Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hull House in the 21st Century

As grad student in Public Policy at the University of Chicago, we get solicited for volunteering opportunities quite a bit. However, it is often hard for us to schedule a regular tutoring gig or really anything at all during daylight hours into our schedules. But we want line items for the resumes and to, ya know, make the world a better place while we're sucking at the teat of higher education.

I just got a really interesting email from Amanda Anthony, a woman in the second year of our program, who is really involved in getting Harris School students to get involved with the community. I've never heard of this kind of volunteering but it is really intriguing. Has anyone ever seen this work before; either from the volunteer or from the non-profit side?
Virtual volunteering is pretty simple. What happens is Mark Tisdahl, the volunteer coordinator at Hull House, gives the you a "project" that you can complete on their own time. You complete the project and then he gives you another one.

"For example: Hull House has a good list of donors. However, we haven't been very successful at getting younger (18-30 yr olds) donors to give. Please research how other nonprofits have used myspace, friendster, facebook, etc. to connect to a population that gives small amounts of money ($5-$100) via the web through those social networks. An example of a nonprofit that has been successful (raised $10,000 in December) is OneBrick.

Another example: We have clients that have convictions for felonies and they are trying to reenter the working population. What Chicago area companies hire those with felony convictions? One example is ARAMARK. Please help us find others."

According to Mark, most of the "projects" are research based. If a volunteer has certain skills (bilingual for example), he would use them in a different manner. He would love a lot of their pamphlets translated into other languages (really any language other then English).

If you are interested in virtually volunteering (especially with translation!), email Mark Tisdahl, volunteer coordinator, at

Since U of C is pretty research-based, this seems like the ideal audience for this. I'm really excited about the possibilities involved in this kind of volunteer engagement.

No comments: