There are a host of websites that help connect volunteers with opportunities, ranging from the uncurated Craigslist to the family-oriented Doing Good Together, to the State Farm-branded Neighborhood of Good.
Today, I took an orientation class with Boston Cares, another volunteer placement site. Boston Cares is focused on, well, Boston, and they’re the largest such agency in New England. They’re very aware of the real problem with volunteerism for non-profits, which is that volunteers can be unreliable and require more management than you think. Boston Cares penalizes you if you make a commitment and don’t show up, for example, and making people go through an orientation is itself part of the process of weeding out the uncommitted. We had a pretty committed group in my orientation, which bodes well for the city.