Archive for June, 2007

It’s good to carry your volunteer weight and then some

Friday, June 8th, 2007

If you want to make a real difference, then you have to be contributing more than the resources you are consuming in the process. Otherwise, awareness building aside, it would be more efficient for charity staff to carry out the tasks.

Volunteer time + donations > staff time + resources used

Today’s Wall Street Journal article about the “Helping Hordes” straining New Orleans charities that the volunteers purportedly seek to help describes problems that are not, sadly, unique to the Gulf.

I am fortunate to work with individual volunteers and select companies that really understand this. Every time PMD cooks a meal, we use donations from the actual volunteers and our other donors to purchase all of the groceries from top-notch purveyors. This removes the burden of time and funds a charity would have to spend grocery shopping so that volunteers could cook a meal. Most charities simply cannot accomplish this unless they employ a full-time cook and supporting staff for their kitchens, and since PMD tends to help the small, grassroots charities, our resource-committed role is essential to feeding hungry people.

In April, McKesson did a great job with its annual Community Day for which PMD organized the volunteer projects for their Newton, MA, employees. Together, we planned for and provided all of the tools and materials, as well as feeding lunch and giving t-shirts to the nearly 60 volunteers and the dozen charity staff who worked with them. We had funds remaining in our materials budget, so we purchased needed items that recipient charity Cradles to Crayons identified on the regularly updated, ”Top Ten Most Needed Items” on its home page.

This weekend with PMD’s organizing help, Cornerstone Research’s Boston staff will converge to give a “yard makeover” to a residence for frail, formerly homeless, elderly women, followed by a do-it-yourself ice cream social that will enable volunteers and the women to interact after several hours of hot, yard work. I’ve spent quite a bit of time purchasing all of the materials (flowers, composted manure, mulch, etc.) and tools for 30 people to garden simultaneously. And I’ve become quite the penny-pincher since I want to get as much value as I can for each dollar Cornerstone is contributing.

I could share many more PMD examples since PMD chooses to work with companies that believe in creating more net value. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time attempting to convince other companies that this is The Way to do things. Many businesses just don’t get it, and want to believe that participation from their group is enough, despite the obvious associated costs, even their internal organizing capacity. I find it odd since they seem to reserve this thinking for their volunteer activities and not their meetings and business activities, yet expect even greater productivity and enjoyment from their volunteer activities. Maybe this is like childish wishing one can “get something for nothing”?

Give 5 Stars to PMD’s American Express Project Entry by 6/17!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007
Former founding PMD board clerk, Nancy Goldberg, and I have developed what we hope will be a winning proposal for a project that is
  • Innovative (i.e., people often ask PMD/me and Nancy for advice for bar/bat mitzvah and confirmation projects after they are unable to locate useful information online)
  • Achievable with $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 due to PMD’s and Nancy’s experience and networks, and
  • will certainly have a lasting and broad, positive Impact.

See project description below.

If you are an American Express card holder, please show your support by awarding five stars to #03770 Tried and True: Plans for Teens to Save the World and participate in the message board as soon as possible before June 17, 2007.
Like many online community contests, it’s all about spreading the word among people we know and getting them to vote, so any help you can provide would make a real difference, much the way awareness about PMD spread beyond the board’s and my friends after the first year. You already know that PMD has integrity and is all about doing a great job helping others–Now that we’ve had 3,503 people volunteer for 628 PMD projects helping 107 charities, and they’ve told us how we can do better each time, we’re sharing our knowledge base to help others do a great job, too.
A project of this scope would enable PMD to help many young people make a real difference to local charities, going far beyond offering lists of possible project ideas or standards of excellence for volunteers, volunteer group leaders, and charities (that I’ve helped co-develop) to providing practical plans useful for all stakeholders so that teens’ volunteer projects successfully
  • Produce appreciable results and generate tools and materials while conserving recipient charities’ limited resources,
  • Educate volunteers about broader issues, and
  • Bring people together to make a difference.
Last year, Nancy and her daughter, Liesl, learned about homelessness and poverty, selected a local women’s day shelter to support, collected what they said they needed and made innovative centerpieces, as well as volunteered together with PMD at that charity to see how their contributions would be used.

Project Idea #03770

Tried and True: Plans for Teens to Save the World

Unedited project description below. Rules limit online descriptions to

1,000 words and do not let us name People Making a Difference (PMD).

Although many teens have the time, interest and inclination to engage in meaningful community service, it is very challenging for them to do so. Most volunteer programs aren’t geared to teens’ abilities or availability. Despite the many obstacles, some teens, teachers, youth group advisors, etc. have succesfully found ways to engage teens in making their communities a better place. We propose building a web site where teens and those who love them can share their sucessful blue prints for volunteer projects that really work. The project tasks, timeline, cost, and other crucial information would be available to those around the world to replicate in their own communities.

To obtain and to share a wide variety of community projects of all sizes

and scopes, we will conduct a massive outreach effort to synagogues, churches, other faith-based groups, youth group leaders, teachers, etc. So that we can obtain useful, detailed, and complete information, we will offer a donation the 501-c-3 charity served by the project, in honor of the teen or adult organizer, as an incentive for sharing unique community projects.

© 2007 Nancy R. Goldberg & People Making a Difference through Community Service, Inc.

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