A community member involved with the City Heights Development Corporation paints a fence along University Avenue in City Heights alongside volunteers attending the Ben & Jerry’s franchise owners conference in San Diego on Jan. 12, 2018. The project was sponsored by Ben & Jerry’s corporate team and planned by HandsOn San Diego. Photos courtesy of Jessie Case, HandsOn San Diego’s Program Coordinator

A community member involved with the City Heights Development Corporation paints a fence along University Avenue in City Heights alongside volunteers attending the Ben & Jerry’s franchise owners conference in San Diego on Jan. 12, 2018. The project was sponsored by Ben & Jerry’s corporate team and planned by HandsOn San Diego. Photos courtesy of Jessie Case, HandsOn San Diego’s Program Coordinator

— Late last month, about 40 volunteers from a San Diego company painted the home of and built a brand-new shed for a local family as part of a beautification project. A few days before that, a corporate group that was visiting San Diego for a work retreat spent one morning building robotic kits with a group of Girl Scouts from an underprivileged community as part of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiative.

These programs and others like them occurred through the direct operation and proactive execution of nonprofits such as HandsOn San Diego and Mission Edge, and a list of others. These companies make it their mission to help other nonprofit and for-profit businesses, big or small, fulfill their humanitarian objectives by being the middleman and connecting them with those in need.

According to Jaci Feinstein, founder and volunteer-in-chief at HandsOn, with a mission to strengthen communities through volunteer action and leadership development, the nonprofit helps partner volunteers with projects around the county in two very easy and specific ways.

Volunteer Opportunities

“One is through our online calendar of projects, on which people can sign up and simply show up to their chosen event,” she said, stating the calendar includes volunteer opportunities around town like beach and park cleanups and doesn’t require background check or orientation. “The projects are date and time specific and are meant for people who want to give back but don’t know where to start. It is a very easy, one-click volunteering process. That’s what we call our project calendar.”

The other way in which HandsOn matches volunteers with charity work is through its Corporate Employee Volunteer Coordination Program. “We create custom volunteer projects for local companies and visiting groups by connecting them with projects or creating a project for them.

These companies basically pay us to manage these initiatives for them, so, not only do they donate their time and manpower, but they are also financially supporting it by donating money for supplies, while we handle the support and logistics.”

Mission Edge, which provides nonprofit and social enterprise communities with the resource and knowledge necessary to make business processes easier and maximize social impact, also offers a handful of options to better cater to the demands and needs of partnering corporations. One is their Skills-Based Program, which helps bring together corporate and nonprofit professionals with nonprofit organizations that need help in specific areas. Mission Edge was the catalyst in implementing this same program at Qualcomm Technologies Inc., the San Diego-based tech giant, as well as at Mitchell International, a local technology company that works in the collision auto repair industry, and Ocean Connectors, also a San Diego company that aims at educating, inspiring and connecting underserved youth in Pacific coastal communities through the study of migratory marine life.

“Ocean Connectors needed support from a tech standpoint and some help getting a better working database, so, we pulled someone from Qualcomm to help them (Ocean Connectors) with that,” said Chloe Seipel, communication and programs manager at Mission Edge, adding that the nonprofit also paired marketing employees from Qualcomm with A Reason to Survive (ARTS), a San Diego company which helps youth through the arts and creative expression, to create a branding strategy just a few years ago. “ARTS needed to have some marketing expertise on hand that they just couldn’t pay for, and, with our help, they were able to leverage the talent of the Qualcomm team for it.”

Retirees Remain on Payroll

Mission Edge also has the Board Recruitment Program, through which professionals can volunteer to be on boards of nonprofits of their choice, and the Encore Fellowship Program for Retirees. The latter is for those transitioning from employment to retirement, and it is when a company offers to pay a retiree for a year or two to volunteer with them post-retirement.

“With our help, nonprofits are able to focus on what they do best, like fundraising,” says Alicia Quinn, director of programs at Mission Edge. “And, because we are a nonprofit, we are able to provide below-market rates for our management services and raise capital to subsidize cost of services.

Mission Edge takes the legal responsibility of projects so that these companies can focus on getting business done.”