July 9, 2010

Where to volunteer this summer, and beyond

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From Fabien Cousteau’s Plant a Fish site.

This is part of The Causemopolitan‘s summerlong series of guest posts that will inspire you to get involved and give back. For more, see Cause It’s Summer!

Guest post by Susan McPherson

This summer I seem to have even more enthusiasm and energy to support the causes that I’m passionate about. I can’t pinpoint the exact reasons why, but perhaps it’s knowing that I’m shortly embarking on a new career as well as reading the blaring daily headlines about the tragedy in the Gulf.

So here’s my thought: What if we could take the extra 3-4 hours of sunshine that we are so graciously provided every summer day and use that time to give back to some of those fabulous organizations that need help? For every interest, passion, category, location that exists, there is a worthy nonprofit organization that is dying for volunteers and support – young and old.  

Below, I’ll share some of my favorites:

Plant a Fish: ‘Replanting’ key species

Have you ever thought of planting a fish, an oyster or another sea creature?  Intrigued?  If so, check out Plant A Fish, a new nonprofit founded by Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the legendary ocean explorer, Jacques Yves Cousteau.  Fabien’s goal is to help children and communities around the world “replant” key species in their local waterways – rivers, lakes and oceans.  

The organization will also be helping with the relocation of various sea animals affected by the Gulf Oil Spill.  If you are passionate about our planet, the outdoor world and the environment, I encourage you to sign up today.  Within the next few years, there will be Plant A Fish communities created in cities around the world. Follow on Twitter: @plantafish.

Bpeace: Help women affected by war & conflict

Job creation.  Nice thought, don’t you think?  Have you ever considered how much holding a job can mean to someone?  We often take for granted the fact that a paycheck comes every week or so, but there are millions around the world who aren’t so fortunate.  What if you could help women in areas of the world affected by war and conflict, build their businesses and create employment – places like Afghanistan, El Salvador, Rwanda and Bosnia?  What if you could use the skills you have acquired over the years to help train others to run more efficient and profitable businesses?  

Business Council for Peace (Bpeace) is a group of businesswomen dedicated to helping women in regions of conflict and post-conflict build businesses to sustain their families and strengthen their communities. Whether you choose to visit one of the above-mentioned countries and provide expertise on the ground, or work while at your laptop or mobile device, Bpeace can truly use your brainpower. Follow on Twitter: @bpeacehq

ManUp: Empowering women to stop violence

Another very special organization worth a look is ManUp, a nonprofit campaign dedicated to empowering youths around the world to stop violence against women and girls.  You can visit the site to view new advocacy opportunities, adopt an educational or a community activity that you can introduce to your school or community group, submit an article to their blog, post a comment on the Man Up Blog, join the Man Up Facebook page, or just keep the dialogue going.  

Founder Jimmie Briggs previously was a news reporter who witnessed one too many tragedies.  With that, he decided to it was time use his voice to make a difference.  You can join him and his team and support their gallant efforts.  As I type, the team is in South Africa about to begin a global conference teaching individuals how to stop such violence in their own communities.

DoSomething: Getting youths to take action

For the teen crowd reading this post as well as moms and dads who look after a teenager or teens, check out the fabulous DoSomething.org.  I have fallen in love with the team that tirelessly keeps this organization’s engine humming.  The CEO’s title is actually “Chief Old Person” and the mission is all about helping teens do just that – do something!  

The mission is using the power of online to get teens to do something offline.  Essentially, you can visit the site, search by location and interest and find the organization that is most appealing to your interests and then join, whether it’s helping with animal welfare causes, hunger relief programs, homelessness, human rights issues, fighting poverty or many more. Follow on Twitter: @dosomething

Witness: Human rights advocacy

And don’t forget Witness, founded by activist and musician Peter Gabriel in 1992 after he witnessed how the video of police beating Rodney King in Los Angeles spread so rapidly around the world.  Witness provides training and support to local groups globally so that they can use video to showcase human rights advocacy campaigns.

Beyond providing video cameras and editing equipment, Witness helps provide exposure for human rights abuses via key partners in all corners of the globe. It’s interesting to note that Witness was using the power of social media long before Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube became part of our everyday lives.  The organization is always looking for talented volunteers and provides a wealth of information on its website.  Follow on Twitter: @Witnessorg

Other causes worth exploring

A final others worth a mention:

•  Plastic Pollution Coalition

Executives Without Borders

Women for Women International

I could go on and on as there are so many truly valuable organizations that exist here in the States and abroad.  Write to me if you have others that I should visit.  Believe me, for every day of the week and every hour of each day, there is a world of good you can do. Take a few hours of the extra light we are granted to find what will make you shine while helping others along the way.

Susan McPherson (@susanmcp1) is a connector and active cause marketer. She is member of the board of Bpeace and a member of Echoing Green’s Social Investment Council, the Clinton Global Initiative and the New York Leadership team for 85 Broads. She also serves as an advisor to JANERA and The OpEd Project. Professionally, Susan has worked at PR Newswire for 14+ years in CSR, business development and marketing roles and has just accepted a senior vice president position at Fenton. She resides in Brooklyn and can be found many summer evenings blogging, tweeting and volunteering from her roof deck garden.
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