Learn more about community partners in the area and how you can get involved!
We are fortunate in Northern Virginia to have an overwhelming number of nonprofit organizations, community focused partners and non-governmental agencies working to address social concerns in the area. Mason and CECiL continue to further our partnerships and knowledge of these organizations and the impactful work they contribute.
Looking for opportunities to partner with local nonprofit and civic organizations to be part of community-driven change? We hope this directory helps you find the right match for your interests, skills and future career goals. Please note this is an evolving list and is not exhaustive. This will be updated regularly but please let us know if you find any changes or have a suggestion of an organization we should include. Our staff is available to talk with you further and can help you find an appropriate site. Contact email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Successful Partnerships Check-List
Whether you're working with a partner organization for just a few hours or a few years of your time at Mason, here are some simple best-practices to help you have the most impact.
We want you to have a meaningful experience with your partner organization whether you participate one time or for an extended period of time.
Here are some best practices for ensuring a positive and successful partnership:
Educate Yourself About the Organization
- Through their website and in conversation with staff and other volunteers, take the time to learn more about their work, their mission and whether it aligns with your own values and choices. How do they make a difference in their community? How do they address the social issue and what kinds of opportunities do they have for volunteers? What are their identified needs?
- While service can be an enjoyable escape from your academic work, your impact and engagement is deeper when you can connect your volunteering to the broader issues you are addressing and studying. Are you passionate about this social concern? You do not need to be an expert or have significant knowledge about the social issue, but find something you are interested in and would enjoy or get something out of.
- Consider community voice and your skills and abilities. Sometimes what an organization needs most may be someone to sort donations, or attend to social media etc. Your community partner will know best what needs they have available and how best you may be able to support them. Try not to go into an organization with your own assumptions of their needs. Ask your partner, learn more about what they do and why that may be considered a critical need.
Communicate Before You Begin
- Be sure you and your partner organization are on the same page about: when and where you will be volunteering, what training you may need, how you will communicate, and what success will look like. Will you need to get a background check, how will you get there and what do you need to know before you begin. Can you reliably volunteer in the times you provided.
- If you volunteer for an extended time, check back in with your partner about any changes to these guidelines and to celebrate your successes and progress. Be sure to discuss any academic breaks or times when you may miss your volunteer hours. Let them know ahead of time.
- Be sure you can commit to the organization. Many organizations rely on volunteers to be able to run their programs and initiatives. If you are volunteering for a class or for a specific amount of hours, be sure to let your supervisor know. You may find that they will need you to stay on as a volunteer even after you have completed your hours. Have this conversation ahead of time so it is not a surprise.
Understand Organization Capacity and Population Impacted
- A common misconception is that smaller organizations with high need should be able to take more volunteers. Unfortunately, the ability to accept volunteers is reliant on capacity and staffing. Volunteers require someone that can provide education, orientation and training and can be there for volunteers to check in with. Keep in mind if you are only planning to volunteer for a short time to avoid organizations with significant training, background checks and processes.
- Consider how much you will be able to contribute if you are engaging in direct service with people. In particular, if you are working with children or youth, they respond to volunteers willing to commit long term. Partners will often share that children notice when someone stops coming to volunteer. This can be harmful and also not helpful to the child.
- When working with children and youth, educate yourself around child safety and welfare laws. Know whether you are a mandatory reporter and what to do in the event that a child confesses something to you that they may not have shared with others.
This directory is provided as a service of the Office of Community Engagement and Civic Learning but we do not endorse specific opportunities. CECiL assumes no responsibility for information posted on this listserv. In no event shall CECiL or George Mason University be liable for any damages related to listed opportunities.