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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Serve.gov?

A: Serve.gov is a comprehensive clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities. Americans who are interested in volunteering can use this tool to locate opportunities to serve across the country and around the world. Serve.gov is managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Q: What is the Corporation for National and Community Service?

A: The Corporation for National and Community Service is the federal agency that improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. As the nation's largest grant maker in support of service and volunteering, the Corporation engages four million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities each year through the Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, VISTA, NCCC, and Learn and Serve America programs. Participants in Corporation programs and the community volunteers they help coordinate enable thousands of national and local nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, schools, and municipal agencies to solve tough problems and meet local needs in education, the environment, public safety, disaster response, and other critical areas. For more information, please visit NationalService.gov.

Q: What is United We Serve?

A: United We Serve is a nationwide service initiative that will help meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn. With the knowledge that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things when given the proper tools, President Obama is asking us to come together to help lay a new foundation for growth. This initiative aims to both expand the impact of existing organizations by engaging new volunteers in their work and encourage volunteers to develop their own "do-it-yourself" projects with friends, family, and neighbors.

Q: How can I participate in United We Serve?

A: There are as many ways to join United We Serve as there are needs in our communities. If you’re already doing service, post your opportunities at Serve.gov so others can join your efforts. If you’re new to service, search for volunteer opportunities in your area or download one of our easy-to-use toolkits and develop your own project with friends, family, and neighbors.

Q: What if the service projects my organization is already doing this summer don’t fit into the summer’s priority issue areas? Does my service "count"?

A: Absolutely. Whether you and your friends are organizing a food drive for your local soup kitchen or you have mentored a child every week for the last ten years, you are part of our movement. Tell us what you’re doing and what you’ve learned. Post your projects and share your stories at Serve.gov.

Q: I called a local organization and was told that volunteers are not needed. What should I do?

A: Not all community organizations have the capacity to train and manage new volunteers. Take a leadership role. Download one of our "do-it-yourself" toolkits and follow the steps to identify local needs and find partners who can help. You don’t have to work alone. Host a house meeting and create your own service team - click here to get started. And be sure to register your project at Serve.gov to find additional volunteers.

Q: I’ve volunteered before but I didn’t feel like my time was very effective. How do I know I’m making a difference?

A: President Obama knows that volunteering is not simply a nice thing to do, but, rather, it is critical to rebuilding our communities. He is asking us to devote our time to impactful and measurable service. The projects promoted on Serve.gov and by partner organizations have tangible outcomes. If you spend three hours a week reading to a child, you should know that (s)he is then twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading. If you are working to secure food donations for a local soup kitchen you should know that you have directly provided three meals to hungry individuals. Set goals based on these outcomes and track your results. You will be amazed at the impact you can make this summer.

Q: What’s the best way to get connected with other people in my community?

A: When using the search function at Serve.gov, search by either keyword or location (or both). The listings that populate will include community service opportunities projects in and around your location. Most specific opportunities will include contact information for a local organizer. You can also contact your local chapters of our major service partners and ask how they are participating in United We Serve. Or, if you are organizing a "do-it-yourself" project, be sure to post it at Serve.gov so other people can find you.

Q: What if I see other projects on Serve.gov in my area that are addressing the very same issue and might be duplicating efforts?

A: Try to find ways to collaborate with each other in new, creative ways and bring shared resources to bear on the issue at hand. One of the goals of United We Serve is to foster partnerships on a local level among nonprofits, issue groups, faith based groups, labor, educational institutions, businesses, corporations, foundations, government at all levels, and individuals.

Q: How can we get media to cover our activities?

A: Reaching out to local newspapers, television affiliates, and radio stations is a great way to draw attention to pressing needs in your community, highlight successful service projects, and attract more volunteers. Call these media outlets and invite them to cover your activities. Download a media advisory guide here (41 KB PDF). Also, remember that good old fashioned letters to the editor can be an effective way to spread the word in your community.

We've also created a sample media advisory and press release for organizations to highlight their participation in the United We Serve initiative. Feel free to use or adapt to meet your needs.

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