How Your Nonprofit Can Help Veterans

Veterans Day is November 11, 2010In two days we’ll celebrate Veterans Day, observed each year to honor United States military veterans.  Thousands of nonprofits and projects across the country run campaigns and events to pay tribute to the sacrifices of our servicemembers, both past and present.

You don’t have to be one of these nonprofits in order to help veterans, however.  Just because your nonprofit’s mission doesn’t focus specifically on veterans doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you could be helping them directly or indirectly.

Below are some ways you can make sure your day-to-day activities make a difference for veterans, no matter what your nonprofit actually does.  In the end, this will benefit both the veterans and your organization, as you find new ways to fulfill your mission.

Recruit veterans as volunteers

Veterans often have trouble adjusting once they return home – and this can go on for years.  Helping in their local communities can help them to overcome this, as in the case of Donald Sanders.  According to a report written by Civic Enterprises and underwritten by Target and the Case Foundation, 92% of service people say that serving the community is important to them.  So if you’re a nonprofit that needs volunteers (and most of us do!) post on VolunteerMatch and tag your listing with the category “Veterans & Military Families,” and you can help veterans by letting them help you.

Educate your community

Many people have no idea of the challenges that veterans face.  Take some time this Veterans Day, or at another time during the year, to educate your staff, your volunteers, your supporters, and even those you serve about how they can help.  Some great resources are the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tell their stories

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 22 million veterans living in the United States.  Chances are, you have one in your local community, maybe even involved in your organization in some way.  If so, offer to tell their story in your newsletter, on your blog, or at an event.  It’s a simple way to honor them and the sacrifices they’ve made for the people you serve.

Partner with other nonprofits

Working with other nonprofits in your local community that work with and for veterans is a great way for both organizations to build local engagement and meet new potential community members, while ensuring the success of the project.  For example, nonprofits in Michigan could work with the Buddy to Buddy program to make their services available to returning troops and their buddies.  Or across the country you can partner with local Homes for Our Troops chapters to obtain supplies, publicize projects, or hold joint events to dedicate homes and spread the word about your organization.

There are almost 1,000 volunteer opportunities related to veterans currently listed on VolunteerMatch.  Add your volunteer listing today.

And remember that your nonprofit can make a difference for veterans this Veterans Day and every day by trying out one of the ideas above.

(Photo from the U.S. Army, by Rob McIlvaine)

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