Raising Funds Across the United States
SO, YOU WANT to give something back to your community? Your mother taught you that it was your responsibility to participate in charity work. You want to help kids. You're a patron of the arts. You are a friend of the environment, tigers, snail darters and spotted owls. You believe in the cause, whatever that is. Maybe you just want to have the satisfaction of doing something for someone else without thought of reward. So, you want to be a volunteer. Easy enough. Just run down to your favourite local charity and sign right up. Sounds easy enough, but as you may discover, being a volunteer may place you quickly out of your depth. Many non-profit organizations, churches, religious groups, and other charities depend on volunteers. Some are highly organized and interview potential volunteers, screening them and matching them to jobs which fit their skills. Others take whoever shows up, stick a soup ladle in their hands and leave them to it, sometimes to their discomfort and sometimes even to their hazard. Volunteerism has an ancient an honourable history. Throughout the history of the world, people have banded together to accomplish through mutual effort, what was impractical or even impossible to accomplish alone. Everyone helped build everyone's farms. Neighbours helped harvest each other's crops, build roads, care for children and the aged. It wasn't till the rise of the Industrial age and the spread of money as a means of exchange that people began to be more self-sufficient. Instead of trading labour, we began to hire labourers to build our barns, harvest our crops and cut trails and roads. Civilians and loved ones had once followed armies, rescued and treated the wounded after battles and helped those whose homes had been destroyed that had been wrecked by war. Heroic volunteers like Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale showed the way, creating organizations like the International Red Cross to coordinate the efforts of volunteers to help relieve suffering after wars, political upheavals and natural disasters. The horrific death and destruction that accompanied World War I led citizens from all sides of the conflict to band together to rebuild destroyed villages and to bring aid and comfort to those displaced by the havoc of war. Often ex-enemy soldiers worked side by side with men they had only months before, faced across the blighted landscape of no-man's land. Voluntary service organizations joined the Red Cross, Service Civil International (SCI) and others worked tirelessly to rebuild not only houses and infrastructure, but also the tattered relations between people of all nations. The Second World War shattered the world again and revealed, if possible, even worse horrors. The British Volunteer Programme and the US Peace Corps and programs sponsored by the new United Nations reached beyond the battlefields and sought to lift up the poor and starving peoples of the world. The Cold War threatened the international volunteerism movement, but did not extinguish it. Volunteer groups continued to work across borders and the work was accompanied by a renewed spirit of community at the local level within nearly every country that participated in the new wave of charitable outreach. Food banks, social service groups and non-profit groups sprang up to do even more to help their neighbours, going beyond the usual neighbourliness that once constituted most of our front-line type of charity. Increasingly, Good Samaritans extended these efforts to neighbours that they'd never even met. With the end of the Cold War, volunteers from both sides met at scenes of disaster, famine and unrest. The United Nations and other government supported aid programs coordinated such efforts.