With the holidays right around the corner, many individuals and companies in the Corridor want to give back to the community, but may struggle with how to start. This month, we talked to Shannon Hanson, vice president of marketing and communications at the United Way of East Central Iowa, to learn more.
When you volunteer or donate locally, Hanson said you might not realize it, but you’re likely helping someone you know.
“I guarantee someone you know has been helped by a non-profit in the community,” she said. Plus, active volunteers and donors gain a better understanding of what’s happening in the Corridor and feel more connected.
“If you give to national organizations, that’s great, but for me, I want to help people around me.”
VOLUNTEER ON COMPANY TIME
UWECI, like a growing number of Corridor businesses, allows its employees to use a certain number of working hours each year to volunteer in the community. When we met, Hanson had just returned from volunteering at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids, where she washed wax out of hundreds of votive candle holders to help prep for the NewBo Bash, an annual fundraiser for the non-profit organization. Despite her busy schedule, she said it’s important to her to volunteer. “I love it, so I make time in my life for it.”
If you or your work group are looking for a way to give back, UWECI provides a holiday volunteer and giving guide with dozens of opportunities to help.
LEARN FROM OTHER COMPANIES
Employees from like-minded companies have the opportunity to connect and collaborate at UWECI’s Workplace Volunteer Council meetings, where representatives gather and talk about volunteerism issues.
Members have the opportunity to learn how other companies foster a giving culture and talk about community needs and challenges they may face.
“It helps companies develop and do better with their volunteer opportunities,” Hanson said.
TRAIN TO BE A BETTER LEADER
Local non-profits need volunteers not just around the holidays, but year-round. Many need volunteers to serve on a variety of boards and committees.
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UWECI offers a new Board Orientation & Leadership Development (BOLD) series to prepare individuals who are interested in serving on local committees or boards. Six 90-minute workshops teach participants useful skills, like how to read financials, and help connect them to non-profits that match their interests.
Hanson said she wished she had a similar resource when she was starting her career.
“When I attended my first committee meeting, I had no idea what Robert’s Rules of Order was,” she said. “I didn’t even know when to say ‘Aye.’”
Quotes on Giving Back
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Audrey Hepburn
“I believe that we all have a responsibility to give back. No one becomes successful without lots of hard work, support from others and a little luck. Giving back creates a virtuous cycle that makes everyone more successful.” — Ron Conway
“To move forward, you have to give back,” — Oprah Winfrey
Books on Giving Back
The Power of Giving: How Giving Back Enriches Us All by Azim Jamal and Harvey McKinnon
Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results by Thomas J. Tierney and Joel Fleishman
The Generosity Plan: Sharing Your Time, Treasure, and Talent to Shape the World by Kathy LeMay