Have questions? We have answers! Below you’ll find a wide array of frequently asked questions and our expert answers on the subject. If your question is not listed, please feel free to contact us.
The Annual Giving Guide is published once a year in late summer, so it is a static document that includes opportunities for about one-third of the agencies listed on the Giving DuPage website. It is a snapshot and provides an introduction to volunteering in DuPage County. The website lists the most current opportunities, and the interactive search mechanism makes it easier to find an opportunity that aligns with your availability. Registering on the Giving DuPage website also provides you with a way to track your volunteer activity and hours.
While students are very busy these days, and parents often jump in to help them find volunteer hours, it is recommended that the student find his/her own opportunity. We have the most technologically astute students in history, so they can easily navigate the Giving DuPage website to find opportunities that are interesting and accessible to them. Once they find the opportunities, they can register on the website. Parents of children under 18 should be available to approve the opportunity selected by the student, but the research should definitely be conducted by the student or by the student and parents together. There is a much greater commitment and sense of accomplishment when students do the legwork themselves.
There are very few organizations in our community that can accommodate a group that large. Outdoor projects can oftentimes be a good way to get a large group involved, but it is weather-dependent. You can select a few projects in the community and split the group among the projects, but know that when you commit to volunteer, the non-profit organization is counting on you to follow-through and be there with the number of people you have committed to bringing with you.
Much like kitchen table volunteerism, business/church/school groups can participate in conference room or cafeteria volunteerism, and members of the groups can take part in projects (see above under family volunteerism) that can then be delivered to an agency in need. Or collect items like paper products, toiletries, etc. that can then be delivered to food pantries, food banks or organizations serving the military. A core of volunteers can be involved in the delivery of the items, but the entire group can participate in the office/church hall/school cafeteria in the collection or creation of the items.
As always, finding a project that addresses a cause that is close to the heart of the participants is key to active involvement, and ongoing volunteerism for one non-profit organization helps members of the church/business/school understand the mission of the organization more deeply. One-time or episodic volunteering does not engender that relationship.
Please know that many of our local organizations do not provide opportunities for those completing community service hours. Even among those that will work with community service, there are certain offenses that agencies cannot accept, and this is mainly because they serve a vulnerable client population. A good place to begin when searching for community service opportunities is the Giving DuPage website. Those agencies that are willing to provide opportunities for community service have indicated this on the site, and you can register for the opportunity directly from the website. Be upfront with the agency about your offense and how many hours are needed.
Giving back as a family is a fantastic way to create a culture of giving, and it is typically a positive bonding experience for every one in the family. The challenge is finding organizations that can accept young volunteers. Here are a few ideas:
- Community clean-ups are great projects for families. Working through your local park district or the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County to learn about their Helping Hands days is a wonderful way to begin.
- Collection activities also work really well with young children. Ask your children to go through their books and donate those that they no longer read, go through their closets for gently used closed that they don’t need anymore or find toys they could clean and donate and then visit local organizations with the children to deliver these items.
- Another activity might be baking cookies and delivering them to a PADS site (with the permission of the hosting church). We also encourage “kitchen table volunteerism”, which involves sitting around the kitchen table with your children and completing a project that can then be delivered to an agency. Examples of this might be writing letters to those serving our country in the military, or making valentines for those in a nursing home or in a hospital. On Martin Luther King Day, children in the community made Build-A-Bear®s from kits and they were donated to the pediatric unit at Central DuPage Hospital. These kits can be purchased at various stores in the community.
- These are just a few ideas. Think about what’s important to your family and create projects that align with those values.
The first step is thinking about what causes are close to your heart. Is it hunger or homeless animals or literacy or one of 20 different causes that are listed on the website? Once you identify what you are passionate about, you can search for agencies in our community that target that cause. You can search for opportunities by cause, location or specific agency. You can even register for the opportunity on the Giving DuPage website, but feel free to visit the respective agency’s website and learn more about what they do. Most agencies have specific times and opportunities for volunteers.