General Information

Are there any requirements or restrictions to volunteer?

Volunteers must be 14 years of age or older. Volunteers 14-17 years old must use paper applications filled out by a parent/guardian and will then be entered into the computer system, 18+ years old can apply online.

There may be additional requirements or restrictions based upon the Activities requested. For example, you must have a background check performed and a valid driver’s license if you would like to take someone for a ride. Activities that involve face to face contact or entering a Recipient’s home will require passing a background check. Activities that involve contact with a minor or elderly will require passing a sex offender database check.

We do not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected under the laws of the United States.

How do I know what Opportunities are available?

Each time your community has a new need, your Chapter Leader should send you an email notifying you of activities coming up over the next month or so or last-minute needs. You should then login at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org and click on the Opportunities tab.

You can also login at any time to see if there are any needs available. Login at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org and click on the Opportunities tab.

Please Note: You may need to update your Qualifications to see some Activities (for example, providing rides will require a valid background check and driver’s license. You can update your Qualifications under the My Profile tab (top right of your home screen after logging in at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org) Other times Opportunities may be visible to everyone and you may be required to provide your Qualifications after signing up.

I just want to make a meal for my neighbor, what’s with all the application questions and requirements?

You can make a meal for your neighbor! Go for it! Feel free to bring over a meal to a friend or someone you know in crisis, however, if your friend needs a larger network of volunteers, that’s where Neighbor Brigade can help! We have thousands of volunteers across the country. With so many strangers interacting we need to have some precautions in place.

  • Qualifications, waivers and liability forms are required by our legal team in order to provide security for all of volunteers, clients and our organization. If anything were to go wrong, accidents or ill-intentions, we will still be able to help our neighbors and protect our volunteers.
  • Demographic questions on the application and in your My Profile settings are optional. However, providing these details not only allows us to apply for grants and funding (almost all of which require this data), but also allows us the ability to examine our practices and outreach to make sure we are succeeding where we intend to, not spending time where we aren’t succeeding and cultivating clients and volunteers from all parts of our communities regardless of gender, race, religion, skin color, ethnicity, culture, language, education or income level. We stand by our organization as inclusive.
  • Our volunteer management software is built to cover the needs of many different models and size volunteer organizations. We cannot customize everything and our organization does not use all of the settings and options and features. This may make the process feel more complicated, but it really still is just an online sign-up! Look at some of our tutorials or contact support@neighborbrigade.org and we are happy to lead you through signups!

What are some examples of Qualifications?

Here are some examples of how we protect our volunteers, clients and organization:

  • In order to volunteer or become a client, individuals must accept our liability agreement and waivers.
  • Volunteers age 14-17 must fill out and mail in paper applications with a parent or guardian signature.
  • For volunteer activity that requires face to face contact or entering a client home (i.e. rides, friendly visits, household chores), volunteers will require a background check (CORI in Massachusetts, Verified Volunteers in other states).
  • For an activity that requires face to face contact or entering a client home (i.e. rides, friendly visits, household chores), any client who is not known personally to a chapter leader or Neighbor Brigade volunteer in good standing (i.e. applies online, cold calls or referred by a social worker), should receive a background check through Verified Volunteers (which requires computer access).
  • Any activity requiring face to face contact or entering a client home with children or elderly clients will require a SORB check for volunteers.
  • All Meal Preparation task should require Meal Prep training.

What do you do with my information?

Most of your information is kept privately within Neighbor Brigade staff, Chapter Leaders, board members. You will typically be asked first, but on some occasions name and minimal contact  information might be share between a recipient you are serving if you are are a volunteer or to volunteers if you are a recipient. Your demographic data is compiled without name attached and used for grant writing and funding purposes. We do not sell or share your contact information and work hard to ensure your online identity, schedule, contact information and any other personal data.

What does money/donations get used for?

Good question, since the majority of our work is volunteering. We have costs associated with insurance, legal fees, software, marketing and outreach, background checks, providing coolers, salaries of our part time staff, etc.

I know someone who could use our help, what is the next step?

You can have the person fill out a Client Application on our website (find the link through your chapter page). If the client doesn’t have computer access, you can fill out the form for them. You can also contact your Chapter Leader or call our toll free number.

I can’t find the Activity my Chapter Leader emailed me about, where is it?

You can see any of the listed Activities by logging in and looking at the Opportunities tab.

  1. Login at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org
  2. Some activities you might not be able to see if you don’t have updated qualifications in our system. To make sure your Qualifications are up to date by going to My Profile
    (tab on the top right) -> Qualifications and updating/saving the appropriate settings.

Click on the Opportunities tab.  There is a filter box at the top of the Opportunities page, you may need to adjust your filters if you aren’t seeing Activities that you are qualified for. For example, the Filters may be hiding Activities that have already been filled. Make sure the box next to “Only include activities that have openings available” is unchecked.

  1. Click on the Activity name. You’ll be brought to the Activity description and signup page.
  2. Read/scroll beyond the description and you’ll see the available schedule at the bottom of the page.

Click on the Sign Up button to the right of the date and time shift(s) you are interested in signing up for. You should see on the screen a signup confirmation. (Note: You will not receive an email confirmation of your signup.)

What sort of tasks do volunteers perform?

Our volunteers most frequently help out individuals and families in crisis by providing meals, providing rides to doctor’s appointments, walking dogs, and community drives and fundraisers.

We also provide a range of other tasks including things like friendly visits, small household chores, assistance with errands, and occasional snow clearing or yard pick up.

How much am I required to volunteer?

There is no requirement. Neighbor Brigade is flexible. You are welcome to volunteer once a week, once a month or once a year based on your interest and schedule. Some months your chapter may not be helping anyone, others may have multiple tasks every day. You may enjoy helping with meals, but not rides, so volunteering may be based on your availability and Recipient needs at the time.


Volunteering

How do I fill a meal?

Almost anything goes! Unless allergies, dislikes, or food restrictions are mentioned in the description, there are no rules on what you make or don’t make. Remember the containers you use will not be returned. Some people might make a home-cooked entree with sides and dessert, while others may drop off pizza takeout. You decide! Grab takeout from a local restaurant, pick up prepared meals at a deli or grocery store, or make everything from scratch. It’s up to you. You might choose to just  include a main dish (baked chicken or lasagna), or you might want to throw in a salad, fresh bread and cookies for dessert. It’s entirely up to what you want to do! Drop if off warm, or include heating instructions. Anything works! Once you have prepared your meal, you’ll typically drop it off to a cooler outside the clients home during a specified time frame. You generally do not need to ring the doorbell or interact with the recipient, a lot of times this is a quiet time for them!

What happens when I sign up for a ride?

Typically when you sign up for a ride, you will be given a pick up and drop off time. In some cases, you will exchange cell phone numbers so that you can confirm these times with the recipient or with a doctor’s office (if picking up after an appointment). The client will likely be waiting for you. You may or may not need to go to the door.  Neighbor Brigade volunteers are not legally permitted to perform medical assistance or physically lifting recipients, but you can help carry or load any extra devices or material into or out of your car. Some rides are split up into separate drop off and pick up tasks and you may only decide to help with one leg of the ride, an others will include both drop off and pickup. Make sure you know what you signed up for, as well as how long it will take you to get to and from the destination. You should know in advance and make sure your car is safe and clean enough to fit the recipient and anything they may have with them (wheelchair, walker, crutches, additional person).

What happens during a friendly visit?

Friendly visits are some of our favorites! Each case is individual, you may be asked to check in on a relative and see if they need help with anything (Neighbor Brigade Volunteers are not legally permitted to perform any medical assistance or treatments). Some recipients may just want conversation, some may like to play cards, do a puzzle, watch a TV show together, or go out for ice cream. In some cases, you may find something you can be helpful with, emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry while you talk, but your biggest job would just be to provide a little human interaction.

What does a dog walk entail?

Often times there is a description of what might be needed for a dog walk, but sometimes clients and dogs are just happy to get the dog out of the house. Generally, you will show up at the client’s home. The dog(s) should be ready and the client will meet you at the door with the leash, poop bags, and any other information. You may want to find out if the dog gets along with other dogs, will pull on the leash if there is a squirrel or other distraction, as well as a recommended walking route if you don’t know the area. We find most dogs we help are well adjusted and well behaved pets. Often times volunteers are given treats to help bond to the dog. You will likely walk the dog for 15-20 minutes.

Where is the Recipient’s address?

Often times the Recipient’s address is listed in the Activity description, but occasionally the Client may prefer more privacy, or there may be other sensitive information (eg pin codes for a building entry or phone numbers). In this case, you may have to be signed up for the Activity in order to see the address. If this is the case, login to your volunteer profile and click on the Schedule tab. Hover over or click on the i /information button and you should see the full text of the Activity description, including any additional information just for volunteers who have signed up to help.

Will I receive a reminder about the activity I signed up for?

In order to minimize spam filter conflicts, reminder emails are not the default. You will need to opt-in to reminders.  If you opt-in, you will receive reminders on the weekend, one and two weeks before the activity that you’ve signed up for. (So when you sign up on Monday for an activity on Friday, you will not receive an automatic email reminder!) If you use a calendar service on your phone or computer you can subscribe to a calendar feed to receive automatic updates and reminders (i.e. google calendar, outlook calendar, or iCal).

To do this login to your volunteer profile at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org, click on the My Profile/Contacts tab on the upper right side, and scroll down. You’ll see the Subscriptions section on the right side.

Please note, you will not receive an automated confirmation of your signup. Check your schedule tab to confirm your signup!

How do I know what meals everyone else is bringing?

Unfortunately, you don’t! Sorry! We are hoping to have that feature added  into the software. If meals go on for a long time, or are frequent (many nights per week), you can work with your chapter leader to set up a recommendation schedule (i.e. Mondays are chicken, Wednesdays are beef/pork/fish, and Fridays are vegetarian). We get comments that chicken parm, Shepard’s pie and macaroni and cheese, are the most frequently repeated meals if you want to try something different.

I can’t find the Activity my Chapter Leader emailed me about, where is it?

You can see any of the listed Activities by logging in and looking at the Opportunities tab.

  1. Login at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org
  2. Some activities you might not be able to see if you don’t have updated qualifications in our system. To make sure your Qualifications are up to date by going to My Profile
    (tab on the top right) -> Qualifications and updating/saving the appropriate settings.

Click on the Opportunities tab.  There is a filter box at the top of the Opportunities page, you may need to adjust your filters if you aren’t seeing Activities that you are qualified for. For example, the Filters may be hiding Activities that have already been filled. Make sure the box next to “Only include activities that have openings available” is unchecked.

  1. Click on the Activity name. You’ll be brought to the Activity description and signup page.
  2. Read/scroll beyond the description and you’ll see the available schedule at the bottom of the page.

Click on the Sign Up button to the right of the date and time shift(s) you are interested in signing up for. You should see on the screen a signup confirmation. (Note: You will not receive an email confirmation of your signup.)

Where can I find what I signed up for?

Login to your volunteer profile at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org. You  might see some Activities under your Upcoming Tasks section on your home screen. Click on the Schedule tab. You’ll be able to see the Activities that you are signed up for. You can click on  or hover over the i/information box to read the description, or un-assign yourself from the Activity.

I have moved or no longer want to volunteer, how do I remove my account?

Once you resign, you will no longer be able to sign up for activities or log hours through Neighbor Brigade. You can sign back up using the same profile in the future if your circumstances allow.

  1. Login to http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org
  2. Under the My Profile tab on the right side, click on Organizations.
  3. You should be able to resign from your chapter.

Please note that you still may have to unsubscribe from Neighbor Brigade organization emails. Contact support@neighborbrigade.org if you have any questions or problems.


Background Checks

How do I upload my CORI form in Better Impact (Massachusetts volunteers only)?

  1. Have the files saved and easy to find  on your computer.
  2. Login at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org.
  3. Click on My Profile -> Additional Information  (towards the top right side)
  4. Scroll a little down to see the “CORI Form” on the left, and click the associated “Choose File” button.
  5. You should be able to locate your file from your computer and click Open.
  6. Click the purple Save button when you are done (scroll up if necessary).
  7. You will receive an email once your check has been completed, or if additional information is needed.

What is the Background Check process?

Background checks are valid for one year and then the paperwork must be filled out again.  Background checks are required for any intentional face to face interaction of service, for example providing rides and friendly visits, but are not required for many tasks. While delivering meals, clients and volunteers may see each other but should be aware that background checks have not been done and we do not recommend volunteers step foot inside the home of a client if no background check has been done (as written in our volunteer handbook).

In Massachusetts, background checks, also referred to as CORI checks, are free of charge but volunteers fill out forms and photocopy their ID’s to complete the process.  For chapters outside of Massachusetts our background checks are managed by Verified Volunteers, a national background check system, and involve a fee that the organization is responsible for.

Neighbor Brigade staff are responsible for processing all background checks and we update the volunteer profiles when they have been completed. We also send an email to the volunteer letting them know it has been updated. Background and personal information is not shared. 

 

Where are the background check forms?

Massachusetts volunteers will use the iCori system. This requires printing out a paper form, filling out and signing the form, and returning it (via email, fax, mail, or uploading in our volunteer software). You will also need to provide a copy of the front and back of your driver’s license (submit a photocopy, scan or cell phone photo via email, fax, mail or uploading in our volunteer software.) You will receive an email from Neighbor Brigade staff once your background check has cleared. You can find the CORI form at http://neighborbrigade.org/CORI.pdf

Volunteers outside of Massachusetts will used Verified Volunteers. To receive an invitation to this service, please email info@neighborbrigade.org.

Why do you need to perform a Sex Offender Check?

Any time a minor aged 17 or under (or often elderly) is involved in receiving services or volunteering a Sex Offender check must be done on all adults both clients and volunteers that will interact with the minor.  

What is Verified Volunteers?

For chapters outside of MA our background checks are all managed by Verified Volunteers, a national background check system.  Using Verified Volunteers for a background check requires a volunteer submit information online. The Verified Volunteers system will run a check and return the data to Neighbor Brigade staff as a clear or history (Neighbor Brigade staff will see no other personal information). 

What if I have a background?

If you have felony or criminal background in your history, the Executive Director is open to a discussion after the check has been made to discuss volunteer opportunities.


Software Support

I can’t login.

If you remember the email address you registered with (likely you are receiving email from Neighbor Brigade to that account) you can use the Forgot Password link at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org

Or you can email support@neighborbrigade.org, and we will reset your username and password for you and help you login!

How do I know what Opportunities are available?

Each time your community has a new need, your Chapter Leader should send you an email notifying you of activities coming up over the next month or so or last-minute needs. You should then login at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org and click on the Opportunities tab.

You can also login at any time to see if there are any needs available. Login at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org and click on the Opportunities tab.

Please Note: You may need to update your Qualifications to see some Activities (for example, providing rides will require a valid background check and driver’s license. You can update your Qualifications under the My Profile tab (top right of your home screen after logging in at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org) Other times Opportunities may be visible to everyone and you may be required to provide your Qualifications after signing up.

How do I upload my CORI form in Better Impact (Massachusetts volunteers only)?

  1. Have the files saved and easy to find  on your computer.
  2. Login at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org.
  3. Click on My Profile -> Additional Information  (towards the top right side)
  4. Scroll a little down to see the “CORI Form” on the left, and click the associated “Choose File” button.
  5. You should be able to locate your file from your computer and click Open.
  6. Click the purple Save button when you are done (scroll up if necessary).
  7. You will receive an email once your check has been completed, or if additional information is needed.

How do I sign up for an activity?

  1. Login at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org
  2. Make sure your Qualifications are up to date by going to My Profile
    (tab on the top right) -> Qualifications and updating/saving the appropriate settings.
  3. Click on the Opportunities tab.
  4. Scroll down to see the Activities you are interested in.
  5. Click on the Activity name. You’ll be brought to the Activity description and signup page.
  6. Read/scroll beyond the description and you’ll see the available schedule at the bottom of the page.

Click on the Sign Up button to the right of the date and time shift(s) you are interested in signing up for. You should see on the screen a signup confirmation. (Note: You will not receive an email confirmation of your signup.)

Where is the Recipient’s address?

Often times the Recipient’s address is listed in the Activity description, but occasionally the Client may prefer more privacy, or there may be other sensitive information (eg pin codes for a building entry or phone numbers). In this case, you may have to be signed up for the Activity in order to see the address. If this is the case, login to your volunteer profile and click on the Schedule tab. Hover over or click on the i /information button and you should see the full text of the Activity description, including any additional information just for volunteers who have signed up to help.

Will I receive a reminder about the activity I signed up for?

In order to minimize spam filter conflicts, reminder emails are not the default. You will need to opt-in to reminders.  If you opt-in, you will receive reminders on the weekend, one and two weeks before the activity that you’ve signed up for. (So when you sign up on Monday for an activity on Friday, you will not receive an automatic email reminder!) If you use a calendar service on your phone or computer you can subscribe to a calendar feed to receive automatic updates and reminders (i.e. google calendar, outlook calendar, or iCal).

To do this login to your volunteer profile at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org, click on the My Profile/Contacts tab on the upper right side, and scroll down. You’ll see the Subscriptions section on the right side.

Please note, you will not receive an automated confirmation of your signup. Check your schedule tab to confirm your signup!

Where can I find what I signed up for?

Login to your volunteer profile at http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org. You  might see some Activities under your Upcoming Tasks section on your home screen. Click on the Schedule tab. You’ll be able to see the Activities that you are signed up for. You can click on  or hover over the i/information box to read the description, or un-assign yourself from the Activity.

I want to remove myself from an Activity.

We understand things come up in busy lives!

  1. Log on to http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org
  2. Click on the schedule tab
  3. Next to the shift you want to remove yourself from, click the [Remove] button if it appears.

If the Remove button isn’t available (typically not an option under 48 hours before the activity), you will need to contact your Chapter Leader.