By Yvonne Siu Turner, Senior Manager, Corporate Resources and Programs, Points of Light Corporate Institute
What do you get when you combine three passionate social entrepreneurs, Shel Silverstein’s “Giving Tree” and a generational gap in volunteering? You get AltruHelp, a Boston-based organization that is building a community online and offline to increase Millennial volunteerism and civic engagement.
“Sometimes people don’t realize they can use their skills to help communities. Through our Impact Networking™ Program and online technology, we create a space – virtual and physical-- for corporate professionals, university students and nonprofits to build social capital in a fun setting centered around civic engagement,” said Antoinne Machal-Cajigas, Co-Founder and COO of AltruHelp. “Just as Silverstein’s book taught me as a child, even when we think we have nothing left to give, there’s always something we can do to make a difference.”
At AltruHelp’s Impact Networking Events, nonprofits like Cradles to Crayons, Tech Goes Home, Animal Rescue League, Jumpstart and more run micro-volunteering stations, where groups of corporate and student volunteers can cycle through, provide targeted volunteer services, learn more about long-term engagement opportunities and form meaningful relationships with each other.
This approach is effective because AltruHelp’s Impact Networking™ Program is specifically designed to overcome traditional barriers to service by connecting Millennials to meaningful volunteer and professional development opportunities in a fun environment.
For many, the support they receive is game-changing.
“The AltruHelp event allowed Tech Goes Home the opportunity to network with a large group of savvy and engaged people. It was great to share our story and to have so many volunteers assist us in our mission to eliminate the digital divide. Happily, we now have several wonderful volunteers on board!” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Tech Goes Home, an initiative that provides under-served residents the tools needed for 21st century skills development. Two volunteers provided Tech Goes Home with legal advisory services and social media strategy support, saving Deb $2,000 and allowing her to spend limited funds on other key areas of her organization.
AltruHelp is focused on fixing the gap in Millennial volunteerism, as research has shown that national volunteer rates of Millennials (ages 16 to 29) have declined for several years. They found that Millennials are volunteering less due to 5 reasons:
1. Scheduling - For 85% of Millennials, not giving back is a result of time constraints. Volunteer opportunities that align with the busy schedules of students and young professionals are not easily found.
2. No Ask - For 45% of Millennials, simply not being asked is the main reason for not volunteering.
3. Compelling Mission - For those Millennials that do choose to volunteer, a compelling mission or cause is the greatest motivator.
4. Group Oriented - Millennials prefer group oriented volunteer activities where they can give back with friends, family and colleagues.
5. Professional Development - Millennials prefer methods of civic engagement that offer professional skill development, networking, and career/brand building opportunities.
By addressing each of these barriers on and offline, AltruHelp is re-engineering the way people give back and inspiring the next generation of leaders to catalyze change through service to their communities.
In 2012, AltruHelp’s Impact Networking Programs mobilized 300 volunteers who gave over 600 hours of service. While AltruHelp does track indicators like numbers of volunteers, service hours, nonprofits served, and tangible results from micro-volunteering activities, they will measure success by whether they can create a lasting culture of service.
“We recognized early on that technology alone wasn’t enough to help communities,” said Machal-Cajigas. “And traditional networking events were not effective for many Millennials. AltruHelp is re-engineering how people connect and volunteer by providing a fun space to increase community impact. It’s been remarkable. We love the fact that we can bring people together, inspire them to volunteer, and form meaningful connections while supporting the nonprofits in their communities.”
Congratulations to AltruHelp for taking the A Billion + Change pledge, for joining our Small Business Affinity Group, and for being one of the ten teams selected for the inaugural class of the Points of Light Civic Accelerator!
Photo caption: Volunteers making fleece blankets and toys for the sheltered cats and dogs of the Animal Rescue League.
Learn more about AltruHelp:
Originally posted February 19, 2013