Aug. 12, 2021 4:39 pm

Do nonprofit employees volunteer at organizations they don’t work for?

In our Generocity community, the answer to that is a resounding "yes." Four local nonprofit professionals share examples of how — and why — they volunteer.

Sophia Barrett and her dog Teddy volunteer with Crisis Response Canines.

(Courtesy photo)

We get lots of photos from for-profit companies showing us their employees doing volunteer work at schools, parks and nonprofits across the region. We get exactly zero photos from nonprofits showing us their employees volunteering somewhere other than their own organization.

We wondered if nonprofits orgs are just really terrible at PR … or if the employees of nonprofits, unlike their for-profit peers, don’t volunteer during their off hours?

So, via our daily newsletter, we asked our community, point blank: do you volunteer on your time off?

Turns out that everyone who responded does, indeed, volunteer — many of them regularly, and in deeply impactful ways.

Teddy in Surfside, Fla.

“I volunteer with Crisis Response Canines with my dog, Teddy,” Sophia Barrett told Generocity. “CRC responds to severe crisis environments around the country, and our dogs provide psychological first aid. Most recently, Teddy and I volunteered for several weeks in Surfside, Florida providing emotional support to the community and first responders in the wake of the building collapse.

“I volunteer because it is an honor and feels good to bring a small bit of joy to someone experiencing unthinkable trauma. I also love being able to volunteer with my dog. It has bonded us even more, and I love knowing I am giving him a fulfilling life of love and giving back.

“My actual job is in suicide prevention, specifically mental wellness for college students,” Barrett added. “Both of these causes live in a pretty similar world, and I have the opportunity to spread Reflect‘s mission through my volunteer work.”

One respondent, who asked not to be named, said: “I’ve volunteered my entire professional life, both while I was in nonprofit and now in government. Having a side hustle doing something outside of my training helps give my brain a break. I’ve volunteered doing taxes with Working Families Coalition, meal prep at MANNA, and supporting fundraising with Women’s Medical Fund. During COVID, I was volunteer-matched with Compassion Care Hospice and am writing biographies remotely. All of the ‘outside of work’ is actually what gives me the energy to go back to the daily work that I’m paid for.”

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The Welcoming Center‘s Ben Goebel told us he volunteers at a number of organizations.

Ben Goebel.

“I am a member of I Belong, a group made of volunteer immigrants organizing events and initiatives to promote immigrants and immigrant cultures,” he wrote. “I also volunteer with SEAMAAC. They offer a lot of opportunities that are a different way to get involved in the community with services that are not offered by my organization. I have participated in their Hunger Relief program and also with their voter registration and canvassing for Election Day. I have also been volunteering with the Spruce Foundation, reviewing grant applications in their grant committee and I am on a few boards.”

“It definitely feels good to volunteer and it’s also a great way to meet new people who are doing great things in Philadelphia,” he added. “And in many ways it helps promote my own organization and increase its visibility!”

Danielle Selber.

Tribe 12‘s Danielle Selber also works fulltime at a nonprofit and volunteers in her free time.

“The bulk of my time is spent volunteering for Emily’s Entourage (Philly-based cystic fibrosis research foundation) where I was head of a gala committee since around 2015, and in 2018 I joined the board of directors,” she wrote. “Some weeks there is nothing to help with, some weeks it’s like a second job!”

“In general I look for things where I can take on a specific, timebound project that has a potential for high impact (for example, planning and writing content for a social media campaign or editing/writing grants). Most other things I do are a one-time thing.”


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