Chronicle of Philanthropy Announces VolunTV Contest Finalists

Nov. 4th Update: A submission based on the t.v. show 30 Rock won the competition, with prize money to benefit Quality Services for the Autism Community, a New York nonprofit. Read more here:

The entry was submitted by Joe Moran, assistant director of multimedia development at the autism group, who created a video showing how 30 Rock could highlight the organization’s work in one of its episodes. The plot twist involves a cast member’s confusion over the words “artistic” and “autistic.”

And check out his submission:

This month, the Chronicle of Philanthropy has sponsored a contest for people to produce scripts of their favorite television shows with plot themes that incorporate volunteerism.

Finalists, announced recently, submitted scripts and video for shows like Bones, House, two submissions for Two and a Half Men, a couple for 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Glee and at least a couple inspired by The Office (and here). (See all the submitted ideas and the nonprofits that will receive the prize money here.)

VolunTV contest judges include people like Ashley Judd and Nigel Barker  from the entertainment industry as well as leaders in our sector like volunteer resource management guru Susan Ellis, social media mavens Beth Kanter and NTEN‘s Holly Ross, and blogger and podcaster Rosetta Thurman.

Contest prizes and categories include:

  • $5,000 Grand Prize: The most creative pitch, script, or scene that best incorporates volunteerism
  • — written or video — into a TV show.
  • $2,500 Silver Prize (Text): A written pitch/script that effectively incorporates volunteerism into a TV show.
  • $2,500 Silver Prize (Video): A video pitch/scene that effectively incorporates volunteerism into a TV show.

Recently the Entertainment Industry Foundation and partners piloted the iParticipate campaign, in which t.v. shows actually mentioned volunteerism, or at least offered public service announcements in support of the iParticipate campaign.

Join the Online Career Chat “Breaking into the Sector”

This Thursday, October 8th at noon ET, Idealist.org will partner with the Chronicle of Philanthropy for an online chat on Breaking into the Sector.

An intensely competitive job market is making it harder than ever for recent graduates and established business professionals to break into careers in the nonprofit world.

  • What can you do to stand out from the crowd?
  • What can you do to make sure you are an attractive candidate for a great new role when conditions improve?
  • And if you do land a position, what should you do to make the most of your opportunity?

Career transition experts Meg Busse and Steve Joiner (authors of the Idealist.org Guides to Nonprofit Careers and our Career Corner advice column) and nonprofit leader Rosetta Thurman will answer these questions and more.

We hope you will join us Thursday.

Obama Nominates CNCS Board Chair to Serve as Ambassador to Spain and Andorra

Solomont speaking at the Service Nation luncheon in June, <br>photo by Be the Change Inc

Solomont at Service Nation luncheon in June, photo by Be the Change Inc

The Corporation —which has been lacking a permanent CEO since November—may soon lose its board chair as well.

Alan Solomont, Chair of the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, was nominated today to serve as the United States Ambassador to Spain and Andorra.

According to a statement today from Acting CEO of the Corporation Nicola Goren:
Alan has provided extraordinary leadership to the Corporation and the larger service movement since his original appointment to the Board by President Clinton in 2000 and his reappointment by President Bush in 2007.  His guidance as Board Chair has been especially helpful during the transition and in our series of early successes in the Obama Administration including the passage of the Recovery Act and Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, the formulation of the FY 2010 budget, the record turnout on the King Day of Service, the launch of United We Serve, and other milestones.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, if Solomont leaves the Corporation’s board, the board would have seven vacancies on its 15-member board.

A US Department of Development and Service?

This post was contributed by Put Barber, Idealist’s Senior Researcher.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported today that Timothy Shriver, director of the Special Olympics (and son of Sargeant and Eunice Kennedy Shriver) has proposed that the new Administration create a Federal Department of Development and Service.

“Today, there’s no national voice inviting Americans to serve humanitarian interests around the world and no clear strategy for promoting democracy, economic development, health, education, and human rights,” he writes in The Washington Post. His proposed department would take on these tasks.

Within about an hour of the posting of the report on the Chronicle blog there were four sour hostile comments about “inept government” and “layers of bureaucracy.” Now there’s at least one less grumpy one (by me).

You can see the Chronicle blog here.

You may remember a similar anecdote from the Nonprofit Congress earlier this year. There are certainly some folks ready with a negative word about government who are active in nonprofit work.

What do you think? You can post a comment here for us Idealists to see or join in the more public discussion at the Chronicle website linked above.

Pres. Obama and Government Careers

images-4With record numbers of first-time voters and young people backing Obama’s presidency, perhaps a new generation of government workers will not be so hard to recruit after all.

With Baby Boomers retiring in droves over the next decade, fears have been widespread in public and nonprofit sectors that the United States will face a leadership shortage.

Not enough young people have shown an interest in government careers, and in-roads to government careers are not well known. Government has a reputation of being inefficient, less lucrative than business sector work, and very, very bureaucratic. People cite student loans that are just too high, and the need for better marketing of the compelling opportunities available in the government.

“This will not be a call issued in one speech or one program – this will be a central cause of my presidency. We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve. And we will direct that service to our most pressing national challenges.”– U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama during a speech given at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs July 2, 2008.

John F. Kennedy inspired a generation of youth to serve through initiatives like Peace Corps. Will a new generation of people — young people and people who are recently discovering civic engagement — be inspired to join the ranks of an Obama-led federal government? What do you think?

If you are considering a career in government — whether you supported McCain or Obama during this election cycle — you should know about these resources:

President-Elect Obama has been particularly clear that his administration will count on the help of people who have supported his candidacy and on those who didn’t. Young people may accept this invitation by entering the government workforce. If they do so with the enthusiasm and turn-out they have shown in his election bid, the looming leadership crisis may fail to materialize.

Setting the record straight on Public Allies

So lately I have noticed a lot of bizarre references to Public Allies in the blogosphere. Barack and Michelle Obama were involved with the Chicago program, so it’s pretty obvious the attacks have been politically motivated.

For example, one blogger referred to Public Allies participants as a “band of taxpayer-supported social misfits.” Another says of the program: “its real mission is to radicalize American youth and use them to bring about ‘social change’ through threats, pressure, tension and confrontation….” According to one, the national service program is connected to a “boot camp for radicals who hate the military.”

So after coming across so many offensive references to Public Allies (a group that has co-sponsored our Idealist.org graduate admissions fairs for several years), I am glad to see this note in the Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s web site shedding some light on the attacks. For more information, read the fact sheet Public Allies posted on its site about its relationship with the Obamas.

Participants in national service programs are prohibited from taking part in political activity during service hours or while wearing the AmeriCorps logo. Here is a good summary of other prohibited activities for AmeriCorps from the Serve Illinois web site. Further, people of all political backgrounds are inspired to become involved in their communities and take part in national service.

The conversation about the Service Nation Summit this week has been forcefully nonpartisan, people of all political ideologies will be involved with the event, and Summit volunteers have been encouraged to keep the conversation neutral. I get it that people who are in favor of smaller government resent the notion of government-funded volunteer programs, but I regret the tone these blogs are taking against citizen service.

Paul Light on what the president needs to do to strengthen national and public service

Just in time for the Service Nation Summit, Paul Light of the Wagner Graduate School of Public Serivce at NYU, just published this opinion piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, on what the next president needs to do in order to strengthen both national service and the public service sector.

On a side note, read the Wagner definition of public service, which I am a big fan of:

“The Wagner School sees public service as work that matters, work of public importance – wherever it happens. What does it mean for work to ‘matter?’ At one level, it means that the work of public service has an impact on others, that it touches issues of public concern, that it is motivated more by mission than by money. Public service work also ‘matters’ at another level: those of us who choose public service want our work to ‘matter’ in our lives. We choose public service careers because we want our work to reflect our values; we want careers that satisfy our need to be of service or to transform some part of the world.”

What do you think of Paul Light’s piece? What’s your definition of public service?