Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Helping you find the Nonprofits to Know

By Jeff Achen
Interactive Media Strategist
Minnesota Community Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation

Have you heard about Minnesota Community Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation’s new web video series, Nonprofits to Know™? Like the work of Charities Review Council, the Foundations’ Nonprofits to Know™ series shines a spotlight on reputable nonprofits that are having a real impact in their communities.

Each 3-4 minute Nonprofits to Know™ video focuses on a nonprofit that is doing extraordinary work in Minnesota. The teams from the Foundations’ grants and program, development, and marketing and communications departments collaborate to identify the nonprofits we will feature. Charities Review Council has partnered with the Foundations to spread the word about these videos and will also use email and social media point out which featured nonprofits have completed the Accountability Wizard review process.

Here is the Nonprofits to Know™ video for the Project for Pride in Living, a Meets Standards organization:

When we create a video about a nonprofit, we see it as a great tool for the nonprofit to use in its own capacity building. We encourage each featured nonprofit to distribute the video through social media, email and its own website. The Foundations also help to distribute the video—posting it on our YouTube channel, creating links to it on our website and via social media, and emailing links to individuals in our network that we think would like to learn more about the work of the particular nonprofit. We’re also proud to be posting these videos complete with closed captioning for the hearing impaired.

Clearly, the nonprofits benefit from the video series—many of which have wanted to create videos but have been budget constrained to do so. But we believe that our Foundations also benefit from this initiative. The Nonprofits to Know™ series help us demonstrate our expertise in identifying nonprofits doing great work in the community, and we believe the videos help us create partnerships with donors, nonprofits and community leaders who want to do innovative and extraordinary work.

Here are other reviewed organizations that also have a Nonprofits to Know™ video:

Rebuilding Together
Store to Door
Jeremiah Program

Jeff Achen
Interactive Media Strategist
Minnesota Community Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation

Monday, April 11, 2011

Connecting with Your Roots in Volunteerism

Amy Sinykin
When starting my nonprofit career, I accidentally began working for a free medical clinic in Washington, DC. (By accidentally, I mean I picked the year-long volunteer stint via Lutheran Volunteer Corps because the executive director made me laugh AND I desperately wanted to live outside Minnesota.) That accident led to an experience as a volunteer coordinator. I was responsible for organizing and recruiting the volunteers that ensured the clinic could provide medical appointments to low-income or uninsured individuals. I LOVED it.

After a few months, I started wondering what I should do after my year was over. The next day, Paul and Jerry walked into the clinic. These two retired military men came each Tuesday night to help run the lab during clinic hours. They talked often that they liked their volunteer work at the clinic more than their Pentagon jobs. As I watched each of them grin with enjoyment over their volunteer work, suddenly I knew wherever I worked, I wanted to interact with volunteers—their passion, their energy, their spirit, their intent to make the world better.

Most recently, I’ve had the honor of reconnecting with my “roots” of volunteerism. And despite changing paths in my nonprofit career, I still value the impact volunteers have in my world. The volunteers that engage with the Charities Review Council are yet again more examples of committed, dedicated, engaged, spirited, and passionate individuals. I do not underestimate the impact that each and every one has had on my life, let alone the impact they’ve each had on their communities. It’s a powerful thing volunteerism.

So, in honor of National Volunteer Week (April 11 – 16, 2011), I’d like to highlight the Council’s dedicated volunteers. As volunteers did 20 + years ago, they make me wake up in the morning looking forward to my day.

If you know any of our volunteers OR someone who volunteers, please join me this week in giving them a high-five, a thank you, or a shout out.

“Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.” -David Thomas