Tag Archives: service nation

Why I Serve

11 Sep

On this day, 9/11, the National Day of Service, I was planning on posting different places that you could go serve our community. However, I decided instead to focus on the reasons behind why I serve. Afterall, 9/11 is above all else, a day of remembrance. Remembering what happened 9 years ago helps us to understand why we now have a national Day of Service.

Two months ago I wrote an essay for an application, which I’m sharing below. The question: “Why are you a part of the service movement?” seemed easy enough to answer but as I began writing, I realized that the reasons were unclear. I wrote from the heart because it’s the only way I could figure out my answer and put it into words, and it still doesn’t seem quite adequate..

Q: Why are you a part of the service movement? What is your vision for it in your community and nationwide?

A: I have always wanted to do more; for society, for friends, for my family. For the past few months, I have begun to really think about how I can become a bigger, more influential part of society. I truly feel that every person has the capacity to serve in some way, and it is our civic duty to do so if we are able. Some people are born into a somewhat easy life, able to eat, live comfortably, and receive a good education, while others are born three steps behind, into hardships like poverty or homelessness.  I feel that those of us who were given opportunities to succeed should pass along whatever we can to those who need our help.

It’s also really easy to serve, and I’m not sure that everyone realizes that. For most if not all people, finding two hours a week of your time that you’re willing to give to someone or something else, is not difficult. It just requires a commitment, and the size of that commitment is completely up to the person making it. I think that the general consensus among service ‘outsiders’ is that you need to pack a suitcase and head to a 3rd world country to make a difference in this world, and that just isn’t the case. I’ve gotten people to volunteer with me, to see what it’s like, and a few of them have gone back to do it on their own elsewhere. The biggest challenge is getting people to take that first step, and my goal in participating in the service movement is to prove how easy it is and encourage others to join me.

The Call to Service from President Obama last year was a huge step in the right direction for our country, and it played a large role in the increasing numbers of volunteers. His words struck a chord in me that still resonates today: “Economic recovery is as much about what you’re doing in your communities as what we’re doing in Washington – and it’s going to take all of us, working together.” This announcement, calling on a nation to help its government, was a turning point for me in how I viewed the service movement. I think a lot of citizens thought that it was the government’s job to fix everything, when in reality, we all need to pull together if change is going to happen. I honestly never thought of service as a means to an end on such a large scale; I saw it as one person helping another. And service is, in it’s most basic form, doing something for someone else.

So when I envision the service movement and the role it would play in New York, I see people helping people. Multiplying this singular action by thousands to create a city of service. This community action would help to fill the gaps where the government is unable to step in with funding or assistance, creating a self-sustaining city that relies less on outside sources and more on each other.

I hope you found this post useful-as a way to see something inside of yourself, or just to get to know me better. Take a moment today to remember September 11, 2001. It was tragic and scary and the saddest day New York has ever seen, in my lifetime and possibly ever. But what came out of the rubble was a city that realized the power of service; the power of one person helping another, to make the next day a little better than the one before it.

Visit some websites celebrating this National Day of Service, and see how you can get involved:

911 Day of Service

Service Nation

Hands On Network

Be The Change

Volunteer Match

National 9/11 Memorial

Engaging Younger Donors

17 May

I recently came across a brief article by Bill Jacobs called ‘Want to Attract Young Donors? Hire Younger People’, and felt like sharing it with my readers. I usually focus on volunteering, but I think that this article raises a really good point about the merits of using younger people to accomplish bigger goals within a large company or organization. Jacobs, who has years of experience in the area of direct response analytics pertaining to fundraising, describes that in discussions of acquiring new donors, especially young ones, the round-table usually consists of middle-aged white men. In thinking about new donors, this is not the target demographic; it’s that 20-something who’s probably shuffling papers in the copy room or doing some other type of administrative work. So how do you reach this audience? Jacobs suggests hiring them:

“Newsflash! Us old-timers aren’t going to crack the code for acquiring younger donors. Our playbook is too old and we do not speak the native language. Hire a sharp 20-something, give her a goal and a budget, and turn her loose.”

The current generation of 20-somethings is readily active in today’s non-profit world. We’re volunteering more hours now than ever before, and our numbers continue to grow. A lot of us participating in this movement towards a service nation are open to contributing to efforts larger than the typical Saturday afternoon commitment, planting in a community garden. It’s at the juncture where the simple volunteer realizes their potential to grow into a more integral part of an organization, where a donor is born. There are young people throughout the country hoping to make a difference, and it goes beyond volunteering. We may not have as much money as our philanthropic, elderly counterparts, but what we lack in our savings accounts is made up for in our numbers and willingness to help. If we’re not donating as often as we should be, it’s probably because we’re not being tapped into enough or being reached effectively.

This is where I feel Jacobs brings up a great point: us young people are more than just a volunteer pool. We know about the current technology available for connecting people to your organization, because we use it every day; social media is not a veteran sport- it was born in a college dorm around the same time we were getting our degrees. We are resourceful and smart, and have probably already thought about how to further the mission of your non-profit while we were volunteering on the frontlines or helping with the necessary legwork to get things done. We might already be in your office, waiting to be asked for our opinion.

So, my thanks to Bill Jacobs for writing this piece and taking the bold step of admitting that us 20-somethings may have the advantage when it comes to knowing how to reach younger donors.

Serve America Act Signed…Government did something good!

21 Apr

As I’m sure you’re aware, there has been a HUGE increase in the number of volunteers within the past year or so. Now there is a bill, the Serve America Act, that will help mobilize those volunteers and recruit more to help address the pressing needs of society. I think that this is a huge step in the right direction for our country. It will help to create a new generation of volunteers by incorporating service-learning into curriculum across the board- elementary, high school, college and beyond, in addition to offering incentives or stipends in exchange for service. There are many different facets to the Serve America Act; if you want to learn more about it you can read it in full online, or check out this summary from Service Nation.

Alan Khazei, the CEO and founder of Be The Change Inc., wrote a great piece about the new legislature that I had to share. You can find it here: Alan Khazai – ‘A New Patriotism’ .

The Serve America Act has come at just the right time… The citizens of this country will now have more access to volunteer opportunities, enabling us to pick up the pieces that government has left and may not be able to fix without our help. I think everyone keeps waiting for the government to fix everything for them. Newsflash: they can’t! But with this piece of legislation, we are now more able than before to be the change we want to see in our communities and the world around us.

And don’t think that New York City won’t be a major player in all of this.. This week Mayor Bloomberg announced the expanding opportunities that will address the most urgent needs of the city, making the volunteer experience more effective by assisting non-profit agencies, and keeping track of the progress our City makes as a result of these changes. For more, check out the new NYC Service site.

Excited? Pissed off? I’d love to hear what everyone thinks….

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