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Chili for a Cause: Volunteer Time Off

Here at Cloud for Good, we pride ourselves on speaking fluent nonprofit. Prior to joining the Cloud for Good team, I worked with a variety of nonprofit organizations for over 12 years. I love my job with Cloud for Good (#bestjobever) and am inspired by all of the great nonprofit organizations I have the privilege of working with on a daily basis. However, I sometimes miss the “boots on the ground” work of being a nonprofit staffer.

Cloud for Good recently joined Pledge 1%. This means that as a company we pledge 1% of our time, 1% of our equity, and 1% of our product to support our communities. The Cloud for Good pledge includes product donations, Grants for Good, and volunteer time off (VTO) for employees. This was really exciting news for me! When we joined Pledge 1% in January, I knew exactly how I was going to use my VTO this year.

The Hanover Chili Cook-off may look like just another festival or fair, but at its core is a group of extremely dedicated volunteers who organize an outstanding event giving around $50,000 a year to local charities. My dad happens to be the lead volunteer of this crew and working with him on the cook-off is one of the most fulfilling things I do each year. This year, with my new VTO time, I had a bit more to give.

Starting a few months before the event, I asked my dad  if I could run social media on the day of the event. He was psyched! I created an Instagram account for the cook-off and figured out how to tie it to the Facebook page my dad and I had been managing. I was giddy about each and every new follower!

About a month before the event, we wanted to send out an email to our list of subscribers announcing ticket sales. The cook-off uses MailChimp and I loved getting my hands into the mail builder and list manager. It was great to see the email go out and get over a 50% open rate!

The countdown was on! I packed my bags and flew from Colorado to Pennsylvania, where the cook-off is held. In the days leading up to the event I helped fold programs, mark the field, and meet with volunteers, vendors, and cooks. I also made sure to get sunscreen and Gatorade so dad and I would survive the day.

Show time! 5:30 a.m. alarm and onsite by 6:30 a.m. just in time to catch the sunrise. Cooks began arriving, setting up, and questions started rolling in. The gates opened at 11 a.m. and the turnout seemed great. During the day I helped with volunteers, cook check-in, the famous jalapeno pepper eating contest, awards, and general event gopher duties. And, of course, posted to Instagram and Facebook, a lot! I was so excited to see the numbers on the Facebook reaches and felt like my volunteer efforts were making an impact. I think our day ended around 9 or 10 p.m. when the stage was taken down and the field cleaned. I honestly was so tired I can’t really remember.

The event was a huge success. The final numbers are tallied and it was a record breaking year! The cook-off will donate $60,000 to local nonprofits in November. For me, one of the biggest successes was spending a few days back in the life of a nonprofit staffer. I felt the excitement, frustration, and exhaustion of hosting a massive event. After it was all said and done, I started getting excited and brainstorming ideas for how to make it even better next year!

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