United Way and The Nonprofit Partnership Launch Online Volunteer Platform

ERIE, PA (November 12, 2012) - United Way of Erie County and The Nonprofit Partnership today launched Get Connected (http://getconnected.unitedwayerie.org), a simple and yet revolutionary web-based solution for helping individuals find local volunteer opportunities that fit their interests and skills.

Get Connected allows potential volunteers to go online and create custom profiles, helping them find opportunities that meet their availability. Local nonprofits can also create online profiles for their organizations, and users can then “follow” those nonprofits and receive updates whenever a new volunteer opportunity is posted.

United Way officials spent months meeting with organizations across Erie County to identify the needs of local nonprofits and identify the best methods for matching volunteers with local opportunities. The need for a central volunteer database became more apparent after Erie Vital Signs statistics showed volunteer rates in Erie County were below those elsewhere in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

“Volunteerism is a critical component to successfully building a stronger community in Erie County,” said Bill Jackson, president of United Way of Erie County. “Whether it’s reading to children, helping people apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or delivering meals to homebound seniors, there are hundreds of volunteer options available every day. Get Connected is going to make it easier for our community to identify volunteer opportunities and improve our region.”

United Way has worked with The Nonprofit Partnership to launch Get Connected. The system will offer significant benefits to both nonprofits and for-profit organizations throughout Erie County, helping reduce the need for organizations to post volunteer opportunities in multiple locations. United Way and The Nonprofit Partnership intend Get Connected to help centralize volunteer matching for local organizations, and also allow new types of volunteer opportunities to emerge.

“Here in Erie County, we have the perfect conditions to grow volunteerism in all the shapes and sizes you find it,” noted Robert Wooler, Director of The Nonprofit Partnership. “Funding cuts have reduced staffing at local nonprofits while the recession has increased demand for services. Erie is a caring community that reaches out to those in need, so we see Get Connected playing a role in boosting single-day and short-term volunteer opportunities as well as high-skilled projects for nonprofits and long-term engagements where volunteers blend with staff to deliver on the organization’s mission.”

In addition to volunteer opportunities, Get Connected also allows nonprofits to list in-kind needs, helping nonprofits seek donations of goods in addition to volunteer hours. Over the next few months, Get Connected will be utilized to raise awareness about opportunities available during the holiday season. Some nonprofits are already using the system to seek gifts that can be given to l0w-income children during the holiday season.

Discussions are also underway with local educational institutions and school districts, with the intention of highlighting ways that Get Connected can be utilized by local students to find and complete service hours. More announcements regarding future partnerships are expected in the spring of 2013.

About United Way of Erie County:
United Way is a leader in reducing poverty in Erie County by creating opportunities in the building blocks for good life: Education, Income and Health. United Way is directing its resources to reduce poverty in Erie County by 2025. Additional information about United Way of Erie County and its programs and initiatives can be found at UnitedWayErie.org.

About The Nonprofit Partnership:
The Nonprofit Partnership provides education, training, and tools to strengthen nonprofit agencies in Erie County and the surrounding region. Its mission is to enhance the management and governance of nonprofit organizations through capacity-building programs and services and to serve as a collective voice for the nonprofit community locally as it works to advance a vision of civic well-being. More information is available at www.thenonprofitpartnership.org.

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