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News & Press: ABAG's "Adventures in Philanthropy" Blog

"Charitable Giving: Guiding Volunteerism Toward a Common Goal"

Saturday, August 7, 2010   (1 Comments)
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August 7, 2010

By Betsy Nelson

Special to The Daily Record

You probably know the positive impact a benevolent person can have on an individual in need, or what a group of volunteers can accomplish together when working toward a common goal. Now imagine what the impact could be if the mayor appointed someone to focus on scaling volunteerism to meet urgent needs in our community.

In Baltimore City, this will soon be reality as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will appoint a chief service officer - a senior official who will develop and implement a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and target volunteers to address the city's greatest needs.

The announcement was made at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, which took place in New York City. Baltimore is one of 10 cities selected to receive a $200,000 Cities of Service Leadership Grant to fund the position for two years.

The other cities are Atlanta; Houston; Pittsburgh; Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, La., Chula Vista, Calif., Little Rock, Ark., Orlando, Fla., and Richmond, Va. The grants are made jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Cities of Service

The chief service officer will be tasked with convening strategic committees of service experts, conducting assessments of existing service levels and identifying partnerships to strengthen the effects of local volunteerism.

Baltimore is already one of 17 Cities of Service, a coalition aimed at:

  • Developing a comprehensive service plan and a coordinated strategy focused on matching volunteers and established community partners to the areas of greatest local need;
  • Working with mayors and elected officials to advance strategies and best practices that accelerate the service movement and produce measurable results; and
  • Ensuring that the voice of cities is heard in federal legislative, policy and program discussions related to service.

Count us in

In a press release, Mayor Rawlings-Blake stated, "To move the city forward, we need everyone to be involved.  Our new chief service officer will ensure that people in every community participate in making Baltimore better, safer and stronger." Well, count us in.

The philanthropic community is excited to welcome and work with this leader and expand upon the organized volunteer efforts already under way from city agencies, universities, nonprofit and faith-based organizations and volunteer matchmakers like Business Volunteers Unlimited's Volunteer Central (

The Cities of Service coalition is a prime example of efforts to leverage partnerships among philanthropy, government, and the community.  Only by working together can we move the needle on our most pressing problems in our communities, in Maryland, and in our country.

Betsy Nelson, President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes every other week for The Daily Record.  She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or


Kristen Bibo says...
Posted Thursday, August 19, 2010
This is the latest, I believe

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