While no two projects will be the same, successful projects will share a few common practices. We encourage you to incorporate the following elements into your service project:
- Create a team with your friends and neighbors to share the effort;
- Set outcome-based goals and track your progress to those goals;
- Celebrate your successes together.
The Challenge: Many community-based organizations do not have enough capacity to manage a large number of volunteers, so they need you to organize yourself in coordination with them. This tool kit is designed to either help you organize a group and be a positive addition to a community-based organization, or, if such an organization does not exist, to be a well-organized independently-run group that fills a needed gap in the community.
A step by step guide to getting started and executing service activities follows. Please let us know how your project goes and what you learn by telling your story at Serve.gov.
Step One: Identify Local Partners
Check out the organizations already doing good work in your area. Many existing service groups have identified community needs and built the expertise to provide solutions.
- Call or visit the websites of national and local energy and environmental groups and ask how volunteers can contribute. Examples could be your state's energy office, your local utility company, The Alliance to Save Energy, The Department of Energy, and the Sierra Club.
- Get a guide to finding local partners.
- If no environmental organizations exist in your community, you have all the tools needed to start an auditing team. Information on how to perform an audit can be found at the Department of Energy's website.
- If you want to learn more about saving energy, a simple internet search on energy efficiency will bring tons of resources and information on how you can save energy.
- You can also contact your local home improvement store like Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-Mart, etc. to find out about information and products they offer to help you save money in your home.
Step Two: Build a Team
Teams can help share the work, motivate members and hold each other accountable. Teams build community. Ask your family, friends, colleagues, faith group members, book club devotees to serve with you.
- Host a house meeting or pot luck to choose a project, set goals, recruit volunteers and plan next steps.
- Get a guide for hosting a house meeting.
- Register your service activities on www.Serve.gov to recruit volunteers.
Step Three: Set a Goal
Set a service goal and hold yourself accountable. Commit as individuals and as a team to reducing carbon emissions by a certain amount and audit a certain number of homes. Set your goals high to stretch yourself. Then keep track of how you are doing and designate someone to be responsible for updating the group on how you are progressing toward your goals. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do when you commit, focus, and follow through.
Step Four: Serve Your Community
The key to effective service is planning. Organize your materials, make confirmation calls and, if you have time, read supplemental materials before you volunteer.
- Reach out to your neighbors and colleagues, to reduce carbon footprints.
- Get a tip sheet for your service activity.
Step Five: Report and Celebrate Successes
Your team members, the community, and the President want to know about your successes and hear your stories. Share your accomplishments by reporting your results. We will highlight the best stories throughout the year. Tell us about your successes and what you have learned, or just tell your story of service at Serve.gov