Tag: local volunteering
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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…)
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!
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.
March 15, 2013
Feel like you don’t have the time to volunteer? A study published in Psychological Science revealed that doing something nice for others can actually give you a sense of having more time to spend.
When folks take the time to help someone else, they know it’s time well-spent. The study showed that when people feel like they’ve done something worthwhile with their time, however busy they may be, they also feel like they have more time.
Spending time on others actually gave subjects in the study more feelings of “time affluence” than actually having more free time. The study also compared feelings of time affluence after subjects simply wasted time or spent time on themselves. Doing for others won out.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your schedule, one of the most effective ways to feel like you have more time is to spend it helping others. Why not find a new place to volunteer near you?
Find a nonprofit that needs help near you. (We make it easy with our zip code search.)
Giving your time may just help you as much as your community.
March 5, 2013
Can you think of a local nonprofit in your city? Can you guess how many nonprofits are near you? We decided to do an experiment: we walked around our San Francisco Bay Area offices to find a few long-time locals. Could they name a single Bay Area nonprofit? Did they have an idea of how many nonprofits were in the area?
The results? Check them out below:
So, can you name a local nonprofit in your town? Use GreatNonprofits to find a local nonprofit!
If you’ve volunteered or donated to a nonprofit near you, have you written a review about that nonprofit to help others learn about it?
February 8, 2013
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, there’s no better time to show your local nonprofits some love. Want to make it a date? We’ve got some great, romantic ways to give back:
Go for a romantic walk–with a shelter dog: Many homeless puppies and dogs in animal shelters spend the bulk of their time in cages. Sign up to spend some time walking dogs together at a shelter.
Donate to your valentine’s favorite charity: Can’t volunteer together? Give your partner a gift card with money to put toward any charity he/she likes, or, make a donation in your partner’s name to a favorite cause. Find charity gift cards at JustGive.
Cook for those in need: Not into the packed restaurant scene on Valentine’s Day? What about cooking a wholesome, hot meal for those in need in your neighborhood instead? Sign up together to cook or distribute food to the needy for a night.
Get the kids involved, or volunteer to help kids in need: Do your kids love making valentines? Why not deliver some to an elderly home? Or, do you both love working with kids? Volunteer together to mentor children in need.
Build something together: Work on a project together; it could be helping out at a Habitat for Humanity site, getting your hands in the dirt planting trees or helping school kids make art projects. Get creative!
Do you plan on volunteering this Valentines Day? Let us know how in the comments.
November 19, 2012
Earlier this month The Huffington Post highlighted some of the nonprofits that have already qualified for our 2012 Top-Rated List. The HuffPo slideshow focused on charities dedicated to providing support and education for children and families. The nonprofits featured were:
Congrats to these outstanding small charities! These nonprofits are located all around the country and are providing aid and opportunities for children in need. Some are dedicated to educating low-income children by providing the resources necessary to succeed academically. Others provide support and treatment to children facing severe medical conditions.
Check out The Huffington Post article hereand stay tuned for more featured winners of the Top-Rated Awards.
Are you a nonprofit? There’s still time to win a spot on the 2012 Top-Rated List!