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Calling all volunteers: Chicagoans connecting Chicagoans

October 28, 2009

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GiveBackChiSkills-based volunteerism is a buzzword these days. But what does it mean? More than just lingo, it involves individuals donating their time and professional skills to a nonprofit. As an example, someone who does PR can donate their services – either writing press releases or developing a communications policy – to a nonprofit that needs those services.

It’s different than people coming together to paint over graffiti or cleaning up trash near a river (although those volunteer experiences are valuable). It’s a targeted approach to volunteering. You use specific skills for a nonprofit that has specific needs.

So how do you do skills-based volunteerism? There are a number of ways. Organizations such as the Taproot Foundation specialize in matching nonprofits and volunteers. But an interesting new group in Chicago has sprouted up recently that is bringing together Chicagoans for Chicago nonprofits: Give Back Chicago.

Give Back Chicago has an all volunteer “board,” it gets sponsors from local small businesses (Buca di Beppo on Rush and Maui Wowi in the West Loop), and subsequently doesn’t have any overhead or fundraising needs.  The organization’s first event is Wednesday, November 4 and it will be a live skills auction to help match volunteers with nonprofits.

What Give Back Chicago needs:

Active volunteers (whether you are employed, unemployed, underemployed, or in transition) throughout Chicago who have the following expertise/skills:

  • Marketing
  • Graphic Design
  • Event Planning
  • Public Relations
  • Social Media
  • Information Technology
  • Office Administration

You can browse through the projects and nonprofits involved by visiting the group’s web site .

The auction will feature food donated by Buca di Beppo as well as a cash bar. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. ALL of the money collected will go to one of the nonprofits participating – selected through a random drawing.

Skills-based volunteering is great for anyone wanting to do it – but especially those who are unemployed or “under-employed.” These nonprofits have agreed, as a condition for signing up, that they are able to take in the volunteers and that they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for the volunteer, should the experience be positive for both parties.

So if you’ve been out of work for a while, this is a great way to meet new people, broaden your network, and update your resume. I’m encouraging all who are interested to RSVP today for the event by following this link.


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