Donna Hoffman shares her thoughts on volunteerism in the Orlando Sentinel

donna hoffmanOrlando Sentinel Editorial Board Member, Donna Hoffman, shares her thoughts on volunteerism and the giving spirit of our Central Florida Community. “It feels good to help others. Volunteer efforts are appreciated and rewarding and brings out the very best in us- our kindness and our humanity – an frequently bring out the best in others.” I couldn’t agree more.

Donna knows the joy of giving. Donna serves as the President of the Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic raising money to support. The Friends were recognized at National Philanthropy Day as a YMCA Central Florida Volunteerism Honoree. This category honors individuals, groups or organizations who demonstrate an exceptional passion for volunteerism, along with a commitment to the advancement of philanthropy throughout the community.

The Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic is the orchestra’s official volunteer organization, providing opportunities to be a hands-on volunteer, enjoy special events and meet new friends with similar interests. Since their initial meeting in 1996, the Friends have raised nearly $1 million in support of the orchestra. Additionally, they contribute nearly $200,000 per year in in-kind services.

Read her editorial comment in the Friday, November 10, 2017 Orlando Sentinel:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-ed-philanthropy-volunteerism-rewarding-myword-20171107-htmlstory.html

If you need help with expanding your volunteer base, contact me. I can help.

Victory Cup Initiative

VCIThis morning I took off my fundraising hat and put on my funder hat, as I had the opportunity to be part of the review process of applications for the Victory Cup Initiative (VCI).

The VCI is a platform where companies come together for philanthropic investing with a twist. This unique event is designed to provide a high-profile opportunity for charitable organizations to tell their stories, build their strategies and partner with business and community leaders to make a difference in Central Florida. During this breakfast event, 10 of Central Florida’s top nonprofits present a 2 minute, 30 second pitch on who they are, how they are changing lives and how they are serving the community to a room of philanthropists who will vote to determine the winner of the $20,000 grand prize. Organizations also compete for second ($15,000) and third place ($10,000) financial awards. All remaining organizations will be awarded a $1,000 participation grant. The Ten finalists are selected through an application process to compete in main event for cash awards. In its first two years, the victory cup initiative received applications from 132 nonprofits and distributed $84,000 in awards to 20 local nonprofits.

IMG_0975 (1)About 6 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Ashley Vann, VCI Founder, as part of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Florida Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day. VCI was to be recognized as an honoree in the AFP social enterprise and community service category. This honor recognizes organizations – specifically non-profits, civic or service groups – that are actively engaged in philanthropy through social enterprise or a “hybrid” nonprofit business model, or engaged in exceptional community service.

Ashely’s enthusiasm was very infectious. I wanted to be involved. So, I signed up to be part of the application judging committee. The 2018 event won’t take place until February 7, but the behind the scenes efforts are well under way including the application process, which is where I came in.

The application was fairly simple compared to most grant application. Each of the applicates were asked:

What is your organization’s mission?

Briefly describe your major programs and activities.

What is your elevator speech? (90 seconds or less description)

Give one of the best examples of a constituent has been positively impacted by your organization.

Describe your organization’s vision for furthering your mission over the next 3-5 years.

I received 10 applications via a secure portal. The evaluation review instructions called for me to rank 1-10 how I felt about the nonprofit answered the following questions:

Does the nonprofit have a compelling story that needs to be shared with the community?

What is the magnitude of the impact of the nonprofit organization’s programs and activities?

How comprehensive is the nonprofit organization’s programs and activities?

How comprehensive is the nonprofit organization’s vision for serving their constituents?

Then the last question was: Should this nonprofit organizations be one of the finalist which presents in the Victory Cup Initiative 2018? Yes. No. Or Maybe.

VCI $20KSounds simple, right? No! It was a lot harder than it looked. I was familiar with a couple of the applicants, but there a couple I had never heard about. None of which I have any association with, or I would have recuse myself. All were worthy of support, but I couldn’t just send them all along to in the finalist. I felt I had a responsibility to really think about these charities and the causes they represented and what they said in their application. There was a lot of money on the line, and the opportunity to spread awareness for their cause.

The VCI is dedicated to equipping Central Florida nonprofits with the skills and training to better tell their story and ultimately raise more funds. Now that is a cause I can get behind.  Here’s the website is you want to learn more or buy tickets for the 2018 VCI. http://www.victorycupinitiative.com/

If you are reading this and your organization didn’t get into the finalist, don’t get mad at me. I only reviewed 10 of the applications, there were 20 other reviewers. Giving away money is hard. I am glad I had my small part. It was a learning experience. Not only did I learn about some really neat nonprofit organizations, but I gained experience looking at applications through funders eyes.

Ashley’s passion for uniting donors with the causes they care about sparked her idea for the inaugural VCI. Ashley knows the joy of giving.

If your organization could use help in spreading the message about your cause, call me. Let’s talk.

I’ll have a Big Mac and a side of fries.

IFA Educational Foundation Franchising Gives Back LogoThe International Franchise Association’s (IFA) Franchise Education & Research Foundation announced today the winners of its third annual Franchising Gives Back Awards, who were honored at an awards dinner on Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C.

The Franchise Education & Research Foundation recognized five Gold Winners at the Franchising Gives Back Celebration & Awards Dinner, including:

  • Spirit of Franchising Award: McDonald’s
    In 2015, McDonald’s launched Archways to Opportunity, an education program that allows U.S.-based restaurant employees the chance to earn a high school diploma, receive tuition assistance, access free education advising services, and learn English as a second language. Nearly 17,000 people have enrolled over the last two years and McDonald’s has awarded more than $14 million in tuition assistance. Additionally, there have been almost 200 graduates from the Career Online High School and 5,200 graduates of the English Under the Arches program.
  • Enduring Impact Award: The Wendy’s Company
    In 2004, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA) launched Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, which awards grants to public and private adoption agencies to hire adoption professionals that create recruitment programs to help families for children who have been waiting in foster care the longest. Over the past five years, Wendy’s has raised over $77.6 million for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, helping to finalize over 6,300 adoptions. Wendy’s hopes to raise an additional $12 million this year for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
  • Support Our Veterans Award: Dream Vacations
    Since 2012, Dream Vacations (a CruiseOne company) has awarded 25 military veterans free franchises through its “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” annual contest. The goal is to ease veterans’ transition back into civilian life with a career opportunity that combines their military skills and travel experiences. To date, Dream Vacations’ in-kind donation exceeds $317,000 and, moreover, the contest has evolved into a broader veterans program for Dream Vacations, allowing the franchisor to increase the number of veterans in their system by 15 percent.
  • Innovation and Impact Award: Massage Heights
    Since establishing the Massage Heights Family Fund in 2013 following the experience of co-founder and president Shane Evans had on “Undercover Boss,” Massage Heights has raised nearly $53,000 to help provide financial relief and assistance to franchisees’ employees and their families in times of crisis, need, or hardship. Over the last four years, the Massage Heights Family Fund has awarded 16 grants totaling $15,500 to assist with medical co-pays for chemotherapy; to pay for food, rent, and living expenses after an employee’s husband was injured in an automobile accident; to help pay for temporary housing after an employee lost their home in a fire; and more.
  • The Newcomer Award: Planet Fitness
    Last year, Planet Fitness launched a national cause initiative called The Judgement Free Generation™, a pro-kindness, anti-bullying movement, with a mission to encourage a generation to grow up contributing to a more judgement free planet. Planet Fitness partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and STOMP Out Bullying, raising over $1.5 million in its inaugural year by donating the $10 new-member enrollment fee during the weeklong national cause-marketing program, in addition to contributing over $100,000 in in-kind donations and more than 1,300 volunteer hours.

Thirteen additional Silver Award Winners were recognized. They are:

  • Spirit of Franchising Award — Sonny’s BBQ (Random Acts of BBQ), Home Instead Senior Care (Hilarity for Charity), and Dream Dinners (Living the Dream Foundation / Friends & Family Community Connection)
  • Enduring Impact Award — Tropical Smoothie Cafe (Camp Sunshine), McAlister’s Deli of Louisville (Crusade for Children), and Global Franchise Group (A Bite for the Fight for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society)
  • Support Our Veterans Award — Sport Clips (Veterans of Foreign Wars Sports Clips “Help A Hero” Scholarship Program) and Anytime Fitness (Operation HeartFirst)
  • Innovation and Impact Award — Dunkin’ Donuts (Box 4 Special Services Canteen), Abrakadoodle (Abrakadoodle Arts for All), and Naples Donuts LLC Safe and Healthy Kids Coalition of Collier County)
  • The Newcomer Award — Chicken Salad Chick (Music and Miracles) and The Cleaning Authority (The Cleaning Authority CARES)

“It’s truly uplifting to learn about all of the ongoing efforts that many franchise owners, franchisors, and suppliers lead throughout the year,” said Mike Isakson, CFE, Foundation Chairman. “Franchising Gives Back allows our foundation the opportunity to recognize and honor the significant charitable work that impacts communities across the country and we are thrilled to continue this annual celebration.”

Established by a generous donation from Roark Capital Group, Franchising Gives Back salutes the best, most innovative community leaders and charitable programs nationwide.

Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/franchise-businesses-and-their-charities-honored-at-2017-franchising-gives-back-awards-dinner-300517861.html