Archive for December, 2011

5 Ways to Engage Youth as Leaders in Service

Posted on December 28, 2011. Filed under: Good Ideas Stick, Tips for HandsOn Partners | Tags: |

From the HandsOn Network

Whether you’re planning a small service project in your community, or creating a youth council for young leaders, follow these simple steps to empower youth in your next project!

1.  Establish Roles

By establishing distinct roles for youth, you will be able to provide the kind of structure that will allow young leaders to flourish while also being better equipped to address challenges as they arise. Consider: Will youth be in a supporting role or will their participation be integral to the planning and implementation of the project? Will the youth be working alongside other youth or with other adults? Remember, youth can provide more than just input on an existing project, they can be the drivers of the work itself. Creating meaningful roles will generate buy-in.


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Tips for Including Volunteering in a Resume

Posted on December 28, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

From the HandsOn Network Blog

When you’re looking for a job, your resume is going to be how an employer first gets to know you. Of course you want to include the work experience and education that makes you qualified for a job, but should you include your experience volunteering?


Listing volunteer work on your resume also can add a lot of valuable information to your job history, especially for new job seekers or recent graduates with short resumes. Volunteer positions can fill gaps in employment – so for students whose employment history is short, volunteer work can be an especially important addition to your resume.

How do you include information about volunteering on your resume?

There is no ‘right’ way to write a resume, so there is no right way to include information about volunteering on a resume.


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8 Tips for Writing the Perfect Thank You Note

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Good Ideas Stick, Tips for HandsOn Partners | Tags: |

From the HandsOn Network Blog

You’ve thanked the volunteers that serve with your organization, right? Thanking them when they’re serving is important, but it’s also important to show them that their service is important even when they’re not serving. A thank you note sent to a volunteer at their home is a great reminder that they’re an important part of the organization. Here are eight tips for writing personal thank you notes to your volunteers:

1) Focus on the volunteer.

Before you write the thank you note, try writing the volunteer’s address on the envelope and write it out by hand. As you’re writing their address, think about your relationship to the volunteer; think about where they’re living and how they’re serving. It will help you to write an individual message for that volunteer

2) Write the note by hand.

Unless the number of volunteers your organization has makes writing a thank you note by hand unfeasible, take the extra time to write the note out by hand. A hand written note will mean more to your volunteers and shows that you’ve taken the time to focus on each volunteer specifically.

3) Talk about the volunteer’s service directly.

When you’re thanking your volunteer for their service, include a note about something that the volunteer has done. Whether it’s figuring out a new way to do something, making sure that the people they work with are always smiling, or being the only one that can figure out how to make the copier stop squeaking, be sure to draw attention to it.

4) Talk about how the volunteer’s service is changing or improving the organization

If the new way of doing something improves the office work flow, tell the volunteer how many hours the improvement saves over the course of a year. If the volunteer helps to buoy everyone’s spirits, tell the volunteer how their presence makes everyone’s day a little easier to get through.

5) Try writing a draft before writing out a thank you card.

Your writing will get a little bit better with each draft. You can keep an early version of the thank you note in the volunteer’s file where it can serve as a reminder of the great work they’ve done for your organization.

6) Keep it simple.

Your thank you note doesn’t have to be a complicated and involved. It doesn’t have to be a Presidential address. It can be two or three lines, simply written that come from the heart. Pretty words are great when you’re trying to charm someone, but meaningful words are more important when you’re trying to thank them.

7) Think of how your organization can serve the volunteer better.

If there is something that your organization can do to make the volunteer’s work easier to do, mention that you’re trying to make those things happen. Whether it’s a brighter desk lamp, more thorough trainings, or simply involving the volunteers more in the day-to-day operation of your organization, let the volunteers know that you’re willing to support them and the work that they do as much as they support you and your organization.

8) Write a lot of thank you notes.

If you’re not used to writing thank you notes to your volunteers, write a lot of them. It will get easier, and you’ll get better at it. Remember, you can never say thank you too many times.

What are some of the ways that you’ve said thank you to the volunteers you work with? Let us know about the awesome ways of showing your volunteers that you appreciate them – whether it’s high fives in the hallways or winter wellness kits full of tissues and vitamin c. Let us know in the comments!

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Improve Your Group Volunteer Experience! Engaging with Fellow Volunteers Brings Special Rewards

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Good Ideas Stick, Tips for HandsOn Partners | Tags: |

From the HandsOn Network Blog

We’ve all been touched by the “warm fuzzies,” those satisfying feelings when you know you’ve touched a life because you took the time to give back. There are times, however, when you aren’t rewarded with a gratifying gold star. You won’t always capture the smiles of the family whose home you helped build; nor hear the sigh of a child after they fill their tummy with food you helped prepare.

Volunteering is in many ways honest intentions with a seemingly blind result, and the warm fuzzies don’t necessarily creep their way into every volunteer experience.

Aim to get the most out of your volunteer time by recognizing the benefits to volunteering with a group. Whether with members of your faith group, your child’s classroom, your workplace, team or Scout troop, or a neighborhood or civic organization, chances are you’re probably not volunteering by yourself.

5 tips for getting the most out of your group volunteer experience

  1. Making friends: Seems like a no-brainer, right? Maybe not. Relationships unique to this type of shared experienced are special, they stand out and are based off common desires to give back and do good. Recognize and celebrate them! Make the extra effort to stay in touch or find additional ways to volunteer with a new friend whom you already have common hopes and goals.
  2. Team-building: Remember those dreaded group projects from school? Little did we know as students that it was not just about the end goal, be it a presentation or report; but our teachers aimed for part of the lesson to be acquiring the skills to negotiate, share, and work with one another as a team. The same goes for volunteering! Working with a new and diverse group of personalities brings out unseen aspects of your own personality, engaging you in new ways and allowing you to become a vital part of a team operation.
  3. Stepping out of the box: Especially in a new environment, or when asked to learn and perform brand new skill-sets, make an effort to step out of your comfort zone and encourage others in your group to do the same! The volunteer experience often drags you out of the “same ‘ol, same ‘ol” and into the “I learned something new,” and “I met the coolest person. . .” when you’re willing to step out of the box and volunteer to do something you wouldn’t normally do.
  4. Praise and Compliments: Giving back with others allows you the opportunity to support one another in ways which are not necessarily available to you at home or in the workplace. Celebrate one another’s accomplishments; find fun and spectacular ways to thank others for their effort and positive attitudes. Individual recognition within a group setting makes the entire giving back experience warm and fuzzy in its own unique way.
  5. Deeper Commitment: If you’ve enjoyed your volunteer experience and are ready for the next level, consider making a deeper commitment to the group you’re serving. Can your group commit to a regular volunteer shift together? Can you engage others at your work, school, Church, etc. to take on a regular commitment? Are you interested in a fundraising role or joining the advisory board? What special skills are needed that you can offer this organization, e.g. video production, carpentry, computer networking? Most nonprofits and schools have many, many opportunities for help and welcome participation at deeper levels.

One more suggestion to get more out of giving back within a group is to simply ASK for the results of your efforts. {Volunteer savvy organizations will preempt the ask and share the impact of your service.}

Inquire of the nonprofit or school you’re serving to show you how your service is making a difference. They should be more than happy to connect the dots and quantify how your service adds value to their mission. When practical, most will share actual statistics of the number of families fed, housed, tutored, etc. and others will be able to share anecdotes and stories of the impact of your good work – possibly directly from the service recipient.

Particularly during the holiday season when schedules are hectic, it’s very important to share your time and talents with others. Enjoy your warm and fuzzy rewards, you deserve them!

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Organizational Spotlight: Habitat for Humanity

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

One of the most satisfying aspects of volunteerism is the sense of accomplishment when you see the finished product of a hard days work. Maybe that is why volunteering with Habitat for Humanity is so much fun. However, it could also be the wonderful work they do for the community.

Through volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Willamette Valley builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. After a partner family completes 500 sweat equity hours, a Habitat home is sold to the family for no profit, financed with affordable, 0%-interest loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are recycled into a revolving Fund for Humanity that is used to build more houses.

Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Willamette Valley has been serving the community since 1991, working in concert with volunteers, donors, and partner families to build decent, affordable homes in Salem, Keizer, Polk County and the greater Stayton area. To date, our affiliate has built more than 75 homes, housing more than 300 individuals- including over 240 children.

Currently Habitat for Humanity has a variety of volunteer opportunities for all schedules and ability levels. Join them for a build or become a family advocate. No experience required!
Act Now!

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Farewell 2011 HandsOn Looks Forward to 2012

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

As 2011 comes to a close, the staff of HandsOn reflects on the year. We consider the hours of hard work the community has accomplished for its neighbors; the wonderful effort put into the environment; and the enduring friendships that have grown out of service.

During the past year, volunteers in the Salem area have mentored children, and worked with adults transitioning from the prison system. Our parks were made safer with the addition of trails. Community gardens have been planted, cared for and shared; healthy cooking classes have been taught to help people learn how to stretch their food budget. Events like Community Homeless Connect provided support and resources for those who are experiencing homelessness. And our veterans find answers and hope at the Veterans’ Stand Down.

Collectively, volunteers in our community provided almost $10 million in human capital.

The Corporation for National and Community Services is the federal agency that oversees civic engagement in our country. Each year they release the “Volunteerism in America” report. During 2011, this report revealed that Salem jumped eight spots and is now fifteenth in the nation for volunteerism for mid-sized cities. At a time when volunteerism trends have declined around the nation, we can celebrate and feel proud of this accomplishment.

We are so very grateful to all those who joined us as volunteers this past year. Though your contribution may have seemed small at the time, it never went unnoticed. Volunteers have provided incredible service and resources for the community.

HandsOn of the Mid-Willamette Valley is looking forward to 2012 with anticipation and excitement, knowing that as a community we can continue to achieve greatness through our volunteer efforts. We hope you will continue to join us for new and stimulating volunteer options. If you didn’t volunteer during 2011, we encourage you to consider sharing your time and talent during the coming year. Together, let’s aspire to be one of the top ten volunteer cities in the U.S.

We wish each and every one of you a joyous New Year. We hope to see you in the classroom, the garden, the office—anywhere you choose as the best place to share your time and give back to the community. Go to for volunteer options across the region.

Melissa Gibler is the program director for HandsOn Mid-Willamette Valley—an initiative of the United Way. She can be reached at (877) 372-4141, or

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Polk Community Connect

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

For the last few years both those in need and volunteers in Marion County have looked forward to Community Homeless Connect. This one-day resource and referral fair is for those who are experiencing homelessness, or are living on the edge of homelessness.

This year, the Polk County Commission for Children and Families is happy to host a similar event for Polk County residents.

Polk Community Connect is a free, one-day resource fair focused on connecting our homeless neighbors and those at risk of becoming homeless, with as many sources of direct support as possible. Community Connect brings county, government and community groups together in the mission to help our homeless and provide information, services and resources. The approach is designed to help inspire hope and respect for those in need—one person at a time. Services include: medical, dental, housing, employment, pet, bike repair, and children and family resources.

Polk Community Connect

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Living Hope City Church

450 SE Washington Street

Dallas, OR

Oregon’s Ending Homelessness Advisory Council defines “homelessness” as being without a decent, safe, stable and permanent place to live that is fit for human habitation. Therefore, people experiencing homelessness include more than people living on the street.

According to the National Alliance to end Homelessness, new evidence suggests that homelessness will increase by five percent during the next three years. It is clear there is a great need for events such as these and we need your help to help make Polk Community Connect successful.

Community Connect is completely staffed by volunteers; requiring at least 150 volunteer to host the event. From set up, serving meals, guiding attendees, or assisting with clean up—there is something for everyone and no help will go unnoticed. You can volunteer for a few hours, or help for the entire day. Donations are also accepted and appreciated.

For more information and sign up instructions go to:

Melissa Gibler is the program director for HandsOn Mid-Willamette Valley—an initiative of the United Way. She can be reached at (877) 372-4141, or

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A Proof-Reader Looking for Something to Read

Posted on December 16, 2011. Filed under: Good Ideas Stick, Tips for HandsOn Partners | Tags: |

A wonderful volunteer contacted us looking for a specific opportunity. She has an eye for editing and would love to proof-read any of your marketing materials, press releases, etc. Her only request is the material be emailed to her since she doesn’t have a lot of extra cash for gas. Please email Melissa if you would like to connect with this volunteer.

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A New Spin on the Office Holiday Party

Posted on December 12, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

From the HandsOn Network Blog

It’s that time of year again, the annual office holiday parties! Great, a day full of awkward socializing, lots of food, and buying presents for people you don’t know very well. What could be better, right? Using this time to volunteer as an office instead of spending awkward quality time together!

“How can this happen?” you may be wondering. By turning your Secret Santa gifts into service donations!

“Whoopee! Wait now what? How do I actually do this in my office?”

Easy, tell employees to bring a toy that they think the employee whose name they drew would have liked as a kid. For example, bring in a football for that jock in your office, a Barbie doll for the fashionista, or a game of chess for the deep thinker. Once the gifts are exchanged, donate them to children in need! Not only does your office get to have a good laugh about the toys that they get, children also get to have an awesome Christmas thanks to your office donations!

Volunteering and donating to your office’s favorite charities is a great way to make a solid bond between co-workers. Want some more ideas to keep this holiday spirit of giving up around your office? Look, we’ve got more!

  • Volunteer for your co-workers favorite organizations or causes: Send around an email asking co-workers to share where they like to volunteer or what they are passionate about. Make these ideas into a day of employee service. Choose a place close to the office and try to get all staff members to attend. Try closing the office that day so that your co-workers can reflect on the experience together. Nothing spells teamwork like volunteering as a team!
  • Make toys or decorations for your community members: Is there a retirement community in your area? A children or family shelter? They would love help with Christmas celebrations this year! Make cards or pictures so that they can decorate their walls with lots of holiday chair. Make toys or assemble toys for families or children in need so that they can have an unforgettable Christmas! It is a great way to spark conversation among employees that will focus on something besides the stresses of work. *There are a variety of organizations seeking donations during the holidays at
  • Make a donation to your company’s favorite cause: Do you have spare change laying around your desk or in your pocket? Great donate it to those who need it more than your desk surface! Vote on a charity to make donations to and pass around a collection bucket to your employees at the Christmas party. After donations are received recruit employees to personally donate the money to the designated charity. Who knows, they may like this idea so much that it will become an office tradition?
  • Pick an ornament, give a gift: Put up a Christmas tree in the office with names and ages of children or families who may be struggling this holiday season. Get in contact with your local shelters to see who will sponsor this project. Employees can grab a name, buy and wrap a present to put back under the tree. The presents will then get donated to the needy families. Not only will families get a better Christmas thanks to your company’s presents, but also your office will be decorated with the tree and Christmas presents.
  • Participate in generationOn’s Holiday Gift Campaign: GenerationOn and Hasbro have a holiday gift campaign running until December 13, 2011. Every time a pledge of service is made, a Hasbro toy is donated to Toys for Tots (up to 100,000 toys). A pledge of service can be made on behalf of an entire organization or company! It is an easy way to not only get this idea of giving back initiated into your office environment, but also a good way to give back to those in need!

Volunteering is a great way to bring employees together because it is a way to collaborate on something other than work. When all employees feel passionate about the activity they are doing they can build a more effective team.

Sounds better than your awkward office Secret Santa event or tacky sweater party? Great! Give back this holiday season, and build a more effective work team through volunteering!

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Money for Good Study: Sharing Information About Your Org’s Results Can Attract More Donors

Posted on December 12, 2011. Filed under: Good Ideas Stick, Tips for HandsOn Partners | Tags: |

From Beth Kanter’s Blog

GuideStar and Hope Consulting have released the results of new study, Money for Good II (MFGII).

The findings suggest that if nonprofits are more transparent in sharing information about their results online that they could attract more donors. The research found that two-thirds of individuals do not typically research the organizations they donate to compared those that advise donors and foundation grant-makers do due dilligence on every dollar they contribute. Despite these different approaches – giving from the heart versus the head – both groups want a broad range of information on the nonprofits’ impact, financials, anad legitimacy.

The study also states that donors want to be able to obtain this information from third-party portals and 53 percent of donors survyed want to use such sites. There is a high demand for data that shows how the nonprofit has been effective and made an impact. The research also suggests that if donors had better information to make their decisions and 5% used it to donate to the most effective nonprofits, this could lead to shift of $15 billion in contributed income to be invested in high performing nonprofits.

The study states that these findings offer an opportunity for nonprofits to better connect with donors by providing more detailed information about their performance and it is also an opportunity to educate donors about the need to research before donating.

The study points out that nonprofits can increase their fundraising and improve operations through an intentional focus on measurement – that helps them determine impact, effectiveness, and efficiency. After financial information, individual donors want information about how nonprofits are getting their results. (See above).

Does your nonprofit have a measurement system in place so that you can communicate results to potential donors?

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