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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

7 Easy Ways to Volunteer From Home

Everyone likes the idea of volunteering. It helps other people, or animals, or the planet. You feel good about yourself at the end of the day.

Much comfier than volunteering.
Photo credit: Tachyondecay on Flickr
But let's face it: often, we just don't have time. There are many lengthy steps to making volunteering a reality. It's a wonderful, beautiful thing when it happens, and many people can do it. But we understand that there are also many people who can't.

So today's blog post is all about helping people from the comfort of your own home. Luckily, with technology where it is right now, this is easier than ever to do. Here are simple ways that you can help nonprofits all over the world from your comfy couch.
  1. Like and follow. When you're a fan of a nonprofit's page on Facebook, you sometimes see that page's updates in your Newsfeed. And your friends see your new like. This simple one-click support style engages you and spreads the word faster than you know. (And the same goes for Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+... all social media!) Take your appreciation a step further by liking and commenting on their status updates. Not only do your friends see your support, but Facebook's logarithms give that update a boost to show up on more fans' Newsfeeds!
  2. Use GoodSearch. This nifty search engine (powered by Yahoo) donates one cent to the nonprofit of your choice every time you use it to search the web. This may not seem like much, but thanks to our GoodSearchers, Volunteer Expeditions has raised over $20 in just a few months!
  3. Research local volunteer opportunities. By using sites like VolunteerMatch and Create The Good, finding new places to volunteer is easy. Use this research to inspire yourself to go out and volunteer when you have the energy (or to tell your friends about it for their volunteering)!
  4. Write a review. If you had a good experience volunteering for or working with a nonprofit, tell the world! This truly helps the nonprofit. You give them future volunteers through your visible word-of-mouth. Use a site like GreatNonprofits, or send them a direct email with your review and your permission for them to use it anywhere they need.
  5. Shop smart. Before you make a purchase at Amazon.com or almost any other major online retailer, first go through Give Back America or GoodShop. Just by using these sites first, a percentage of your purchase price is donated to the cause of your choice. (Yes, the links we provide above will support Volunteer Expeditions - if you'd rather support a different charity, you can change it with no problem.)
  6. Volunteer online. If you have skills that involve a computer, it's a sure bet that a nonprofit could use your help. Set up an account on Sparked and microvolunteer to help nonprofits in graphic design, writing press releases, researching, blogging, and more.
  7. And finally, donate. It doesn't have to be a big contribution for it to help change the world.
Do you have any other ideas for how to volunteer from home? Tell us below in the comment section!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Patti's Top Five Favorite Nonprofits

Let's face it, there are a lot of nonprofits out there. Lots of people are doing some amazing good work, but it's hard to know where you should donate your hard-earned money and volunteer your precious free time.

If you're looking for some guidance, we're happy to provide. Patti, our founder and president, is active in many organizations other than us. Check out some of her favorites:
  • The Greater Chicago Food Depository (and its subsidiaries): This nonprofit provides food and training to end hunger in Chicago. Patti says it's one of her favorites "because of their amazing focus on feeding the homeless and finding ways to address the needs of vulnerable people in our society."
  • The Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development: This nonprofit is one that Patti works closely with in New Orleans to restore the Lower 9th neighborhood. "They are an inspiration and offer hope to the families trying to rebuild their lives and homes in New Orleans. They are an example of commitment to the many volunteers who work under their guidance."
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum & The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center: These two museums are haunting reminders of the atrocity committed against the Jewish people and truly stay with their visitors. She supports them "for keeping alive the specter of the nightmare that could happen when people disregard the human rights of others."
  • Planned Parenthood: This diverse organization offers so much health care for women who need help. "The services they give to poor women who have no other place to go are invaluable. They have provide care women's health care that is available in no other place. They are steadfast in their mission to provide health."
  • Big 10 Universities (Michigan and Illinois): These two schools "provided such wonderful educational opportunities and gave me the ability to move forward."
And, of course, she is fiercely devoted to us here at Volunteer Expeditions. But you can find out about us right here!

What are your favorite nonprofits? Leave us a comment below!