In recent years corporations have come under public pressure to become more socially responsible. Voluntarism gives corporations the opportunity to actively reach out into the community by donating resources beyond the traditional cash and grants. Two options are to donate volunteers or non-cash resources to one of the 1,200 nonprofit organizations in Orange County.
"Local businesses give valuables that nonprofits simply can't afford. Wells Fargo donates desks, chairs and couches, acquired from redecorating," said Vicky Woods, director of the Volunteer Center of Greater Orange County. "Ours is the only ongoing program in the country that provides quality office furniture to nonprofits."
One of the most successful mergers of workers and companies to aid nonprofits is the Corporate Combined Volunteer Project. Last May, nearly 700 volunteers representing 30 local businesses pitched in for a day of repainting the Discovery Museum and renovating the 90-year-old water tower that was moved to the site in 1982. For Mary Ann Barngrover, public affairs manager at Chevron Corp.'s La Habra office, the Corporate Combined Project met her company's needs.
"Everyone had their company T-shirt on and worked together. The teams feel pride in themselves and in their company's presence in the project," Barngrover said. "This project envelops the major positive aspect of corporate volunteerism . . . corporations and individuals working together to help others in the community."
How Corporations Can Put Voluntarism Into Practice:
* In-Kind Services. Companies or small businesses print flyers and brochures, donate lumber and renovation materials, or offer their own services to nonprofit agencies.
* Loaned Executives. Corporate staff members are loaned to nonprofits during company time, bringing accounting, managerial and other skills to the organization.
* Non-cash Donations. Businesses donate office furniture, office supplies and similar business-related items that can be used at nonprofit offices and homes.
* Workplace Volunteers: Employees are recruited to work in volunteer programs. They work within all facets of the nonprofit organizations, from designing brochures to heading up major fund drives.
* Corporate Combined Volunteer Project. Corporate volunteers form teams that spend a day renovating a nonprofit building.
The Volunteer Center helps corporations set up in-house volunteer programs. "We expose them to what everyone else is doing in corporate volunteering and help the company choose the right program for their size and needs," Woods said. "Last year, we recruited and placed 16,000 volunteers, and recycled hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of office furniture."
How Individuals Can Become Volunteers:
* Contact the community services department within your company. Some companies (Irvine's Fluor Corp., for example) have set up corporate community involvement teams.
* Contact the Volunteer Center of Greater Orange County. There are three offices, each serving a portion of the county. NORTH OFFICE 2550 Youth Way, Fullerton MAIN OFFICE (714) 953-5757 1000 E. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana SOUTH OFFICE 23421 South Pointe Drive, Laguna Hills
Interviews may be held in person or over the telephone. Be ready to identify your interests, skills, hours available for volunteering and causes (elderly, abused children). After a review of needy agencies, and based on your responses, the Volunteer Center will recommend two or three organizations for you to contact.
How To Donate Office Goods To Nonprofit Agencies:
* Contact the Volunteer Center Warehouse at (714) 836-6534. Donations are screened before they are picked up. They do not accept any type of office machine. To save expenses, the Volunteer Center prefers that companies deliver goods to the warehouse, 515 N. Fairview St., Santa Ana.
Source: Volunteer Center of Greater Orange County