Partnering With The Arc on Inclusive Volunteering Projects

Why Partner with The Arc?

Partnering with The Arc to offer or expand inclusive volunteer opportunities in your community brings you and your organization several benefits.

Inclusive volunteering opportunities help you and your organization connect with people with disabilities, their families, and dedicated professionals. With more than 650 chapters across the country, The Arc and its chapter network support more than 1 million people with IDD and their families each year. Our chapters offer services to people with IDD and their families across the lifespan to help them live, work, go to school, and participate in all aspects of their community. When you partner with chapters of The Arc, you and your employees can better connect with people with IDD and their families.

Offering inclusive volunteer opportunities helps you grow and further your brand. According to a 2013 Fleishman-Hillard Lepere Analytics study, consumers tend to view an organization as the sum total of everything the organization says and does—including giving back or supporting community projects. By developing and enhancing inclusive volunteer programs in your community, you and your organization will show your dedication not only to addressing local challenges but also to supporting social inclusion for people of all backgrounds and abilities. By partnering with The Arc to offer inclusive volunteer opportunities, you will gain a partner with over 60 years of experience supporting people with IDD and their families to meaningfully share their skills, times, and gifts with their community.

How Can I Partner With The Arc?

There are many ways you and your organization can partner with The Arc. Examples of partner volunteer activities include:

  • Building a community garden or sensory garden
  • Providing food assistance to people in need
  • Collecting and delivering supplies for a local shelter
  • Supporting a community event like a festival or fair
  • Volunteering at our Wings for Autism® and Wings for All® aviation rehearsal programs
  • Teaching people with disabilities how to increase their use of technology (e.g., computers, iPads, screens, and software)

For more questions on how you and your organization can partner with The Arc, contact The Arc at info@thearc.org.

Volunteering: For People with Disabilities

Being a volunteer gives you the opportunity to share your time, talents, and energy with people in your community. It is an opportunity for you to help people in need in your community, make new friends and social connections, participate more in your community, and learn job skills and social skills.

On this page, you will find resources you can use to create and find volunteer opportunities in your community.

Make a Plan to Volunteer

Making a plan can help you find a volunteer position that matches your interests and goals for volunteering. My Volunteer Vision is a document can help you think through your vision for volunteering. Once you complete this, share it with friends, family members, or professionals you trust. You and your trusted supporters can work together to find volunteer opportunities in your community that fit with your vision. These supporters can also help you address any challenges and worries that you have. You can download My Volunteer Vision here.

It is possible that you may volunteer somewhere but not like what you are doing or not feel comfortable there. If this happens, ask for advice from the people you trust about how you feel. They can help you find ways to either make the situation better or find another volunteer activity!

Search for Volunteer Opportunities in Your Community

There are many volunteer databases that you can use to find opportunities in your community. These sites will search for volunteer opportunities based on what you want to do, where you are, when you want to work, and how much you want to volunteer.

Remember to practice good internet safety skills as you search for opportunities online. Here is a website that you can use to learn more about safety skills.

Reach Out to a Group You Want to Help and Create Your Own Volunteer Role

You may already know where you want to volunteer. If you do, reach out to the group and mention you are interested in volunteering with them. See if you can schedule time to meet with the group in person to learn more about the type of help they need and how you can volunteer with them.

Before you talk with them, check out this article and review the questions for you to ask yourself and to ask the organization where you want to volunteer.

Asking yourself and the group these questions can help you make sure you get what you want out a volunteer position.

What Else Can I Do?

Check with your local chapter of The Arc to learn more about other local volunteer opportunities you may want to participate in!

Volunteering: For Family Members

As a family member, you are a trusted supporter for your family member with IDD. You can help your family member identify places he or she wants to volunteer, address any challenges that arise as he or she volunteers, provide support and encouragement, and celebrate a job well done.

On this page, you will find resources that you can use to support your family member to find a volunteer activity or position in your community.

Help your Family Member Make a Volunteer Plan

Making a plan can help your family member find a volunteer position that matches his or her interests and goals. To get started planning, work with your family member to complete My Volunteer Vision. This document can help your family member express what he or she wants out of volunteering and activities that he or she may want to do. Once your family member completes this, reach out to the people listed as trusted supporters. Together, you all can work together to find volunteer opportunities in your community that fit with your family member’s vision and goals. You can download My Volunteer Vision.

It is possible that your family member may volunteer somewhere and not like the position or not feel comfortable there. If this happens, try to encourage your family member by sharing times you have been in similar situations and how you improved the situation. And, if your family member wants to find a new volunteer activity, work together and with your team to identify other matches in the community!

Help Your Family Member Search for a Volunteer Opportunity

There are many volunteer databases that you and your family member can use to find opportunities in your community. These sites will search for volunteer opportunities based on the type of volunteer activity, location, date, and hours of service required. Schedule a few hours to review these sites together and to get your family member’s feedback on available opportunities.
If your family member does not find a position that he or she is interested in, consider helping him or her reach out to groups in the community that he or she likes and would be interested in volunteering with.

All for Good
Create the Good
Do Something
Volunteer Match
Idealist
HandsOn Network
MeetUp
Eventbrite

Use the Buddy System to Break the Ice

A great way to get started volunteering and get to know a volunteering location is to go with a friend. If your family member feels nervous about volunteering, having a trusted family member or friend around may make him or her feel more comfortable. If the location has expressed nervousness or lack of familiarity supporting volunteers with IDD, bringing a buddy will give the volunteer location an opportunity to observe, ask questions, and learn better what types of support-– if any-– your family member may need. Once your family member is comfortable with the opportunity, work with your family member, the buddy, and the volunteer group to identify a natural support (e.g., another volunteer) who can provide reassurance so that your family member can volunteer on his or her own if he or she chooses to do so.

What Else Can I Do?

Check with your local chapter of The Arc to learn more about other local volunteer opportunities you may want to participate in!

Volunteering: For Disability Professionals

As a disability professional, you play a key role in encouraging and supporting people with disabilities and their families to fully engage in civic opportunities like volunteering.
In the links below, we provide information on how you can help foster inclusive volunteering opportunities, and how to engage local businesses to build inclusive volunteering partnerships.

Include Volunteer Community Service Opportunities in Support Plans

Sometimes, volunteer work and service is not considered as an option when a person with IDD and his or her support team is making a support plan. As you and your colleagues help people with IDD to make individual support and service plans, allow the person to consider whether he or she wants to volunteer and help him or her identify service opportunities that he or she would be interested in. This article reviews the different types of service people engage in and offers some key questions you can use to help connect a person with IDD to volunteer opportunities in the community.

Foster Inclusive Volunteer Programs in Your Community via Local Partnerships

If you are looking for ways to build inclusive volunteering opportunities in your community, focus on individual projects and short-term community efforts. Often, small projects can help neighborhoods and local community organizations without significant experience working with people with disabilities improve their knowledge of how to engage and support volunteers with disabilities. Check out this report from Seattle that shares stories and strategies on how to support people with IDD to become more involved in community life for inspiration on how you may be able to develop similar activities in your community.

Think Outside of the Box

Some of the biggest challenges for disability professionals are to find volunteer opportunities that match the interests of the people that you serve, that avoid unintentionally segregating people with IDD, and that connect people with IDD meaningfully to other well-connected volunteers in the community. Check out the tip sheet for recommendations on how you can overcome these common challenges.

What Else Can I Do?

Check with your local chapter of The Arc to learn more about other local volunteer opportunities you may want to participate in or connect the people you support with!

Volunteering: For Volunteer Coordinators

Many volunteer programs are not comfortable including people with disabilities. Programs may not know or may worry that they won’t be able to support or accommodate to volunteers with disabilities or don’t know how to effectively communicate with people with disabilities.

However, there are many resources available to help volunteer programs learn how to better support and engage people with disabilities as volunteers.

Presume Competence, Be Precise, and Plan

People with disabilities have a variety of talents and gifts and give back to their community in many ways. If a person with a disability wants to volunteer in your program, presume that they can volunteer and contribute to your work, but be precise about what volunteering means at your organization. This tip sheet offers recommendations and an example plan that you can use to help support volunteers with disabilities in your program.

Take Courses and Get Tips on Disability Inclusion from the Corporation for National and Community Service

The Corporation for National and Community Service offers four 15-20 minute online courses as well as many practical tips on how volunteer programs can be more accessible and inclusive to people of all abilities. Each tip provides additional resources and tools that programs can easily use or amend for their program. Check out CNCS’s Disability Inclusion webpage!

Check Out These Fact Sheets on Engaging People with Disabilities

Making a volunteer program inclusive may mean changing your program. As you consider making your volunteer program more inclusive, you may find that you need to change how you recruit and train volunteers, how you support your volunteers, or even the physical places where you volunteer. These fact sheets from Volunteer Canada can give you tips on how you can make your program more inclusive, recruit volunteers with disabilities, and use technology effectively to support inclusive volunteering opportunities.

Connect with Your Local or State Chapter of The Arc

With more than 600 chapters across the country, The Arc and its chapter network support more than 1 million people with IDD and their families each year. Our chapters offer services and support to people with IDD and their families across the lifespan to help people and their families live, work, go to school, and participate in all aspects of their community. As a result, chapters of The Arc can guide and assist you on inclusive policies, procedures and practices to be more inclusive when you recruit, train, and support people with disabilities.

My Volunteer Vision

Making a plan can help you find a volunteer position that matches your interests and goals for volunteering. Then, you and your trusted supporters can work together to find volunteer opportunities that fit with your vision and address any challenges and worries that you have.

Enter your information below to download the free “My Volunteer Vision” planning document to help you think through your vision for volunteering.

 






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Inclusive Volunteering Opportunities: Tips to Overcome Common Challenges

When it comes to volunteering, some of the greatest challenges are to find volunteer opportunities that match the people you serve, that are unique, that connect people with IDD meaningfully to other well-connected volunteers in the community, and that support the volunteer’s end goal. This tip sheet will provide you recommendations to overcome these common challenges.