Getting involved in your community is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and in your world. It’s true for sports, relationships, learning new skills, and also for your local community. When you are ready to make a place “home,” settle in, put down some roots, and grow with other people, intentionally putting yourself into your community is one of the best places to start.
There are many places to begin the journey of knowing your neighbors, understanding the place where you live, learning about the organizations doing critical work, and finding out the best place for you to serve. It’s a life-long effort, but there are some easy ways to get started.
Here are 5 tips to begin your journey in getting to know your community.
#1—Walk around your neighborhood
There is no better way to begin learning about your community than to slow down, walk around, and observe your surroundings. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How do you feel? Who is around you? What is being sold, made, and discarded? What do you enjoy? What should be shared? Eat at the restaurants, walk in the parks, shop in the stores, visit the houses of worship, wander the museums, and find all the other places that connect with people. Spend time getting to know the place and appreciate who and what is there. This is the beginning of finding other people in that place as well as your own place in your community.
One of the best ways to learn about your community is to ask questions. Why did this company decide to open here? Where do the people in my community work? Why are the grocery stores on one side of town and not the other? Ask your neighbors why they moved here and what they like about it. Find out the history of your neighborhood and how it has changed through the years. Explore and discover who and what are around you.
Find a nonprofit doing work you think is important and that you care about. Contact them and ask if there are ways you can help. Listen first to understand what they need and desire in a volunteer. Be prepared by knowing what days and times you are available, the types of things you are willing to do and are also skilled at doing, and know what you are not able to do. Volunteer if the situation looks like it will be a benefit for everyone involved. If the first place you explore is not a good match, keep looking! You’ll eventually find a great place to serve.
#4—Make a donation
Giving your hard-earned cash forces you to have some “skin in the game” and care a bit more deeply about what happens in and through the organizations tied to your heart. Nonprofit organizations need financial support to fulfill their mission. You, and all the other generous donors, make the mission possible. You’ll feel great by giving to a cause that you care about and to an organization supporting your community.
#5—Learn more about the nonprofit world and philanthropy (this is our plug we mentioned earlier)
You will be a better volunteer and member of the community by understanding how the money flows in your community. What is a community foundation and how is it different from a private foundation? How do nonprofits receive funding from foundations and how do they get grants? What is the best way to do fundraising? What do nonprofit boards actually do and should I join one?
If you have followed along through these 5 tips and are still intrigued, The Emerging Philanthropist Program (EPP) might be the perfect fit for you! These questions and more are addressed in this FREE learning opportunity where you will gain knowledge, experience, and friendships.
EPP seeks to engage the Greater Harrisburg Area emerging business and community leaders with the great possibilities that lie within philanthropic endeavors in our region. EPP provides resources and educational opportunities for those who wish to be actively engaged in their communities.
In the culminating experience of the program, the class applies their newly learned community and grantmaking skills by awarding a grant to a nonprofit organization in a funding priority chosen by the class after assessing community needs. Since 2014, the EPP has granted $35,000 to nonprofit organizations serving the Harrisburg area.
But don’t just take our word for it about how amazing this program is, take the word of a former graduate! We asked Emily Egolf, SHRM-CP, Human Resource Generalist at Conrad Siegel some questions about her experience with EPP.
Why did you join EPP?
I joined EPP to further my knowledge of philanthropy and the non-profit community in the Capital Region. It also was an accessible way to broaden my professional network. It isn’t common that you will find an adult learning program offered at no cost to participants!
What was your favorite part about the EPP?
Broadening my knowledge of the nonprofit organizations that provide services to the community.
What was something you learned during EPP that you didn’t know prior to joining the program? How extensive the process is for grantmaking and fundraising, which is a large part of funding for non-profit organizations.
How have you used what you learned in EPP to better serve your community?
I am now a committee member for Harrisburg Hoopla!
If you are interested in joining EPP for the class of 2022, applications are now available! Learn more and apply at www.tfec.org/epp. APPLICATIONS ARE DUE BY JANUARY 14, 2022.
About The Foundation for Enhancing Communities
The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC), a community foundation, inspires giving by partnering with donors to achieve their charitable goals and strengthens our local communities by investing in them now, and for future generations. TFEC has been serving the South-Central Pennsylvania counties of Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon, and Perry, and the Dillsburg Area for 100 years. Regional foundations of TFEC include the Greater Harrisburg Community Foundation, the Franklin County Community Foundation, the Mechanicsburg Area Community Foundation, the Perry County Community Foundation, and the Dillsburg Area Community Foundation. For more information on TFEC, please visit www.tfec.org.
About the Emerging Philanthropist Program (EPP)
The Emerging Philanthropists Program (EPP) is a partnership with The Foundation for Enhancing Communities and Harrisburg Young Professionals. EPP seeks to engage Harrisburg’s emerging business and community leaders with the great possibilities that lie within philanthropic endeavors in Harrisburg. The program has been running for seven years and graduated over 100 young professionals. The program engages emerging philanthropists in questions such as: What does it mean to be philanthropic? How do I understand the needs of our community? and What can I do to make an impact? Additionally, EPP provides resources and educational opportunities for Harrisburg’s developing leaders who wish to be actively engaged in giving back to their community.