Social media engagement and public service have been cornerstones of President Obama’s candidacy and administration. Merging these two, this week he announced a summer volunteerism initiative (June 22-September 11) called “United We Serve.” The program asks Americans make service a part of their daily lives and to help supplement the federal government’s investments in core areas of the recovery agenda – healthcare, energy independence, education and community and economic renewal. Obama is calling for cross-sector collaboration to bring this initiative to life. He says, “We need community organizations, corporations, foundations and our government to be part of this effort.”
At serve.gov, prospective volunteers can easily search for opportunities in their own communities, and the site provides turn-key tools to share experiences via their existing social networks (see this week’s article, “Hello? Arkansas? Yeah it’s Facebook.” for an example of the power of social networks in action). The search tool is integrated with the open-source Web project hosted at AllforGood.org, which was designed by technology and nonprofit partners and is fueled by the nonprofits, volunteer service listing providers and companies who submit volunteer opportunities to the site. This is certainly not the first volunteerism site or aggregator, but the cross-sector collaboration it will take to make it a success is compelling.
The “United We Serve” campaign serves as an example of how the government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations can, and should, come together to encourage positive civic behavior and better address pressing social and environmental concerns.