Advanced Search Tips & Tricks

Using the advanced search options on the Search Opportunities page is a great way to find long-term or ongoing volunteer opportunities that you won’t see on the project calendar. Below are a handful of tips on using keywords and filters to find the best opportunities for you.

Navigation Tips
Search Tips (filter by keyword, issue area, age, distance, & more)
How to Save Your Searches for Your Next Visit

Search Result Navigation Tips

Sort your search results. When you use the advanced search, your results will appear in a table with headers along the top. You can change how your results are sorted by clicking on any of these headers.

This can be especially helpful in the following situations:

  • Your search results will automatically be sorted by distance, so that the opportunities that are closest to your zipcode are at the top of the list.

  • Click on the “organization” header to sort the results alphabetically by the name of the hosting organization.

  • Click on the “time” header to bring all ongoing opportunities to the top of the list (note: when “open” is listed in the time column, that opportunity does not have a specific date and time associated with it. Instead, you will be able to connect directly with the hosting organization to discuss the days and times that your volunteer support is needed).

Use additional search filters. Click on the plus sign next to each additional search filter on the left-hand side of the Search Opportunities page to expand each area and specify what days, issue areas, age restrictions, and more are important to you. See below for specific tips on using these filters.

How to Use Additional Search Filters

Use the keyword search. This search feature will pick up your keyword within these sections of the volunteer opportunity:

  • volunteer opportunity name

  • issue areas (e.g. environment, hunger & homelessness)

  • associated event (e.g. United Way MLK Weekend of Service)

To make the most of the keyword search, enter a single keyword rather than a phrase or multiple keywords (since results will have to include all of the keywords you specified, which is rare). Also keep in mind that the search will pick up partial word matches, so you can enter a shorter keyword to pick up a higher number of matches. For example, enter the keyword “child” and your results will include projects with “child,” “children,” and “children’s.”

Find longer-term or skills-based opportunities. If you are looking to volunteer with an organization for more than a single shift, define your search to view only "To-Be-Scheduled" opportunities by selecting this option under "Schedule Type" in the basic search box. Designed to offer more flexible scheduling, "To-Be-Scheduled" opportunities have “Open” listed in the “Time” column (rather than a specific date/time). However, you can designate the times of day and days of week you would be available to help out under the "When Are You Available?" option in the advanced search. This will refine your search so that you only see "To-Be-Scheduled" opportunities that overlap with your available times.

Volunteer in your neighborhood. Within the basic search section, type in your zipcode and choose a distance designation (e.g. within 5 miles, within 10 miles). When you hit “Search” the results will include only projects within that many miles of your zipcode. Your search results will automatically be sorted by distance, so that the opportunities that are closest to your zipcode are at the top of the list. 

Identify issues that matter to you. If you’re interested in many different community needs, you can select multiple issue areas by clicking on the plus sign next to “What would you like to do” under the Basic Search box on the left-hand side of the page. Select one or more options listed within the “Address these issue areas” drop-down. Note: if you filter by multiple issue areas your results will include volunteer opportunities that have at least one of your choices – each result may not include all of the issue areas you chose.

Choose which nonprofit organizations you would like to volunteer with. If you already know what nonprofits you’re interested in helping out, select from the “Serve with this organization” drop-down under the "What Would You Like to Do?" filter and click “Refine.”

Find projects open to kids and teens.
Looking for projects open to the whole family? No problem. Click on the plus sign next to the “Appropriate For” filter to expand that section. Choose the appropriate age category under “Age of Volunteer” and click “Refine” to see only the projects open to that age group. From there, you can look at the project titles for specific age requirements (e.g. age 8+, age 12+). Note that for each project, the minimum age reflected in the title may require adult accompaniment.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT FILTERS: If you select multiple filters within the same search, you will only see results that match all of your filters. If your search is turning up few or no results, streamline it by deciding which filters are the most important for you.

Save Your Searches for Your Next Visit

Why go through the hassle of redefining your advanced search criteria each time you visit? If you know you’ll be looking for the same sorts of opportunities again and again, the “Save & Share Your Search” feature is designed to make life a little easier. Once you have defined your search criteria, click the plus sign by the "Save & Share Your Search" drop down to expand the box. Type in a recognizable name in the “Save Search As” box (e.g. “Family Friendly Projects” or “Opportunities Near Home”) and click on “Save.”

Next time you visit the site, you can click on the “Load Saved Search” button and select the pre-defined search just by clicking on its name.

You can also copy the Search Results Link and share it with friends and family and they will see the same filtered volunteer opportunities that you’ve defined.

(Note: using the Search Results Link is also the best way to ensure that the “back button” of your browser takes you back to your filtered search results. Otherwise, use of the back button tends to wipe away any keyword or filters that you’ve used and takes you back to the full, unfiltered list of volunteer opportunities).