For the next two weeks I am going to be posting sections from chapter 4 of my book titled, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community. This is a chance for you to read some helpful content for free.
PREPARATION: GETTING STARTED
In the first three chapters of this book I’ve done by best to give you a clear picture of what A Day of Hope looks like and requires from its leaders. My goal was to inspire you to do A Day of Hope. Now we’re going to get into the hard and fast details of how to do A Day of Hope. Let me remind you that many of the strategies I’m going to share with you are unique to what worked for my leadership team and me. This is only one of many ways to do A Day of Hope. As you lead your own project in your community, you’ll create and find many other effective ways.
FIND OUT IF THERE’S A NEED
To start, find out if families in your community need food. The odds are pretty likely that there are people around you who are going through some tough times and need some food to be delivered. The only exceptions would be really nice, ritzy neighborhoods like Beverly Hills. The odds are that you don’t live there.
Take some steps to find out if another organization is already meeting the need. The last thing your community needs is two nonprofits that are both trying to serve people in need by giving them food for Thanksgiving. When two different groups are working separately to serve the same people it does not portray a good image of yourself to the people in the community. So do your homework to find out if someone else is already serving people in need for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or maybe another time of year when people are really in need of food.
In our community of Turlock several of the large nonprofits partner for what they call Turlock Together. It’s a collaboration to feed families in need at Christmas and provide toys to low-income kids. Over 2,000 families are served in this program. When you look at the needs of families at Christmas, they are pretty much taken care of. But for Thanksgiving there is nothing special done for these families. And that’s where A Day of Hope comes in.
I saw a need in our community during Thanksgiving, so we started to try to fill that need. We’ve worked for five years to provide food to families on Thanksgiving and no other holidays. This is because Christmas is well taken care of and if families need to get food during a normal time of the year, there are two food banks and several churches that help.
Do your homework. Find out if there is a need for similar work to be done in your community. Then find out if there are organizations, programs, or churches feeding people on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or another holiday. And if there isn’t anyone serving people, you might be the person to step up and help.
Here’s a simple process to finding out if there’s a need in your community:
- Talk to schools, churches, nonprofits, or anyone else who might do good work in the community.
- Look to local food banks, your local Salvation Army, United Way, etc.
You might wonder, “What do I do if I find out a local nonprofit organization or church is already serving people in need for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I still want to help?” That’s great! I admire your passion and commitment to serve people in need. There still might be something you can do. Here are two questions to consider to see if A Day of Hope might still be needed in your community.
- Is there a population in your city that this nonprofit or church is not serving but still needs to be served?
- Could this nonprofit or church use some assistance serving the people they are already trying to help?
The odds that you’ll get a yes to one of these two questions are very good, especially question #2. In either case, your help is desperately needed. Even if the nonprofits and churches are serving your entire community, the odds are pretty good that they need able bodies ready to jump in and passionately serve people. Or they might need someone to make a donation of money or food to their cause. You might even be able to use some of the fundraising ideas and principles in this book to support their cause. In later chapters I’ll talk a lot about fundraising ideas and events you can do to raise support.