Volunteer with Local Nonprofits During Cincinnati Cares' Day of Service in Memory of 9/11

Cincinnati Cares, a website that helps connect local nonprofits with those looking for volunteer opportunities, is hosting a special day of service on Sept. 11 to commemorate those affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

click to enlarge PHOTO: JOEL MUNIZ
Photo: Joel Muniz

Cincinnati Cares, a website that helps connect local nonprofits with those looking for volunteer opportunities, is hosting a special day of service on Sept. 11 to commemorate those affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This year, 10 area organizations are in need of more than 300 volunteers to help with socially distant, hands-on volunteering on Sept. 11 and 12. 

We asked Doug Bolton, CEO of Cincinnati Cares, about why volunteering in the time of COVID-19 is so important, especially on this day, and year-round.

CityBeat: Can you tell me more about why you selected Sept. 11 and why it was important to go ahead with the Day of Service even during COVID-19?

Doug Bolton: Nonprofits are struggling to get back to normal in the wake of COVID-19, and so we thought it was important to allow those that were willing to take the precautions necessary to keep volunteers safe to continue with the second year of the program. Cincinnati Cares launched its platform in December 2017, become certified as a volunteer center and Service Enterprise — an organization that engages volunteers under a rigorous set of standards — by the national Points of Light Foundation in 2018 and we launched our Days of Service programming in 2019. We started with MLK Day and 9/11 Day as those two national holidays were designated to get people to serve, and no community-wide events here had been organized for service before around those holidays.

CB: What would you say to those who are hesitant to do hands-on volunteer work during the pandemic? Have nonprofits seen a decline in volunteers and/or an increased need in assistance as a result of COVID?

DB: Only about 15% of volunteers on average are engaged in organizations today compared to pre COVID-19 levels. Just like the shutdowns have impacted businesses and the overall economy, nonprofits have been dramatically impacted — canceled fundraisers, postponed programming, reduced contributions, etc. There are estimates that up to 40% of all nonprofits will not survive the pandemic, largely because the average nonprofit has less than six months of cash on hand to ride out catastrophic events. People still want to help, and so it’s to the benefit of the nonprofit sector to figure out socially distant safe ways or virtual ways for volunteers to engage.

CB: Will there be more days of service scheduled? If not, how can people use your platform to find volunteer opportunities year-round? 

DB: People use our site year-round to find volunteer opportunities. Right now, however, a number of the traditional opportunities have been curtailed. So we are encouraging people to use their skills and technology to engage with nonprofits. Skilled volunteers can help nonprofits across a continuum, from simple conversations to board service. Our platforms help connect volunteers, and we host a series of events — now all virtual (except for those two Days of Service) — to speed the connections.

CB: On the website, I see the 10 organizations in need (for the Day of Service). How were those chosen? If other organizations want to get involved with Cincinnati Cares or the Day of Service, can they still do that?

DB: We invited the 700 nonprofits using our platform to participate. About 20 participated last year, the first year of the event in Cincinnati (other communities have long had 9/11 Days of Service). It’s too late for nonprofits to sign up for this year’s event, but we can put them in our queue for next year — or the next Day of Service: Martin Luther King Day in January 2021.


For more information about Cincinnati Cares, visit cincinnaticares.org. And to sign up for volunteer opportunities, visit events.cincinnaticares.org.

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