Skills-Based Volunteering: Our Chicago Team’s Annual Day of Philanthropy

“Volunteer more” is a popular New Year’s resolution, so what better way for APCO’s Chicago team to welcome 2016?

There’s no doubt that volunteering with colleagues builds camaraderie and provides the benefits of team-building while helping others. And when a team volunteer opportunity is skills-based, it’s often even more impactful, both to the organization or people being served and the volunteers.

APCO’s Chicago team put this theory to the test for our annual Day of Philanthropy. In recent years, we’ve volunteered at Ronald McDonald House, baking cookies for residents and their families, and at Habitat for Humanity, painting interiors and installing light fixtures. Both activities provided a fun, team-building experience and value to people in need, but our most recent Day of Philanthropy may have been the most successful yet.

Sequestered in our conference room, we focused on providing communications counsel to a local non-profit, Literature for All of Us (LFAOU). This organization enables individuals to realize the transformative power of their voices in the face of social and economic inequity by growing communities of readers and writers.

What made the activity even more relevant to our group is LFAOU’s use of communication as a tool for curbing violence and building confidence and connections amongst teen mothers and other youth in Chicago’s most underserved areas. Through its book groups, the organization utilizes literature and creative writing to spark self-esteem and provide an outlet for participants to express emotions.

We found ourselves awed and inspired by LFAOU’s work and collectively determined to help the organization raise its profile and reach relevant audiences with consistent messaging. We provided branding and positioning guidance related to enhancing the organization’s mission statement, annual program report, fundraising activities and videos, redesigned website (to be launched later in 2016) and social media channels, media relations efforts and more.

This volunteer activity allowed us to do what we love and what we’re good at. We had fun, exercised our creativity and strengthened our teamwork abilities, and ultimately delivered an extensive report containing actionable recommendations which was greatly appreciated by LFAOU. As the organization’s 20th anniversary approaches later this year, we’re excited to see what the future holds.