Guidelines For making Requests on RAOGK

Requesting Guidelines for Lookups

Please read the FAQs in this section before you decide to make a Request from a RAOGK volunteer.

The volunteers of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness have agreed to donate their time for free. So always be courteous and patient.

Our staff has put together this Guide for making requests for you to view and read before making any requests.

Requesting Rules

Follow these common rules when searching and asking for a volunteer to do a lookup.

  • All volunteers are listed in the Volunteer Directory. Go to Country then state or region to locate someone in your area to do a lookup.
  • If there is no volunteer listed in for area of inquiry, please check back another time. We are still growing and getting new volunteers everyday.
  • DO NOT not send your requests for lookups to the site admins, or the site’s hosting service. Requests sent to either one WILL NOT be answered.
  • When making a request, please use the request form on the individual volunteer’s listing. You may not get a response if you email a volunteer directly.
  • Most request should responded to within a week at most. If you do not receive any acknowledgement within that time then contact the site admins.
  • While the volunteers have agreed to donate their time for free, they may ask for reimbursement for his/her expenses in fulfilling your request if they ask for it. For example copies, printing fees, postage, film or video tape, parking fees, etc.
  • If you are asked for money for expenses please use paypal or an equivalent service. Never send cash or checks by mail.
  • PLEASE Rate your Volunteer to tell them and others how they did!

Frequently Asked Questions

The site is free to use. However, you WILL be expected to reimburse expenses incurred such as: film, video, postage, copies, and/or printing fees. In some areas you will also be expected to pick up parking fees. You are NOT to be charged time. If you feel you have been unfairly charged, please contact us and we will look into the situation.

Locate a volunteer in the area where information is needed. Read their Act of Kindness. Please only select a volunteer who has stated they will do the research you need in that area.

Please do NOT request lookups/information if you live within travelling distance (up to 50 miles) from the city/area where you’ve made your request. In some instances and in some areas, the volunteer you’ve requested information from may even live further away than you do.

When you have made your selection, click on the volunteer’s name. Fill in the form, making sure you have entered your e-mail address correctly.

Click the submit button. If you have filled your e-mail address in correctly, you should receive a blind carbon copy of your request for your own records.

You may request one or two items concerning one or two ancestors. Do NOT ask a volunteer to do anything outside of their specified location or to do anything for which they have not volunteered.

Give any information you may have which will make it easier for the volunteer to know they are retrieving the correct information. Be very specific in what you are requesting.

No, please don’t. Our volunteers do not appreciate duplicating another volunteer’s work. If you do place the same request to more than one volunteer in the same location you will receive notice of your error, with the possibility that your lookup will not be honored.

Keep checking back. We have people volunteering daily.

A timely response (from 48 hours to 1 weeks) indicating whether they will be able to honor your request.

If the volunteer will be able to honor your request they might at this time make you aware there is a waiting list, their methods of honoring your requests, whether there is any charge in doing this request, and if so, some may request pre-payment.

Absolutely NOT. No birth documents will be looked up on anyone born after 1930 without proof of death first being provided. If you are an adoptee you can go to  Cyndi’s List — Adoption or RootsWeb’s Guide to Tracing Family Trees — Lesson #31 to obtain information to help you with your quest.

They normally do not. It is up to each volunteer to choose if they want to do more than our recommended guidelines. If you need someone to do in-depth researching, your best course of action is to hire a professional genealogist. Some sites on the internet that list professional researchers are:

Volunteers are only obligated to do one look-up per month. However, many volunteers choose to do more than the one per month. You may be placed on a waiting list if that volunteer already has other requests to fill.
After one month. If you make more than one request of any one volunteer per month, that volunteer may request a researcher’s fee. It’s up to the volunteer to decide what to charge for this.

If your first attempt receives no response after 2 weeks, e-mail that volunteer again. Please use the RAOGK website to make your second attempt, so there will be documentation of both attempts.

There are many legitimate reasons why a volunteer may not have responded timely to a request, such as e-mail or computer problems, family or personal illness, or vacations.

Please remember that those who have signed up for this site are volunteers and may be busy with other aspects of their lives. If you receive no response to your second attempt after one week contact us to report the non-responsive volunteer.

Be sure to enter both dates you attempted to make contact when completing the “contact us” form.

NOTE: If you (or your ISP) use a spam blocking service that rejects mail from unauthorized addresses (either addresses not on an approved sender list or not in your address book), our volunteers cannot be expected to click a link to verify that they are not spammers in order to reply to you.

Make sure your spam filters allow mail from all senders and do not use a challenge/response blocking feature.

Rate the Volunteer and leave a comment. Also send the thank you to their email address or their postal address. Volunteers appreciate knowing that they’ve made a difference.
Please come back to this site to return the favor by volunteering at least once for your own home area.
All of our volunteers have come to us, we do not solicit folks to do so. Our volunteers consist of people who are from all walks of life, with various knowledge of genealogy and the areas for which they volunteer. Many of our people sign up after being helped by one of our volunteers and only wish to “pass it on.” Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is NOT in any way responsible for the transactions between volunteers and requesters. This site only lists those who have submitted their names to be volunteers.
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