Editor's note: Rima Patel is a lead visionary at Heart to Soul in Action. She is also a student at the University of the Sciences and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Health Policy. Here, she outlines some of the ways individuals can engage in nonprofit work.
Why am I volunteering for this nonprofit organization?
One of the most rudimentary questions I have come across in my time leading this nonprofit organization, is "Why Heart to Soul in Action (HSA) when there are so many other organizations?" I find this question intriguing because it is difficult to quantify or even qualify, the "why" to someone else. In elementary terms, HSA addresses two of the biggest societal issues, at least in my eyes, of education and healthcare. Additionally, I am able to combine education and healthcare together for many of the projects that I envision for the organization. Being a part of HSA allows me to have creative authority and to work towards a mission that aligns with my values of service, community, engagement, empathy, and acceptance.
There are many non-profit organizations across the United States and while I would love for every one of you reading this post to be a part of Heart to Soul in Action organization, we all have different causes we are passionate about. Below I have outlined how to find a nonprofit organization that best fits you.
List causes that you are passionate about and that are meaningful to you on a piece of paper. Do not focus on the scope; focus on your emotions.
What are you really passionate about? What do you want to see changed in society?
After you select your causes, then draw up a list of values that are important to you. Once you make both lists narrow your search to a few causes.
Focus on what your values are and make another list. If you are passionate about more than one cause and the causes have an underlying similarity, try to choose a multifaceted organization that has many different on-going service projects. If your causes are vastly different from one another, do not be afraid to get involved in more than one organization . I personally, do not recommend joining more than two organizations because it severely limits your capacity to be able to make a lasting impact and dedicate adequate time to all of them.
Select the organization(s) that you wish to take part in. Instead of looking at the size or the caliber of an organization, look for one that most closely matches your passions.
Often times, there is a huge spotlight on helping out a well-established nonprofit organization and while this may suit some people, I find the vast majority of people are much more suited to working with a local affiliate of a national organization or with a community based non- profit. I encourage everyone to try to learn about potential organizations and find projects where they get to be the most involved and are most comfortable working with. This serves a dual purpose as it helps you make a sizable impact and prevents the organization from having a disinterested or disconnected member.
If you are unable to find an organization that matches your passions, you have two choices. 1) start your own project and propose your idea to a non-profit organization that works in the field in which your project falls under or 2) start your own non-profit organization.
Option 1 allows you to have immediate access to the organizations existing infrastructure, intellectual property, and member base. HSA excels here. We believe in not only benefiting the community, but also helping students grow and are always open to your project ideas if you choose to become a member. If you do not want to work under the constraints of another organization than you have the option of creating your own non-profit organization, which will allow you autonomy but will requires a lot more groundwork and administrative tasks (trust me on this one). This can be time constraining and will at least initially impact your hands on time on the project. Check back later on a post about how to start your own non-profit organization.
Here are a few resources to help you find non-profit organizations:
You can always join Heart to Soul in Action! We mainly operate in the areas of youth education and healthcare. http://www.hearttosoulinaction.org/
https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/search-for-charities- this is a comprehensive list of nonprofit organizations registered with the government. You can search organizations in your state and city.
https://www.guidestar.org/NonprofitDirectory.aspx - this is a website that highlights certain nonprofit organizations by the category they fall under.
M.S. Health Policy Candidate ‘17