On Volunteering In The Summer (And Beyond)

Every Thursday this summer, come back to The Causemopolitan to read a guest post that will inspire you right up out of your seat to get involved and give back in a special series called Cause It’s Summer! Featured bloggers will be sharing their own reflections and stories, tips and resources, and perspective on philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and their own cause-filled life. This week welcome Susan McPherson, and her reflections on how to spend those extra summer sunlight hours - for good - and how it can quite possibly change your life.


As a child, summer was always a time to run free - free from dreaded homework assignments, washing after dinner dishes, and free from the tedious chore of layering clothes to keep warm during harsh upstate NY winters.  In my 20s and 30s, summer became a time of extra hours of daylight to celebrate with cocktails/wine with friends, long runs in the park and extra dog walk time.  But over the last few years, summer has meant a zap of extra energy that I could pour into my passion of supporting nonprofit organizations.

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

So here’s my thought.  What if we could take the extra 3-4 hours of sunshine that we are so graciously provided each June, July, August (and even September) 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’m going to share with you some of my treasured ones and suggest you take peek.

Have you ever thought of planting a fish?  Now, I know you’ve probably planted a tree before, perhaps ever several, but have you ever considered “planting” 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.

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 that aren’t so fortunate as that.  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?  Well, if you join Bpeace, you can do just that and become part of a global network of business women and men that are making a huge different in peoples’ lives.  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

Another very special organization worth a look is ManUp, a nonprofit campaign dedicated to empowering youth around the world to stop violence against women and girls.  You can visit the site regularly 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 commence a global conference teaching individuals how to stop such violence in their own communities.

For the teen crowd reading this post as well as moms and dads that look after a teenager or possibly several, check out the fabulous DoSomething.org.  I have literally 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 - be it helping with animal welfare causes, hunger relief programs, homelessness, human rights issues, or fighting poverty and many many more.  Check it out today.  Follow on Twitter: @dosomething

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. Interesting to note, Witness was using the power of social media long before Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube became part of our every day lives.  The organization is always looking for talented volunteers and provide a wealth of information on its website.  Follow on Twitter: @Witnessorg

A final few to mention:  Plastic Pollution CoalitionExecutives Without Borders and 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 (@susanmcp1) is a connector and active cause marketer. She is member of the board of Bpeace, a nonprofit dedicated to providing pro-bono consulting to women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Bosnia and El Salvador. She also is a member of Echoing Green’s Social Investment Council, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the New York Leadership team for 85 Broads. Additionally, she serves on the 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, starting late in July.  She resides in Brooklyn and can be found many summer evenings blogging, tweeting and volunteering from her roof deck garden.

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