VolunteerMatch.org: An assignment

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One of my students contacted me recently to ask if I knew of any volunteer opportunities that would be a good match for her, a psychology major. As an undergraduate, I volunteered at a domestic violence shelter/rape crisis center. The hours of training plus my two years of time there was invaluable. While its obvious how this experience would be a solid base for a psychotherapist-to-be, it provided lesson after lesson for this future social psychologist.

In addition to experience, there is plenty of evidence that connects volunteering with happiness. For example, a study based on UK survey data that controlled for happiness levels prior to volunteering found that volunteering did indeed create a boost in happiness (Lawton et al., 2021).

I put my student in contact with a colleague who I felt would know more about local volunteering options than I did. When that didn’t pan out, I directed my student to VolunteerMatch.org. Enter your location (virtual only is an option), pick your favorite causes, and select your skills. Under “More Filters,” select whether you’re looking for opportunities for kids, those who are 55+, teens, or groups—a psych club, perhaps?

If you would like to introduce your students to the VolunteerMatch.org website, during your coverage of happiness would be a good place. Here is a suggestion for an assignment or an online discussion.

Visit VolunteerMatch.org. Enter your location. (At the top of the page, click virtual opportunities if you would prefer something remote). In the “Find the Best Volunteer Opportunities” section, click the “More” button to see all of the topic.

  1. Choose your favorite topic or topics. Briefly explain why you chose the topic or topics you did.
  2. Identify at least three volunteer opportunities that appeal to you. Briefly explain why you chose each one.
  3. How likely is it that you will volunteer with one of these in the next 12 months? Why or why not.



Lawton, R. N., Gramatki, I., Watt, W., & Fujiwara, D. (2021). Does volunteering make us happier, or are happier people more likely to volunteer? Addressing the problem of reverse causality when estimating the wellbeing impacts of volunteering. Journal of Happiness Studies, 22(2), 599–624. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-020-00242-8

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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.