Frequently Asked Questions

How-To Videos

Volunteer FAQs

How to Use This Website

The following videos are provided by the national HandsOn Connect Team and are used as tutorials for all HandsOn Connect websites. Their contents may not be applicable to every aspect of this website. If you have a question that is specific to Chicago Cares and is not answered here, please contact us at


How to search and sign up for volunteer opportunities:

How to register on this site and manage your volunteer account:


Volunteer FAQs

I forgot my username. How do I retrieve that information?

Your username is the email address you used when you created your account. If your email address does not work at login, please contact us at and a Chicago Cares representative should be in contact with you within 1 to 2 business days.

I forgot my password. How do I retrieve that information?

Click the green "LOGIN" button on the top right of the website. Enter your username and click "Forgot password?" An email with a temporary password will be sent to you.

Do I need to have an email address to register?

Yes. Our website uses your email address to identify you and send you important information about any opportunities for which you sign up. If you do not have an email account, you can get one free of charge from Yahoo or Google. Free Internet access is also available at most public libraries. If setting up an email account is not an option, please call Chicago Cares at 312-780-0800 for assistance.

Can I volunteer with my family and friends at Chicago Cares?

Yes, you can sign up as individuals at the same project. Teams are encouraged to serve at our annual Serve-a-thon event, which is built for groups that include as few as 2 or as many as 10 volunteers per team (sponsor organizations can have multiple teams).

I am a youth volunteer. How do I get started?

Chicago Cares has volunteer opportunities for youth volunteers 8 years old and older. Youth volunteers 16 and older can create a member account and sign up for volunteer opportunities that they can attend on their own. Youth volunteers aged 15 and under must volunteer with a parent or guardian (up to two youth volunteers per adult). The parent or guardian will ensure there are enough available volunteer spaces for the project, sign up themselves, and then provide the youth’s name, date of birth, and email address in the special question portion of the sign-up process. (Use the filters on the left side of the search page to find age-appropriate projects.) Everyone under the age of 18 must bring a signed youth waiver to each project they attend.

I have been waitlisted for a project. Now what?

When (and if) a space opens up, you will be notified via email. Open spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you are still available for and interested in the volunteer opportunity, make sure you login, return to the sign-in page, and claim one of the open spaces. PLEASE DO NOT JUST SHOW UP FOR THE PROJECT.

My hours are not accurate. Why aren’t my hours showing up?

Please give the volunteer leader one week to verify attendance for each project. However, if it takes longer than one week for your hours to show up on your Account Overview page, go to your Volunteer History, view the opportunity listing for the project at which you served, and click the "Report Hours" link.

Why is it important for me to show up to the volunteer opportunities for which I register?

At Chicago Cares, we’re committed to ensuring the best experience for volunteers and the clients they serve, and your participation is key to our collective success. We tailor our projects around goals, needs, and tasks, basing the number of volunteer slots we offer on these factors. As a result, your attendance at projects for which you sign up is critical.

I signed up for a Volunteer Opportunity and now I cannot make it. What should I do?

If you are no longer able to attend a project for which you registered, please remove yourself immediately to allow another volunteer to sign up for the opportunity. We request you remove yourself at least three days prior to the opportunity. If you remove yourself after the project start time, you will be marked as having not attended the project. (To remove yourself, log in, click “My Account,” the “Overview” link on the left, and then “Remove Me” for the appropriate entry in the “Upcoming Opportunities” box.) If you sign up for but do not remove yourself prior to the project start time from three or more projects you are unable to attend within a six-month period, your Chicago Cares account will be deactivated.

I removed myself from a project, but have been marked as having not attended it – why?

If you removed yourself following the start time of the project, your status will be noted as Not Attended.

Do I need to make a long-term commitment to volunteer?

As a volunteer with Chicago Cares, you are not required to serve at a minimum number of projects or repeatedly at the same project. We do ask you make a commitment to service. When you sign up for a volunteer opportunity, the volunteer leader is expecting you to arrive prepared and on time, ready to stay for the entirety of the project. If you enjoyed your experience, we would love to have you return to the project as many times as you would like. Just visit the project calendar and sign up for future dates. Providing consistent volunteers at our projects helps to build relationships and better meet the needs of each community.

I'm looking for a volunteer project that is a good fit for me, what should I do?

Visit the volunteer opportunity calendar to view our projects chronologically or go to the search page and use the keyword box to list the types of programs you think you would enjoy, along with your zip code. If you experience difficulty locating the right volunteer opportunity for yourself, please contact our office at 312.780.0800 to discuss available opportunities.

Do you provide some sort of documentation that I volunteered for your organization?

Yes, we can provide official documentation on Chicago Cares letterhead for the hours you have served with us. To request the letter, please email at least three business days in advance, so your hours may be verified.

Why do I have to become a member on your website in order to volunteer?

To make your volunteer experience easy and fun, Chicago Cares makes signing up for a volunteer opportunity as simple as a click. You must register with our website to receive reminder emails, manage your volunteer hours, and contact volunteer leaders. Your personal information will remain secure and will never be sold to a marketing firm. Chicago Cares is strongly committed to personal privacy.

I am a new Chicago Cares volunteer. How do I get started?

The only requirement Chicago Cares asks of you is to attend and participate in the projects for which you sign up and to have fun. Once you become a Chicago Cares member, you will be able to sign up for our available volunteer opportunities. If you would like to meet other newly registered volunteers and gain more information about Chicago Cares, we encourage you to sign up for one of the “Just for Starters” volunteer opportunities. Search “Just for Starters” in the keyword function.

I work for a nonprofit organization or school that needs volunteers, how do I become a community partner?

Chicago Cares has more than 100 active nonprofit organizations and schools with which we work to help meet both of our missions. View our Community Partner page and follow the instructions.

How do I register my organization as a possible site for Serve-a-thon?

If you know of an organization that could use volunteers interacting with clients, painting, landscaping, organizing, and more, please visit our Community Partner page to find out more.

Why don’t you provide the whole address for the opportunity on the sign-up page?

Chicago Cares is dedicated to personal and organizational privacy. Some organizations with which we work request that their addresses remain anonymous for their clients’ protection. Use the zip code on the volunteer opportunity sign-up page to get a better understanding of the opportunity’s location. Once you register and sign up for the opportunity, you will receive an email with the project address, directions, where to meet the volunteer leader, and the volunteer leader’s contact information.

What is a volunteer leader? How do I become a volunteer leader?

Chicago Cares projects could not happen without our corps of dedicated volunteer leaders. A volunteer leader can commit to lead the same project throughout the year or can help with our less-frequent projects, such as Serve-a-thon and Youth in Service. Contact Maura York to learn more.

What kinds of volunteer opportunities can I expect from Chicago Cares?

We have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities that meet critical needs across the city, allowing you to work with children, adults, and seniors; at food pantries and meal programs; or at outdoor restoration and gardening projects.View our volunteer opportunities to learn more about them.

My youth group would like to organize a volunteer day. Who do I contact?

Youth volunteers 16 and older can create a member account and sign up for volunteer opportunities that they can attend on their own. Youth volunteers aged 15 and under must volunteer with a parent or guardian (up to two youth volunteers per adult). For more information, see "I am a youth volunteer. How do I get started?" We welcome small groups at our ongoing programs; each volunteer or parent/guardian must register individually. Chicago Cares can also create a special, custom project for your youth group. Donations for custom volunteer days vary depending on the size of group, length of project, etc. and begin at $5,000, plus the cost of non-reusable supplies, food, and transportation. We request at least 60 days to successfully plan a custom project. Please contact for more information.

Who provides funding to Chicago Cares?

Chicago Cares is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To support our programs, we rely on a diverse array of funding from private individuals, foundations, and corporations. We do not receive United Way grants or direct governmental funding. Donate today to support our programs across the city.

How do I know if Chicago Cares is using donations responsibly?

A very high percentage of the funds we raise go directly back into programming (between 83 to 88 percent every year). Our most recent IRS Form 990 and audited financial statements are available if you wish to review them. For additional information email

I would like to hold a fundraiser or learn how I can fundraise for Chicago Cares.

We are honored to have your support! Check out our Donate page for more information or contact

My company is interested in having our employees volunteer together several times during the year. Can you help with that?

We would love to have your company join us as a year round partner in service to Chicago! Please contact for more information.

My company would like to organize a volunteer day. Who do I contact?

Our Corporate Volunteer Program offers expertise in community service to corporations by creating customized, hands-on group volunteer projects that complement team building, leadership development, and philanthropy initiatives. Through this program, Chicago Cares will fully develop and coordinate all aspects of your company’s volunteer project. Corporate Volunteer Programs do require a donation, which helps enable us to create, manage, and lead the ongoing programs you see on our volunteer opportunities calendar. Contributions for a Corporate Volunteer Program vary depending on the size of group, length of project, etc. and range from $5,000 to $300,000, plus the cost of non-reusable supplies, food, and transportation. We request at least 60 days to successfully plan a custom project. Please visit our CVP page to learn how Chicago Cares can create a custom project for your company or contact for more information.

My company would like to sponsor Serve-a-thon or Celebration of Service. Where can I find more information on these events?

Sponsorship opportunities are available for both Celebration of Service and Serve-a-thon with marketing benefits varying based upon the level of support provided. All sponsorships provide an opportunity for employee participation in the event with no individual registration donation required. Please contact to learn about sponsorship opportunities for your company.

Still have questions? Email us at