Donating time or non-monetary assets to those organizations that need them is a very helpful way to give backKevin Michell It’s both important and uplifting to take some time during the holiday season to think about how to help others in need. While donating cash to charities and nonprofits is an excellent way to assist organizations that help the less fortunate, many charitable and community betterment groups have persistent needs for something more tangible. Giving your time or possessions to good causes can have a lasting positive effect on our city.
Habitat for Humanity has been building quality, affordable housing for families in greater Cincinnati since 1986. The organization always needs volunteers, which presents a great opportunity for companies to help en masse.
Beth Benson, vice president of development and communications for the Cincinnati chapter of Habitat for Humanity, says that corporate partners can help them with anything from a one-day volunteering session on a home build already in progress to full house sponsorships. The latter is when a company commits to helping Habitat for Humanity build and provide a single home over the course of the better part of a year, culminating in a dedication ceremony involving the recipient family.
“People find it to be an extremely rewarding team experience because they get to see the house go up,” says Benson, adding that “they are usually working alongside the family who’s going to buy the home so they get to learn more about each other, learn more about the homeowner, learn about the neighborhood where we’re active.”
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati builds about 20 homes for low-income families each year, allowing plenty of opportunities for individuals and groups to help out. For those who don’t want to brave the elements or rigors of a construction site, there are also volunteer opportunities at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, where donated renovation and household materials are sold.
Benson says the most helpful items are those they receive from companies, such as motels undergoing a remodel, surplus building materials or cabinetry from an office.
“Companies that either have overrun, surplus, minor scratch-and-dent—they can donate them to us,” she says.
Real estate is another pressing need, whether it’s open land to build upon or existing homes that can be rehabilitated. Even if the location isn’t amenable to building an affordable home on it, Habitat for Humanity can always accept the donation in order to sell it and better fund its mission with the proceeds.
A greater hidden need is help with mitigating the attendant costs that anyone buying a home has experienced. Habitat for Humanity has had title services, as well as trade work from electricians and plumbers, donated to its home builds. Champion Windows and Home Exteriors, for one, has been supplying a lot of important fixtures to local builds and is currently working with Habitat for Humanity on rehabbing historic buildings in Lower Price Hill.
“They have more windows than the houses we design from scratch,” Benson says of the Lower Price Hill buildings that Habitat is rehabilitating for families, “and so having a partner like that is a huge boost. And they’re a lot of fun to work with.”
Another local nonprofit, OneSource Center for Nonprofit Excellence based in Sharonville, seeks different professional services to further its cause. The organization that resulted from the merger of ReSource and the Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati helps other nonprofit organizations grow and thrive in their missions to better the city. OneSource provides professional consultation, guidance and materials to nonprofits through its volunteers, partnerships and Furniture Bank.
Many of OneSource’s volunteers are retired corporate leaders who assist with strategic planning, business solutions and the development of organizational leadership and boards, among many other elements.
“To be able to do something where they’re really using all the expertise they’ve gained over the years and to be able to use that to make an impact and help nonprofits,” says Christie Brown, CEO of OneSource Center, “it is really a great opportunity for them to make a difference.”
Consulting volunteers don’t have to be retired and OneSource allows for flexibility for volunteers to provide their expertise when they’re able to do so. The organization can also scale up for larger agency needs by forming a team from its volunteer base of over 100 strong—though, of course, OneSource would always welcome more—who each receive training in nonprofit operation and regulations. The nonprofit is also partnered with Cincinnati Cares, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and other organizations to help fill needs in the wider nonprofit community like people power and training.
“We match the project that we get—the request for help—with the skills,” Brown says. “We have a skill bank among all of our volunteers and we say, ‘OK, if you’re good at this, when we get a call for that we’ll match you up.’”
Brown mentions a recent success in helping Q-Kidz, a dance team started by Marquicia Jones-Woods 37 years ago in the West End to provide neighborhood children a fun, safe and beneficial activity to enjoy away from the violence happening at some housing projects. Though Q-Kidz had operated for decades through Jones-Woods’ sheer desire to make a difference, she hit a rough point recently and she doubted that Q-Kidz could continue.
After being introduced to OneSource through the Haile Foundation, Q-Kidz became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and assembled a board of directors with OneSource’s assistance. With this in place and some financial guidance, Q-Kidz can now apply for funding so the work of Jones-Woods can continue to improve the lives of children for another three decades and beyond.
“I’ve just been so impressed with her and what our consultants have done for her,” Brown says.
OneSource’s Furniture Bank, like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, is a way for people and organizations to donate spare materials that are needed to help. Nonprofit organizations come to the Furniture Bank to get at reduced cost the equipment, office fixtures and items they need to operate.
“Everybody’s understaffed, underfunded and trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got,” Brown says of the many area nonprofits that benefit from OneSource and of the wider nonprofit sector in Cincinnati. “I think we have the ingredients to do better and that’s what we aim to do with OneSource—to help with our consultant pool, with the other resources we have and the collaborations we’ve built.”
Organizations or individuals interested in donating their time or material goods can visit habitatcincinnati.org and onesourcecenter.org for more information.