BIG Day of Giving on May 6th was a powerful day in the Sacramento region. In just 24 hours, $3.02 million was raised for nearly 400 nonprofits in our region. It was truly inspiring to see what kind of impact can be made in just a short amount of time thanks to our community foundations, generous donors, community-minded corporate partners and nonprofits.
At United Way, we were so excited to be part of the excitement of BIG Day of Giving and we decided to do something BIG with the funds we raised and build community gardens in our neighborhoods to cultivate healthy children, families and communities.
As United Way’s Program Officer for our Fit Kids project, I was so excited about this new endeavor. Across our region, we are working with nonprofit partners to increase the number of children who are living a healthy and active lifestyle – and adding more community gardens to promote healthy eating aligns so well with the work we are doing in Fit Kids!
We asked for donors to make a promise for a healthier community and oh my, did our community respond! United Way raised $10,870 to build community gardens in just one day. Thank you to all of our generous donors!
Last week, I volunteered my time at Women’s Empowerment by leading a course on relationship building in the workplace for the new “Get a Job Kit” training program. I have to be honest, initially I said, ‘you want me to lead what?’ But I did my research, put together my presentation and went for it. I have to tell you, it was one of the most proud moments of my life when the women I spoke to related to my material, asked the best questions and thanked me for the valuable information. I volunteered my time and made a difference. If just one of the women in the course uses any of the skills I offered to help with a new career, I’m simply humbled and honored.
All of us have skills to offer whether we realize it or not. It may not being leading a course, but you might be excellent with a hammer or paint roller, maybe you excel at turning a messy closet into an organized and useful space. Maybe you are a gardener and want to help with community garden builds? The point is, you can offer something. Multiple studies show Sacramento has a much lower volunteer rate than other comparable cities across the county, so the time is now to get involved and change these numbers. But how do you get connected to the right opportunity for you? Well, I am proud to introduce your new solution for that: theUnited Way Volunteer Center.
With a big push from United Way and other important community partners to get the word out about the www.keepyourtaxrefund.com website, I found myself telling folks in our community about this awesome resource and received some questions I couldn’t answer. I’m the kind of guy who wants to fully get behind something I’m asking others to do, so naturally my solution was to use the website myself to complete my 2013 tax return. In the past I’ve used other online software and with this website being FREE to those with income under $58,000 in 2013 and reduced cost compared to other ways to file for those who make over $58,000, how could I resist?
I still have one child in college and another that wants to return. My ability to help them pay for that is extremely limited.
Are you also worrying about paying for college for your children, grandchildren or other youth you know? Or, do you work with youth at church, soccer and other activities who will need financial help for college? Or are you or another adult considering going back to college? Well, this is the perfect opportunity to learn about Federal Student Aid for college and how you can become a resource for the young people in your life (and stop that worrying!).
With the cost of a higher education constantly on the rise, access to resources for college tuition, books and other expenses is important. The United States Department of Education’ s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) will be in Sacramento to talk about FSA and to do a comprehensive financial aid training. This training is targeting everyday people who work with youth or have youth in their life who want to go to college. The event is freeand will be held at Sacramento State Alumni Center January 7th from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The community where your business is located is most likely also the neighborhood where you and your employees live, meaning that when you support the nonprofit organizations in the community, you are also giving back to your neighbors. Corporate philanthropy most frequently comes in the form of office giving campaigns. These campaigns can be pledge drives for fundraising or collecting donations of goods for a local nonprofit. Volunteering your time for a community service project or to advocate for those who are less fortunate is another way to engage with those in your area.
No matter how it is presented or which options management chooses, any type of corporate philanthropy program helps your bottom line. According to several studies of consumer practices, a company who is dedicated to serving nonprofits in its community reaps many benefits. In fact, the company receives as many benefits from its philanthropy as the people who live in the area do. Partnering with a charity can help to raise brand awareness for your company, making it a strategic business move as well as a philanthropic investment.
Back in January when we announced we would try to accomplish 90 volunteers projects in one year to celebrate United Way California Capital Region’s 90th Anniversary, I received some funny looks and eye rolls. I’m fairly certain many people didn’t think it could be done. Well guess what? I am ecstatically proud to tell you that September 11, 2013 marked Project Number 89, which means that the United Way Day of Caring’s 26 projects on Friday, September 13th will bring life to Project Numbers 90-115! That’s right, not only did we as a community collectively work towards meeting our goal of 90 projects, but so far we’ve gone over the goal by 25 (and we still have two and a half months left of 2013!). If you haven’t been involved yet, now’s your chance!
Let’s do the math (not including the 26 Day of Caring projects):
+over 1,500 volunteers
+over 5,000 volunteer hours
+Over $60,000 value of volunteer labor
I was honored when United Way asked me to share my experience with my esteemed colleagues at the first United Way Nonprofit Leadership Summit last month. After all, United Way has more than 140 certified nonprofit partners, all of whom would be worthy to stand up at the microphone and share the amazing work they are doing.
I was especially excited to share how much United Way has helped open doors for Women’s Empowerment, and I know so many other nonprofits feel the same way. From giving us the chance to stand up in front of workplaces and keep our name front and center, to providing much needed funding to start our financial literacy program for graduates, we are grateful for United Way’s ability to bring people together around common causes. And we know United Way has been an instrumental partner in helping 1,064 women break the cycle of homelessness for their 2,092 children.