Within the next eighteen months, I expect my giving to comprise of involvement in various FDDS initiatives such as Hope for the Holidays and our partnership with the National Museum for African American History and Culture. Through these activities I hope to gain insight into the specific strengths I have to offer nonprofit organizations and what areas are most conducive to utilizing my specific skills and abilities. Thus far, based on my past volunteer experiences, I would say that I excel most in PR and managerial positions where I can best contribute my brainstorming, writing, and communication talents.
In Hope for the Holidays, I plan on assisting the group in advertising and spreading awareness for the AU student body to donate unwanted books that will be given to a local K-12 bilingual charter school. I also am currently involved in brainstorming innovative ways to promote the new Museum for African American History and Culture that will be opening up soon. By hosting some type of event that relates to African American History during FDDS week to raise public awareness of the museum’s opening, hopefully I can assist in developing a mutually beneficial relationship between the FDDS program and the museum that will create future volunteer opportunities. Thankfully, being involved in the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program has allowed me to have immediate access to these fantastic volunteer opportunities that I will engage in and focus on as my short term giving goals within the next 18 months.
Thinking in terms of long term goals, throughout my next four years in college, I would like to branch out and become involved in volunteering opportunities that deal with my specific interests of international human rights, justice, and law. I would love to volunteer for organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or USAID. In order to ensure my success in fulfilling my volunteering goals, I currently try to stay knowledgeable about issues that each of these various organizations focus on by subscribing to their newsletters and publications. I have also found some valuable internet search engines such as VolunteerMatch, DoSomething, and Universal Giving dedicated to matching individuals with volunteer positions in their area of specialty through the book Giving 2.0 by Laura Arrillaga-Andresson.
After college, one of my future goals is to work as an international human rights lawyer and advocate either for a United Nations organization or a nonprofit organization. Although giving is inherently a part of one who serves as an advocate for those human rights have been violated, I also hope to do some pro-bono work on the side so that those who do not have the resources necessary to afford a lawyer to represent them in court. Another long term giving goal of mine is to found a nonprofit organization dedicated towards some specific area of human rights in Western Africa.
The main barrier to my success that I foresee is lack of time as I struggle to maintain my ideal GPA. However, as the author of Giving 2.0 points out, volunteering often acts as a stress reliever when one has a heavy workload. I also plan on using the approach Laura Arrillaga-Andresson suggests in her book by composing a list of all my commitments and looking for gaps in my schedule that can be filled with volunteer activities. However, whatever volunteer initiative I choose to become involved in must be flexible and able to work around my rigorous academic schedule. Therefore, I must be honest with myself concerning the time I have available to devote and the level of commitment I can maintain, just as the book Giving 2.0 acknowledges. Being in a city like DC with such a wealth of volunteer and internship opportunities can serve as a blessing and a curse. At times, one feels overwhelmed by the sheer amount of opportunities available. However, I also seek to utilize the advice found in Giving 2.0 in regards to finding and discovering volunteer positions that are in need of my area of expertise.
Based on this analysis of future barriers that may arise as I seek to pursue a lifelong commitment to giving, I would categorize most of my perceived barriers as social and emotional since they deal with my need to balance all of my different academic and social commitments while still allocating time for simple resting. However, when barriers appear that may potentially inhibit my giving, I hope to stay focused by reminding myself of the things that first inspired my giving such as God and my mother’s altruistic actions. By remaining focused on my giving inspirations, I can persevere despite any difficulties that arise in my philanthropic pursuits.
I plan on utilizing the abundance of resources offered by AU to enhance my giving. One particular resource I intend on taking full advantage of is the Center for Community Engagement and Service. By going to this center in search of volunteer opportunities, I can ensure that I am not only matched with reputable organizations that correspond to my interests, but organizations that are appropriate for students with heavy academic workloads. I can also attend seminars dealing with time management at the Academic Support Center in order to learn how to free up space in my schedule to allow for volunteering. Other resources include asking advice from upperclassmen that are already currently involved in differing volunteer initiatives and inquiring for help from Mr. Larry P.Thomas, the Director of the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program here at American University.
Reading Giving 2.0 is also an additional source I plan on using to gain knowledge concerning practical measures that I can begin to apply in my daily life in order to begin my giving journey. So far, I have enjoyed how author Laura Arillaga-Andreessen has balanced inspirational relatable anecdotes with realistic suggestions. So far, I have already begun to acquire lessons such as being prepared for rejection and learning the importance of balancing passions with public needs through Andreessen’s intriguing book. Hopefully, Giving 2.0 can provide me with the tools necessary to overcome some of the challenges one may encounter when attempting to become a young philanthropist.