Archive | May, 2010

Potluck for God’s Love We Deliver – Success!

24 May

Last night a good friend and fellow blogger hosted a potluck party as part of God’s Love We Deliver’s “World’s Largest Potluck”. She cooked up a tasty batch of chili for friends and coworkers who all came out to support the cause. Everyone showed up with something to share: samosas, wine, meatballs, and cupcakes. OH, the cupcakes… This party not only raised money for a cause; it raised everyone’s waist size by at least 1 or 2 sizes.

The night raised almost $200 for GLWD! Thanks to McKenzie for hosting a fabulous evening of food and friends for a great and meaningful cause.

For more information about GLWD, visit their website: http://godslovewedeliver.org/

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.

Hands On New York Day

7 May

On April 24th, I participated in Hands On New York Day: a citywide volunteer event organized by New York Cares. Over the course of a few hours 5,000 volunteers weeded, planted, mulched, and painted their way through 69 public spaces, revitalizing New York after a long winter to get ready for spring.

This year my team was placed in Bowne Park, located in Flushing Queens and coincidentally, across the street from my Aunt and Uncle’s house. It’s a beautiful park that spans over 11 acres, where you can find a bocce court surrounded by benches filled with old-school players, a large playground, spray shower, and basketball courts, in addition to a huge pond. In all honestly, it’s a charming park that at a glance looked like it is was in great shape and didn’t need a slew of volunteers trampling the grounds. However, after a brief rundown of what was in store for the day, we learned that there’s always room for improvement.

Arriving at 9:30am, we waited for the New York Cares bus to arrive from the city, unloading about 50 volunteers onto the scene. On the agenda was putting down mulch, raking leaves, picking up litter, and painting benches. Team Give and Get -made up of my family and friends- was able to grab the much-coveted paintbrushes and related supplies, and set out to stake our claim on a set of benches. Armed with plastic tarps and a can of ‘Central Park Green’ paint (really, thats the name of the color), we were all business. Our designated scraper cleaned any rust or bird poop off while the rest of us taped the tarp down to avoid painting things that DIDN’T need a fresh coat..you know, like the sidewalk and grass. After we prepped the area, we went to town painting those benches like nobody’s business. Our team of 8 had no problem knocking out a few sets of benches, so we took an early lunch around 12 to take a break from the sun.

After lunch we decided to try our hands at raking. Much of the easy stuff was already raked into neat piles around the park, to be picked up by the leaf vacuum later in the day, so we turned our attention to a large mass of leaves that no one had touched all morning. Soon after we started, we realized why it went untouched; this pile was about one foot deep and consisted of heavy wet leaves that quite possibly fell to the ground before I was even born. We did our best but even with shovels, it was hard to make a dent. Our efforts were further thwarted when the park site manager came over to let us know that the wet mass we were digging up would clog the vacuum and therefore needed to be bagged up by hand. By the end of the afternoon, blistered and sore, our team had done all we could and had to throw in the shovels and call it a day. You win this time, leaves…

All in all, the day was a success. The grass was cleared of debris and leaves, the benches looked shiny and new, and the smell of fresh mulch permeated the air. It truly was a great start to spring, and I’m sure that the local residents who frequent the park will appreciate the fruits of our labor.

After our day of volunteering, we took a stroll to Northern Boulevard for some Korean BBQ at one of my favorite places: KumGangSang. Along the way we marveled over beautiful gardens in the yards of almost every home we passed and ogled some enormously ornate houses. As we walked down 32nd Avenue, emerging through the trees we caught a glimpse of what looked like a  pagoda-style temple one block over. Upon further investigation, both by peering through the construction gates and online, it turns out that it is in fact a Buddhist temple being built by Korean organization Hanmaum Seon Won.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite things about volunteering in NYC is that it takes me new and interesting places that I probably wouldn’t wander through otherwise. I mean, we found a guy on Main Street manning an automatic cream puff maker! Hundreds of cream puffs in minutes! Who knew?

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A special thanks to those who came out that day for Team Give and Get NYC: Amy Bogin, Dan Sussman, Ronnie Sussman, Meg Dockery, Paul Costa, Sarah Bowlin, and Zoe Schweitzer. Even though I think we’re awesome, there were about 4,992 other people volunteering that day, most of them in other parks and community spaces throughout the boroughs; to see what they were up to all day you can check out New York Cares’ blog for pictures and stories from the field.