9 Tips to Help Plan a Successful Campus Fundraiser

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 12:14 PM

While we all know college can cost a lot of money, let’s face it – students themselves don’t necessarily have a lot of disposable income, especially for campus fundraisers. Many students may need to work multiple jobs to pay for tuition, or they might be living on a tight budget.  In addition, there are a lot of  “extra-curriculars” competing for their dollars!

Funding is competitive on campus. While volunteering within your school community is truly important, there are still expenses like transportation, supplies, etc., in addition to raising funds for a cause or service event. If you want your club or service organization to succeed, you need to raise money. Planning a fundraiser on campus takes discipline, creativity, and solid communication skills. If you need to increase your funding, check out these tips from experienced student fundraisers to organize your next event.

1. Form a committee and get organized. 

Find out who’s interested in planning your club’s fundraiser. Know your members’ talents and make use of their expertise. Discuss your budget, time frame, and goals. “We have a Vice President of Philanthropy and her committee plans and organizes each event we put on,” said Isa Brooks, a member of the Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) sorority at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Brooks, a junior, serves as Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing for the sorority. She said AXO also has an Executive Board that is dedicated to the planning stages, as well as the overall execution of events.

2. Get Permission!

Before you commit a lot of time and resources to your event, make sure you have permission from your organization’s governing board, as well as the appropriate university department. Get it in writing! In addition, check your school’s calendar to make sure you aren’t competing with other clubs for funds and attendance.

3. Be specific in your communications. 

Clearly explain why you are raising money and how the funds will be used. Alpha Chi Omega raises money annually for Domestic Violence Solutions, a local women's center in Santa Barbara. “We have two main events during the year,” said Brooks. “Both involve getting the Greek and the larger UCSB community together to fundraise for the women's center, as well as bring about awareness.”

4. Be Professional.10984714_10153169825364388_789415289_n

“You are fundraising for a worthy cause,” said Jane Berry, a junior at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Berry is one of three fundraising and development coordinators for the Waltham Group, the umbrella community service organization for the university.

“You should believe in and care about your project,” said Berry. However, just because you care, doesn’t always mean that everyone else will. Berry cautions that as a college student, you may not automatically receive the respect or attention of companies, partners, and volunteers. “They make take one look at you or your email address and decide it’s not worth it.”

To make a good impression when fundraising in public, Berry suggests team members wear similar outfits to show you are part of a specific group. By looking professional and a part of a team, faculty and students are more likely to stop and talk for a few seconds. This could be a club t-shirt or maybe a solid color shirt and dark pants. Berry advises not to wear anything too crazy. You don’t want to scare away shy freshmen!

While it’s easy to remember to be professional in person, Berry acknowledged students might forget to do so when making phone calls and sending e-mails. “My team’s solution for this was to make scripts for all the different types of phone calls we make and emails we send and sort them into Google Docs folders based on each fundraiser.”

5. Always get a name, title and phone number.

“No matter who you are talking to or what you are asking for, make sure to get their name and position,” said Berry. “When we run our annual holiday auction at school, it’s essential to know exactly who within a company has guaranteed us what. It also applies to smaller fundraisers when you just want to know your contact.”

6. Make sure everyone is on the same page – literally!

As mentioned previously, Berry’s team puts everything on Gmail and Google Docs. Using the same account allows them to see each email sent. “It looks professional with the uniform signature and the docs don't get lost through email,” said Berry.

7. Be proactive with your marketing and create a buzz about your event.10967814_10153169825339388_1018867664_n

Social media is one of the easiest ways to reach out to potential donors, but it shouldn’t be the only avenue used. AXO works with local businesses and donors by sending out newsletters about their philanthropy. “We try to start fundraising as early as possible,” said Brooks. “We also try to create innovative ways to create a buzz about our events in our own Greek community by tabling, making announcements to other sororities and fraternities on campus, and holding fundraising events at restaurants in our student neighborhood.”

Brooks stressed that creativity is key and emphasized the importance of engaging the community during fundraising campaigns. “We usually create competitions within the Greek community at our sponsoring restaurants.”

Berry advised to do anything and everything to get students interested. “If people don’t know about your fundraiser, no one is coming,” she said. “Write in chalk on the sidewalks in heavy traffic areas, put up flyers with catchy slogans, send out campus-wide e-mails, and post incessantly on social media.”

While students lead busy lives and may not go out of their way to part with their money, if they know about your cause, they may at least be curious to learn more about what you’re doing. Plus, if your information table is positioned along their daily route, they may just stop to see what all the excitement is about.

8. Address a student need.brandeis

If you address a specific need, students may be more willing to give freely with the added bonus of helping others! “If we throw an event involving food, then students love to participate,” said Brooks. “Our Pizza Pie with Alpha Chi event is a favorite. The community comes to our house and they design their own mini pizza. All proceeds go to our local women’s shelter.”

Berry said her most successful fundraisers have been holiday silent auctions, which also appeal to teachers and staff; a Valentine’s Day roses sale; and late-night food delivery service. 

“I was actually truly surprised at how many fellas stepped up and got their girls red roses,” said Berry. “The convenience of having them on campus really drew people in. Students love grilled cheese delivered right to their door, especially if you’re open late!”

9. Communicate progress and success!

It’s important to maintain a good relationship with all of your donors. Share your progress throughout the campaign via social media and on campus through tables, signage, etc. When your event is over, let everyone know the results and how their support will benefit others. Make sure to let your donors and sponsors know how much you appreciate their assistance. Send out thank you messages via social media, e-mail, and newsletters. If possible get a quote or picture from the organization that received the funds.

Raising money isn’t easy, but with preparation, organization, and a little creativity, you can make your fundraiser a success. Do you have a few more tips that worked for your club? Share them with our readers!

 

Photos courtesy of UCSB chapter of Alpha Chi Omega and the Waltham Group at Brandeis University.

 

 

 

 

Topics: college, fundraising, campus fundraiser

Super Bowl Scores with Community Service

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 @ 09:00 AM


jersey caresSuper Bowl XLVIII
is less than a week away. Approximately 108 million people are expected to watch. Not only will it be an economic boom for the New York/New Jersey area, but for
thousands and thousands of take-out and delivery restaurants, establishments with big screen televisions, as well as snack, liquor and beverage distributors throughout the country.

Apparently Super Bowl Sunday is considered the second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving. A few statistics show why. According to the National Chicken Council’s 2014 Wing Report, an estimated 1.25 billion wings will be devoured during the Super Bowl. Domino’s Pizza will sell more than 11 million slices of pizza this Sunday. And, according to the Nielson Company, nine out of ten people will watch the game at their home or a friend’s house. It’s one of the biggest events for friends and family to come together.

This got me thinking. Why can’t we enjoy this event and use it to spark a movement to help others? With this being the National Football League’s first cold-weather, outdoor Super Bowl, it could be the highest-profile game in the event’s history. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who thinks we can use this opportunity do social good as well!

The NFL and the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee are harnessing the excitement of Super Bowl XLVIII to organize a number of community events and donation drives to provide support to those in need. The Snowflake Youth Foundation, a charity initiative of the Host Committee, was created to raise money and support for a number of local community projects, including the rehabilitation of after-school centers, support for the Super Community Blood Drives, and various environmental works. The foundation and its partner organizations have raised more than $11 million to support 50 projects to improve after-school facilities in New York and New Jersey communities.

“As this work illustrates, when the power of the world’s greatest sporting event is combined with the generosity of the New York and New Jersey region, an indisputable difference can be made in the lives of our youth.” Said Jonathan Tisch, Host Committee Co-Chairman in a recent statement issued by the foundation. 

Kickoff to Rebuild is also an annual NFL sanctioned event. Hosted by Rebuilding Together, the organization partners with the NFL in Super Bowl cities across the country, rebuilding houses and bringing together neighborhoods, home by home, block by block. This month, they mobilized hundreds of volunteers, including past and present NFL players, community leaders, celebrities, and local and national sponsors to complete critical home repairs for thirteen local low-income homeowners. The repairs will improve the safety and health of homes for local residents in Bergen County, New Jersey, including seniors and families who were devastated by flooding from Superstorm Sandy.

Another event to capitalize on the excitement of the Super Bowl is the Super Community Coat Drive, which runs through February 7. Organized by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, along with New York Cares, Jersey Cares, and other local organizations, individuals can donate gently used and freshly laundered coats at hundreds of locations throughout New York and New Jersey.

“The Super Community Coat Drive is an initiative that fits perfectly into the Host Committee’s mission to give back to the communities of New Jersey and New York,” said NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee President and CEO Al Kelly.

Throughout the 2013-14 season, the National Football League’s Taste of NFL asked fans to raise money online through their Kick Hunger Challenge. Fans from all 32 NFL teams and Brooklyn competed against each other all season by raising money online for food banks in NFL communities around the country. The funds raised will directly impact the donation of thousands of meals to food banks in each team’s community. Fans can go online till January 31, 2014, to make donations in the name of their favorite NFL team. The winning team gets an additional $10,000.

Dr. Melony Samuels is executive director and founder of Bed-Stuy Campaign Againstsuper pantry3 Hunger, one of the designated food banks to receive funds. “They (NFL) created a team for us to raise money.  It’s called Brooklyn, New York. We want to get everyone in New York to back us. We are fighting hunger for a good cause. We are one of the largest, if not the largest, emergency feeding program in New York City. We served 2.9 million meals to 338,951 individuals last year. We will continue to meet that need.”

In addition to the Kick Hunger Campaign, the NFL hosts Party with a Purpose®, a food and wine event in the host city on the eve of the Super Bowl. Chefs from each NFL city, provide food and wine pairings for guests to sample. Proceeds from the event also benefit food banks in each of the NFL cities.

So, why let the NFL have all the fun? People all over the country are planning Super Bowl parties this weekend. Samuels encourages everyone to have their own canned food drives. “Tell their guests to bring a can or two to donate to an emergency feeding program.”

She also encourages schools and colleges to start a buzz in their different communities; to have clubs and organizations compete against each other and raise money for their local food banks. Samuels said one of the easiest ways to find your nearest emergency feeding program is to call 311 or the Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3Hungry. She also suggests contacting your local city hall or city council. “Local people know what is going on in the community,” said Samuels. “They can easily tell you where the programs are.  When families are hungry, it’s not a secret.”

According to figures from the Department of Agriculture, approximately 48 million people in the U.S., including 17 million children, lack access to adequate food. “If every group just donated $20, it could help many families,” said Samuels. “We could purchase at least 15 meals with $20. Sometimes if we get good prices, we can get $1 a meal.”

While 48 million may seem insurmountable, just imagine if everyone of the over 100 million viewers donated $10 to their local food bank or donated a can of food or a gently used coat, hat or set of gloves to their Super Bowl party. Or, imagine if we decided that the following Sunday, we would get together with friends and family and volunteer our time to a local community organization. It might not be an economic boom, but it would be a positive one. How will you watch the Super Bowl this Sunday? Join in the excitement and support your community!

Topics: service, volunteering, volunteering nonprofit, community, community engagement, opportunities, economy, engagement, community service, fundraising, Food Banks, Food Pantries, Food Drives.

Fund your Non-Profit or Community Project: Find and Apply for Grants

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Jan 07, 2014 @ 09:38 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

I’ve seen the grant process from both perspectives – as a project leader applying for grants, and currently as a member of a grant-giving council. I have found that grants are a great resource to help kick start a project, but receiving them can be a daunting and confusing process due to the paper work, applications, fine print, and competition. However, these obstacles can be overcome by thoroughly understanding the process.

Grants can help fund your community project or organization.

How to I get a grant?

A grant is free money, but that doesn’t mean it’s given to just anyone.  The process of receiving a grant usually involves writing a proposal describing your project.  You’ll be asked to explain how you plan to carry out your project, how you plan to use the funds, and a host of other questions allowing you to showcase your project at its best.  Grants may be awarded by a government department, corporation, non-profit foundation or trust, and these groups usually want to know the specifics of your project before they invest money in your organization.  This can be a confusing and difficult process, so keep reading to find out how you can ensure your project is funded.  

The Idea

Before you even begin the grant writing process, you have to have an idea.  Chances are, you have many ideas about how you could solve problems in your community, and grants are a great way to help you accomplish this.  When thinking of your project, make sure you are realistic; if you don’t believe it is achievable, neither will the people reading your grant proposal.  Narrow down your project by thinking about some of these questions:  What are the goals of your project?  How are you going to carry it out?  Who is going to work on this with you? What non-profits and organizations can you connect with to help you plan this?  What resources will you need, and how much will these cost?  Then, ask yourself again, is it achievable?  Great things start with great ideas, but receiving a grant is also receiving responsibility.  

Once you’ve completed this first step, it’s time to put your ambition into action by locating the resources you need to complete your community project.  

Finding Grants

The first step to receiving a grant is finding one.  This can be difficult because many grants have very specific eligibility requirements. An easy place to begin is by researching grants in the same niche as your community project.  Grants typically support projects with specific goals or ones that involve specific groups of people. For example, one grant may only support projects lead by young people.  Additionally, grants usually have a minimum and maximum amount of funding that can be requested of them.  In order to ensure you meet all of these requirements, it is important to decide on a project, plan and objectives before searching for a grant.

Begin your search for opportunities by contacting non-profits, large corporations, local foundations, and government departments.  Contact organizations that have the same goals as your project and find out what grants they may award or grants they may know about that could help your project.  Once you find a grant that you believe fits your project, study the process for applying for and receiving the grant and begin writing you proposal.  

Writing the Proposal

This is the most crucial part of the grant process.  In fact, there are people who make it their profession to write grants to help non-profits receive funding.  When writing your proposal, be as concise and specific as possible.  It’s important that the people reading your proposal are interested in what you are writing about so you convince them to support your project.  Remember, you will be competing against other organizations and projects for funding, so you want to be convincing in your proposal. 
When applying for a grant, it is important to edit carefully.

The grant application will likely ask many questions, but here are some things to think about when marketing your project:  What makes your project unique? Who is benefiting from the project and how? What inspired you to start this project?  What need or issue are you addressing in your community?  

Make sure you research the goals and objectives of the people you are requesting money from.  Why are they offering this grant opportunity and what do they hope to achieve in the community by providing this funding?  When writing, use language that will appeal to them by explaining how your project aligns with the purpose of the grant.  

Finally, proofread, proofread, proofread.  Make sure your proposal is free of errors and sounds as compelling as possible.  Have someone review your proposal and ask for feedback from people who have been through the grant process before.  

Receiving the grant

If you’re lucky enough to receive the grant, congratulations!  Don’t waste any time on this opportunity.  Begin putting your project into action and keep a record of your budget and spending if you have to report back the results.

Learning from Experience

If you don’t receive the grant, use this as a learning experience when applying to other grants in the future.  If possible, ask for feedback about how to improve your proposal or improve your project.  Don’t give up and continue researching other methods of fundraising your project.  

How can you use NobleHour to make writing grants easier?

Use the NobleHour network to connect with volunteers, organizations, schools and non-profits to see how others are taking advantage of grant opportunities or to find people to help with your community project. Use NobleHour reports to measure the impact of your organization and the volunteer hours you contribute the community. This is useful, especially to demonstrate interest in your project.

 


image source:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/42931449@N07/6812484625, www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nics_events/2349631689

Topics: highered, nonprofit, community engagement, scholarships, fundraising, community partners, grants, charity

10 Ways to Make an Impact on #GivingTuesday™

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Dec 03, 2013 @ 11:05 AM

You're celebrating Thanksgiving with all of your relatives from near and far. Maybe you'll brave the crowds and lines for Black Friday sales. Then, you plan to squeeze in a few minutes to capture some Cyber Monday deals. But the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is the real day to make a difference. I’m not talking about a putting a dent in your gift list with more items on sale. I’m talking about making a real impact in the lives of people and organizations that truly need your help. It’s called #Giving Tuesday. Started by the non-profit community and cultural center, 92nd Street Y (92Y),  along with the United Nations Foundation and a core group of founding partners, #GivingTuesday is a national day of giving at the start of the holiday season.

The event builds on the American tradition of giving back by using technology to make a greater impact. The success #Giving Tuesday has prompted thousands of international and local non-profits, as well as civic minded corporations to join the movement. By harnessing the power of social media, the day is dedicated to helping everyone realize that they have the power to make a difference in someone’s life - to bring about real change in communities around the world.

More than 10,000 partners in all 50 states and around the world are taking part in the third annual event to refocus on giving thanks and giving back. Partners are large corporations and small businesses, faith-based organizations and secular nonprofits. If you don’t have a specific charity in mind, you can go to the #Giving Tuesday website and sort by the type of organization or look for charities by state. There’s every imaginable charity involved.

You can sort by your interests in arts, culture, animals, health, the environment, education, human services, or research and science. You can also choose to support local community groups, religious organizations, schools and universities, large or small companies, government agencies, and various projects sponsored by groups around the world.

With so many charities competing for your donation, you may want to research the organizations on Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau. Charity Navigator provides an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess over 6,000 of America's charities. The non-profit organization also provides a list of giving tips to help you when choosing a charity. 

Still not sure where to begin? Think about how you want to make an impact. Believe it or not, you can make a difference in a family’s life with $20 or less. Many of the organizations participating have catalogs with gifts ranging in price from $10 to thousands of dollars. Many work to end hunger, supply clean water, provide shelter, or assist people with starting their own business. Some provide disaster relief. Others help protect wildlife.

Here are just ten of the thousands of organizations participating in #Giving Tuesday.

 

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and theirHero-GiftCatalog-Christmas14 communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Their catalog offers choices that make a difference starting at just $16. Gifts include clothing and jewelry that fund small business loans for entrepreneurs; goats that can nourish a hungry family, as well as provide income from surplus milk; and food kits to feed families in need.

Feeding America helps provide fresh, healthy food for people facing hunger every day. Your gift of nutritious food like apples, peanut butter, rice, cheese, broccoli, oatmeal, bananas, and chicken can help families in communities across the country struggling with hunger.

Millennium Promise works to  eradicate extreme poverty, hunger, and preventable disease by empowering communities to help themselves. Your donation can provide nutritious meals to children at school, skilled attendants to help mothers giving birth, clean water supplies, and it can help farmers grow more food to eat and sell.

The American Red Cross provides disaster relief around the world. Their catalog includes items like hot meals, blankets, emergency shelter, vaccinations, and first aid workers for those affected by disaster.

Mercy Corps helps people survive crises in some of the world’s toughest places. They help those affected confront and turn their situations into opportunities to thrive. Gifts in the Mercy Corps catalog range in price from under $50 to over $200 and help men and women in villages around the world earn an income. For as little as $18, you can buy a mosquito net or buy seeds for a family. You can give a sewing machine, outfit a classroom, fund a mobile health unit, or help start a fish hatchery. You can even buy a Yak, which can carry loads in mountainous areas, and produce valuable milk, as well as wool for blankets and clothing. 

donate to schoolsSave the Children gives children in the U.S. and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm. Give joy and lasting change to a child when you choose from over 60 gifts in seven different categories, ranging from health and emergency relief, to animals, sports and education, and water and agriculture.

World Wildlife Fund is an international organization that works in collaboration with existing conservation groups to bring substantial financial support to the conservation movement on a worldwide scale. Their catalog includes t-shirts, calendars, greeting cards, ornaments, etc. For $55, you can symbolically adopt a species. Your gift supports WWF's global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children's lives. You can help by giving blankets, vaccinations, purifying water tablets and gifts that support causes like emergencies, food, school transportation, and winter survival packs. Items as low as $15.00 include The Eat & Run bundle that combines Micronutrient Powder and a Soccer Ball to keep a vulnerable child healthy and happy. Gifts under $25 include vaccine carriers that can keep dozens of vaccine vials at the right temperature for 38 hours, even in scorching hot weather. 

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is on the ground in more than 40 countries, including the U.S., providing emergency relief, relocating refugees, and rebuilding lives in the wake of disaster. Their rescue gifts include providing a year of education for a young girl for only $58, clean water for $110, a honeybee harvest kit for $72 and for only $45 you can comfort children caught in crisis by sending them teddy bears.

If you want to volunteer in addition to donating funds, but not sure where to start, visit NobleHour, a small company with a big mission to provide an online platform that enables and facilitates community engagement. Companies can create free profiles for their organization and get the word out about themselves, as well as find help by posting volunteer opportunities for free. NobleHour helps school districts, colleges, universities, non-profits, and businesses throughout the US and Canada track and measure service-learning, volunteering, and community service initiatives. 

The company was started in 2007 by a student looking for a way to find service opportunities in his area. It grew from a simple online database of service opportunities to over 180,000 members, over 6,000 organizations, and over 4,000 opportunity listings. Since their relaunch in 2012, users have tracked over 4.5 million service hours, with an economic impact of over $95,000,000.

So whether you just want to donate in your name, you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone who has everything, or you want to volunteer, #Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to be generous with others and embrace the true meaning of the holidays. What are you going to give today? Share your gift list with us!

Topics: Food Banks, Food Pantries, community engagement, outreach, engagement, community, civic engagement, technology, global, opportunities, connecting communities, involvement, nonprofit, fundraising, community partners, social media, active

Volunteering at Holiday Food Drives Can Help Many in Need

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 @ 11:20 AM

 

The holidays are upon us. As we approach the days of festive get-togethers, parties, and dinners, we sometimes complain that we overindulge. However, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), shockingly there are approximately 49 million people in the United States, including nearly 16 million children, who live at risk of hunger everyday.

According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD), the faces of hunger are changing. Often those in need are employed, are veterans, children, and seniors. In Cook County alone, the numbers are startling. Nearly 800,000 people are unsure of when they will receive their next meal. One in six Chicagoans faces hunger every day. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 67 million pounds food, the equivalent of 154,000 meals every day. 

It is getting harder for families to make ends meet. Some are skipping meals or cutting back on the quality or quantity of food they purchase. In fact, the GCFD reports 47% of households say they have to choose between paying for food and utilities, while another 44% report choosing between paying for food and rent or mortgage.

This time of year, there’s a big push to increase food donations for the holidays. Students in elementary and high schools, as well as universities throughout the country are coming together to collect thousands and thousands of pounds of non-perishable items.

In Chicago, the NBA Bulls, along with sponsors Vienna Beef and Midway Moving and Storage, hosted a number of food drives, including a contest for Chicago Public Schools. Over 35,000 pounds of food was collected to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The winning school, Phillip Murray Elementary Language Academy, collected over 4,000 pounds of food.

Area food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens rely heavily on the GCFD. Their campaign, No One Should Go Hungry is a simple, yet powerful message, highlighting the fact they have just 1 Goal, 1 Mission - To Fight Hunger 1 Dollar, 1 Meal, 1 Person at a Time, until the day that no one goes hungry. The One City, One Food Drive goal is to collect one million pounds of food. 

Food depositories cannot accomplish their goals alone. They need active volunteers of all ages to help in their mission. At the GCFD, volunteers are always needed to load trucks, pick up and deliver produce, check orders, help out with special events, and help pick up and deliver donations from food shows. They can also volunteer at member pantries or soup kitchens.

Food_DriveWhile students are home for break or off for the holidays, a great community service activity is to volunteer at the food depository. School groups, service clubs, and individuals can help repack bulk food products into individual/family sizes. The food depository posts their volunteer schedule four months in advance so groups can plan ahead to sign up. Participants must be at least 14. If you want to get your children involved at an early age, younger kids can participate on special “kids days” with adult supervision.

Feeding America, a leading domestic hunger-relief charity, works to feed the country’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks. In addition, the organization encourages community engagement running a number of partner promotions, and by using social media in a variety of ways. One unique option is to be a virtual volunteer.  Students can "spread the word" and promote social good and awareness through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube.

In keeping with the virtual theme, today’s tech savvy kids and young adults, can also host virtual food drives. Whether your son or daughter needs to complete a community service project or their club wants to highlight their community engagement, the Virtual Food Drive is simple to coordinate and through the use of social media, students create awareness about the issue of hunger, as well as raise funds to support Feeding America. Just set a fundraising goal, create a page by answering a few simple questions and ask others to donate using the online tools provided.

The virtual food drive is a great way for colleges to get their students involved. For the seventh year in a row, California State University and UC San Diego students participated in the "Colleges Rock Hunger" food drive to gather money and food donations for needy families. Both universities used virtual food drives, along with traditional methods of collecting food. Last year, students donated nearly 245,000 pounds of food to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. This year the food bank distributed 22.3 million pounds of food to San Diego County, the equivalent of 18.6 million meals.

The food drive was a great way for students to give back to the community and make a difference. Even college students can afford one can of food or a $1 donation. The California students creatively worked with different groups on campus to encourage everyone to participate. They also maximized their efforts with existing events, like homecoming, and gave students incentives for participating like “cut the line" for free food, giveaways, preferred seating, or immediate access to games and activities. In addition, student organizers reached out to the local business community for support.

If you prefer the traditional hands-on route of volunteering, Feeding America encourages volunteers to check out local community service opportunities. There are food banks in just about every city in America. The Feeding America website offers a nationwide food bank locator. You can search by zip code or state to find the nearest food bank. In addition to helping local food banks repackage donated food for use at food pantries, and transporting food to charitable agencies, you can also help tutor young children at their local Kids Café programs. 

Another great way for students to support Feeding America's efforts this holiday season is to give a donation in someone's name. It's a great gift for that hard to buy for relative, friend or teacher!  The Bank of America Give A Meal program runs through December 31. The online campaign has resulted in more than 100 million meals for families and individuals in need across the country with over 40 million meals coming in just through last year’s program. For every $1 donated through Give A Meal, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will give $2 more, up to $1.5 million - giving donors the opportunity to triple their impact! 

As we’ve witnessed recently, disaster can strike without rhyme or reason. Feeding America also needs volunteers across the country to support survivors of disaster-affected communities. Sort, box, and repackage donated food to be directed where it's needed most.  



Whether it’s a virtual food drive or a traditional one, students have the power to make a difference. This holiday season, get involved and support your local food bank. What do you do as a family to help with the fight against hunger? Check out our recent blog about how  service learning can help you run a successful food drive!

 

 photo: Dolly Duplantier

Topics: Thanksgiving, Food Banks, Food Pantries, Food Drives., volunteering, community engagement, higher ed, community service, youth impact, engagement, high school, service, community, civic engagement, opportunities, involvement, fundraising, social media

Volunteering & Kindness: Secrets to a Meaningful Thanksgiving

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 @ 08:36 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

Since we started making turkey-themed crafts in kindergarten, we’ve been taught that being grateful is important.  However, this year I challenge you not just to share your gratitude at Thanksgiving dinner, but to also be proactive with your thanks by expressing it to those you appreciate most.  The word “Thanksgiving” does after all imply giving thanks not just saying thanks.  Here are some ways individuals and organizations can give thanks through kindness and volunteerism:

For Individuals

A Thanksgiving Cornucopia

Say Thanks to Friends and Family:  Here’s an interesting exercise. Take out a piece of paper and write down the names of one hundred people you know and interact with.  These don’t have to be the people closest to you or the people you know best.  The idea is simply to write continuously, so this means writing down the names of whoever comes to mind regardless of their importance.  The only requirement is they are a person who has made it into your life at some point.  Don’t overthink it and don’t read over the list right away.  Leave it for a few days, and then return to read over the list.

Now, reread your list and star the people most important to you.  You may find yourself erasing some names from the list or adding ones you forgot, but don’t feel guilty about erasing or forgetting.  Perhaps your list is short, or perhaps it is rather extensive.  The length is not important, but the thought put into it is.  The objective to keep in mind is not to rank your friends’ importance to you, but rather pinpoint who has had a significant impact on you.  This Thanksgiving, instead of generically saying you are thankful for your friends and family, try to reflect on exactly how and why you are thankful for them.  What is it about each person on your list that makes them important, and how might your list need to change?  Finally, express your thanks by telling these people how much you appreciate them.  This might be by sending an email, writing a letter or short note, or giving them a call.  It’s important to surround yourself with people who are helping you life a happier life, so hopefully this exercise will help you reflect on the importance of others in your life.

Say Thanks to Your Community:  One of the best ways to show your thanks for all that you have in life is to help those less fortunate than you.  This is a great way to spur a service-learning project.  Contemplate some basic things you have to be thankful for, such as food, a home, good health, and a job, just to name a few.  Now, how can you show your appreciation for material things?   Share them with others. Consider this example:

UNEP reports that roughly a third of the food produced for human consumption every year is wasted.  In the United States, 30% of food is thrown away accounting for the second highest source of waste in landfills.  At the same time, according to Feeding America almost 15% of households in America are food insecure.  Clearly this is a problem with a feasible solution; that solution is simply being thrown in the trash.  In your local community, you could contact local restaurants and grocery stores to find out how much of their food is wasted and how that food could be repurposed to help others.  This basic formula could be applied to myriad situations.  By doing this, you are showing your gratitude and using this as an occasion to help others.

For Organizations and CommunitiesFall Leaves

Say Thanks to Volunteers:  Volunteers do so much good, and they do it without expecting repayment, but that doesn’t mean their work should go unnoticed.  If you are an Organization, Group, or Community, there are several ways to thanks volunteers.  Showing your appreciation could be as simple as saying “thank you” and letting volunteers know they and their time aren’t taken for granted.  Once a year, take the time to write thank you notes to each of your volunteers.  You might also consider planning a volunteer appreciation event like a luncheon, dinner, or awards ceremony.  Thanking volunteers is not just the right thing to do, but it also a good strategy for keeping volunteers interested and involved in your cause.

Say Thanks to Donors:  If your organization or service project relies on an outside source of funding, make sure you take the opportunity this Thanksgiving to thank whoever has contributed financially to your cause.  Applying for a grant or asking for donations is usually the first obstacle in turning an idea into a reality.  This may come from individual donors, grants, or a combination of the tow.  Call, email, or write a letter expressing sincere gratitude for their aid.  Let them know how the project is going and how their money has contributed to its success.

This Thanksgiving, reflect on what you are grateful for by making a conscious effort to express your thanks.  Remind yourself to be thankful all year, not just once a year.  What are your favorite ways to give back?

 

Topics: service learning, volunteering, community, outreach, leadership, community service, Thanksgiving, fundraising

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