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. Plug in here!
- Find the local chapter of national organizations like the Salvation Army and the Goodwill and ask them what their needs are.
- Get a guide to finding local partners.
- Search The National Coalition for the Homeless and/or The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans to identify homeless service organizations within your community. You can also contact your local faith group.
- Be sure to ask the organization for items they might need.
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 potluck to choose a project, set goals, recruit volunteers and plan next steps.
- Get a guide for hosting a house meeting.
- Post your service activity on www.Serve.gov to recruit new volunteers.
Step Three: Set a Goal
Set a service goal and hold yourself accountable. Commit as an individual and as a team to collecting a specific number of boxes and reaching out to a specific number of people. 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.
- Get a tip sheet for your service activity.
- CharityGuide.org offers specific tips on organizing a drive on a college campus or at a business.
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.