great organizations. Despite serving just two counties, they have thousands of volunteer opportunities available. They connect individuals, nonprofits, and businesses with ways to support their community and they also have consulting, and training services for the organizations who need help. Small but mighty, The Volunteer Center is a great place to start your search for volunteering.

2. Hands On Bay Area

Hands on Bay Area is Bay Area specific (in case you didn’t catch that in the name) and connects users to schools, parks, and nonprofits in need of support. They also work with more than 45 nonprofits to connect employee volunteers, so if your business is looking to do some good work as a team, this is a great place to connect to organizations.

3. Idealist

Idealist helps connect people to volunteer opportunities, nonprofit jobs, internships, and organizations working to change the world, and they’ve been doing it since 1995. It’s a good place to find both paid and volunteer positions for companies doing big things. Their “where?” spot in the search bar will help you narrow down your location. 

4. Volunteer Match

Volunteer Match is all about connecting volunteers to causes that need help. As their tagline says, they bring good people and good causes together. Simply type in what you care about (like animals) and their search engine will match you to nonprofits that need support with that cause. They also have a great section of volunteer stories, which is sure to get you in the giving spirit.

5. Catchafire

This site matches your skills to organizations who can use them to make a difference. Catchafire looks for volunteers with experience in different fields (like marketing and graphic design) so that nonprofits can get professional help from highly skilled people. You’ll fill out an application that lists your skills and they will help create the match...which sounds a bit like online dating... but for social good.

6. Localwise

You can’t spell Localwise without “local”— literally. Localwise (the site you're on right now!) is a great place to find Bay Area-specific volunteer opportunities. There’s even a “non-profit” option in the search bar. Localwise is all about creating stronger local communities, and if you’re looking for volunteer locally, then you’re probably all about that, too.  

7. Google Search

Pick a cause that you're passionate about, and then search on Google for nonprofits that match the cause. Look for listed opportunities on their website. Even if there aren’t any listed, email the organization to see if they could use any help (they probably could!).

Not sure what you're passionate about? Here are a few ideas:

  • LGBT Rights
  • Environment
  • Animal Rights
  • Homelessness
  • Politics
  • Education
  • Arts & Culture
  • Children & Youth
  • Health & Medicine
  • Hunger
  • Small Business & Entrepreneurship

There are thousands of Bay Area nonprofits that are just waiting for you to lend a hand. So, what are you waiting for?

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