I must say that one web site has an intriguing name: Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. From what I hear, the site also produces excellent results.
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness was started by two researchers who saw the need for such a service in their region. This small site grew very rapidly from a statewide service to an international one.
The idea behind the site is that many volunteers have agreed to perform some sort of genealogy research in their area at least once per month. The types of research might be to visit a local archive or library to look up specific information, visit a local courthouse to photocopy a document or two, or perhaps visit a local cemetery to photograph a tombstone.
All the work is done by volunteers. Do not assume this is a free service, however. The volunteers do not earn any payment for their labors, but they are allowed to charge for their expenses: postage, film, videotapes, the cost of making photocopies, and possibly parking fees. In addition, the volunteers are also allowed to charge up to 50 cents per mile for any automobile travel incurred. There are never any labor fees.
While volunteers can recover their expenses, no fees are paid to the web site's owners. The owners do sell coffee cups, t-shirts, book bags, and other promotional items in an effort to cover the web site's expenses. Donations are also gratefully accepted.
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness presently coordinates the efforts of more than 4500 volunteers who give of themselves unselfishly in aiding others in their research. Each volunteer agrees to do a research task in their local area as an act of kindness at least once a month.
Many of the volunteers are in the United States. However, there are others listed in the British Isles, Argentina, Belgium, Belize, France, Israel, Russia, Yugoslavia, India, and even one in Botswana.
How well does this volunteer service work? Obviously, there is no guarantee of success. There may not be a volunteer available in the area of interest, or the records you seek may not be available. However, take a look at the thousands of "thank you" messages at http://www.raogk.org/thanks/index.php. The service obviously has pleased many people.
When visiting the site for the first time, you may be frustrated that there is no place to immediately fill in a request. That design is deliberate; you first must read the Frequently-Asked Questions (often called the FAQs). The FAQ page also contains a link to making requests. This is an effective method of making every newcomer read the basic information needed.
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is a first-class operation. It benefits many genealogists at very low costs. In fact, you might be interested in volunteering to help other genealogists.
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is available at http://www.raogk.org.