5 Tips for Volunteers

Now don’t get me wrong, but even though volunteering is one of the best things a person can do with their time, it can be done incorrectly. By incorrectly I don’t mean that there’s a right way or a wrong way to volunteer. I’m talking about people who don’t do their research and end up volunteering for an organization they dislike or for a cause they don’t truly care about. Even though their efforts are rightfully appreciated, it’s a fact that people do better and more engaged when they’re happy with what they’re doing. With that in mind, here are 5 tips to maximize your volunteering experience.volunteer

  1. Do your research: As I mentioned above, research is key to enjoying your volunteering experience and maximizing the amount help you can give to others. Make sure the organization and cause you’re working with are ones that line up with your beliefs, desires, and emotions. Remember, volunteering should move you and make you feel things.
  2. Consider your skills: If you’re skilled in a certain field, consider volunteering where your unique skills would be put to the most use. Regardless of what your experiences and skills are, there will be places where they will have the maximum effect and pursuing those options would be a great way to help as much as you can.
  3. Don’t overcommit your schedule: Volunteering is exhausting, both physically and emotionally. It also has a very draining effect on your mental stamina and it’s necessary to make sure that you take time off so that you don’t burn out. You won’t be able to help anyone if you’re too tired and drained and so don’t feel bad about taking a break — you need it too.
  4. Search for volunteer opportunities: There are some places that are known for accepting volunteers in droves — hospitals and libraries are two that come to mind. But there are also tons of lesser known organizations and places that would love to have someone volunteer. Look around your community and ask around, what you find may surprise you.
  5. Do you want to learn?: Some volunteering opportunities may end up teaching you skills and imparting information. Think about that when you’re figuring out where you want to spend your time.

These are just 5 tips to make sure you’re volunteering at your best. Read here for more!

Christmas is the Time for Volunteering

Christmas is a special time for so many reasons. When you hear the word, you can’t help but think of family, friends, food, and of course, presents. However, while all of those are great things, there’s no denying that there’s more to Christmas than just material goods. One of the most important aspects of Christmas is the spreading of love and joy to everyone, even people you don’t know. And there is nothing that spreads more joy or shows more love than helping people in need during the holiday season. That’s right, volunteering is the utmost example of the Christmas spirit.

Ask anyone who works in a nonprofit or in charge of volunteers and they’ll all tell you the same thing; when it comes to Christmas, the volunteers are out in droves and have great attitudes about helping any and all. When you think about it, it makes sense. Charity, giving, and helping people in need is a cornerstone of the Bible and for people who have a religious bent to their Christmas celebration, volunteering the day of or the day after is just the logical extension of the Christmas spirit. For those who are more secular in their celebrations, volunteering is just something that feels good and is still in line with a more non-religious version of Christmas. Christmas is a time of giving and after giving gifts to the people you know and love, you should give you time to those who don’t have the fortune that you do.

Not only are people more giving of their time, they are also more generous with financial donations. For those who aren’t in the mood to help people in person, the option of donating money is always available and donations spike during the holiday season. While it’s not the same as being there in person (though it’s also neither worse nor better), donations can be a huge boon to nonprofits that frequently struggle to raise the necessary funds to help people, especially during the holiday season.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

10 Amazing Tech Nonprofits, Part 1

Technology is quickly becoming one of the quickest ways to change and improve the world. The ability to spread ideas and knowledge so easily is hugely important to addressing of inequality and lack of opportunity. Here are 10 tech nonprofits that are looking to change the world as we know it!

jonathan offt, cedar rapids, iowa

Image: One Laptop Per Child

  1. NPower: This nonprofit makes technology for social good. They have two main programs: one, the Technology Service Corps, is catered to underserved youths and veterans and the other, the Community Corps, works to connect skilled technology professionals with high impact nonprofits so that they can educated through the internet.
  2. Center for Democracy and Technology: This nonprofit is focused on the current battleground that is the fight over net neutrality. It works to maintain freedom of expression and to preserve the user experience that the internet provides. It has offices both in the US as well as abroad.
  3. Child’s Play: This is a video game industry charity that works with hospitals. It aims to increase the living quality of kids in hospitals for extended periods of time by providing them with video games and game consoles. They take donations from anyone and anywhere and also have an Amazon wish list for the children. With over 70 hospitals taking part and more signing up every week, this is a great charity to bring some happiness into the lives of those who need it.
  4. One Laptop Per Child: This nonprofit works to improve global education standards by providing rugged, low-power and low-cost laptops with internet connection. By focusing on the commonly agreed-upon truth that education is the best way to solve poverty and inequality, One Laptop hopes to educated the most underserved in the poorest countries.
  5. Code.org: First launched in 2013, Code.org focuses on expanding computer science courses in schools across the country and works to promote all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) courses as well. With an aim to make these classes part of the nation-wide core curriculum, Code.org wants to help America regain its advantage in fields where it has been lacking.

These are just 5 of the many amazing tech nonprofits that exist in this world. If you’d like to read more, the link is here and the rest are coming in the next blog post!

Los Angeles Has A Different Type of Volunteer

First responders and EMTs are frequently the unsung and under-appreciated heroes who save lives every day throughout the country, dealing with all sorts of terrifying and depressing injuries and situations. However while these men and women are highly skilled and trained when it comes to stabilizing life and saving people, they aren’t trained when it comes to something that it arguably more difficult, caring for and comforting the relatives of those who have just died in accidents or at the hand of someone else. This is where a select group of volunteers come in. Calling themselves the Crisis Response Team, these men and women volunteer their time to comfort and help the relatives of the dead begin the process of moving on.jonathan offt, ceder rapids, iowa, crisis response team,

Frequently found at crime and accident scenes, the Crisis Response Team consists of men and women from all walks of life and communities with the greater Los Angeles area. Led by Joe Avalos, the Crisis Response Team is active at all hours of the day, volunteering their time and comfort to anyone anywhere at anytime. This team is the first of its kind in the city of Los Angeles, and maybe the entire country. There are plenty of responders for physical needs but there aren’t any to support and help those who are left behind when a loved one dies. While the team members do work on the sites of tragedies, they also work with families after the fact.

What does this post tragedy work entail? It can literally be anything and it usually is. Families who encounter tragedies like this are frequently shattered and find it difficult to function over the course of the next few weeks. The Crisis Response Team helps with everything from the actual act of comforting to calling schools to tell them that children won’t be coming in for the next few days, explaining the reasons so that the families don’t have to go through the trauma of reliving their experiences. These volunteers serve a vital role in helping communities overcome tragedy. They come in when the healing that’s needed isn’t medical, it’s emotional, mental, and spiritual. Hopefully more cities begin creating volunteer groups like LA has; the Crisis Response Team is a vital part of emergency services and there’s a serious lack of this kind of compassionate care around the country.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Volunteering Is Good For The Elderly Heart

Volunteering your time is one of the more noble things a person can do with the free time they might’ve spent on other activities. It’s not only helpful for those that are in need and who are being served, but it’s also good for the community at large and can strengthen bonds between groups of people who might not have all that much else in common. Now it turns out that volunteering is good for something else, your health. When you think about it, this makes sense. People who are happier and who feel as though they have some sort of purpose are usually healthier than those who are miserable and float around in a daze. While this is something that most people have known and science has proven, there is now more proof that volunteering, specifically, is great for your heart and your health.Volunteering-SVG

According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, there is a clear connection between volunteering and heart health. It turns out that adults over 50 who volunteer regularly are much less likely to develop high blood pressure when compared to people of the same age who don’t volunteer. The study goes even further and makes the claim that volunteer work might be a good alternative to pharmaceutical options aimed at lowering blood pressure due to the lack of negative side effects. Volunteering also reduces the risk of heart disease, something that becomes more and more of a threat as you grow older. For those interested in volunteering, there are a number of organizations aimed at helping the elderly find opportunities near them that aren’t too stressful or energy intensive. There are also soup kitchens, elder homes, museums, tutoring classes, and sick children that are always in need of volunteers to help bring a smile to faces and ease the passing of time.

No matter what you choose, the fact that volunteering is good for the heart is just one more reason to get out there and change someone’s life. Add the health benefits to the fact that you’re promoting community bonds and social inclusion and volunteering seems like more and more of a no brainer. So just go do it! Make a difference! Safe a life! Help your heart and mind be healthy!

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Philanthropy Doesn’t Just have to Deal With Money

While the most common ideas and actions of philanthropy involve open your wallet and writing a hefty check, one nonprofit is proving that all you need is a good idea…and volunteers. When Wei Min “Al” Sheen died in 2012, his son Alex had an epiphany while writing his eulogy. Even though his father had never accomplished anything that most people would see as being newsworthy, he left a legacy in his family that Alex felt the need to pass on to others; that of the importance of keepings one’s word.

To spread his father’s message to others, Alex founded the nonprofit “Because I Said I Would” with the idea that he would help other realize both the importance of keeping your promises as well as the good feelings that come from it. His company distributes “promise cards”. Simple blank white business cards with the phrase “because I said I would.” in the bottom corner. The idea is to write a promise on the card and then give to the person who you’ve promised something to. When you have followed through with your promise, you get the card back as a reminder of what you did.

While the company had some minor success, a series of high-profile cases and interviews with various people have raised the profile of this small company to new heights. Heights so high that they are now having trouble fulfilling all the orders for the cards people are asking for. So many have inundated his office with requests, that the staff of four is having trouble distributing the 70,000 cards that are asked for every week. And that’s ignoring the fact that there are still 11,000 that have been requested but not yet shipped. With an upcoming appearance on the Rachel Ray show, one can easily assume the demand is going to increase even more.

If you want to get involved with a small nonprofit with an interesting idea or are located in/around Lakewood Ohio, you should look them up and check them out. They can use all the help they can get.


For more information as well as where and how to help, read this:


Devoting Paid Work Hours to Philanthropy

VolunteeringA number of corporations have started to create volunteer initiatives for their employees, devoting a small number of employees’ paid work hours to philanthropy.  These initiatives allow workers to take paid time off to work on a project within the community or devote time to a cause they feel passionate about.  Companies have started to create these initiatives hoping to dispel the notion that a person who takes time off to volunteer is actually hurting his or her chances of promotion because of the time that will be spent out of the office.

Companies have also started to create volunteer initiatives because of growing pressure from the public to take on a larger role when it comes to social responsibility.  In order to appease employees who may feel that they are working in a company that does not care about the world outside of the corporation, companies have started to offer paid time off for volunteer efforts.  Some corporations have even started companywide days of service in which their employees must take time off to work on a project within the community.

Companies also want to get employees to volunteer because of the skills that can be gained from working in a volunteer setting.  For lower-level employees, companies hope that volunteering will help workers see a bigger picture, one that illustrates that is more to life than simply meeting financial goals.  This will push workers to go above and beyond expectations in the workplace.

In addition, upper-level employees get to hone an entirely different skill set in a volunteer setting than they would in a normal corporate setting.  With financial incents removed, upper-level employees get to enhance their persuasion and mediation skills on completely level interpersonal communications grounds.  These employees get to develop supervisory and leadership skills, often leading larger teams on a project, and have the opportunity to network with groups of people they might not have had the chance to meet in a corporate setting.

For more information about corporate volunteer initiatives please visit http://www.forbes.com/sites/karlmoore/2011/12/21/volunteering-a-great-way-to-learn-real-executive-leadership/.