Volunteer Opportunities

All for Good ( includes the listings from several other sites, and so appears to be the most comprehensive. It offers the ability to restrict the search by geography, cause area, and date range, and so is a good place to start.

VolunteerMatch ( is another nationwide site. The advanced-search tab allows restricting the results to those opportunities good for kids, teens, or groups. Although you can’t easily filter the results to the date(s) you’re interested in, you can sort by date.

HandsOn Network ( with seventy affiliates and 245 “action centers,” this site lists many opportunities and has quite a bit of helpful information.

Evaluating Nonprofits

Great Nonprofits ( compiles reviews from volunteers and donors about the organization. In addition to a star rating system, they evaluate the strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Charity Navigator ( focuses on more thorough analyses of larger organizations. In addition to the financial metrics from the IRS 990 forms, a second dimension of “transparency and accountability” is measured with objective factors such as the posting of a privacy policy. A star rating system tracks the organizational effectiveness and efficiency. Great Nonprofits reviews of the organizations are available here as well, along with user comments. They have indicated future plans to evaluate the impact of organizations.

Guidestar ( offers free access to recent IRS 990 forms and Great Nonprofits user reviews. Philanthropedia ( is a subsidiary of Guidestar that has consulted experts to evaluate the most promising nonprofits in about twenty different program areas. Although the coverage of organizations is limited (to about four hundred organizations), these are considered the “best” as selected and reviewed by more than two thousand experts from the field. Each organization has a brief summary of the results achieved as well as a one-sentence summary of strengths and weaknesses from about twenty experts, categorized into higher-level themes.

The Better Business Bureau ( conducts a free evaluation of applications made by nonprofits. Those which pass a series of twenty standards of charity accountability are awarded a seal. You can also file a complaint about a charity on this site.

GiveWell ( does its own thorough evaluation of the impact of organization’s programs (as presented by the organization) as well as of the finances. It recommends only 2 percent of the organizations considered.

American Institute of Philanthropy ( rates about five hundred organizations by the percentage of funds that goes to program expenses and the fundraising cost to bring in public donations, among other criteria. ( is a network of people and organizations with a sustainability focus. Users can submit comments about organizations.

Volunteering Vacations and Gap-Year Assignments

Volunteer Guide ( does a nice job of offering a selection of different organizations within each cause and approach.

Abroad Reviews ( offers reviews from past travelers. They have dozens of candid reviews for the most prominent organizations, some of which warn you away because of issues of safety, organization, or inflated cost.

The International Volunteer Programs Association ( is a portal site that allows you to search by region, country, cause, and duration.

Gift Cards for Donations

Kiva ( provides microcredit loans to borrowers around the world to start or expand their businesses.

DonorsChoose ( lists classroom projects submitted by teachers that advance education in the United States.

GlobalGiving ( enables donors to choose from hundreds of qualified projects across a range of causes around the world.

Network for Good ( lists more than a million nonprofits that can receive donations through their Good Card.

Companies Offering Donor-Advised Funds

Calvert Foundation ( requires a minimum contribution of $5,000.

Fidelity Investments ( requires a minimum initial contribution of $5,000, and makes grants in $50 increments.

Charles Schwab ( requires a minimum initial contribution of $5,000, and makes grants in $100 increments.

Silicon Valley Community Foundation ( requires a minimum initial contribution of $10,000, and makes grants with a $200 minimum (domestic) or $1,000 (international).

Vanguard ( doesn’t specify a minimum initial contribution, and makes grants in $500 increments.

Birthday Gifts for a Cause

Clover by clover ( provides the structure for a child to set up a party/cause page, designate an organization to receive a percentage of the gifts, and potentially retain a percentage for him- or herself to purchase a “single special gift.” The administrative fee of 10 percent, however, cuts into the gift amount.

Jolkona Foundation ( isn’t quite as kid-friendly, but it does send 100 percent of gifts received to the designated cause.

Reports, Statistics, and Other Resources
Harris, K. D. California State Attorney General prepared “Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors.” Contains an excellent description of reviewing the IRS 990 form.
Dunn, E. W., Gilbert, D. T., & Wilson, T. D. (2010, December). “Research White Paper: If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right.”
Kutner, L. (2007). How Children Develop Empathy. Psych Central.
Blog entry by Ed Yong summarizing Nature journal article on experiments in children’s sharing.
Information site, complete with videos and application forms, for people considering serving with the United States Americorps programs, including VISTA.
2011 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis: Statistics including aggregate personal income.
BoardSource Q&A: “Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards.”
Bolder Giving tells the stories of real people who have made very generous gifts, and provides tools to help you think and talk about your giving. Back issues of More than Money are available here.
Volunteer projects requiring professional skills like brand identity, web development, finance, or public relations are described here. Nearly all are in New York or Boston, though the service could scale nationally (and some projects don’t require you to be onsite).
American Institute of Philanthropy’s article “Tips for Donating a Car to Charity.”
A website for teens interested in starting their own clubs or projects. Information resources as well as videos and past project write-ups. Do Something also provides grants up to $500.
GuideStar’s information page about Doctors Without Borders (from which their IRS 990 may be downloaded).
A commercial website that helps create clear, binding personal loans.
The Microfinance Open Source project launched by Grameen Foundation, in production with about twenty institutions providing loans to more than 250,000 people, now supported by an open-source community.
Nolo Press article on making personal loans, with pointers to their forms.
Information site, complete with videos and application forms, for people considering serving with the United States Peace Corps.
Press release offering highlights of the 2010 edition of this oft-cited annual survey on giving statistics.
A collection of how-to guides from United We Serve to organize your own project. The website offers a range of other resources as well. Its listings of volunteer opportunities are provided by All for Good.
Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s comparison chart of donor-advised funds, supporting organizations, and private/family foundations.
Authors Claude Rosenberg and Tim Stone describe how donors, especially those with greater means, can afford to give more than the traditional tithe.

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