Tag: local volunteer

The Promise of Charity: A Gift to Yourself and Others

Leave a Comment January 9, 2015

The traditional season of giving may be coming to an end, but there is still time to give back or make a meaningful contribution to the community. But how do we get started? What groups should we give to in our community? (more…)

Nonprofit Love: Two FREE Online Events from GuideStar You Won’t Want to Miss

Leave a Comment January 30, 2014

Guidestar – our partner – has declared February the month of February Nonprofit Love (we concur!).  To help nonprofits, Guidestar is launching a series of webinars that are coming up in February. Both of these webinars are topics we at GreatNonprofits care about – transparency and feedback. And, we’re speaking at one of the events. So please, come one, come all. Register for the events below. Collectively, we can’t wait to have you.

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Meaning; Include Volunteering or Donating to a Nonprofit

Leave a Comment January 29, 2014

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I’m still rounding up stray pine needles stuck in the rug and eating the few remaining arms and legs of broken gingerbread men. I really don’t need a tempting box of fancy chocolates or a lavish prix-fixe meal out on the town.  How can I bring more meaning to a day that has become yet another opportunity to show affection and commitment through expensive presents and bouquets of flowers forced to bloom in the dead of winter? 

You don’t have to look far to figure that one out. People in our communities need help all year long.  We feel good about ourselves during the holidays when we buy a gift for a needy child or serve a holiday meal at a shelter. Why stop there when you can volunteer or donate to a local nonprofit or charity.

According to last year’s “Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey” by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, the average annual Valentine’s Day spending reached $13.19 billion. The amount the average American spends on Valentine’s Day is $116.21. Think of how a local nonprofit might spend that money.

Here are five ways to involve nonprofits or volunteering to celebrate Valentine’s Day with meaning.

  1. Instead of going out to dinner, stay in and cook a special meal for your loved ones.  Consider donating the money you saved to a community meal program, like these 2013 top-rated nonprofits:

    • FOCO Café (Feeding Our Community Ourselves), Fort Collins, CO.  “This team is focused on providing access to healthy, delicious and sustainable food to all members of our community.
    • Widbey Island Nourishes, Whidbey Island, WA.  One of the volunteers says this program “…provides highly nutritious, ready-made meals at no cost to food insecure youth on South Whidbey Island. Meals are prepared with love by volunteers using high-quality ingredients, including produce from local farms and fruit gleaned from trees throughout the community.”
  2. Rather than a buying a bouquet of flowers, give to a community garden.  Your donation will continue to give back as the months go by; those flowers will droop in just a few days. Check out these top-rated nonprofits:

    • Square foot gardening, Ogden, UT.  Volunteers are enthusiastic: “I support this foundation because it saves the environment, promotes healthy lifestyles, reduces our carbon footprint (no more local than in your own yard!) and helps the poor cut their food bills.”
    • Generous Garden project, Greenville, SC.  Here’s a thoughtful volunteer’s comment about this project: “I have truly enjoyed the work and getting my hands dirty, but most of all it’s the people that make the difference. It is great to meet new people each week and to know that we are all working to help other people in need.
  3. Instead of a romantic weekend away, a donation can help people find a caring place to sleep during the harsh winter nights.  Check out these 2013 top-rated organizations:

    • Aurora Warms the Night,   Aurora, CO.  The mission of this organization is heart-felt: Preserve the life, health and stability of Aurora’s men, women, and children experiencing homelessness.  “Aurora Warms the Night is a compassionate organization that reaches out to help the homeless of Aurora with vital and life-saving housing assistance on the coldest of nights.”
    • Beverly’s Birthdays, North Huntingdon, PA.  All children need to be recognized and feel valued. This organization provides birthday celebrations for homeless children living in shelters. As one volunteer says: “I think the most rewarding thing when attending a Beverly’s Birthdays party is seeing the smiles on the children’s faces.”
  4. Set a wonderful example for your kids, showing them ways to embrace others.  Ask them to help you pick a need that your donation can fill. These two organizations were top-rated in 2013:

    • Camp Sunshine at Sebago Lake, Sebego, ME.  This camp provides respite, support, joy and hope to children with life-threatening illnesses and their immediate families from around the world through the various stages of their journeys.  Says one volunteer: “I have now had the opportunity to volunteer at camp four times and will be returning this weekend to volunteer again. As a former client served I cannot even begin to describe how much of an impact this organization has had on my family and my life.”
    • GlamourGals, Foundation, Commack, NY.  Teen volunteers in GlamourGals chapters around the country make regularly scheduled visits to senior homes to perform complimentary facials and makeovers.  This comment from one volunteer captures the spirit of this organization: “Joining Glamour Gals, I hoped to gain experience and give back to the community. I lost my grandparents a couple years ago and it was very hard because I was so close to them. It left a huge hole in my heart that I thought would never heal. Glamour Gals has healed that hole in my heart. Every month I’m spending time with grandparents who aren’t mine, and it’s a blessing.”
  5. Help someone in your own neighborhood.  You may discover that a senior living near by needs a lift to the doctor or help getting groceries.  Here’s one organization that matches drivers with riders:

    • Neighbor Ride, Columbia, MD.  This 2013 top-rated organization connects people: “volunteers drive – seniors thrive.” One volunteer summed up the experience this way: “While helping others, I get to meet some wonderful people who often touch my life with joy.”

For more inspiration, read through the descriptions of GreatNonprofit’s 2013 top-rated organizations here: http://greatnonprofits.org/awards/browse.

Contributing writer:  Big thanks to our volunteer writer, Kathryn Maclaury for her time and contribution to this article.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Golden Globe Nominees: Celebrities and The Causes They Care About

Leave a Comment January 3, 2014


As the Hollywood awards season begins to rev up, all eyes are front and center on the celebrities who will be strutting their stuff at the Golden Globes.  Celebrities receive much critical acclaim for their work on the silver screen, but beyond the glitz and the glamour of showbiz, many of these household names are quietly serving on the sidelines as active philanthropists.  Many celebrities are doing far more than just writing a check or turning up at a gala or cocktail party – some of the headlining nominees at this year’s Golden Globes are passionate volunteers, advocates, or founders of their own nonprofit organizations.  Here are some of the 2014 Golden Globe nominees who are dedicated to causes far away from the lights of Hollywood.

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Serving On a Nonprofit Board

Leave a Comment November 19, 2013

Most of us reach a point in our careers where we need a new challenge. A little change once in a while spices up our lives and motivates our work. What better way to introduce change than to inspire change by serving on a nonprofit board?  Nonprofit board members witness the social impact of their great causes while also offering advice, oversight and support. Read on to learn about an array of benefits that come with serving on a nonprofit board.

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Get The Most Out of #GivingTuesday

Comment (1) October 9, 2013

#GivingTuesday is the brainchild of the 92nd Street Y, a nonprofits cultural and community center in New York. The idea is to inspire giving and help charities nation-wide.  How? By creating a daylong national effort to help charities raise money online during the holiday shopping season – and do so right on the heals of Cyber Monday and Black Friday.  This is a big deal for nonprofits as last year alone the movement drew donations to about 2,600 nonprofits. (more…)

Back-To-School: The Perfect Time to Serve

Leave a Comment September 5, 2013

By Brad Jamison: contributing writer and founder of Good Citizen. 

Back-to-school time is an annual reminder of the many service opportunities we have to help ensure kids have a fun and productive school year.

While I find great joy in doing all sorts of service, one of the things that delights me the most and provides enormous satisfaction is working with a nonprofit that benefits kids. In fact, last year, when I conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days – I spent nearly one-third of my time volunteering to help kids.

One of the most exhausting, yet rewarding, days of my thirty came when I volunteered with KaBOOM!. On that 90 degree day, I joined 200 others to build a new playground for the kids of an LA-area community. When we arrived at the site there was nothing to be seen other than a vacant space where an old dilapidated playground once stood and a sea of people eager to help.  But, when we left there was a gorgeous, safe place for kids to play.  It reminded me of the types of play space I was fortunate enough to grow up with, which is why I love doing these builds.

It is on a day like this, one when strangers come together with a common goal that I am reminded of the truth in one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  On that day, we changed the world for the kids in this community.

Another thing I love about service is seeing the impact I have on the person I am helping. One place that happens for me, over and over, is at the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. I have been on the Board of the Club for more than four years, a role that brings me great joy and satisfaction. But, from time to time, I also volunteer with them in other ways.

During my Thirty Days of Service, I spent an afternoon helping kids with their homework in the Club’s learning center, which is where I visibly witnessed the impact I was having. I was sitting working with a young man struggling with his math assignment, something I could relate to, as I was never a superstar when it came to math. As I tried to help him, offering up various ways he could approach the equation, he grew more and more frustrated and was nearly begging me to just give him the answer. Not one to give in too easily to the charms of sweet kids, I kept working with him when suddenly something I said clicked with him and he was able to arrive at the correct answer. That little moment felt like magic for both of us!

Speaking of magic, the folks at Playworks might not be magicians, but they are experts at transforming schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. I have seen firsthand how their hands-on approach helps build self-esteem in kids through play in a positive, supportive and non-threatening environment. As a kid who was frequently teased and picked last in gym, I know how intimidating the playground can be and I wish Playworks had been around for me. The day I served with Playworks, I wrote the following in my blog, “Many of life’s lessons are learned on the playground and I am thrilled that these kids, and kids at other Playworks schools, have an opportunity to learn those lessons in a safe and supportive environment. For the kids, it might seem like it’s just playtime, but we adults know it’s much more than that.”

So, whether it’s helping a teacher or kid, playing or instructing, there are so many ways to give to our next generation of leaders. I hope that during this back-to-school season, you will join me in pledging to find a way to serve this school year and help ensure a bright future for all. 

About the author

Brad Jamison is a pro-social marketing expert, speaker, writer, producer, service advocate, philanthropist and founder of Good Citizen. A volunteer since he was 8, last year Brad conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days, for which he was honored with the Daily Point of Light Award, which recognizes the power of the individual to spark change and improve the world.

See Brad live:

Below is a video of Brad on day 28 of his service with Kaboom. For more videos, click here.

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Best Volunteer Opportunities for Youth

Leave a Comment August 1, 2013

The lazy summer days are slipping away and it’s almost time to head back to school!  This school year, why not look into volunteerism as a new after school activity?  Getting involved with volunteering at a young age encourages an compassionate and kind outlook on life, strengthens your work ethic, and can provide valuable work experience.

Whether you’re a parent and you want to teach your children what it means to give back to the community, or you’re a high school student looking for meaningful ways to fulfill your service hour requirements, follow our tips to find the best volunteer opportunities for youth.

1. Look for organizations that specifically recruit children and teenagers as volunteers.

Great examples of these organizations include:

Pebble Tossers matches kids and teens up with volunteer opportunities and provides information on the number of hours, age requirements, and descriptions of different projects.  Browse their list to find a service project that most appeals to you.

Youthlinc empowers youth to volunteer locally and be mentored to lead international service projects in impoverished villages in Kenya, Mexico, Peru, and Thailand.

Youth Making a Difference involves teens in Leadership Service projects that travel on humanitarian expeditions to India.

2. Check out your local soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

Many soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters take on students to volunteer for a weekend or on a regular basis and often give service hours in exchange.  Contact your local organizations and ask if you can lend a hand.

3. Help out at senior centers and hospitals.

Local senior centers are often looking for young volunteers to help teach computer literacy classes, work in the kitchens or offices, or just be there to talk to the seniors and get to know them as you keep them company.  Some hospitals also recruit high school volunteers to organize children’s play activities in the waiting areas, act as hospital greeters, and staff the gift shop or assist in administrative duties.

4. Join a club!

Many international service organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs offer middle school and high school branches.  Join your school’s Interact, Key Club, or Leo Club to find out about locally organized volunteer opportunities and to bond with other service-minded students.  Some middle and high schools also partner with local elementary schools to provide volunteer tutoring services.  Or look for service clubs outside of school, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Had a great volunteer experience and want to share your story?  Want to search for more youth volunteer opportunities?  Check out our website for more ways to get involved with the youth volunteer community! 

10 Fun Ways to Celebrate Earth Month With Your Kids

Comments (11) April 5, 2013

It’s Earth Month, and we have some great ways to get kids involved! Earth Month is the perfect time to get kids into appreciating the natural world and taking care of their planet. Here are some ways to celebrate!

1. Take a hike, and clean up!

Get outside and get moving–hikes are an easy way to show kids the wonders of their own backyard and with spring here, you might get to take in blooming flowers and wildlife. Many local nonprofits hold programs in parks and natural areas. Local nonprofits are also responsible for stepping up and helping out state parks during budget cuts. Find a local environmental nonprofit near you.

If you live near a beach, river or lake, chances are, a local nonprofit needs your help for its next cleanup! Many organizations ramp up their cleanup efforts for April. Don’t live near water? You can still pitch in to clean up in your own backyard at your local park, school or playground!

2. Visit an Animal Rehab Center

Get access to some amazing wildlife while learning about how humans affect wild animals and their habitats near you. Visit a raptor center, like Cascades and witness eagles and owls up close. Live near the water? Find a marine mammal center, like the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA,  to see how trash can entangle sea creatures, and how to help.

3. Go to a Car Wash

What kid doesn’t love being inside the car as it goes through a car wash? Why is it good for the environment? Car washes recycle their water, so much less water is used than when you run your hose at home to wash. And while your working on the car, check your tires, under-inflated tires can negatively affect your MPG, making your car less fuel efficient.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Start a Garden or Visit a Farm

Gardening is a fun, hands-on way to teach kids about the Earth and about healthy food. Grow your own veggies, or create a garden full of flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies! If your kids are into critters, start a compost bin and be sure to add lots of worms! Many nonprofits hold programs to educate urban farmers, like the Seattle Tilth Association. You could visit your local community garden for more inspiration. Many working farms give tours geared toward kids that show the effort and care that goes into growing healthy, local and fresh food while kids can engage with the farmers and animals.

5. Feed the Birds

Make your yard or balcony a haven for hungry wild birds. Set up a bird feeder and keep track of your visitors. There are many local Audubon Societies that give local birding walks as well and can help you identify the birds at your feeder. Take a walk around your neighborhood one morning and try to see how many birds you can identify. Believe it or not, the local dump is actually a favored birding spot as well. Some dumps and recycling centers offer tours. (Also a great place for kids to see how waste adds up.)

6. Recycle Your Clothes and Toys

Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning. If you end up with a mountain of clothes that no longer fit your kids, or toys that they have outgrown, consider donating them to those in need. It’s easy to have kids help out. Gather all of your donations in a recycling bin and head to your local Goodwill together. Many local groups also accept clothing and toy donations for those in need.

7. Ride a Bike

Instead of driving to run errands, try riding bikes together to local shops. You’ll save gas, get exercise and help the environment. Many bicycle nonprofits advocate for bikers’ rights and/or offer safety courses for riders, like The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

8. Read a Book–or Write One!

Take a trip to your local library and check out some books about your local flora and fauna. (After all, the library puts ‘reduce reuse recycle’ into action every day!) Have a writing session with your kids and create some art about the Earth. Nonprofits like River of Words in Berkeley, CA work to foster both literacy and environmental stewardship through poetry.

9. Go to a Farmers’ Market

Get some tasty local fruits and veggies at your farmers’ market. Most markets will let kids sample lots of different foods. Talk with the farmers and ask about how they grow their produce. Bring your reusable bags and ask for recipes too! Then have the kids help out with preparing a meal with the fruits and veggies you buy.

10. Make a Reusable Bag

Don’t have bags for the market? Use an old t-shirt and make a reusable bag! Kids can have fun decorating it.

Know of a great environmental nonprofit doing work near you? Write a review and let other folks know about it!

 

 

 

Help Out Your Neighbors; It’s Good For You

Leave a Comment March 18, 2013

When was the last time you checked in on a neighbor? Been awhile? According to a new survey published in Atlantic Monthly, you aren’t alone.

The survey showed that, regardless of income level, the one community resource that most people felt they lacked was “kind, supportive neighbors.”

And community and environment can actually play a role in overall health and happiness.

How connected are you to your local community? Can you name a local nonprofit helping your community? See what happened when we asked some locals to name a nonprofit near them.

Find an organization in your community using our thousands of city pages. Start here with our zip code search. If you’ve spent time at a local nonprofit, share your story here by writing a review.

 

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