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National Volunteer Week is this week. Stumble to learn how you can give back!

In a recent conversation with a friend about the role of volunteering in our lives, he said something that struck me: “Volunteering is about perspective. It helps shape it and connects you to something bigger than yourself.” I thought about what he said and found myself drawing parallels to StumbleUpon; StumbleUpon brings you a unique perspective on the general content offered by the Internet as a whole, letting you learn new things that change your general outlook and perception of the world around you.

For some people volunteering is second nature, and for others it’s something they fall into by way of a class requirement or company activity. This weekend marks both Earth Day and the culmination of National Volunteer Week in a global effort to better our planet across multiple fronts. It only seemed appropriate to do our small part and shed some light on how StumbleUpon can help you chance upon some of these opportunities to give back yourself.

To see what StumbleUpon had to offer in regards to Volunteer-related Stumbles, I brought up the Explore Box to Stumble Interests like Volunteer, Volunteering, and even other suggested Interests such as Virtual Volunteering.

The variety of StumbleUpon’s content on the subject pleasantly surprised me. I found myself skipping from volunteer program sites to volunteer statistics to general news articles on volunteers in various communities.

 

Volunteer Abroad

If you’re looking to volunteer but don’t know where to start, trust the fate of the Stumble! button to guide you to an opportunity. I came across tons of sites with a range of volunteer experiences around the world, letting you make a difference outside your local community:

- SE7EN showcases social and environmental volunteering opportunities around the world.

- Play It Forward is an organization that specializes in volunteer opportunities abroad that incorporate an adventure as well.

- All Out Africa also takes you abroad, allowing you to travel while giving through wildlife care, education, and a number of other social projects.

- Outreach International has programs that offer help in Cambodia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Mexico and more.

 

 Volunteer in Your Community

Even looking for volunteer opportunities in your own city can sometimes seem a difficult and daunting task. I came across sites that helped match you to more local efforts, as well as offering volunteer organizations the option to post about their ongoing programs:

- Volunteer Match lets you recruit volunteers and find opportunities by area of interest. I entered “environment” and saw opportunities to work with gardening, tidepools at marine and wildlife reserves and even a green energy internship.

- Serve.gov, a US governmental site, lets you post and find volunteer programs in your community as well as share and read inspiring stories.

- Sparked.com is another well organized site that has a wide range of opportunites, many of which are rooted online and can be done from your desltop. The site even allows companies to participate in employee volunteering as well as offering online volunteering to your own customers.

 

Random Stumble-Goodness Volunteer Bits

In typical Stumble-fashion, there was also a wealth pages related to volunteering that served as little nuggets to broaden my knowledge of the subject. Below are resources to start volunteering, learn more about the industry, find ways to incorporate it into your own company, or see how it could even fit into your personal job or career search:

- Virtual Volunteering: Virtual volunteering resources on how to manage virtual volunteers, general guidebooks, and more. Virtual volunteering allows anyone to contribute on their own time schedule from the ease of their own home or office. Volunteers can help with advocay, posting in online communities, conducting research, providing multimedia expertise, drafting brochures, creating web sites and more. This About.com article goes into more details about virtual volunteering.

- Volunteering Statistics: Did you know that people who volunteer are more a likely to be involved in groups, keep up with news, be politically active and work with their neighbors to solve problems? This and more was cited in a recent article by the White House, along with the fact that 64+ million people volunteer annually in the US.

- Volunteering Research Papers: Find information from this government site on volunteer retention rates, the benefits of volunteering to your community and health (it’s good for you!), influences on a community’s volunteer rate, and analysis of the volunteers themselves (college students are twice  as likely to volunteer!).

- UN Volunteer Resources: Information on the volunteer situations in Bosnia, Hersegovnia, China, Cambodia along with annual reports, fact sheets, and information on hosting a UN volunteer.

- Volunteer Q&As: Like this Stumble which highlights the opportunities and how to get involved with Students Offering Support for college and noncollege students to tutor and help with environmental projects in Latin America.

- Benefits of Volunteering: This video showcases a news segment on the pros of volunteering and how it can help your career. Beyond just giving back to your community you can learn new skills, meet new people in different industries, advancing your personal career, and try out a new industry you’re interested.

- Volunteer Tax Deductions: Probably the most unexpected volunteer-related Stumble, but this TurboTax article gives you guidelines on how to deduct travel expenses accrued doing volunteer work from your taxes.

 

Ultimately before volunteering you need to determine what you want to get out of your experience, what the work environment you’ll be entering, and the time commitment you can put forth. This will help you narrow down your volunteer options to find and match you to the best organization to get involved with.

To find even more great content on volunteering, visit the Channels pages for these nonprofits on StumbleUpon and click the yellow “Follow” button on their profile: Human Rights Watch, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, NY Public LibraryPETA, Teach AIDs, World Food Programme, and RED. By following their Channels you’ll see great content recommended by them included in your Stumbles.

Bonus: We’ve also put together a special Earth Day Channel for our users with content related to the celebration and conservation of our planet for you to enjoy.

As the proverb goes “to those whom much is given, much is expected” – spend some time figuring out how you can make a difference with your life.

/Sarah profile picture