The Woman Behind the Computer Screen… The New Kid at Activate Good

Greetings readers of the Activate Good blog! Whether you are a consistent reader or just stumbled across this post, my name is Kay McMillan and I am one of the summer interns for Activate Good. I am a second year senior at NC State, majoring in Political Science with minors in accounting and nonprofit studies (which explains why I am a second year senior). I have been charged with the task of writing for Activate Good’s blog. I am pleased to announce that I will be writing a five-part blog series on something that college has ingrained in my brain as a nonprofit studies minor – “the five leadership challenges for nonprofits” – and how they relate to the wonderful world of volunteerism. The Five Leadership Challenges for Nonprofits You might ask, what the heck are the five leadership challenges for nonprofits? A crash course in Nonprofit Studies: These challenges correspond with the core characteristics of the nonprofit sector (e.g., being mission based, accomplishing some social good, their tax exemption status) and affects almost all nonprofits – no matter their size or their mission. The five challenges are as follows: earning the public trust; aligning mission, methods, and resources; capitalizing on issues associated with diversity; balancing individual interests and common good; moving beyond charity to systemic change. It isn’t any fun to start in order, so let’s start the next blog with the last one: moving beyond charity to systemic change.     How Volunteers fit into the leadership challenges How are these five leadership challenges applicable to volunteers? Hopefully the answer will become apparent in my subsequent posts, but...

Service Learning for Young Volunteers: Kids can make an impact and learn, too!

Searching for fun ways to keep your child learning this summer while getting some exercise and helping to make the Triangle community a better place? Well, Activate Good has that trifecta wrapped up. Whether you have a curious toddler or an adventurous tween, we have a great volunteer opportunity to share with your child. Studies have shown that hands-on learning is both deeper and longer lasting. And when you combine this with the good feeling you and your child will get from helping people, animals, and the environment, you can’t go wrong. Have a look at a few of the ways you and your child can learn and have fun this summer all while activating good! Improve Fine Motor Skills in the Garden Looking for a fun outdoor activity for your two to five-year old? Join the Wildflower Watering Club every third Thursday through August at the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary. Pick up your watering can, and learn about some local wildflowers! This is a great opportunity to work on those fine motor skills while learning the names of some wildflowers, working on those color words, and maybe even get the inspiration to plant some wildflowers in your own yard. While you’re there, why not go for a hike and check out the hemlock trees that make this park famous? Learn about Science with Live Animals Do you have a child age 8 or older who’s crazy about horses? Come down to Horses for Hope in South Raleigh to meet their stable of full-size horses, ponies, and miniature horses. They are open for volunteers every day of...

3 Steps to Turn your Volunteers into a Marketing Army

Guest blog by Abbie Cooke, VP of Chariot Creative, a North Carolina marketing and web design firm. Nonprofit marketing needs your attention. A little strategy can go a long way, and an entire team of volunteers can carry it further. From grassroots teams to multi- million dollar organizations, effective marketing is the top of the list of things in which to invest some resources. This is where supporters come from, where growth happens, where networks pool their resources to make one life-changing opportunity happen for an individual…or 10,000 individuals. You’ve got the passion for your cause and a great team. Now turn those volunteers into a marketing army by thinking in terms of strategy, consistency, and using the tools you’ve got to their full potential with these three steps. 1. Develop a Strategy, Polish It, Be Consistent You can’t fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to nonprofit marketing, and your volunteers can’t fly by the seat of your pants either. So first thing’s first: know your niche and develop a marketing strategy around that information. Evaluate who your audience/supporters currently are and who you want them to be. Fortunately, knowing your demographic is easier than ever thanks to some handy online tools. For example, Facebook lets you see what percentage of your followers are male or female, what age groups they fit into, etc. Many email marketing services, like MailChimp, give reports on who opens your newsletters and where they click within the email which gives a picture of what your audience responds to. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips! Use these...

Supply & Demand: Teen Volunteers Supply the Drive Society Needs

In January, when all the local schools were going back to class following the winter break, we started receiving requests from individual teens, school groups, and parent-youth groups – all looking for volunteer opportunities for MLK Day and beyond. Lucky for Activate Good, we were already working on just that. See, while everyone was binging on their Christmas ham and eggnog, lighting menorahs for Hanukkah, preparing their traditions for New Year’s Eve, hitting the slopes, or all those other wonderful winter break festivities – we were planning big plans. For me, as the new Youth Programs Coordinator, it was all about teens and families.   The Demand Where are youth volunteers needed – and accepted? What do the volunteers need – and want? How can we help everyone find great ways to get involved, or support the creation of ways to involve others? How can we create a welcoming, impactful, and educational volunteer environment from our end, as well as those of our more than 380 nonprofit partners in the Greater Triangle? On February 6, 7, and 8, we hosted teen focus groups to answer some of those questions and begin moving forward in all of our ambitious youth programming hopes and dreams for 2017. Teens chatted a lot about past experiences – what they liked or didn’t like, and why. But they also spoke about what they want (and what they feel their peers want) out of their future volunteer opportunities and interactions with their nonprofits hosts. They shed light on some really key points that I think a lot of nonprofits know, but often forget as they...

Volunteer for Good Health {Doing Good Deeds Does Pay Off}

Everyone has volunteered at least once in their lifetime. I started volunteering when I was in high school because it was required … You know, to make college applications look good. Well, at least that’s what they tell you. But what they should actually tell you is: Volunteering should be a norm, because it’s such a great thing to do for the community – and for yourself. My name is Itzel Gonzalez and I’m a senior at Meredith College, double majoring in Public Health and Biology; I started as just a Biology major, but ended up taking on both. My plan A was to go to medical school and become a doctor, but I felt that I could do more than just diagnose people with bad diseases and illnesses. I felt like I needed to be the person who educates the public about preventing doctor visits and bad ailments. And, well, that’s why I decided to major in Public Health. Public Health is the study of health determinants and interventions to address health problems – or in layman’s terms, what causes illness and how to avoid it. Being an intern at Activate Good has given me a new perspective of how someone can do good for their community and also do good for themselves. My responsibility at Activate Good is to promote how volunteering is beneficial to an young adolescents while also benefiting the community. Since January, I’ve found great information and learned a lot. In high school, I always thought of volunteering as a requirement to fulfill, but it’s more than that.   It’s the science behind volunteering...

Get ready for Our First Teen Summer Program {REGISTRATIONS OPEN!}

We are proud to announce the inaugural Teen Leadership & Service Program for summer 2017! The week-long, intensive teen summer program is designed for rising-freshmen, -sophomores, -juniors, and -seniors in high school, aiming to impart onto our future leaders the skills and drive needed to address community issues and to ensure that volunteerism is a part of everyday life. With a curriculum focused on community leadership and service, students will develop awareness and learn how to act on community issues such as poverty, hunger, and the environment that call for volunteer and nonprofit support. This empowering week will include a Thursday evening showcase of their own educational and hands-on service pitches, allowing our young leaders to demonstrate in action the information and skills they learned throughout the week. The showcase is designed to connect students to local collaborative community leaders and a number of our nonprofit partners, opening their ideas to discussion and debate surrounding their chosen topic in order to gain better insight into how to bridge the gap between community service needs and volunteer engagement. The week will then culminate in an educational and hands-on group service project at one of our nonprofit partner locations that, in some way, addresses all issue areas discussed throughout the week. The goal of this project is to provide participants with real-world application of volunteer and task management and the ability to see how different issues can be addressed in different ways. On this day, teens will earn a full eight hours of community service that will be tracked through Activate Good’s website and can be applied towards school and club requirements.   A superhero...

Six Reasons We Can’t Go A Day Without Volunteers

As National Volunteer Week is coming up I would like to pose the question: What would the world look like without volunteers?  What many fail to realize is that they often cross paths with volunteers, at least once if not several times a day. Volunteers help meet both basic and significant societal needs. Imagine a day with volunteer firefighters, tutors, vet assistants, pastors, coaches or hospital aides absent. And what would our parks, libraries, beaches or highways look like without volunteers giving their time to keep things organized, clean, and beautiful? If you don’t think volunteers taking one day off would make a difference, you would certainly notice after a year, month or even week if they ceased to show up in the city, state, and nation! The 2011 Social Impact of Volunteering Report by the Points of Light Institute discusses how volunteering makes a remarkable social impact on society. Here are some of their important findings: 1. Volunteering bridges the gap between the people and different sectors like governments and businesses There are so many nonprofit organizations thriving off of volunteer work that fills a need for people where the government or businesses may be unable to intervene. Many voluntary organizations either share information with local government and community leaders to lobby for specific programs or seek volunteers who genuinely care about the stakeholders involved.  For example, as a caring volunteer you could provide services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities with the nonprofit A Helping Hand. Volunteers fill the void that local and federal programs like social security are unable to fill by meeting basic needs like...

The Five Love Languages of Volunteerism

Valentine’s Day is upon us. Chocolate, flowers and pink-shaded-everything has been everywhere since the second day of the new year. Of course these tangible gifts are meant to represent the affection we have for the important people in our lives. We take the time to do things for them based on their likes and dislikes – maybe your partner enjoys fuzzy animals that dance and sing random love songs and they know that you appreciate a night out for dinner. If you think about it, the process of choosing a nonprofit to volunteer with is simply finding an organization to give to based on your likes and dislikes. Let’s say you would like to spend your Valentine’s Day volunteering. You may first consider your interests- maybe you’re into art or cooking. Would you rather work with kittens, or young people? From there your choice may depend on what you will be doing. Perhaps a project requires graphic design or knitting skills. You may take into consideration the flexibility of the event; Is this an ongoing project? Will it be face to face? There are so many questions that go on in the back of your mind that you may not even realize! A method some couples use to pinpoint each other’s likes and dislikes is a quiz called the 5 Love Languages assessment. As someone eager to help the community you too can figure out what kind of organization fits your philanthropic soul. Based on the best selling book by Gary Chapman, the 5 Love Languages quiz evaluates your answers and classifies you as someone who appreciates Words of...

Youth Are Our Future: Programming in 2017

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Activate Good is growing. Just in 2016, we’ve increased our nonprofit partners by 50 and nearly doubled our staff. But our local populations have grown, too – and that means community needs also are on the incline. So where are we going? Where will we be by 2018? In the next 10 years? What will our volunteer community look like? How will the Triangle change? What can we do to make sure local nonprofits are getting the help they need? There are plenty of questions to ask, and probably just as many answers. But one thing always rings true: Youth are our future. So, in 2017, and beyond, Activate Good wants to engage more youth so they can activate their ideas and continue carrying the torch of change in the Triangle. So here’s what we hope to do and see this year and in the future, and why: More Parent-Child Programming: We’ve hosted the annual Family Volunteer Day for the past few years, but hope to do even more. Parents set strong examples for their children, and that means that children who see their parents or guardians volunteer, and those whom are given a chance to join them, are more likely to volunteer on their own in the future. Help us set that example. Increased Opportunities for Teens Aged 13-17: We’ve noticed that if younger teens aren’t volunteering, it isn’t necessarily that they don’t want to. But in order to volunteer, they need to be given the chance, and parent’s aren’t always available to be with them during volunteer times (to no real fault of their...

Activating Good: A 2017 Volunteering Astrological Forecast!

  Activate Good volunteer extraordinaire and professional astrologer, Randy Wasserstrom, shares his insights in this fun guest blog on the Astrology of Activating Good in 2017! Read on for some inspiration for the New Year. ‘Activating Good’ is a two part process – inner kindness to oneself and outer service to others. This process is reflected in the astrological chart for 2017 which represents the characteristics, challenges and potentials of the coming topsy turvy year. One of the main characteristics of the new year (other than having a new President) will be revolution and change from old, traditional systems and structures that are no longer serving us well! This is an understatement! Our planet is struggling between fear and love with fear being a worldwide addiction as well as an inner struggle. Fear is also causing isolation, separation from others, discrimination and frustration. Love (as part of the activate good process), on the other hand, is all encompassing, generous, joyful and inclusive. Each of us has an opportunity to become a Light Bearer amidst the intense fear which could also be called darkness. This revolution then is an awakening of consciousness, coming in unpredictable lightning bolts both internally and globally. As the awakening occurs, more Light Bearers will emerge. To awaken is to face both the “light” and “dark” part of ourselves so that we can see our own suffering more clearly and learn to detach from it. Bringing light to the planet is no more than having love for all parts of ourselves. This is not an easy process, but is essential to meet the many crises in our...