Sound off, 1, 2, Sound off, 3, 4

Highlights from the Craigslist Foundation Nonprofit Boot Camp 2009

All for Good. Google has provided this new org with a nifty gadget/widget for distributing volunteer opportunities around the web. It aggregates listings from many well-established sites. This effort seems inspired by, but not officially part of, the Obama administration's serve.gov. I'm not sure non-profits have had trouble recruiting volunteers in recent years, but these folks have their heart in the right place.

YouTube will try to connect video-makers with non-profits via the newly launched Video Volunteers service, another off-shoot of All for Good. Other YouTube benefits for non-profits can be found here.

Mozilla, the outfit behind the Firefox browser, is organizing a service week (September 14-21, 2009) and asking tech-savvy individuals to sign up to teach senior citizens how to use the web, install a wireless network at a school, refurbish hardware for a local computer center, etc. Non-profits and the like can register on the same site to receive such support. (No group has a better rep for friendly customer service than IT pros, am I right? Here's hoping the most smug and surly geeks sit this one out.)

NTen is a membership organization of nonprofit technology professionals that shares information, provides professional development opportunities, and conducts research. NTen partners with The Port, offering "social media solutions."

Computer Recycling Center. Teachers, community non-profits, plus Bay Area groups that serve foster youth and home-bound elderly can apply for refurbished hardware, available for the price of a reasonable service contract. For those looking to put their old gear to good use, CRC either places with it at a worthy site or recycles it responsibly.

The Boot Camp wasn't focused exclusively on technology, but much of what I took in was. After a full day of rah-rah for the geeks, I thought it was important that Ari Dar, the founder and executive director of Action Without Borders/Idealist.org, reminded attendees during the closing session that Rome was built before facebook and that technology is merely a tool, not the end-all.

The issue many of the non-techy, non-profiters were wrestling with seemed to be how much time, money, etc. should be invested in new tools as they continue to provide their core, often in-person services. Each org will have a unique answer to that question, if they have time to adequately address it. This year's Boot Camp was a star-studded infomercial for some of the shiniest tools currently available, but I found little guidance on how to evaluate the various opportunities.

Beyond camp
Groundswell, a book and blog, is a great resource for groups struggling with their 2.0 strategy. A number of talks by the book's co-author, Charlene Li, can be found online, if you prefer to watch rather than read.

And as you may know, there's more to volunteer management than getting people to turn out. Not all activities are as simple as stuffing envelopes. If expectations on both sides aren't met, the two parties who just wanted to do some good leave unsatisfied, if not disgruntled. Idealist's Volunteer Management Resource Center could prove useful on this front.

* * *
If you're looking for a volunteer opportunity, you might peruse Volunteer Match or Idealist for gigs all over, including the Bay Area. SF residents might have luck with The Volunteer Center, One Brick, or Hands On Bay Area. And ReServe, based in NYC, is doing some interesting work with highly skilled retirees.


sharock said...

ummm, stuffing envelopes is an art and someone showed me a trick with labels that i still use til this day. thanks for the post because you know i love me some volunteering.

Andy Joe said...

maybe that's why the CA economy is on the decline... we miss all your free labor.