iMentor event at Google

Unfortunately I didn't get to stay through the entire event last night but I was there for awhile.  iMentor had a panel to talk about volunteerism. 

There are a few things about panels, they must have amazing moderators in order to make the conversations flow between all the people on stage or it ends up people just talking about themselves. We are having panels are the Womens Entrepreneur Festival this weekend and we are hoping our format will work.  We will see.

I went to the event because both Rachael Chang from and Jessamyn Waldman Rodriquez from Hot Bread Kitchen were on the panel.  Two companies I am involved with and two women I highly respect. 

The conversation began asking each panelist why they got into a career of social good and then an addition to that a few other things which was way too long but that is another story.  What we found out after time is how few people volunteer in NYC and NY State and certainly the question is how do we get more people to volunteer their time.

When my Mom moved to NYC she wanted so desperately to volunteer somewhere that she was interested in.  In the end, she did a lot of work for the Obama campaign but never found anything else fulfilling in NYC and btw, it wasn't so easy to find.  That is why I so like what Catchafire is doing.  Taking people who want to give back their time, their time means not photo copying paper for the office but using their professional skills sets.  Catchafire matches professionals with a non-profit that could use their skills for a short focused project.  I really believe she is on to something.  I know she is by the growth of ther business. 

Hot Bread Kitchen is essentialy changing the world one person at a time.  A different take on social good.  What is interesting is Jessamyn came up with the concept of Hot Bread Kitchen over 10 years ago and slowly retooled the idea in her mind until the time came.  I like that.  Perry Chen did the same thing with Kickstarter.  He came up with the idea 10 years ago. 

There are so many ways all of us can give back to our communities.  It is worth checking out each of the sites above.  I will say the only downfall of last nights event was how it was organized.  I was invited to go and had no idea there was a suggested donation.  They literally held Fred and I hostage downstairs and called us out on the table before letting us in if we didn't get $20 a piece.  It wasn't a big deal but the way they did it was completely unprofessional and aggressive.  Didn't win any points in my book…just for the record. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike Hart

    We’ve all been in that fund raising situation before. – the implied $20 donation. It makes it uncomfortable because it feels almost as if they’re stalking you. It’s never that you don’t want to give, but you want to do it on your own terms.

    1. Gotham Gal


  2. Guest112

    Wow, an event on volunteerism and its unprofessional to request a donation. Held hostage for $40 bucks no less. Come on is there really a need to complain on your public blog about an event requesting a donation. Its sour grapes that makes you seem small and petty. You have dozens of blog entries about restaurants and not a mention of being over-charged. You (and Fred) rarely fail to mention your numerous investments and promotion of said business investments. Your posts didn’t win any points with me

    1. Gotham Gal

      Sorry to hear that but being held hostage to donate $40 and the way theywent about it was completely unprofessional. I was happy to pony up themoney, it is the way they went about it. I literally had no idea who wasputting on the event, I just knew that Rachael has asked me to come and gaveme the address.It’s all in the ask.

  3. Shelly Lipton

    With fundraising as a primary objective now, given we recently received 501c3 status for Second Chance Toys, I alway look for learnings on what we might do to generate much needed money to grow our charitable organization. I alway learn new things from you Joanne and how one asks for money is a big part of the learning. Your latest experience, good or bad, is another such lesson. And I agree…it’s all it how how, when and where you do the ‘ask’.

    1. Gotham Gal

      also important is know who is sitting in front of you when youask….always.

  4. rich caccappolo

    Your point about your Mom moving to NYC and looking for opportunities to volunteer, having trouble finding good causes and how to get in to them – that really rings true to me. I particularly find it hard to identify good opportunities for children to support with their time and energy, i.e., ways to get them involved and to give back to what is their community as much as it is ours (as adults). I envision a program in which my kids could volunteer periodically (it doesn’t have to be that often – maybe once a month or every few weeks) supporting something they feel is worthwhile while at the same time exposing them to the experience of volunteering – we’ve looked and have yet to find a great opportunity. Any ideas?

    1. Gotham Gal

      have rachael build that as an extension of her business. actually sildaspitzer’s non-profit tries to do that with kids.