Tag Archives: fundraising

Force of Human Nature: Spring Volunteer Activities Outdoors

24 Mar
2011

This post was originally written for offManhattan, an eco travel site featuring destinations out of Manhattan that are accessible sans car.

Whether or not the weather agrees, Spring is officially here. It’s time to put those winter sweaters back into storage and dust off your flip flops. It’s also the perfect time to volunteer in New York City. As the seasons change, so do the opportunities available; there are gardens to be planted, parks to prepped for the onslaught of visitors, and other outdoor projects that are most enjoyable in the cool sunshine of Spring. Below are some ideas for outdoor volunteer projects and activities that you can sign up for right now:

Pick A Day, Any Day

Are you too busy for a big time commitment? Sign up for these one-day volunteer events:

  • ‘It’s My Park Day’ is an bi-annual event taking place this spring on May 21st, 2011. You don’t even have to register: just find a participating park and GO. Partnerships for Parks invites dedicated community groups to organize volunteer projects and free cultural events in their neighborhood parks, in the hopes that people will come out to help and learn more about year-round opportunities. There will be over 150 community organizations and parks participating throughout the 5 boroughs.
  • Hands On New York Day: Join New York Cares and 5,000 other volunteers on April 16th to make our city’s parks and gardens cleaner, greener, and ready for summer. You can join my team or start your own!
  • Million Trees Planting Event: The city’s Million Trees Initiative has an ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s five boroughs over the next decade. On April 30th, 2011 you can help them reach that goal by joining them in one of five parks in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island and volunteer to help plant 20,000 trees in one day!

Runs Don’t Run Themselves

New York City plays host to a slew of fundraising 5K’s and walks, and all of them need volunteers to help ensure the day goes smoothly. You can help by handing out water along the route, checking in participants, cleaning up after the race, or even cheering! Here are some upcoming runs and contact info:

  • New York Road Runners: Find more races and opportunities here by signing up to volunteer at any NYRR race. All opportunities in 2011 will count as a volunteer credit toward the 9+1 Program for those who would like to receive a guaranteed entry to the 2012 ING New York City Marathon.

Going Green for the Season

There are many organizations that are dedicated to community gardening and environmental education all year long. Now that Spring has arrived, they’ll need help for the busy planting season. Check out these groups for on-going volunteer opportunities with varying commitment levels:
  • ioby (which stands for ‘in our backyards’) connects donors and volunteers to environmental projects in their neighborhoods to inspire new environmental knowledge and action in New York City. They have sponsored projects in need of volunteers to plant veggies, building gardens and educating the public; email volunteer@ioby.org for more info or visit the website.
  • TimeBanksNYC Green April is a month-long marathon of eco-friendly, green-inspired projects. Each Saturday in April, TBNYC will be in a different borough for an environmental community service event. To gain access to the Green April events, attend the volunteer kick-off event on March 30th at the Horticultural Society of NY; RSVP at volunteer@timebanksnyc.org.
  • New York Cares is the all-encompassing, citywide mecca for volunteers. Just sign up online and attend a 45-minute orientation and you’ll be able to access their database of 1,000’s of projects that take place all over the city, from Pelham Bay Park to Gregory’s community garden in Brooklyn and almost everything in between. You can volunteer once, weekly, monthly; whatever you schedule, NY Cares has something for everyone.
  • Slow Food NYC is the New York City chapter of Slow Food, a non-profit, member-supported organization founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life. From time to time they need volunteers to staff events or to help with outreach programs. Contact them at volunteering@slowfoodnyc.org to find out what’s available now; for one, they will be preparing their neighborhood farm in Brownsville on April 16th, 30th and June 4th for the upcoming summer program for 100 local kids.

For more environmentally-helpful volunteer projects, visit my spring greening tips from last year, “Volunteerism in Full Bloom.”

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.