What comes to mind when you think of youth and volunteering? Perhaps it is traditional activities like serving food at a local homeless shelter, participating in a charity walk or community activities with the Boy and Girl Scouts. The aforementioned activities are great, but there are lots of alternative ways to get the kids involved in volunteering this summer.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Simone Bernstein, the Co-founder of Volunteer Nation. She started the nonprofit with her younger brother to help youth connect with volunteer opportunities across the country.
Simone talked about the growing number of virtual opportunities for youth to get involved in volunteerism. With many kids being passionate about technology, it is a great way for nonprofits to enhance or expand upon their social media strategy. Organizations could have youth volunteers spread helpful information and promote charity events via Twitter or Facebook or research other groups to follow, all with the thought of building the organization’s social media presence.
Teenagers and kids can also volunteer with their family. They can lead and organize a service project (such as a food, clothing or sporting-goods drive) in their local communities and schools. If kids can’t find a particular volunteer opportunity that appeals to them, then take action and help them create their own project. Planning and executing their own volunteer activities will help them develop leadership and organization skills along with a commitment to a cause. Some online resources for finding youth volunteerism opportunities that Simone recommends are GenerationOn.org (part of Points of Light) and DoSomething.org.
In doing more research on some alternative ideas for youth to volunteer, I found an article about 40 Ways for Kids to Volunteer. Here are five out-of-the-box ideas to jump start kids volunteering:
- Tutor a student who needs help learning English or another subject
- Help a pet shelter by walking dogs or playing with cats
- Collect unused make-up, perfume and other cosmetics for distribution to low-income women
- Hold a stuffed animal drive to benefit a local nonprofit
- Baby sit to help a single parent
Thanks for reading my post and please add a comment below if you would like to share other creative ways to get kids involved with volunteering. If you have other helpful national resources, feel free to share them as well. So, until next time, take action and volunteer your heart out!
As many of you already know, an auction doesn’t appear out of thin air. Items don’t appear at your doorstep and bidders don’t bid on your site magically. There’s a lot of planning that goes into running a successful auction. From acquiring items, to promotion, to executing your live event, and so on – it’s easy for it to get overwhelming and for auction administrators to feel like it's all going to spiral out of control. That’s why when you’re in those initial planning stages one of your first tasks should be to assemble a team of volunteers to help!
Many times, when I ask administrators about volunteers I find that they don’t know what to do with their volunteers. The way I see it, there are a variety of “job opportunities” available for the online auction. Here are a few to consider:
- Graphic Design – One (or more) of your volunteers can be in charge of creating the homepage, setting the auction colors, and creating your banner. This would be a lot of fun for someone who enjoys working with graphics or has a knack for color.
- Item Acquisition – You’ll need at least a handful of volunteers for the task of asking local businesses, their personal network, etc for items to auction off.
- Data Entry – This is a good job for someone who wants to help, but can only offer a few hours of their time here or there.
- Promotion & Social Media – Ask one volunteer to be in charge of posting auction-related updates on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Also, another volunteer can write up a few promotional emails to send out before, during, and after your auction.
- And more - Depending on other factors, including if you're running a live event, you may have other jobs to offer your volunteers.
With busy schedules, sometimes volunteers can only help for a few hours here or there (me included). By breaking the entire auction into different tasks, you’ll not only appeal to more volunteers, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of their skills and interests.
Around the time of when Walter Issacson’s book on former Apple CEO Steve Jobs came out in the Fall of 2011, I started to think a little bit differently about how I wanted to live my life. Jobs preached towards the end of his life about how important it was to make the most out of every single day we have on this big-blue rock. I realized that I was not doing enough with my time. Right around the same time, a friend of mine named David Cohen (http://www.docwayne.org/david-video) was named the Executive Director of a Boston-based nonprofit called Doc Wayne (501c3). David had previously started his own nonprofit called Playing It Forward, so I was not surprised he was charged with leading another organization. He asked me if I might be interested in helping out with his new organization and I jumped at the chance; not really knowing anything about the organization.
Doc Wayne’s mission is to offer youth who are burdened with complex trauma, serious emotional disorders, and severely challenging behaviors an innovative and therapeutic experience. The experience is offered through the medium of team sports based on a specifically designed therapeutic curriculum and stressing positive youth development. Sports played a significant role in my life as a youth (and into my adult years as prior to working for BiddingForGood I spent 10+ years working in professional sports and entertainment) and I was interested to see how this organization could help these young men and women who have dealt with so much difficulty in their young lives.
My role with the organization was simple; referee soccer and basketball games. It was made very clear to me that this was not like most youth sports in that the players have not been exposed to being members of a team and few have ever played in any organized sports activities. With the different traumas or disorders these kids were dealing with I was expecting it to be like a pool of 5 year-olds chasing a soccer ball around a field at best, but it turned out to be something much, much more.
Before coming to play in a Doc Wayne league, players are taught about Doc Wayne’s core philosophy, which is called Do The Good (DtG). DtG is about getting to a place on the field and off the field where you feel effective, and you got there without doing any harm to anyone else. In other words, it’s about working hard to find your ‘positive path.’ It was clear right from the start that the skill level of these kids was not the highest but they completely bought into this DtG mindset and were immediately enjoying this distraction from the stresses of their daily lives. They were also learning how to become more social, shaking the hands of opponents, helping teammates up after falling, and high-fiving after someone scored (All skills they could take with them when they left the field). As an observer, this to me was what sports should be all about: A release from stress, the chance to learn, an opportunity to work as part of a team and to have fun.
Since I started volunteering with Doc Wayne, my fiancée has also become involved with the charity and it now is something that we could not imagine not having in our lives. It’s become something we can do as a couple and feel good about on the ride home at night. We might not have a direct impact in the lives of these kids on a daily basis, but for a little while each week we can share a kind word or show a skill that was not learned before (we might even be getting more out of this than the kids sometimes). It’s amazing to seeing kids deal with their difficulties through sports and I am pretty happy that we have the opportunity.
I hope from this piece you take away two things:
1.) Get involved. I was so wrapped up in me for so long that I forgot how great it can feel to give back. No matter the cause or activity, take some time out of your life and try to make someone else’s better as I’m sure it will come back to you in some way.
2.) Do the Good. I think most people live this way but it’s a simple philosophy…put yourself in a position to follow a positive path and you are setting yourself up for a successful future.