Volunteer FAQs

  • A Red Cross disaster responder helping an elderly lady and carrying some prepared meals for her
     
Why should I volunteer?
Volunteer at the American Red Cross of the Bay Area do great things every day from helping communities prepare for emergencies, providing training in lifesaving skills, assisting people affected by disasters, connecting families or simply lending a helping hand to members of the community. Our volunteers come from a variety of cultures and from all walks of life. Many want to help after a major disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Others lend their skills or professional expertise to benefit members of their local communities.

Red Cross volunteers help us create stronger, well-prepared communities. In return, our volunteers receive fulfillment, enrichment, gratification and a spirit of belonging and giving.

What is the time commitment required to volunteer?
Time commitments vary according to the area in which you choose to volunteer. Many volunteers work regular weekly or monthly shifts. Others choose to maintain their training and respond only to major disasters. Although our need for volunteers is greatest during weekdays, many evening and weekend opportunities are also available. Take a look at our volunteer opportunities to determine which opportunities best fit in your schedule.

How do I start the process of becoming a volunteer?
To become a volunteer, please start by completing a volunteer application and signing up for one of our free volunteer orientation sessions. Following the orientation, you’ll have a one-on-one interview with our volunteer resources team to discuss the best position for you within the Red Cross.

How old do I have to be to volunteer?
Adult volunteers must be at least 18 years old. Volunteers who are 14 to 18 years old are encouraged to join our youth volunteer programs, which allow youth to get their schools and communities prepared for disaster.

What is the American Red Cross code of conduct?
The code of conduct outlines the standard policies and principles by which all American Red Cross volunteers and employees are required to abide. The code of conduct is used in an effort to maintain the high standard of conduct expected and deserved by the American public and enable the organization to continue to offer services required by those in need.

Why do I have to complete a background check to volunteer?
Background checks have been an area of focus at the American Red Cross and encouraged for many years. However, after the fraud and waste that occurred during our work aiding those affected by the hurricanes of 2005, it was decided that mandatory background checks on all employees and volunteers were necessary. Red Cross continues to reaffirm our accountability to the American public. The background check initiative, coupled with our previous efforts on this front, will help us achieve a more efficient and safer work environment for our employees and volunteers. Volunteers under the age of 18 are not required to complete a background check.

Are there internship opportunities available at the Red Cross?
There are many internship opportunities available within different support areas, ranging from disaster relief operations to marketing to IT and administrative support. For unpaid internships, please contact our volunteer resources team at arcbav@redcross.org or 1-888-4-HELP-BAY.

Can I volunteer for disaster relief operations outside of the Bay Area in the United States?
Yes, although you must have experience with disaster response as a local Red Cross volunteer. To acquire that experience, you must register, train and serve through our Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) system. Most volunteers choose to put their skills in practice and current in the Bay Area by working on their county’s Disaster Action Team, responding to the local disasters that occur every day in our community. You can find out more about the DCS system and how to get involved during the volunteer orientation process.

Can the American Red Cross Bay Area send me abroad for international volunteer opportunities?
The American Red Cross provides assistance during international disasters upon the request of that country’s Red Cross or Red Crescent society. Each year, we deploy a limited number of volunteers who have undergone extensive training in disaster relief. Most of these individuals have previously worked on international disaster relief initiatives and assignments last for a minimum of three weeks.

If you have previous international disaster relief experience or specialized technical skills in logistics, communications, water sanitation, medicine or engineering, please let our volunteer resources team know that during your orientation process.

If you don’t have previous international disaster relief experience, you may begin building your skills in disaster relief by becoming a local Red Cross volunteer. Our disaster responder training and the experience of working on local and national disasters can provide you with a good foundation for future volunteer work abroad.

InterAction and the Center for International Disaster Information provide additional information about volunteering internationally.