Joining The Right Organization

Joining the Non-Profit Anti-Exploitation World — Part 2

If you read my last post and were not disuaded from joining or volunteering with an organization, the next question is, “which one?”


Were up to me, everyone would join all of them. My company has one of a very small number of private investigators in Virginia that dedicates time and resources to non profits and probono work in Virginia. I may be the only one that has exteneded this to any nonprofit that asks for help. This has afforded me an inside look at the administration and effictiveness of multiple organizations. I’ve worked with education, outreach, interdiction, lobbying, online advocacy, ground search,  law enforcement, and research organizations. Every single experience has been an amazing one. Though, none have been without pitfalls. Some are human, some are emotional.

For this reason, I would urge you to examine your knowledge base, time, resources, and resiliency, prior to joining full time. Be honest with yourself about how much of your heart you are willing to give over. Also, how well you will be able to handle situations where children are involved. When it comes to child exploitation intervention and rescue, attrition due to burn out will do in anyone who isn’t discouraged by personality conflicts.

The quality of an organization and its people will have a lot to do with volunteer longevity.

Shop around and talk to the recruiters and reps from a variety of entities. Ask plenty of questions.  What will be as important (if not more) as their answers will be your chemistry and comfort communicating with them. If you feel rushed, manipulated, or unsure, this will likely paint your entire experience with them. If you encounter this, a good way to check if this is standard is to invite yourself to the next organizational event. If you aren’t clicking with anyone or there’s a vibe, it’s time to keep moving.

Some good questions to get you started:

What is your organization’s objective?
How are you accomplishing that?
What’s your criteria for measuring success?
What qualities are you looking for in a volunteer?
What demands on time are you asking of volunteers?
How often do you meet?
Do you provide any training?
What is the background of your founder?
What does your organization need from the public to be successful?
What are the barriers to success that you are facing today? Historically?

These are just a starting point. A solid organization will be able to answer these knowledgably, positively, and honestly. If they get into political rhetoric, organizational rivalry, or general negativity, that’s a clue that they may be on the decline or too dysfunctional at the moment. I won’t lie, some are very passionate and dedicated, though, thoroughly crazy individuals. But hey, keeping alien abduction an CIA involvement on the table for all missing persons cases is not always a bad thing. We’re all about the mission.

If they ask for money, during this call, walk away. There is a time and a place for soliciting and it’s from donors, not volunteers. Never ever volunteers. When I recruit, the only thing I need from people are their hearts and minds.

If you aren’t sure about joining, keep an eye out for Part 3 of this series about ways to help on your own. Questions about anything in this, or my other exploitation articles can be sent to