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Resource for Volunteers New to Nonprofits

Ask your program manager if you have questions about how nonprofits operate.

If you are new to nonprofits it is important to get to know the lay of the land if you are going to be a successful member of the service corps. There are many fun ways to increase your knowledge of sector and gain experience working with nonprofits. While there are many ways a nonprofit is similar to businesses, understanding the differences is important and can be critical to being a valuable volunteer, particularly in a consulting role.  Not only are the business models, governance structure, and sources of revenue for nonprofits significantly different from for profit organizations but most nonprofits are small. The approaches and processes that work in a corporate environment often will not work with nonprofits.

You are more likely to be placed by 501 Commons in an interesting and challenging volunteer role if you have experience in the nonprofit sector. Some options for gaining experience in the sector are listed below.

If you gain experience as a volunteer or board member be sure to update your profile with 501 Commons and your Linked-In profile to include your volunteer experience.

Volunteer Opportunities and Board Positions

To find volunteer opportunities and board positions, local listings can be found at Volunteer Washington or in King County: or

Leadership Development and Educational Programs

  • Seattle Works Focuses on engaging people in their 20s and 30s through innovative volunteer activities and educational opportunities. The Bridge is a dynamic training program designed to give you the basics in nonprofit and government board service. Over the course of the series, you'll learn about roles and responsibilities of nonprofit and public board members and complete personal skill and interest assessments.The course consists of a series of trainings, where you'll learn about roles and responsibilities of nonprofit and public board members in addition to completing personal skill and interest assessments.
  • United Ways or volunteer centers in your community may offer trainings related to volunteer engagement or board service.
  • Leadership Eastside Leadership Eastside is the next generation regional leadership development program, distinguished by a focus on enriching leadership capabilities and building regional perspectives. Leadership Eastside is an inclusive organization that promotes connections, develops and enriches leaders, and is a catalyst for communities to address important issues and meet the challenges of a diverse and dynamic region.
  • Leadership Tomorrow The mission of LT is to develop effective community leaders who work to strengthen our region.
  • Project Lead - United Way of King County program designed to increase the number of people of color serving on nonprofit boards. Project LEAD (Leadership, Effectiveness and Diversity) is an in-depth, four-week training program which provides future volunteer leadership with the skills and tools to effectively guide a governance board in today’s changing environment. The program utilizes the services of top professional trainers who volunteer their time. Project LEAD takes a step further to actively match these skilled volunteers with nonprofit boards and committees.