Youth Volunteerism Spotlight: City Year

City Year

Anyone who is looking to perform volunteer work can find themselves lost in even knowing where to start. With so many options available, it is hard to know which ones deserve the extra attention. That being said, there is an organization that dedicates itself to educating the youth. City Year is an organization that takes and trains volunteers to go and "be" the support system for students who may not have one. These volunteers devote their time and efforts to encouraging students living in communities filled with poverty to get a good education. work hard and graduate. Tutoring is also offered free of charge for those who need it. Providing a solid education may be said to be the most effective way to give young people their best chance to lead a successful life. Helping these students through their schooling equips them to go out and get jobs for which they need a certain education.

Not only does City Year provide tutoring, they also offer the support that students may not receive at home or from their peers. The volunteers call and check in on their students and encourage them to go to school, study, etc. The volunteers also run after-school clubs, encouraging the students to get involved in something. They can engage with their school, community and work to learn about the world through their peers. Not only is City Year run nationwide in the United States, but they also have locations in London, England and Johannesburg, South Africa. And just about anyone can get involved! Students can participate and know they are changing someone else's life; and being a student allows them to better connect with the people they are helping. Former students are encouraged to get involved to provide the same support they have been given. City Year's main goal is to bridge the gap between having the resources to provide a good education to students and the support and encouragement needed to give students that extra push and motivation to succeed.

To learn more about City Year's over 20 locations in which to serve or to donate, visit their website

Youth Volunteerism Spotlight:

Getting involved and volunteering can take up a lot of time and effort. It is hard to decide what organization would be right for you when there are many options, especially for young people with so many activities and commitments competing for attention. Much research and time is required to identify organizations that allow you to get involved in a cause that you are both passionate about and stay within your time constraints. was established to solve just this dilemma, their motto being ,"Any cause, anytime, anywhere *mic drop." They invite young people to join and become part of a movement of 3.6 million of their peers. The website assists people in finding the best way to get involved in a good cause customized to fit their passions, time available and what type of work they would like to do; and provides some options they believe would work well.

For example, if you are passionate about animals, have an hour or less available to help a cause, and desire to make something, the site provides a list suggesting a number of charities including: Wildlife Cards, Justice for Elephants, and Happy Howlidays. These organizations, respectively, have volunteers send cards that thank wildlife rangers who protect endangered species; write a letter to a governor requesting him or her to ban the selling of ivory; and send cards encouraging people to adopt animals from shelters. These may require minimal effort and time, but something that may seem so small such as saying thanks to those who work hard to serve people or animals can mean a lot to those who dedicate their time and lives to doing the jobs that are not always easy.

Overall, is a relatively easy website to navigate; and, even if you do not choose the options the site provides for you, at a minimum it gives you a general idea of where to start given your personal passions and preferences. Thanks to for providing this service for young people looking for ways to get involved!

4 Summer Volunteering Ideas for Youth (or Any Age!)


Volunteering at any age allows for making connections with your community and helping to make it a better place. Wide-ranging benefits of dedicating time to volunteer include making new friends/contacts, increasing social and relationship skills, increasing self-confidence, reducing risk of depression, staying physically healthy, gaining career experience, and teaching valuable job skills. You may be thinking, "Where do I find volunteer opportunities?" According to, these opportunities can be found in community theaters, museums, libraries, senior centers, local animal shelters or wildlife centers, youth organizations, sports teams, places of worship, or online databases. Summer is just around the corner; a season when many teens seemingly find themselves without much to do. Why not look for a volunteer opportunity that interests you and make the time very worthwhile for yourself and others? We have provided 4 organizations below offering a variety of opportunities for teens and youth in which to participate. brings non-profits and volunteers together, making it easy for people to find organizations that focus on what interest them, such as those related to environment, animals, youth, etc., and those that are part of their local community. They have over 100,000 participating organizations, and have matched over 9,000,000 volunteers. For more information, visit


Teenlife provides listings of outside-the-classroom programs for life-enrichment aimed at teens. Some listing examples include summer programs for high school students, engineers, musicians, etc.; volunteer opportunities around the country; and other information geared toward young people. For more on their opportunities, see assists youth who want to make a difference find a cause they can participate in to help others. You can choose from a wide variety of "campaigns" aimed at creatively benefiting others, such as bringing dogs to campus so students taking exams can de-stress, collecting food outside a supermarket for the local food bank, or donating board games to the local family shelter. To view their many campaigns, see

United Planet

United Plant brings people together with organizations for short term or long term international volunteering. Projects include working with children and education programs, environmental groups, health professionals, etc. To learn more about these international serving opportunities, visit United Planet.

Happy volunteering!

Skills-Based Volunteerism, Part Three: Marathon

Skillful & Knowledgeable Volunteers


Marathon Skills-Based Volunteering refers to a pro-bono volunteer effort, much like a marathon, that lasts over a short time period but involves a high volume of work and deliverables. Generally, Marathon volunteering involves pooling together many employees, along with their skills and resources, over a 24-hour time period to deliver services, tools, training, etc.

Getting Help with Your Marathon Project

CreateAthon is a nonprofit that helps to organize marathon pro-bono volunteer events across the country aimed at supporting nonprofits and businesses partnering together to bring to life Marathon volunteer days. They help businesses target the skills and human resources that can be offered and identify nonprofits that would be proper recipients. Their model provides a framework and network of support, resources, and contacts to greatly assist a business in the process of setting up a successful Marathon event: "Because we want you to put all of your energy into the creative process, we've developed an easily repeatable process for organizing, hosting and leveraging your own marathon creative events and compiled this step-by-step process in our easy-to-follow Toolkit" (Who We Are). Their guidance and "Toolkit" have helped over 101 businesses deliver over 2500 Marathon projects.

Case Study: Fleishman Hillard

Utilizing their industry specific skills and knowledge in PR and marketing, Fleishman Hillard was able to help Kids Street International target their messages to reach a younger donor population. Kids Street International recognized that their donor population was aging and that they should try to grow their donor base to reach younger audiences, but they did not have a clear idea of how to do this. Fleishman Hillard conducted a Marathon pro-bono volunteer event that helped Kids Street International to target younger donors by utilizing images and messages that related the younger audience to the younger population served by Kids Street International. "By mirroring the very same target demographic that Street Kids International assists globally, we created a social media strategy that included Facebook post, Tweets, and an infographic" (Case Study: Fleishman Hillard).

Getting Involved

If you would like to learn more about partnering with a nonprofit and CreateAthon to run a successful Marathon pro-bono event, visit them online and request an information packet that fits your organization!

Young Volunteers Event: Global Youth Service Day, April 17-19th, 2015

2015 Global Youth Service Day

Global Youth Service Day is an event that is taking place this year, 2015, from April 17-19th. It seeks to celebrate the youth all over the world that work to make their communities a better place through their volunteerism. This day was established in 1988 and is sponsored and supported by major companies such as State Farm, Disney and American Express. It is the largest service event in the world, being celebrated in more than 135 countries every single year. This year again, First Lady Michelle Obama is serving as honorary chair.

On the event's website, there is information about the event, the event's history, a complete list of sponsors, and other interesting information. The homepage even allows an opportunity to get involved and tell your own story; or if you are not involved in a cause, you can click on their "Raise Your Voice" tab and look for volunteering opportunities

Millions of young people volunteer each year. Each person has their own reasoning for getting involved, but the one thing that they are all doing when they come together is making a difference. They may be making a small difference, or they may be making a large difference in someone else's life; but either way, they still continue to work hard and make their communities better and show they care about the world around them by taking action. When people come together, a small act can make a big difference. This event allows these volunteers to be recognized, encouraged, and thanked.

Congratulations to youth volunteers in another year of volunteering!

Volunteering for Kids: Key Tips on How Parents and Children Can Bond and Give Back

Parents & Children Volunteering

While schools provide important academic learning, supplemental education outside of the classroom can have a profound impact on a child’s personal growth and sense of morality. Volunteering is a great way to build and grow a child’s perspective on the world and their community. It also helps to instill values such as compassion, tolerance, gratitude and civic responsibility. Volunteering with your children can serve as a great opportunity for parents to spend time bonding with their children while giving back. Here are a few helpful tips and insights on getting started volunteering with your kids.

In order to motivate your children to volunteer, show them that you are excited not only about volunteering, but also about spending time with them. Once you have decided where to volunteer, explain what exactly you and your child will be doing so that they know what to expect, as well as how the work you will be doing together impacts individuals and your community. Providing a context for volunteering can help to dispel any reservations your child may have, as well as to understand their own concerns or desires in terms of volunteering.

Choosing the right volunteer opportunity is essential for volunteering with your children, as their abilities and interests will shape their experience. Consider your child’s interests and ask for their input. For example, if you know your child is passionate about animals, volunteering with the local Humane Society can be a great choice for volunteering. Intrinsic motivation is important for finding meaning in giving back, and for children, their interests and passions are often sources of motivation and interest for volunteering. Keeping a child engaged will be important during your volunteering, so ensuring that the work they are doing is something that interests them is very important.

Do not lose sight of your own interests and passions, as children learn by example from their parents. When you are genuinely excited and interested in something, your children notice and learn from that. Leading by example is a great way to teach children about civic responsibility; if you are obviously not interested in a certain volunteer opportunity or project, your child will notice. Finding a volunteering opportunity that fits well with both your child’s interests and your own provides a backdrop for a fun and rewarding experience for you and your child.

Another important thing to consider is your child’s abilities and age. Volunteering opportunities and projects can vary greatly in terms of physical and mental abilities required. Different opportunities may be better suited to different age groups. If you find an organization or opportunity that seems like a good fit for your child’s interests, but you are questioning if the work may fit their abilities, don’t write off that opportunity. Simply calling the volunteer organizer at the charitable organization or project of choice can help to answer any questions you have about volunteering. They can provide more information on whether the work required may or may not fit your child’s abilities, or if there are certain tasks with which your child can help. If your child is older, consider how their abilities may supersede the tasks required of a certain volunteering opportunity, and if they would better benefit from more complex tasks or self-guided volunteering. If your child does not feel adequate or helpful, it can really put a damper on your volunteering experience. In the same vein, if your pre-teen or teenager feels bored during their volunteering, that can also drive them away from fully engaging and investing themselves in their efforts.

As busy parents, finding time to volunteer can seem burdensome with all of your other responsibilities; however, it does not have to be this way. Remember that volunteering is a way to spend time with your kids and teach them important morals and values. If you have a busy month ahead, and you cannot imagine volunteering on top of everything else on your "to-do" list, do not write it off completely, but also do not stress yourself about forcing it on the schedule. Sometimes you just cannot make it work, and that is okay; you do not want to taint what could be, or what has been, a great experience volunteering. If you are too tired, or too busy, that is okay; listen to yourself, take care of your responsibilities, and when you are feeling less stressed and busy, you can go back to a consistent volunteering schedule with your children in bright spirits.

If you are really eager to volunteer during a stressful and busy time, such as the Holiday Season, consider how you can turn a "to-do" list item into a volunteering opportunity. For example, if you are still busily shopping for Christmas gifts, you may want to take your kids along to purchase items to use in care packages for deployed soldiers. If you are going to be baking cookies for the holidays, or other sweet treats, consider baking several extra batches to be used for a bake sale. Check out No Kid Hungry to learn about how bake sales can contribute to fighting hunger in America, along with helpful tips on holding a successful bake sale.

Finally, consider if you want to volunteer with one project or charitable organization consistently, or volunteer on a variety of projects with a variety of organizations. Choosing a varied approach toward where to volunteer can also help you and your child determine which opportunities you enjoyed most, and which were less enjoyable or just not suited to you and your child’s interests and abilities. Regardless of whether you want to hop around to different opportunities, or volunteer consistently with one organization, try to set some goals with regard to how much and how often you volunteer. For example, if you and your child decide to work at a local food bank, will you work there every week for one hour, or every other week for two hours? If you want to experiment with different opportunities, you could set a goal of volunteering at two different organizations each month for at least two hours at each opportunity.

Get started looking into volunteering with your children today, so you can be spending time volunteering with them soon! Several websites are listed below, which can provide great tools in searching for volunteering opportunities in your area, or ideas about self-starting charitable projects:

The United Way Foundation

Skills-Based Volunteerism, Part 2: Functional Coaching and Mentoring

Skillful & Knowledgeable Volunteers

Functional Coaching and Mentoring

Function coaching and mentoring can be defined as a for-profit business lending its employees to mentor and teach nonprofit partners essential skills and functional expertise. Does your company have individuals with expertise in change management, leadership development, or simply a knack for motivating others? If so, Functional Coaching and Mentoring may be an ideal route to go with for a Skills-Based Volunteering (SBV) program.

Functional Coaching and Mentoring Programs can focus on things like:

  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Transformational leadership
  • Change management
  • Assessing and utilizing organization/community assets
  • Strengths-based leadership
  • Working in groups and teams

The examples below show how businesses can provide coaching and mentoring to nonprofit partners, leaders of change, or groups that do mission-driven work.

Gap Inc. Leadership Initiative

In 2009, Gap launched their Gap Inc. Leadership Initiative, partnering with 25 nonprofit organizations each year to help leaders at these organizations learn skills to better manage their limited resources and manpower, and leverage their assets to create the most significant benefits for the communities they serve. Nonprofit leaders benefit from intensive learning workshops focused on a variety of things to increase partner skills, capacities, and effectiveness. Examples include: visionary leadership, staff development, and change management.

The mentoring Gap provides to its community partners is based on the leadership tools originally designed for training Gap Inc. executives. Their program is unique in that the mentoring provided is adapted to fit the needs of each individual community partner. "Moreover, the continuous nature of the relationships built between Gap Inc. leaders and the nonprofit program participants allows for a constant exchange of information and ideas in the context of a formal program" (Making Pro-Bono Work: 8 Proven Models for Community and Business Impact).

New York Needs You: Career Coaches

You do not have to create a program to get your employees involved in skills-based volunteering; there are many organizations that already employ volunteers for their specific skills, knowledge, and areas of expertise. New York Needs You (NYNY) offers a career-coaching program for college students across the city. Their "Fellow's Program Saturday Workshops" are a series of workshops where volunteer career coaches (professionals from a variety of disciplines and professional backgrounds) lead a structured career development curriculum for "Fellows," all first-generation college students.

Another opportunity for professionals to lend their specific knowledge and skills is through the Career Development Program (CDP) "Industry Insiders" Weeknight Seminars, where Career Coaches can teach students from community colleges about various routes to starting and securing a professional job and building a successful career. NYNY even offers their volunteers opportunities to contribute to young-adults professional development, without leaving the comfort of their homes. For their Technology Initiative's Online Program, "Career Coaches are part of an online pilot program to virtually help students with internship/job searches, resume review, and mock interviews."

Skills-Based Volunteerism, Part 1

Skillful & Knowledgeable Volunteers

What is Skills Based Volunteerism?

Put simply, skills-based volunteerism is when an organization utilizes volunteers for their specific and unique talents, skills and knowledge. Skills-based volunteerism is often compared to pro-bono services and consulting. Philanthropic causes, events, programs or initiatives can reap great rewards by skilled volunteers contributing tools, knowledge, and resources that can help to increase the impact and scale of a cause; refine internal standard operating procedures; implement tools and technology to streamline an organization's functions; and much more. Skills-based volunteerism is a rapidly growing strategy for improving volunteer engagement. According to the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy's Giving in Numbers: 2014, businesses employing pro-bono/skills based volunteerism has increased from 30% to over 50% in six years.

When done right, skills-based volunteerism has significant long-term benefits for the nonprofits and organizations or programs employing this strategy. Taproot Foundation's guide, Making Pro-Bono Work: 8 Proven Models for Community and Business Impact, states, "The true value of pro bono service is its ability to deliver to nonprofit organizations the powerful resources that help make private sector businesses successful." It also increases volunteer retention. When volunteers are able to more readily realize how their work and contributions are making a difference, they are more likely to continue to volunteer. Continued volunteerism allows for volunteers to foster deeper relationships and bonds with the organization with which they work, and deeper commitment to the organization's purpose.

Types of Skills-Based Volunteerism

Part 1: Loaned Employee

A loaned employee is when a company grants an employee a sanctioned and compensated leave of absence to pursue skills-based/pro-bono volunteerism for a mission-driven organization, project, etc.

Loaned employees can offer their skills and expertise for a variety of things, such as:

  • Creating strategic models aimed at improving a program's impact and scale
  • Streamlining organizational operating procedures to improve efficiency
  • Leading trainings to teach non-profit employees new skills (e.g. book-keeping or budgeting) and competencies (e.g. using CRM software)
  • Providing executive oversight on a project.

Many successful loaned employee programs deploy more than a single employee to do SBV for a non-profit, as you will notice from the two examples below.

Example 1: IBM's Corporate Service Corps

IBM's Corporate Service Corps is pro-bono volunteerism program that sends out 500 "IBMers" each year to take part in 6-month long community-engagement projects that provide assistance to local governments and community organizations. The program helps communities around the world to solve critical problems while providing IBM employees unique leadership development opportunities. By sending groups of 10-15 individuals to different countries for community-based assignments in emerging markets, the program has helped over 140,000 people since its inception.

Example 2: Pfizer, Inc. Global Health Fellows Program

Pfizer is an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation that established their Global Health Fellows Program in 2002. The program places Pfizer colleagues and teams on 3-6 month assignments with leading international development organizations. Global Health fellows contribute their skills toward improving health outcomes in underserved areas in the U.S. and abroad, transferring "their professional medical and business expertise in ways that promote access, quality and efficiency of health services for people in greatest need" ("Global Health Fellows: Overview").

Giva Student Scholarship Winner Essay: Shila Vardell - Interview With an Inspiring Fellow Volunteer

Volunteer & Take Action

Shila Vardell, Giva Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award Winner, presents an inspiring interview with a young fellow volunteer.

Q: How long have you been volunteering?

A: It has been about 2 years now.

Q: What made you decide to volunteer to help me feed and cloth the homeless?

A: At the time, I was hanging out with the wrong kind of people. I was 13 and my friends were influencing me to drink and do drugs with them. Not only that, but they were also trying to get me to join a gang they were involved in. I felt like they were my only real friends, and I could not find an escape. I went from getting all "A"s in school to getting "D"s and "F"s. My parents were extremely disappointed in me, and that is what hurt the most. I knew that I needed to make changes in my life, or I was going to end up on the wrong path. I thought that maybe helping you and being around the right people would help me make that change.

Q: Have you gotten involved in any other type of volunteering?

A: Yes, I recently started going to church, and they have a lot of volunteering options. They offer free meals to the homeless during certain times of the year, and I have been helping with that. Basically, we make meals at the church, and homeless people come in and we serve them. It is hard during this time of year because it is so cold and rainy, so I think homeless people have a hard time getting to us. I have expressed this to the church, and they are considering taking the food to the people. I think I could really help my church with this part because I know where all of the homeless stay since you and I have been traveling to them for so long.

Q: Do you think you will continue to volunteer?

A: Yes, volunteering has really changed my life. I have met so many great people that I would never have had the chance to meet if I continued to hang out with the people I was hanging out with. Volunteering also gives me something to do with my free time. Instead of going out and doing things I should not be doing, I spend my time being helpful. I know that my help is appreciated, so I enjoy it.

Q: Have you influenced anyone to volunteer?

A: Yes, I have a sister who is one year younger than me, and she was falling into the same trap that I was. She was hanging out with the wrong people and getting into trouble at school. I told her that I knew so many people in gangs and only two things come out of that kind of life: death or jail. She knew it too, but when you do not have many friends, you just want to have people around. Unfortunately for us, the neighborhood we live in is full of gang activity, so most of the people around us are in gangs. The only real time I am out of that environment is when I am volunteering. One day I finally got her to come with me to feed the homeless, and she really liked it. Being around inspirational people is a really good feeling for us.

Q: Where do you think you would be if you never started volunteering?

A: I would definitely be in a gang. When you hang out with the people that I was hanging out with, that is your only choice. Now that I am out of that scene, I can see how it all works. Gang members befriend young people who do not have many friends. They get you to be on their side and get really close to you, almost like family. Next thing you know, you are in a gang and there is no way out.

Q: Do you see yourself starting your own volunteering organization in the future?

A: Honestly, I think when I am in college or maybe a little older I might actually do something like that. I want to help people that same way that I was helped. I have a passion for animals, so I think that I will start some kind of animal rescue center and recruit volunteers to help me.


There are countless ways and means to volunteer. We at Giva encourage everyone to think about how they would like to make a difference in their world. Even one small act can make a huge difference in somebody's life.

United Nations' Views on CSR

United Nations Volunteerism

Large and multinational enterprises are in a unique position to address many of the world's challenges. Their global reach and access to a variety of resources make them an important partner in an evolving global landscape. The United Nations (UN) has recognized this trend and has taken a variety of steps to inform large enterprises of their potential impact on the global community. Recently, a 2011 UN study on the State of the World's Volunteerism shed some light on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the private sector. The study concluded that corporate volunteering and ethical governance have the power to improve social cohesion and address many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Understanding the significant impact of the private sector on communities around the globe the United Nations established the UN Global Compact, a forum designed to align the values of several of the world's largest companies. Accounts of activities within this forum highlight the significant role CSR can play in the contemporary global economy. The United Nations has recognized a number of goals it would like to achieve by the end of this century. It has also recognized some important partners in ensuring these goals are accomplished.

As previously mentioned, The United Nations Global Compact is the hallmark of the UN's policy on CSR. It is a partnership that commits companies to pursue policies of ethical governance by agreeing to certain principles. All members are required to report their positions on a variety of topics from human rights and labor practices to environmental sustainability and corruption. The Compact has allowed companies to introspectively consider the impact of their policies throughout their supply chains. Recently, it has also begun to encourage companies to pursue some MDGs, and companies have already begun to undertake these initiatives. Their work is an affirmation of the power of skills-based volunteering and a sign of the growing importance of the Compact.

One of the companies currently helping the UN with MDG 7 (Environmental Sustainability) and featured prominently in the aforementioned study is SUEZ, the French-based industrial utilities provider. It has established a corporate volunteering program that takes advantage of its employee engineering expertise. The company has formed two groups; Aquassistance and Energy Assistance. Aquassistance volunteers have carried out waste management assessments around the globe in countries like Albania, Niger, Senegal and Guinea Bissaul. Energy Assistance volunteers have assessed power distribution in Honduras, conducted an analysis of pollution in the Galapagos Islands, and performed a review of an electrical plant in East Timor. The work of SUEZ employees is ensuring that all areas of the globe are subject to the rigorous environmental analyses they deserve. They continue to provide areas with a standard for environmental sustainability.

The SUEZ partnership and others like it are exemplary of an increasingly important trend in CSR: International volunteer initiatives. Multinational companies are attempting to help a broad range of communities and earn an international reputation for corporate responsibility.


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