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Give Back: How to Find Volunteer Opportunities in Your Community

Volunteering is in the DNA of Greater Des Moines (DSM) residents. The state of Iowa has a higher volunteer rate than all but nine other states at 32.5%, and there are about 87 nonprofits for every 10,000 residents in the state, which is the second largest share in the country. According to Americans for the Arts reports, 7,590 volunteers donated a combined 277,664 hours in the region in 2015. This donation of time represents a value of approximately $6.5 million. The study covered Dallas, Guthrie, Madison, Polk and Warren counties.

Knowing how to find volunteer opportunities in your community is all about knowing where to look. Whether it’s helping a neighbor in need or serving meals at a local shelter, there’s no shortage of ways to give back. Read on to learn more about volunteer opportunities, nonprofits in DSM and youth mentoring programs.

How can I find ways to volunteer in my community?

DSM is a vibrant place full of individuals and organizations dedicated to service and community improvement. DSM consistently receives awards and accolades, and those achievements connect back to involved and engaged individuals and community leaders. The DSM nonprofit community is diverse and effective, providing services and support for all who call the region home. Here are some tools for getting involved with volunteer projects at local nonprofits in DSM:


VolunteerMatch.org is a way for people to discover meaningful volunteer opportunities in their area. Many nonprofit organizations and causes share volunteer opportunities so people can find and connect with service projects that are important to them. VolunteerMatch lists volunteer opportunities by city, giving volunteers an easy way to access listings. Sign up to find with volunteer opportunities in DSM.

Volunteer Iowa

Volunteer Iowa’s goal is to improve lives, strengthen communities and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. The agency is part of a network of state service commissions that exist to foster a bi-partisan, state-level commitment to advancing service initiatives as well as developing, communicating and promoting a statewide vision and ethic of service. People who want to volunteer with a state agency can get involved with Volunteer Iowa’s volunteer program or with its AmeriCorps VISTA project.

United Way of Central Iowa

United Way of Central Iowa brings together local nonprofits, businesses, elected officials and community leaders to collaborate and implement solutions to some of the region's challenges. The United Way counts on volunteers, advocacy and donations to pursue their missions.

Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines

The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines provides charitable giving, connects donors with causes they care about and provides leadership for important community issues. The organization initiates change throughout the area and counts on people to help.


LeadershipLink connects nonprofits with volunteer leaders. All nonprofits can post their volunteer leadership opportunities on LeadershipLink, and interested volunteers can search for opportunities to become involved.

What are some youth volunteer opportunities in DSM?

Iowa Mentoring Partnership

Be a Mentor Des Moines (BAM) is a partnership between mentor programs throughout the region. One in three children grows up without a mentor, so BAM is trying to make it easier to connect volunteer mentors with at-risk youth. BAM streamlines communications of seven state-certified nonprofit organizations to raise awareness of the benefits of mentoring and mentoring opportunities. The organization’s goal is to increase the quality and quantity of mentors in DSM. Get connected with Be a Mentor in order to serve kids and teenagers through these organizations:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa offers both community-based and school-based mentoring opportunities.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program commissions trained and qualified community advocates to serve as an effective voice in court for abused and neglected children, strengthening efforts to ensure that each child is living in a safe, permanent and nurturing home.
  • Community Youth Concepts (CYC) focuses on educational and career development for youth.
  • Everybody Wins! Iowa connects elementary-age kids with literacy mentors to work on reading skills.
  • Johnston Youth Mentoring Program (JUMP) pairs Johnston students with mentors for help with life skills, academic goals and general support.
  • Mentor Iowa matches trained volunteers with children who are under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court.
  • Orchard Place relies on volunteers to help support children with behavioral and emotional challenges. Volunteer mentors reinforce what children are learning in treatment and demonstrate valuable life skills.

What are some nonprofits in Greater Des Moines?

There are hundreds of charitable organizations and nonprofits in DSM. Browse our directory or narrow your search for categories like youth organizations, fundraising and foundations.

If you want to get involved with volunteering at nonprofits in DSM, why wait? Use one of the tools above to find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you, or search for local organizations and nonprofits on your own. Here are some more ideas for places to volunteer: