How to support a nonprofit organization – Long Island Business News

When you volunteer your time and talents to help a nonprofit organization, the organization and its clients are not the only beneficiaries.

By serving as a board or committee member, volunteering at an event or organizing a fundraiser for a local organization, you can make important contacts in the community that could help further your career as well as build goodwill among your customer base. But perhaps most importantly, dedicating your time and energy to a cause that is meaningful to you can be personally rewarding.

Since the Great Recession, many nonprofits have seen demand for their services soar just as monetary support from government agencies and private donors has fallen. More than ever, local organizations need community members to step up and assist them in a variety of capacities.

If you are looking to lend your support, first do some soul-searching about which causes you care about. Many volunteers choose to support a cause that affects them or a loved one personally. For instance, if they have a child with diabetes or a developmental disability, or they lost a parent or friend to breast cancer, they may choose to get behind an organization that funds research for a cure or provides services to improve the lives of those living with the particular disease or disability.

Others look for causes that appeal to their interests. For instance, animal lovers often turn their charitable efforts to helping pet shelters, arts lovers may get involved in a program that seeks to broaden access to art or music to all members of the community and the athletic-minded may choose an organization that provides sports opportunities for underprivileged or disabled children.

If you don’t have a strong specific interest, you may look to support a broader cause, such as organizations that serve seniors, veterans or children or those that provide relief for the hungry, the homeless or individuals impacted by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey.

Once you have a cause in mind, you can start searching for an organization. In order to maximize the impact of your efforts, look for a nonprofit that is well managed. Several third-party organizations, including Charity Navigator, GuideStar and the New York Philanthropic Advisory Service of the Better Business Bureau, rate charities on various criteria. Further, search the internet to see what has been written about those charities that interest you, to get a feel for their reputation in the community.

Organizations such as the Long Island Volunteer Center match charities with volunteers. The organization lists hundreds of local organizations and local chapters of national organizations on its website.

While the websites of some nonprofits may list what kind of help they need, many organizations don’t have the manpower to keep their sites updated. If an organization interests you, place a call to find out how you can get involved. By starting out small – such as volunteering at an event – you can get a feel for what the organization is all about. As you and the group get to know each other, you may step up your involvement to serve on a committee that matches your interest or expertise, and perhaps even serve the organization as a board member.

Nonprofits rely on their board members to provide guidance in running the organization and introducing best practices from their varied experiences. As cash-strapped nonprofits have had to cut staff counts, they are turning more to volunteers to help out in professional areas such as accounting, marketing or information technology. This translates to more opportunities for professionals to contribute higher levels of talent and expertise to important causes.

Source: LIBN

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