Giving DuPage Connecting — volunteers with local opportunities

July 2012 View more


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make a contribution toward introducing justice straight away.”

–Anne Frank

Anne Frank’s words embody the true spirit of volunteerism. There is great fulfillment in giving our time, talent, and treasure to an inspiring cause. It feels even more meaningful when we support a local charity that enables us to give back to our community. If you’re looking to volunteer for a local nonprofit, but are not sure where to begin, Giving DuPage can help you in your search.

Giving DuPage’s mission is to promote giving and volunteerism throughout DuPage County. Executive Director Kathy Blair describes the organization as a clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities.


One way Giving DuPage connects people with volunteer opportunities is through its interactive website. “It’s DuPage’s version of the national volunteer match website,” Blair explains. On, you can search local nonprofits by a particular cause, an agency’s name, or its location. For example, if you’re passionate about community development and would like to serve on a board, a quick search on the website shows several charities looking for such assistance. This rich resource provides volunteering ideas for children and adults, as well as suggestions for projects that can be done at home. If you’re new to volunteering, the website also offers helpful links and ideas to consider.

In addition to its website, Giving DuPage holds volunteer fairs, distributes an annual giving guide, and sponsors an annual day of remembrance and service on September 11.

Giving DuPage also co-hosts Volapalooza: A Celebration of Volunteerism. “We encourage agencies to invite and honor their own volunteers, but this event is also 100 percent open to the public. It’s a great opportunity for people to see what nonprofits would be a good fit for them and to hear compelling stories of the charities being honored.” This bi-annual celebration will be held May 2013 at North Central College’s Wentz Hall.


Giving DuPage also partners with organizations to promote volunteer opportunities. Last January, Giving DuPage partnered with Benedictine University to host a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. “This was a really neat event that had over 500 adults and children completing on site service projects for charities,” Blair explains. Giving DuPage also paired with the Naperville Chamber Ambassadors and Whole Foods to sponsor “Make a Difference Day” last October. This event enabled community members to donate non-perishable goods and household items to charities.

In April, Giving DuPage also hosted its inaugural “Human Race” at Danada Forest Preserve. The event raised money for 28 area nonprofits that don’t have the resources to host their own runs. “In this economic environment, fundraising can be difficult,” said Blair. “This event exceeded our expectations with more than 1,000 participants.”


In addition to matching volunteers with opportunities, Giving DuPage also teaches nonprofits how to fundraise and best utilize volunteers. “Among other things, we provide nonprofits with an infrastructure and a toolbox for volunteer management,” said Blair. She trains agencies on the importance of recruiting and recognizing volunteers. “Our whole goal is to create ongoing relationships between people and charities.”

Since joining Giving DuPage in 2007, Blair has served on numerous boards and committees as a valuable resource on volunteerism and giving.

“There’s an astounding amount of good work being done in nonprofits in Naperville,” Blair says. “Our nonprofits could not function without volunteers.” Thanks to Blair and Giving DuPage, area nonprofits can get the help they need and residents can find causes that ignite their passions.

Photo: Robyn Sheldon