People Making a Difference (PMD) has been selected as a finalist in the Nonprofit Excellence Awards that the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) hosts to honor the dedication, passion, and impact of the state’s nonprofit sector.
MNN’s Small Nonprofit Excellence Award recognizes a nonprofit organization with an annual budget of $250,000 or less that “despite its small size has managed to fulfill its mission and make major contributions to the populations that it serves.” This year’s finalists are:
The other Nonprofit Excellence Awards categories are Advocacy, Education, Leadership. Resilience, and Young Professional.
Winners will be announced at a State House ceremonyon June 6, 2023. PMD volunteers can attend this celebration ceremony and networking luncheon by registering as an “MNN Nonprofit Member” for $55pp at https://www.tfaforms.com/5056294
“It’s very exciting for People Making a Difference (PMD) to be selected as a finalist for the 2023 Small Nonprofit Excellence Award during PMD’s 30th year mobilizing and organizing individual volunteers who work together to make a difference to community-based charities in their Greater Boston communities. PMD aims for people and businesses to become socially aware and engaged in their communities such that they approach volunteerism by learning about problems and needs, becoming familiar with charities that are working to address them, volunteering reliably, and providing needed resources to make a difference. We are honored to be included among this year’s impressive finalists.”-Lori Tsuruda, PMD Founder & Executive Director
We appreciate all the PMD supporters who have dutifully used this program when they’ve shopped online and earned 0.5% donations to keep PMD’s volunteer programs going since 2013. Sadly, this philanthropy program is ending on 2/20 in the name of corporate cost cutting.
So if you are planning any new amazon purchases, please try to make them before this program ends – Remember to shop beginning at https://smile.amazon.com Ty!
As of January 1, anyone filing personal income taxes in MA can take this deduction on their state tax return without having itemized. A $100 charitable donation would lessen someone’s tax bill by $5, but your individual circumstances may vary.
As I hope that everyone already knows: Every gift, no matter what size, makes a difference to People Making a Difference (PMD). Likewise, every tax deduction, no matter what size, makes a difference to donors who file personal income taxes in MA.
Since November 7, 1992, more than 10,200 awesome people have volunteered for 1,390+ one-day PMD community service projects, helping 153 charities and their clients in Greater Boston and beyond. PMD’s database records that these 10,200+ people have volunteered nearly 20,000 times, and this means that most have enjoyed a homemade cookie or meal-That’s A LOT of yummy cookies!
The very first PMD volunteer project only had nine volunteers, one consumer, and one charity partner (11 people total), but everyone cleaned an mental health clubhouse for Riverside Community Care for a marathon day (9 hours!). Since then, we’ve learned to schedule shorter, less ambitious/exhausting volunteer projects 😉 offering shifts when possible.
Although the covid-19 pandemic eliminated PMD’s in-person volunteer projects for five months when gatherings were not allowed in 2020, and we pivoted to some remote projects when we could, we’ve been organizing mostly outdoor and virtual volunteer opportunities since 2020, gradually aiming for pre-pandemic levels. Interestingly, the only volunteers who have not yet returned in force are corporate/employee volunteers, probably since they don’t work together in the office as a daily practice anymore and since omicron infections, illnesses, and other surges mean that more people stay home when they are sick to minimize exposure and cross-infection.
PMD’s new website quietly launched last month after a massive volunteer efforts by webmaster Phil Cartagena and UX/UI Designer Sarah Kuo, along with board member Ian McEmber and me updating its content for individual volunteer as well as (new!) potential corporate and charity partners. There are even a couple short, introductory videos by Girl Scout volunteer Melanie Clark. Hopefully visitors will find more useful information beyond the link for joining PMD’s private email list and then never returning to the website, which was the case for the first 25+years…. 😉 We still need help with SEO, so please contact me if this is your expertise and you can help out-Ty!
On Saturday, I traveled down to New Bedford with a friend to help Jim Stevens start his GiftsToGive warehouse. We assembled repurposedÂ (i.e., used) shelving and tables–it was just like playing with a life-size erector set. Without the responsibility of orienting or training anyone else, I was able to focus on accomplishing the tasks, so didn’t even notice the newspaper photographer. There were a few dozen volunteers who working all morning, but I was pictured in the article in the New Bedford Standard Times. This is unusual since when I personally volunteer, I aim to be low-key and not make it all about me. Gifts to Give is going to be a well-organized charity that serves many people in need in this commonwealth, including kids over age 13 and their parents, by collecting and sorting new and gently used donations of clothing, toys, books, child safety equipment, prom dresses, etc., and distributing them to families who need these items. It has an ambitious outreach plan, as well as one to engage volunteers of all ages in meaningful work. And, of course, it has a good distribution chain of dedicated, front-line social workers and assorted distribution sites planned.
After the G2G warehouse gets going in early ’09, PMD will likely organize a service project so people can get acquainted with this charity AND so we can respond to requests from some of our volunteers for opportunities beyond Boston.
If you volunteer for a few PMD projects a year, it’s tempting to focus on the tasks for these isolated activities, not what PMD is doing throughout the year. (The PMD board and project manager volunteers govern and lead year ’round, so they have a better sense of this bigger picture.) Plus, PMD annual appeals (and I when I’m planning a service project) focus on direct services and details, like feeding the needy and helping the illiterate through specific, ordered steps.
PMD is much more than a clearinghouse (or an online database), connecting volunteers with existing service opportunities. PMD plans the tasks, amasses the tools and materials needed, as well as recruits, prepares, orients, and manages the volunteers who participate in service projects that serve 2/3 of the charities with which PMD partners, since these charities have no ongoing volunteer programs with staff and resources to support them–with these limitations, the 20+ charities PMD serves annually cannot engage volunteers effectively.
PMD also mobilizes its volunteer recruitment tools (i.e., web site, email list, blog, and Facebook Group and Cause) to assist established volunteer programs at the remaining 1/3 charities (~10/yr) when they have seasonal volunteer shortages. PMD is building awareness of these neediest times so that people will develop new volunteer traditions beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Furthermore, PMD sees its service projects as opportunities to help all programs improve their volunteer programs by more effectively engaging episodic/one-time volunteers. PMD has collaborated to produce Standards of Excellence for individual volunteers, group leaders, and charities to clarify key elements that contribute to mutually successful volunteer experiences for the faith-based community and others, and provided targeted, pro bono training (see 11/22/08 blog post) and consulting services to help established volunteer programs near (like the National Braille Press behind Boston’s Symphony Hall) and far (like RightRides For Womenâ€™s Safety in NYC) adapt specific strategies that PMD has developed during its 16 years engaging nearly 4,000 volunteers and 23 businesses who have directly helped 109 charities and their clients.
I’ve been training a lot this autumn, and it’s been a pleasure to work with people who genuinely want to improve their volunteer management skills and thus their agencies’ effectiveness. With the incoming Obama administration promoting more people volunteering, we’ve really got to increase and to improve our capacity to attract, screen, manage, and recognize (and thus retain) more volunteers, regardless of whether the government invests any resources in our generally underfunded, volunteer programs.
In October, I traveled to VolunteerMaine‘s 22nd annual, state-wide conference on volunteerism (Sadly, Massachusetts does not regularly organize anything like this, which makes me wonder about its commitment to increasing the volunteer capacity of all nonprofits in the Commonwealth, not just ones with AmeriCorps and Commonwealth Corps members.) to give a workshop on developing partnerships to a “sold out” audience. In a nutshell, I compared the process to dating and using an approach like eHarmony’s to promote your strengths and help you clarify what you seek in a way that is attractive to potential partners. This is contrary to the typical way charities seek support, by leading with needs. Later, on 11/6 I also shared my philosophy and handout with 30 people who attended the DOVA meeting on corporate partnerships. Note: I also heard Jean Twenge discuss her meta-data-analysis for Generation Me, so look forward to DOVA’s May ’09 topic on subsetsof Millennials/younger volunteers.
I also organized a workshop at the first conference of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network for four Directors of Volunteer Administration (DOVA) members to share their approaches* for tabling at community events. From the large, fairly unique New England Aquarium and Greater Boston Food Bank to educational charities Boston Partners in Education and Generations Incorporated, we shared why we table and our rationales for using specific items and staffing. *I don’t write that we shared our “best practices” since I’ve grown to think that one organization’s best practices only work in the complex environment of that organization.
Then I gave my semi-regular clinic on volunteer management at TDC, where I addressed concerns from from five, local charities. There was a bit of a scheduling snafu, so I didn’t receive people’s questions in advance, but the clinic pretty much covered everything from developing position descriptions to probationary periods, followed by recognition, based on the primary things that motivate people to volunteer as usual.
All in all, I’ve worked with volunteer managers representing 80+ charities this autumn, so am hopeful that I’ve been able to help them think differently about the way their agencies do things so that they can find more well-matched volunteers and partners who help them make a difference in New England.
While current economic problems may make many in the nonprofit sector want to oppose, not adopt, most business practices at for-profits like American automakers, many entrepreneurs have good practices that make sense. Brad Feld highlights Ted Rheingold at Dogster (where you can learn more than you ever want to know about Vesta, Ben, and the late Nyx) makes a great point about hiring slow and firing fast (#9).
Most of us in volunteer management focus on recruiting volunteers, so it behooves us to make a real effort to ensure there is a good fit between potential volunteers and our needs and agency cultures, particularly during the screening/selection and probationary periods. Otherwise, as I have heard from countless charities complaining about “problem volunteers,” we waste precious time and energy trying to salvage situations rather than aiming high at the beginning. Instead, we should focus our post-recruitment resources on recognizing and thanking our excellent volunteers so that they stick around and help us attract additional volunteers like them.
I’m a guest blogger for VolunteerMaine today, in anticipation of their October 14th conference in Orono, where I will be presenting a workshop.
They expect primarily new Americorps volunteers to attend, which is why my workshop on building community relationships will assume basically starting from scratch. Although PMD is 15 years old, we are newbies compared to established charities like hospitals, museums, and those founded at the last turn of the century.
What originally drew me to this VolunteerMaine conference is the keynote address by Professor Jean Twenge about “Generation Me”, a group born in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. I’m particularly interested in (dis)satisfaction as it relates to retention.