Since Hands On Charlotte created our first calendar volunteer projects in the spring of 1991, back when we mailed a monthly newsletter to people’s homes and signed up for projects with a phone call, we have worked with a generation of individuals who were seeking to offer their time and talents to help address our community’s most pressing issues. Over the years we have built opportunities for, and then been witnesses to, an uncountable number of acts of kindness and generosity.
And we’ve also been witnesses to change. In the nonprofit world particularly, change is the great constant. We must adapt what we do, how we do it and where we do it to remain relevant to both volunteers and partner agencies, and to remain financially viable. We must make those adjustments while also staying true to our mission – inspiring and engaging volunteers to address our community’s most critical issues. Now, we are adapting once again.
United Way of Central Carolinas, of which Hands On Charlotte has been the volunteer engagement arm, is shifting the model of individual volunteer engagement from the traditional calendar program. The new approach will help build connections that pair individual volunteers with one of our United Way partner agencies for meaningful, long-term service opportunities.
These are not “done in a day” projects. Rather, they leverage the skills and knowledge of individuals – in fields like process improvement, information technology, human resources, etc. – to help build up the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit agencies over the course of weeks or months.
This shift supports United Way’s intention, shared earlier this year, to align all programs to focus on two core objectives – leading community impact work to address the lack of economic mobility in our region and generating revenue that supports impact initiatives. Moving forward, we will take a more targeted approach by focusing on skills-based volunteerism as described above, as well as corporate volunteerism and special community events like MLK Call to Service and Hands On Charlotte Day.
So what is next for you, our volunteers?
The calendar projects will wind down between now and the end of June, with each project on its own timeline depending on the needs of our agency partners. Hands On Charlotte volunteer accounts will also be available until June 30, so those who need to have a record of their volunteer time should log in and print out their attendance information.
After that, our sincerest hope is that this change does not mark the end of your volunteer journey. We hope that you seek out options to redirect the motivation and energy that brought you to Hands On Charlotte toward additional service opportunities in our community.
We are encouraging several of our partner agencies to continue to offer regular volunteer projects, and we’re providing them with resources to help them do so. And, of course, we hope you continue to get involved with United Way’s volunteer programming.
Finally, let us express our deep appreciation for everyone who has been part of the Hands On Charlotte family for 29 years. To our staff, board of directors and committee members, volunteer leaders, corporate volunteers, agency contacts and to you, thank you for your support, for your efforts and for your inspiration. We’ve done good, people. But there’s still much more to be done.
Visit the United Way website to learn more about upcoming volunteer opportunities.
For individual volunteer projects, visit our partner Share Charlotte for a list of opportunities.