Meaningful Lessons Children Can Learn From National Awareness Days

Children helping father to collect autumn leavesFrom Women’s History Month to Child Abuse Prevention Month, the calendar is full of days dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring others. While each topic is as important as the next, the abundance of national awareness days can be a bit overwhelming. The flip side: They provide an opportunity to motivate and reinforce positive behaviors in our community and, more importantly, in our impressionable children.

Children learn more—from math to life lessons—through interaction. By creating fun ways to embrace awareness days, you can help stimulate your child’s brain to learn from context. Consider these awareness day topics our readers find intriguing:
Internet safety, healthy nutrition, world kindness & anti-bullying.  Continue reading

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The Boomerang Cycle: A Book Spotlight From the Bolt Brothers

BoomerangIn doing good, sometimes we receive so much more than we ever anticipate. Check out this guest post by entrepreneur, Chandler Bolt, and his brother Seth Bolt (from the band NEEDTOBREATHE) on their new book. We’re excited to share their story with you…

The South Carolina heat is oppressive in the summer, when the porch flies cling to sugary glasses of ice tea and women fan themselves on Sunday mornings with their folded church bulletins. We were raised there, kids of hardworking parents who never had much to give except for love, devotion, and an unending supply of encouragement to make something of ourselves. Our parents didn’t have much, but what they gave us was worth more than any fancy house we could’ve grown up in. We learned skills early on that we use to this day, instilling in us a roadmap that has led us both to where we are today.

Through faith, determination, and perseverance, we have been able to do things we never dreamed of back when we were kids. We are a successful businessman and a talented musician. We get paid to do what we love and there is no greater joy than that. How did we do it? We gave, and received far more than we ever could’ve asked for. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Reflections

happy-thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here! This time of year is synonymous with turkey, spending quality time with friends and family, and pausing to reflect on the things for which we are thankful.

From the AltruHelp team, we would like to pause and give thanks to our community, supporters, and all those who have shared in our journey.  We are humbled by those who continue to support our mission of increasing volunteerism! Thank you for using AltruHelp to find new meaningful ways to give back, share your act of kindness with the world,  and inspire others to help us create a lasting culture of service. Together we can strengthen our communities to make a difference!

Interested in creating positive change this Thanksgiving? Here are a few ways to show thanks by giving back:

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5 Innovative Ideas To Make A Difference While Going Green

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Green Altruism: AltruHelp Green Ideas for Giving BackThe average person already knows the little things they can do each day to save the planet: recycle, unplug appliances when they’re not in use, change to energy efficient light bulbs. Only the diehard green guru typically delves deeper to come up with ways to lower their carbon footprint while also giving back. Here are five easy ways to make a difference while going green:

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10 Great Charity Reads – Authors & Books That Give Back

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From first-time writers to New York Times best sellers, authors like Elton John and J.K. Rowling have chosen to use their craft for the greater good, giving proceeds to such charities as The National Parks Foundation, Inspiration Kitchen, and Comic Relief. Next time your looking for a good book, grab one of these ten great reads and feel good about your contribution to some worthy causes.  Continue reading

What Can We Learn From America’s Most Civic Companies?

In 2012, The Civic 50’s inaugural year, Bloomberg LP in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship and Points of Light came together to implement a “scorecard” ranking of America’s top civic businesses based on their community impact as well as their ability to use the time and talent of their employees toward their service goals.  These top 50 companies are purpose driven, conscious of their impact on the world, and focus on shared human value, not just shared economic value. So what can entrepreneurs, businesses leaders, and even individuals learn from these changemakers? Here are seven key insights:

Civic 50

  1. Use Industry Expertise to Galvanize Impact

IBM, the top-ranking business on The Civic 50 list, dedicated 3.2 million hours of service in 2011 alone to technology-related causes. The company helped launch P-Tech, a public high school in Brooklyn where students can earn an associates degree in computer science. They also developed the world’s first World Community Grid, a global grid that pools unused computer processing power for the benefit of researchers looking to solve humanitarian problems.

FedEx took similar action by providing improved transportation to Direct Relief, an organization that provides medical assistance to people around the world who have been affected by poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest. Together, FedEx and Direct Relief helped people in disaster areas gain access to emergency medicine.  Continue reading here or on Forbes.com Continue reading

Celebrate Earth Day

StonyFeild Earth Day 5K

The food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe…it all comes from nature. This Earth Day, join people around the world in a global celebration of our planet and the bounty it provides. The first Earth Day in 1970 was instrumental in mobilizing public support across the country for passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other key environmental initiatives!

Join us Saturday, April 20th, to support Earth Day with Stonyfield Yogurt Works’ annual Earth Day 5K Celebration. Stonyfield, the world’s leading organic yogurt maker, has organized this family-friendly event and annual run to include giveaways, costumed characters, and more!  At the AltruHelp Social Impact tent, visitors can sign up to see real-time local volunteer opportunities and amplify their impact via our ipad station. You can also join our upcycling volunteer project as we turn plastic water bottles and yogurt cups into planters, bird feeders, and blocks.  We’ll be donating $1 for everyone that signs up for volunteering at our station to support victims of the Boston Marathon Tragedy. The first 100 people will also be able to win free car washes from our eco-friendly partner, ScrubaDub, and Social Impact t-shirts while they last! Proceeds from the Earth Day 5K will benefit the Life Is Good Kids Foundation, New Hampshire’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, and scholarships for Londonderry High School students. Continue reading

Civic Leader Inspires National Service

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When one thinks of dedication to service and inspiration, few individuals epitomize these attributes in the same way as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As a father, scholar, pioneer, and civic activist, King served as a role model to countless Americans.  King spread hope and the creed that doing what is right is at the core of strengthening our communities and advancing our nation.  It’s no surprise, that only a few weeks ago, this civic leader was honored across the nation by millions with a National Day of Service.

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Points of Light, the largest national nonprofit dedicated to increasing volunteerism, mobilized people across the nation to transform veteran’s homes in Phoenix, complete school makeovers in Los Angeles, repair communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy in New York and more. Their signature event was in Washington DC, the largest single-site service project of the inaugural weekend, which was made possible by Target, as they give 5% of their profit and thousands of volunteer hours to communities every day! Continue reading

Experience Volunteering in Africa – Building A Habitat For Humanity

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At AltruHelp, we encourage our team to practice what we preach and get involved in local communities as well as projects around the globe. From August 31 to September 13, one of our team members, Paige Herlihy, had the opportunity to travel to Humjibre, Ghana and help build houses with the Ghana affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. Below, from the eyes of Paige, is her story.

AltruHelp in Ghana

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Summer IMPACT Networking For Charity

AIN Summer 2012 Impact Report

On July 10th AltruHelp hosted the second annual IMPACT Networking Event For Charity at the Microsoft N.E.R.D. Center in Cambridge, MA. Over 100 philanthropic Bostonians came together to enjoy a fun evening of speed-volunteering and networking to support the local non-profit community and increasing Millenial (ages 16-29) volunteersim. The attendees ranged from college and graduate students to accountants, lawyers, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and more. Continue reading

Inspiring Innovation: Social Good Hackathons

Social Good Hackathon

What do you get when you bring together brilliant people that love to write computer code and program for 24 hours with a common goal of doing good? Well, a Social Hackathon of course!

This Spring, StartLabs brought together nine teams at the Cambridge Innovation Center to create the most socially beneficial, impressively designed, and well implemented websites and applications. StartLabs recruited innovative leaders from the “Social Impact” Space including Mozilla “FireFox” Foundation, AltruHelp.com, RedStar Ventures and Fundraise.com to mentor the participants, providing the newly formed teams with structure & vision in the brainstorming of product development. Continue reading

How Corporate Volunteer Programs Help Your Business

Corporate Volunteer Program Benefits

A recent announcement by the Corporation for National and Community Service revealed that 582,000 Americans applied during the past year to serve in the AmeriCorps – an increase of almost 10 percent or 50,000 applications on the previous year. The Corps, however, has turned away close to one million potential volunteers since 2009 due to a lack of funding, and those people are looking for somewhere else to volunteer. A corporate volunteer program (CVP) offers multiple benefits to your company and employees, as well as the causes they take up.

Corporate Citizenship

Corporate America is catching on to the value of establishing CVPs, with almost one-third of corporations now offering some form of volunteerism for their staff – a growth of 150 percent over the past two decades. Continue reading

Want to Improve Your Health & Get Some Sleep, Try Altruism!

Sleep Better from Altruism

You first heard the idea in kindergarten: Share your toys. Later on, you were taught, “do unto others.”  And as an adult, you may have gotten the advice that the best way to feel better about yourself is to help the less fortunate.

No matter how you got the message, the concept of altruism is one that is ingrained (or should be) in our collective social conscience. Not only because acts of altruism benefit society as a whole but because, darn it, it just feels right!

So volunteering and giving feel good. But is altruism actually good for your health? The Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science tackled that question in 2009 and came to the conclusion that …it is.  Continue reading

Measuring the IMPACT of Networking on Charity

With the recent surge in corporate social responsibility and startups supporting the charity scene – a trend that became more visible at the Social Good 2.0 conference two months ago– AltruHelp has partnered with multiple nonprofits in the community (Animal Rescue League of Boston, Playworks Metro Boston, American Red Cross and more) to pioneer “IMPACT Networking For Charity,” a fun series of speed-fundraising, volunteering & networking events aimed at increasing Millenial volunteerism and community IMPACT.

On January 26th AltruHelp hosted it’s first Winter Impact networking event to kick off a new year of social impact!  Borrowing a page from speed dating, we matched professionals and college students with various speed-volunteer/fundraising stations enabling them to support multiple nonprofits in one night, under one roof, while forming meaningful career connections!

AltruHelp Winter IMPACT Networking at MassChallenge

Over the course of just 2 hours, 100+ local Bostonians generated some awesome IMPACT for the nonprofit community:

AltruHelp Winter Impact NetworkingWhat’s more, the event also raised more than $2000 for Charity! Think of it this way: while attendees were sipping on ice cold Narragansett Tallboys, eating tasty Boloco Burritos/Panera sandwiches, and expanding their professional networking connections, they created more good for the greater community on a Thursday night than the average person does in a year! If that doesn’t deserve kudos, we’re not sure what does!  Continue reading

Volunteering INCREASES Employment: Meet Scott Bailey of MassChallenge

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Scott Bailey

During these difficult economic times the job search process can be challenging but what if you tried something new? Instead of spending each day applying to jobs online, submitting your resume to Monster.com, Craigslist, Careerbuilder and more, why not try a few days of volunteering? Sounds crazy right??? New case studies show that taking time to give back will expand your network, enhance your character, and potentially lead to full-time career opportunities! This post marks the first in a series of interviews we’ve conducted with successful individuals who have obtained AWESOME Jobs, expanded their network, and increased their personal development by volunteering!

Meet Scott Bailey. Scott knows the key to success, and it’s not based on the money you make.  “It’s a weird thing,” he says.  “Right out of college, people think you need a job that really pays.”As a recent college graduate I certainly questioned this philosophy; isn’t a well-paying job the goal of a degree?  After sitting down to talk with Bailey, the Director of Partnerships at MassChallenge, it seems he had the right attitude as he set forth into the professional world.  Continue reading

Cradles To Crayons: AltruHelp Visits the Giving Factory

This past Saturday morning, the AltruHelp team joined dozens of professional groups, families, and individuals at the Cradles to Crayons Giving Factory in Brighton, MA.  This nonprofit organization works year-round to provide children up to twelve years old with many of the necessities we often take for granted, such as clean, presentable clothing; school supplies not typically provided in the classroom; new or gently used toys; and other goods that add to the key senses of happiness and security in a child’s life.

During our time at Cradles to Crayons, all volunteers split into small teams and worked together to build winter clothing packages for children in need.  The AltruHelp team Continue reading

Social Good 2.0

Social Good 2.0Boston, MA, is best known for it’s rich history, but in recent years this New England city has become a hot spot for technological advances and innovative minds.  Academic research, clean energy, and health care are some of the most prevalent fields of business here, but beyond these powerful industries is a buzzing (and buzzed-about) progressive startup community that’s causing a stir out of positivity and new media advancements.

One of the strongest branches of this young community is an added element of social entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and altruism never so clearly seen before in the tech world.  New technology has innovated processes in the nonprofit community Continue reading

AltruHelp’s Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving is here, and for some, this time of year cannot come soon enough!  Turkey, quality time with family and other loved ones, rest and relaxation are just a few of the ways one can enjoy the holidays.

Along with food and happy memories, this time of year also serves as a great pause from the daily hubbub to reflect on the things for which we are thankful.  What are you thankful for?

From the AltruHelp team, we would like to pause and give thanks to our blog readers.  We are humbled by those who continue to show us their support by viewing and sharing our content with others, posting comments, or writing to us directly.  Together we can inspire altruism and amplify our social impact!

Here are three simple idea on ways that you can show thanks by giving back: Continue reading

AltruHelp’s Halloween Volunteer Adventure

http://familiesintheloop.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Halloween.jpgIn the spirit of the season of changing leaves and things that go bump in the night, the AltruHelp team was happy to volunteer this past weekend at the Castle Island Association’s 29th Annual Children’s Magical Halloween Castle. For one weekend a year the Castle Island Association transforms Fort Independence in South Boston, into a haunted castle open free to the public.

As we helped at the event we were treated to a parade of kids in costumes; we saw brave superheroes, roguish pirates, howling werewolves, and all manner of witches, princesses, ninjas, knights, ghosts, and ghouls. After exploring the shadowy depths of the castle, kids were treated to a magician, a storyteller, a temporary tattoo station, and an assortment of pastries, donuts, cider and of course, candy. Over the course of two days, over 10,000 people came to the event! And we were proud to be a part of the 30 plus volunteers who helped to make that possible.Altruhelp Volunteer event 2011

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9/11 National Day of Service


On September 11th 2011, Team AltrUHelp bonded together to pay tribute to the tragedy of the September 11th attacks that occurred a short 10 years ago. After the September 11th tragedy, there was a tremendous outpour of unity and altruism that should always be present in our everyday lives.

AltruHelp Team Volunteering on 9/11/11This past Sunday, our team volunteered on a community project in Waltham, MA as a part of the September 11th National day of Service and Remembrance with volunteers from Boston Cares, City Year, and AmeriCorps Vista Project Leaders. The National day of Service was written into law in 2009 and is promoted heavily by the White House. Continue reading

Saving the World: Acting Local, Thinking Global

It’s not hard to believe that the ever-growing world population is close to reaching 7 billion people this year. What’s truly surprising, though, is that after experiencing advances in technology coupled with the staggering pace of development in the way we communicate, global social issues such as: health, agriculture, AIDS, and democracy, among others, would appear to have been left in the wake of progress.

So I wondered: Where does the disconnect between humans, technology and social responsibility lie? Could it be that when it comes to addressing social issues, a global solution has thwarted us from acting locally?  In looking for the answer,  I first thought of my personal approach in helping solve world problems:

I was truly committed, and felt responsible as an individual to get involved and save the world, but: Where and how to start? I tried donating money to organizations in other countries; still, deep inside I knew I could do much more. I discovered that having global perspective on social issues triggered something within me, but I concluded that thinking global yet acting local, would allow me to get hands-on and achieve REAL impact. Turns out I wasn’t alone…

 Young people (Gen Y’ers), those under the age of 25 who represent  nearly half of the world’s population (almost three billion people) are creating tremendous IMPACT. Continue reading

Altruism in the wake of Irene

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As Hurricane Irene tumbled through the East Coast this past weekend, leaving a trail of destruction, the team here at AltrUHelp has been inspired by the stories of Altruism and individuals going above and beyond to help others. Individuals traveled thousands of miles to give their time and energy for the benefit of others. Stories like the ones below are the motivation that team AltrUHelp uses to push forward in creating a social media platform to prove that individuals inspire the uninspired.

Red Cross volunteer travels from IL to Boston to help in Irene recovery (link)

Pat Johnson, a Red Cross volunteer, traveled from her home in Knoxville, IL to travel to Boston, MA to volunteer at a shelter for two weeks. Johnson has been an active volunteer ever since retiring in 2005, and says ““I just wanted to do something and have a sense of accomplishment. It’s been a very great experience for me. I’ve learned a lot and met a lot of wonderful people. I have some very good friends I’ve remained in contact with. I feel I’ve received more than I’ve given out.”

Search dogs part of Irene rescue team (link)

Search dogs came to the East Coast from Ohio to New York after training their whole lives to rescue trapped individuals. Continue reading

The Three Degrees of Altruism – Volunteer Social Networking

volunteer social-networkHave you ever wondered if social networking promotes cooperative behavior?  The nature of human social networking—our ability to connect deeply and instantaneously with friends, family, and other individuals—would seem to suggest that social networking can foster cooperation with others. Until recently, there was no scientific proof that social networking itself leads to altruistic cooperation. If one person helps another, could a third party be influenced simply by participating in the same network?

In an attempt to answer this question, Fowler and Christakis (2009) researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego designed an experiment (n=240) to test whether people really do “pay it forward,” or pass along altruistic behavior through indirect, “networked” interaction (Experiment Details).

The results of the experiment suggest—objectively—that cooperative, altruistic behavior can spread as far as three degrees within a social network (from person to person to person). In other words, by helping others, we can create a “cascade” of altruistic behavior! Volunteer Social Network

Because each “degree” in a social network represents exponential growth, helping your friend could trigger a wave of altruistic behavior in hundreds or even thousands of people!

Does this research make you think differently about the impact of your altruistic actions?

Check out AltruHelp.com to trigger your own volunteer network.


AltrUHelp Interns Organize Boston Team Volunteer Day

Have you ever painted kid’s faces and blown up beach balls while simultaneously making snow-cones? How about doing this for hundreds of elementary school students in Boston’s South End and then leading them in a Hokey Pokey flash mob dance?

This was exactly how AltrUHelp’s co-founders and several members of the team spent our Tuesday morning, volunteering through Boston Cares at the Arts in the Park festival in Titus Sparrow Park.

The festival, run by the United South End Settlements—a nonprofit that provides Boston children, teens, adults, and seniors with educational programs and social services—drew over 600 children and adults from the Greater Boston community. Many of those 600 attendees stopped by the snow-cone booth to cool off with AltrUHelp-handmade cherry, orange, grape, and blue-raspberry flavored ice. Keep reading to see the video of the elementary school kids hokey pokey flash mob dance! Continue reading

How to Live Past 100?

Lillian Davis was about to celebrate her 101st birthday—but you’d never know it—this centenarian takes only two prescription medications, lives alone in an apartment, and…still volunteers at the International Dyslexia Association after more than twenty years.

In fact, volunteering might just be Lillian’s secret to long life: She claims that her time stuffing envelopes for the IDA has helped her stay “physically and mentally healthy.”

It shouldn’t be surprising that she plans on volunteering “as long as [she] can.”

Could volunteering really be the key to living healthily into (very) old age? Research (and our recent blog post on the science behind altruism) shows that taking time to help others is as hard-wired into our brains as having sex and eating food: it’s a basic need that many of us don’t fulfill. So maybe it’s not such a big stretch to think that altruism is the secret to a long and healthy life.

What do you think? Could volunteering make you live forever?

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3 Movies That Inspire Altruism! What Inspires YOU?

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Patch adams with Robin Williams

I consider human satisfaction a metric of success. In life, your outlook has a major impact on how you interact with the world. Seeing the glass as half-full and not half-empty can turn your day around—works for me all the time.  When dealing with my day-to-day life, having a positive attitude helps me get through many situations while achieving the results I want.

Feeling positive and confident not only effects how you experience the world around you, but also improves your ability to connect and form relationships with others.  Of course, it’s part of our human nature to experience a plethora of negative emotions. The question then becomes: how do you let those emotions effect you?

All of our actions and reactions are interconnected. It’s rare to see people at work—or even friends—stick around when we are continually radiating negative energy. Realizing the powerful impact that mood and mindset can have, I came up with a fun way to get inspired: feel-good movies.  Below I have compiled a list of 3 AMAZING movies that moved my spirit in a meaningful and enduring way: Continue reading

Masschallege Bootcamp Week 2: An Intern Account

…And thus began week 2 of the Masschallenge Boot Camp. As you might remember, week one rapidly introduced us to the startup universe, introducing us to the skills we’d need to help AltrUHelp win! But even with all that we learned, we had no idea what was in store for us in week two. Masschallenge really kicked it up a notch (or a couple of notches). We saw more CEOs this week than all of CNBC’s anchors combined…except maybe Jim Cramer.
 
Wednesday started off with David Cancel of Hubspot and Gina Ashe of Krush dishing out executive secrets in a panel moderated by Christopher Austin from Goodwin Procter. They covered every aspect of running a startup: financing, hiring, vision, product, and customers. David and Gina used a lot of powerful personal examples, going so far as to reveal some gory details about their more unfortunate hiring decisions providing us with an unadulterated glimpse into the inner workings of two amazing startups. After another great (and free) Foley and Lardner lunch, we were treated to an interview with David Friend, CEO of Carbonite and prolific serial entrepreneur. Continue reading

MassChallenge StartUp Bootcamp Week 1: The Intern Perspective

Last week marked the beginning of the FINALIST round of the 2011 MassChallenge Global Startup Competition—the world’s largest startup accelerator. Over the next three months, AltrUHelp and 100+ other startups will compete for a slice of $1.2 million in funding. Each company has been awarded office space in the brand-new One Marina Park Drive through October along with access to lawyers, business mentors, investors, and support staff.

Day 1 of the finalist “Startup Bootcamp” began with Scott Griffith, CEO of Zipcar, discussing the importance of constant personal development, sharing his incredible story of battling cancer while growing ZipCar 8000%. Bill Warner—founder of Avid Technology and inventor of nonlinear video editing—urged the audience to avoid compromise and maintain integrity, offering his own mistakes as evidence.

We also heard from Jeff Taylor, Founder and CEO of Monster.com, who focused on Continue reading

Altruism: The Human Fuel

Altruistic Hero“You are a superhero. You just made my day.”Those were the words of Bernice, an eighty year-old, in appreciation for the time we spent chatting on a Sunday afternoon. I have to admit I experienced a flow of energy inside that made me feel better than ever.As I left St. Cecilia’s Parish, my mind was racing thinking about what just had happened with this woman.  Did I do something really extraordinary? How long did it take to make someone happy to be considered a superhero? And more importantly, why did it feel like she was the one who changed my entire day for good?  I couldn’t believe how powerful this action was. In two hours I had changed someone’s life by just donating some of my time, and yet I felt like I was glowing. It was in fact therapeutic: by helping others you end up unintentionally helping yourself.

In this fast-paced world, we execute a significant amount of tasks everyday, trying to get the most of our busy lives. Required to multitask—and now to manage life online and off—we have learned Read More

Forbes & AltrUHelp Collaborate on Coverage of 2011 National Volunteer Conference

Last week thousands of non-profits, volunteers, and corporate executives gathered at the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS) in New Orleans to discuss innovative solutions for addressing the challenges of the social IMPACT sector.

The Co-Founders of AltrUHelp were on site to cover the event for Forbes and spotlight pockets of social entrepreneurship (To see the Forbes article: Click here). Organized by the Corporation for National & Community Service and the Points of Light Institute, more than 4000 attendees came together to explore this budding space.

Discussion topics ranged from Bringing Community Organizing into Online Campaigns to seminars like Does Your Employee Volunteer Program Measure Up? A seminar led by a community engagement leader from Timberland focused on developing reporting standards for corporations to measure the impact of CSR activities. Leaders from Citizen Schools, Heart of America, Fidelity Investments, and Capital One also lead an intriguing workshop titled Building a Sustainable and Results Oriented Volunteer Movement Within Your Company.

I was able to sit down with Kelly Fisher, Assistant Manager of Philanthropy for Toyota Motor North America, who walked us through one of Toyota’s current CSR programs, “100 Cars for Good.” Read More