When it comes to community engagement, companies have the power to bring positive and measurable change to the cities, towns and neighborhoods where they do business.

 

In addition to providing an opportunity to create lasting impact in local communities, volunteering helps people build new relationships, boost interpersonal skills and gain valuable leadership experience that will have a positive effect on professional development.

 

Meet United Way of Central Carolinas’ volunteer management team members who are helping companies across the Charlotte region make a difference personally and professionally through volunteerism.

 

 

Bob Young

Director of Volunteer Strategy and Planning, United Way of Central Carolinas

 

What’s it like helping companies and/or organizations reach their corporate social responsibility goals through volunteerism?

 

I think United Way’s role in the volunteer space is very interesting.  On the one hand, we create projects, events and other service opportunities that almost always benefit nonprofit agencies other than United Way. On the other hand, we direct the volunteer efforts of non-United Way actors, whether individuals or companies. We’re like traffic cops at the intersection of need and resource, helping everybody get to where they need to go.

 

How have you seen volunteerism change over the years?

 

I’ve been active in volunteering and volunteer management for almost 20 years. The primary changes I’ve seen are in the areas of recruitment and communication. There are so many online resources available now for agencies to promote their service opportunities and for volunteers to find those projects. In that way, volunteering has never been more accessible. What hasn’t changed is that commitment is the No. 1 determinant of effectiveness. If you truly want to make a difference in our community as a volunteer, you need dedication that goes beyond a single project.

 

What has been your favorite United Way volunteer project or initiative to work on?

 

Of all the volunteer events I have the good fortune to work on, I think the Charlotte Playground Build is my favorite. It takes a lot of planning, hard work and creativity to put together an event that engages more than 200 volunteers to build a playground for an under-served school in a single day. But I’m lucky to have the support of a veteran planning committee that helps manage the details. Plus, seeing the kids come out to cheer on and thank all the volunteers during the day is incredibly rewarding.

 

What is your favorite way to give back outside of your role with United Way?

 

It’s funny, but outside of donating platelets every couple of months, I don’t physically volunteer as much as I used to. There are many causes and nonprofit agencies whose work I feel strongly about, however, so these days I write a lot of checks.

 

 

Autumn McCarver

Volunteer Engagement Manager, United Way of Central Carolinas

 

What’s it like helping companies and/or organizations reach their corporate social responsibility goals through volunteerism?

 

It’s been really great connecting with corporate partners and seeing how excited and passionate these professionals are towards giving back. Most corporations have been volunteering for a long time, however, for many corporations being able to use the skills they have to make a deep impact is new and exciting. These corporations are making long-lasting impact for many nonprofits.

 

How have you seen volunteerism change over the years?

 

When I started in volunteerism 15 years ago, volunteers preferred long-term opportunities where they would stay for years. Now, most volunteers are looking for short-term projects with end dates and deep impact. The big trend right now is skills-based volunteering, where volunteers who have skills and experience in specific fields are paired with an organization to help fulfill professional needs.

 

What has been your favorite United Way volunteer project or initiative to work on?

 

My favorite project thus far is the MLK Call to Service. To have so many wonderful volunteers in one place really gives an energy that you cannot always combine in one project.

 

What is your favorite way to give back outside of your role with United Way?

 

I am on the board of Youth Outright and I give back wherever possible. I love supporting my community and nonprofits that are working so hard.