Description & History

What we do: VRC connects volunteers with the agencies that need them.

Thousands of people are eager to donate their time and abilities but become frustrated because they don?t know where their talents are needed. At the same time, hundreds of NYC non-profit agencies are seeking competent volunteers to enable them to carry on their very important work. As a service organization, VRC has a dual role: providing the solutions for both the volunteer and the non-profit agency. VRC is, essentially, a matchmaker. We assure a good agency-volunteer match by gathering pertinent information about both prospective volunteers and non-profit agencies.

VRC differs from other referral agencies in four specific ways: 1. Interviews are personal, one-on-one, and in depth for the prospective volunteer 2. When the new volunteer comes for his/her interview, we try to schedule appointments with the agencies so that new volunteer can get started as soon as possible 3. We follow up to verify if the volunteer has been placed 4. We visit the agencies to which volunteers are referred, ensuring all our volunteers are placed with reputable non-profit agencies Every year, VRC conducts approximately 1000 personal interviews and makes approximately 3000 referrals to over 250 non-profit agencies throughout the five boroughs. Our services are always free of charge for volunteers.

VRC is a 501(c)(3) organization. Our primary source of funding is private donations, and additional support is provided by grants, foundations, and corporate- giving programs. A small registration fee is paid by our partner non-profit agencies, which covers our administrative costs.

How we do it: Our personal approach is our strength.

Each person who expresses an interest in volunteering is given an appointment for a personal, in-depth interview with a trained volunteer interviewer. Interviews are conducted four days a week and evening sessions are held once a week.

The interview: When the volunteer arrives for an appointment, he/she fills out a short registration form. During the interview, the volunteer?s interests, skills, time availability and commitment are discussed. The interviewer explores those opportunities that seem appropriate for the potential volunteer.

When a suitable opportunity is decided upon, the interviewer attempts to arrange an appointment for the volunteer at the agency or agencies. If that is not possible, the volunteer is given sufficient agency contact information to make the appointment on his/her own. From that point on, the agency and volunteer work out the details of the job assignment. The interviewer may follow up with the volunteer to determine whether the referral is satisfactory.

Our partner agencies: VRC has compiled information on several hundred non-profit organizations throughout the five boroughs of New York City. These organizations include a wide range of social services organizations, advocacy groups, tutoring and mentoring organizations, environmental groups, arts and cultural institutions, animal care groups, and many others that provide important and meaningful services to our community.

VRC began in 1976 as a project of the Yorkville Civic Council, fulfilling the need for volunteers of social service and health care agencies, as well as cultural institutions, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In the fall of 1989, due to the high demand for its services, VRC expanded its scope to include all of Manhattan. At this time, VRC became incorporated as a non-profit organization and moved to its present location in midtown Manhattan. In 1995, VRC again expanded its services to include non-profit partner agencies throughout the five boroughs.

VRC was founded and has flourished on the belief that volunteers not only enhance the programs they assist, but also benefit from the volunteer experience in so many ways. Volunteers gain a broader perspective of the needs of the City and its people, become more informed citizens and more active advocates for community improvement. Volunteers may often improve their existing skills, or learn new ones. Retired persons and seniors benefit from volunteer work by keeping active and busy. For persons who are in transition between jobs, or looking for new career paths, volunteering is a perfect way to stay engaged and do some great networking. And students and teens may benefit from volunteer work and community service by developing "real world" skills, such as professional etiquette and working in a team environment. Young people can gain invaluable leadership experience through extracurricular volunteer activity, giving them confidence and a sense of pride in themselves as they transition into young adulthood, from the college application process right through to graduate school or full-time employment.

About the organization

Volunteer Referral Center

Pat Girardi
Executive Director
(212) 889-4805
Organization’s website: