New Podcast: South Carolina Nonprofit Leader Mac Bennett of the United Way of the Midlands

Mac Bennett

Mac Bennett

A new podcast series features nonprofit leaders throughout the country.

October is Nonprofit Career Month, a month of activities to promote the diversity of career opportunities in the nation’s nonprofit sector. Driven by the collective contributions of the nonprofit community, the campaign dispels common myths about nonprofit work, provides you with entry points to the sector, and allows current and aspiring nonprofit professionals to share expertise.

Launching our Nonprofit Career Month podcast series is a discussion with Mac Bennett who shares his experiences and insights from 30 years of nonprofit leadership. Since March 2005, Mac Bennett has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of the Midlands in Columbia, SC.

Mac studied finance and management at the University of South Carolina, and then blazed a career in public service, first holding a variety of leadership positions with the University of South Carolina and then serving as Executive Director of the Central Carolina Community Foundation.

Bennett is also a founding director of the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations (SCANPO). Throughout his career, Bennett has been instrumental in efforts to improve training and education for people working in the nonprofit sector.

I chatted with Mac about making a difference while making a living; how Mac got started as a volunteer in the sector; the variety of ways to serve your community; and Jim Collin’s book Good to Great and the Social Sectors.

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Peace Corps Community Resources: An interview with Erica Burman and Molly Mattessich of the National Peace Corps Association

Molly Mattessich

Molly Mattessich

The New Service podcast from Idealist.org features the national group of Peace Corps alumni. Listen here.

As Peace Corps nears it’s 50th Anniversary in 2011, applications are on the rise, fewer Volunteer positions are getting funded, the Senate just confirmed a new agency director, and the number of Peace Corps  alumni is nearing 200,000.

Helping connect the dots among the agency’s fiscal needs, and Volunteers past, present, and future is the National Peace Corps Association—the independent organization of former Peace Corps Volunteers, known as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers or RPCVs.

The National Peace Corps Association offers the Peace Corps community tools and resources to stay informed and engaged, and advocates for Peace Corps funding and support.

Today’s guests are Erica Burman and Molly Mattessich of the National Peace Corps Association. Erica Burman is the Director of Communications at NPCA, and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in The Gambia in the late 80s. Molly Mattessich manages the Africa Rural Connect project at NPCA, as well as the Peace Corps Connect online social network. Molly served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali from 2002-2004.

I talked with Erica and Molly about NPCA’s initiatives like the More Peace Corps Campaign, Africa Rural Connect, the RPCV Mentoring Program, and Global Teachnet.

We also talked about the new online social network for the Peace Corps community Peace Corps Connected, the Peace Corps Polyglot blog, and World View magazine.

Finally, we discussed the new Peace Corps director — and departing NPCA board member — Aaron Williams, and how online communication tools are changing the Volunteer experience.

Staying Fit on a Budget: Healthy Breakfast Know-How and Quick Ideas for Your Plate

Leslie Dolland

Leslie Dolland

[Editor’s note: Today we launch a new monthly column on The New Service blog, featuring Leslie Dolland, a HealthCorps Coordinator who teaches high schoolers in the South Bronx about staying healthy. As a current service corps participant, Leslie will be sharing tips for other corps members about how to stay healthy on a budget.]

I love the Fall and the back-to-school season!  It feels like a fresh start; a chance to de-clutter, re-organize and create some Fall New Year’s resolutions.  I’m resolving to have a healthy and delicious breakfast EVERY day.  This includes breakfast when I’m running late, not hungry, or not at home; these are times when it’s most difficult. Breakfast is definitely the meal not to be missed but can be challenging when you’re short on time.  Luckily, it doesn’t require much time or money just some careful planning!

But is it really the most important meal of the day?

YES!  And according to the USDA, 80% of Americans regularly eat breakfast. But the quality of the meal is just as Continue reading

AmeriCorps — a Great First “Job”

Sarah Stankorb, The Corps Network

Sarah Stankorb, The Corps Network

This post was contributed by former AmeriCorps member and staffer at The Corps Network Sarah Stankorb.

A good number of my friends have suddenly found themselves precariously and unintentionally unemployed. Hearing their stories of frustration, the heaps of resumes they’ve had to send out each week, and the dull quiet of phones that have failed to ring, I can’t help but think back to my first bout with unemployment.

I was about to graduate from college (something neither of my parents had done), and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had nearly earned a philosophy degree and was not finding myself to be particularly employable. Worse yet, there was no clear next step for me. I was in uncharted waters.

A professor of mine, helping me contemplate whether graduate school or the workforce were the next best home for me, Continue reading

September 11 Tribute Reminds Us of Endless Ways to Serve

Idealist’s Joanna Eng — who usually blogs at the Idealist in NYC blog — graciously attended last Friday’s September 11th event and permitted me to cross-post her account of the event.

The Roots

Photo from Be the Change Inc's Flickr Feed

Last Friday, a rainy and significant day, I was in attendance as 26 speakers and entertainers—including Hillary Clinton, David Paterson, Caroline Kennedy, Gavin DeGraw, and the Roots—came to the Beacon Theater on Friday evening to commemorate the newly-deemed September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. The audience was mostly families of 9/11 victims, as well as many other people involved in service (including a large number of red-jacketed City Year corps members).

Besides being a tribute to 9/11 heroes and their families, the whole event was a reminder of the many ways to serve.

To fit the theme, the night started with a quick and simple “service in your seat” activity: While waiting for the program to begin, audience members inscribed inspiring notes to public elementary school students, who would be receiving donated books from Target.

When the program began, we were reminded of the variety of impromptu acts of service, big and small, that took place on Continue reading

Volunteers and the Economic Downturn

Several studies have come out recently that have taken a look at volunteer engagement in the past year, during the deep recession.

From the CNCS Research Brief: "Volunteers and the Economic Downturn" July 2009

From the CNCS Research Brief: "Volunteers and the Economic Downturn" July 2009

One study, by Lester M. Salamon and Kasey L. Spence of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, has found that increased volunteer support has made it possible for many nonprofits to maintain or increase the number of people they serve. The researchers surveyed over 1,400 nonprofits in April 2009, primarily asking questions about the six month period between September 2008 and March 2009 — during the time the recession intensified.

During a time of intense fiscal stress for nonprofit organizations and AmeriCorps sponsor organizations, nonprofits have turned to more volunteer support. According to the research brief published by the Corporation for National and Community Service (PDF):

“One out of every three organizations reported increasing their reliance on volunteers to cope with the economic Continue reading

Tobey Maguire and Other Celebrities Honor 9/11 with Service

Tobey Maguire, sigh<br>Chair of the ServiceNation Ambassador's program

Tobey Maguire, sigh -- leader of ServiceNation's Ambassadors

Today Service Nation launched its celebrity Ambassadors program, engaging famous people in service projects as a way of highlighting the new day of service and inspiring the public to get involved proactively in building stronger communities.

Guided by an Ambassador’s Council — and led by actor Tobey Maguire — other celebrities who’ve participated in community service events today include other actors: Cameron Diaz in Boston, Anne Hathaway in Los Angeles, Oscar de la Hoya in Los Angeles, and Anna Sophia Robb in her hometown Denver.

Another initiative Service Nation has spearheaded this week included a Mayors Meeting in New York yesterday — convened by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Hands On Network, AARP, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The two dozen mayors from around the country came together to announce their commitments to the Cities of Service campaign, following in Mayor Bloomberg’s footsteps to highlight and support civic service in their cities.

Finally, Service Nation is hosting an event tonight in New York City at the Beacon Theatre where Secretary of State Clinton will keynote, and many other public leaders and entertainment industry stars will speak and perform.

Idealist’s Joanne Eng is on the ground at that event and will be bringing back a full report for us in the coming days.