Volunteering with us.

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Volunteering

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The Letters Foundation works with many volunteers on a weekly basis. Integral to the success of the Foundation, our volunteers continue to surpass our expectations in everything that they do in order to best serve our grant-seeking clients. Our volunteers donate precious time and invaluable skills to help make our grant-making possible.

Volunteer Roles

Role 1

Operations Volunteer Operations Volunteers help the Foundation with administrative support around the office. Responsibilities range from scanning letters and application materials, to entering a client’s general request into our database, to supporting the Foundation staff with other key operational tasks.

Letter Reader Letter Readers play an essential role in understanding the applicant’s grant request. Using Doris’s criteria, these volunteers review each initial letter mailed to the Foundation to determine whether or not to move the client forward in the grants process.

Role 2
Role 3

Application Specialist Application Specialists serve as advocates for clients once their request is approved for further review. They help clients gather, review, and submit all necessary documentation to the Foundation in a timely manner, forging trust with clients through an intense stage of the grants process.

Researchers Volunteers with diverse professional experiences and backgrounds make up our research team, helping Foundation staff at each stage of responding to grant requests. Among many responsibilities, researchers identify appropriate resources for client referral, and use their personal or professional experiences to contribute to our shared Knowledge Base of relevant information and community resources.

Role 4
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Join our volunteer waitlist.

If you’re interested in volunteering with us, please take a few minutes to fill out a volunteer survey.

The Letters Foundation currently doesn't accept volunteer applications from countries outside of the U.S.A.

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our volunteer waitlist.

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Volunteer Stories

The Letters Foundation is incredibly proud to be a small part of assisting hundreds of resilient Americans who are experiencing hard luck. Many people are facing obstacles through no fault of their own. We want to help them get back on their feet.

Here are some of their stories.

Steve

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As an operations volunteer, I feel that the work I do is valuable at the Foundation because I help keep everything moving along. There are a lot of letters each week and they need to be scanned, read, and disseminated to the people involved in making decisions. Although the process takes time, if what I am doing makes it go more smoothly, then I feel I have helped in a small way get assistance to those folks in need. Volunteering has opened my eyes to the vast array of human experiences in this country. It’s made me more aware of the relative riches our family has in comparison to the sea of troubles facing the writers of these letters. When I describe the Letters Foundation, I talk about the amazing work the Foundation does on behalf of people who have nowhere else to turn and for things that people often have a hard time getting money for. I tell them that the grants may be small amounts of money, but it’s money that these people really need and they wouldn’t be able to get it anywhere else.

Nell

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My name is Nell and I am a Letter Reader at the foundation. I volunteered as I had just retired as a teacher after 38 years and needed to put my energy to good use. I love Doris’s thought about helping the world, one person at a time. As a teacher, I knew my words and actions would and could be far reaching into the world. Hopefully, our grant recipients will go out into the world and share their hope and faith after receiving a hand up. I have been inspired by the young people I have met at the foundation, they give me hope for the future! My fellow readers are so beautiful and kind, and did I mention spunky!? Like a weathered and treasured family quilt, each patch has its own design and color, with its own story.
I am blessed to be part of such an organization.

Christine

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I have been volunteering for The Letters Foundation as a researcher since January 2017. I started as a legal and insurance-related researcher and shifted my focus to researching Veterans’ related resources. I have two brothers who have served in the military and spent years away from family during their tours of duty, a personal experience that has raised my awareness of the sacrifices that veterans make for our country. I am honored to be able to focus in this area, and I am grateful that the Foundation recognizes the importance of providing assistance to veterans. I’ve had a very positive experience in this role, from meeting the wonderful and kind staff of the Foundation to being able to do two things I enjoy – researching and supporting veterans. My prior volunteer work over the years involved being away from home, so the flexibility of this remote role is also a bonus. I look forward to continuing!

Tom

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I came to the Letters Foundation as an Operations Volunteer in February 2017. When I read in the Globe that Doris Buffett needed help giving her money away, I knew I had found the volunteer opportunity I was looking for. I applied immediately, and then waited patiently for the overwhelmed staff to process the mountain of responses they received. Happy to have been selected for a role on the Ops team, I quickly fell into a groove scanning letters from clients, getting their data into the system, processing client applications and preparing them for further evaluation. Over the next few months, as I got to know the staff and volunteers, I was able to see other ways I could contribute using skills I’d developed in my previous corporate life. Today I am working as a consultant to help formalize the Technology Strategy for the Foundation. It is a joy to be working with so many others who feel the same way.

Dottie

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As soon as I read the story in the paper about the Letters Foundation in August 2016, I hoped that I could be a part of this organization. Although I had to wait awhile before I became a Letter Reader, the experience has not disappointed – the wait was entirely worth it! I am proud to be a part of the kindness that the Foundation is built on, and I am also proud to share time with so many people who hope to make this world a kinder and better place to live.

Gayane

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January of 2017 opened a new chapter in my life: I became a Letter Reader. The letters that people send to the Foundation make me indirectly a part of their lives. Each story touches my heart and mind. Some letters are very sad, and many reveal great strength and resilience. The letters inspire me, teach me, and help me better to understand my fellow human beings. I am pleased that my experience and knowledge can contribute to the improvement of a person’s life. This is both the most difficult and most exciting position I have ever held. I am grateful to be a member of this marvelous team.

Priscilla

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When I read about the Letters Foundation in the Boston Globe over a year ago, I just had to write in and volunteer my services. I have been involved in many charitable organizations over the years and this one was right up my alley! I began as an Operations Volunteer in November, 2017. In this capacity, I see the steady flow of letters that comes in on a daily basis. It is a humbling reminder of the dire and rampant need of individuals across the country. The legacy of the Buffetts and the mission of the Foundation are admirable and inspirational! I feel privileged to play a small part and to be involved with such a dedicated group of employees and an impressive network of volunteers.

Tyra

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For nearly 25 years, I have worked in philanthropy funding nonprofit organizations. I joined Letters in January 2017 because I wanted to have a more direct impact on individuals lives. It is thrilling to learn that a letter I have read has resulted in tangible help for someone or a family. Reading letters to Doris and Warren is a sobering task. I am honored to do it and consumed with gratitude.

Yvonne

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I started in November 2017 as an Operations Volunteer and look forward to coming each week. I believe strongly that Doris, the Letters Foundation and all of the people who work and volunteer at the Foundation are there because they believe that they can make a difference in a person’s life. We all share in the commitment to extend a hand to our fellow humans. I find volunteering at Letters Foundation deeply gratifying!

Alyce

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My professional and personal life has given me insight into how fragile life can be and a deeper understanding of the challenges many people face. Although there are a variety of obstacles that we all struggle with, financial needs can be most devastating to an individual, and often, most easily remedied. Recently retired, I had been looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity that would build on my previous career working with individuals who were experiencing problems in their lives and who were in need of support. Being a part of the Letters Foundation team has allowed me to work in an organization dedicated to moving individuals beyond their limitations and hopefully lessen some of the burden they carry. I am proud to contribute to this effort in some small way.

Catherine

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I began volunteering with the Letters Foundation in the fall of 2016 as a Letter Reader. There were just a few of us readers then, and we would generally work on our own, with feedback from Foundation staff. With the addition of more readers in January 2017, we instituted weekly meetings to discuss difficult letters, joined by our second Letter Reader cohort in October 2017. I’ve really enjoyed the collaborative approach of these meetings. It’s interesting to hear different perspectives on the same letter, and our discussions make us more consistent with each other in our decisions about whether letter writers should be invited to apply for a grant. It’s been wonderful getting to know the other Letter Readers, and it is a privilege to be privy to the lives of the people who write to us, so many of whom are struggling so hard.

Learn more about us and find resources to contact the Foundation, volunteer, or share your story.

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We are supposed to empower, but not enable.