SHARE Charlotte: Closing the Gap

  • Categories:

    Community

  • Date:

    September 23, 2019

SHARE Charlotte: Closing the Gap



Community

Charlotte’s passion for giving back to local nonprofits is one of many reasons why I’m proud to call the city home. But with so many deserving organizations and a range of needs, sometimes it’s hard to know how you can get involved and give back to the community. That’s where SHARE Charlotte closes the gap, connecting people to more than 400 partner nonprofits and serving up volunteer opportunities, events and even a unique way to purchase and gift items these nonprofits need to run their programs and business.

SHARE Charlotte is a one-stop shop for the community to find ways to plug in and make an impact, and it’s also the third of four EmpoWWer service-grant recipients for 2019. We spoke with Executive Director Amy Jacobs about the organization’s mission, how they hope to benefit from working with Wray Ward and why she loves her job.

What is SHARE Charlotte, in your words?

AJ: We connect the community to 440 nonprofits — everything they do and serve and need. We also connect those nonprofits to each other so they can learn together and grow their resources and social capital.

Why is SHARE Charlotte so vital to Charlotte’s nonprofit community? To our city?

AJ: No else in the nonprofit space regularly brings our community together. SHARECharlotte.org gives people one place to learn about the landscape of Charlotte nonprofits and giving campaigns or collectively apply for volunteer opportunities.

We think of ourselves as a little Switzerland. That is to say, we believe if you’re a nonprofit doing good in Charlotte, you deserve a level playing field for exposure. Our partners include anyone and everyone serving Mecklenburg County, from the little guys to the big, established, traditional nonprofits. We bring them together and give them access to resources in an altruistic way.

If you’re a Charlotte nonprofit, we exist to serve you. We take on a big responsibility so you can focus on your mission, and we come up with creative ways to rally support.

What is the best part of your job?

AJ: Getting to work with hundreds of social entrepreneurs every day.

What do they teach you?

AJ: Not just the needs of our community, but the creative and innovative ways nonprofits approach problem solving. When you’re forced to stretch $1 to $100, you learn to tackle challenges creatively. I get to work in a space with a lot of out-of-the-box thinking and innovation, both born out of necessity.

What is the hardest part of your job?

AJ: Managing the limited hours in the day. We have such a huge opportunity to help Charlotte nonprofits and connect our community to them, we can never fully tackle it. That means prioritizing. Where are the most important opportunities? How can we act on them?

Why is it so important for businesses like Wray Ward to support nonprofit organizations?

AJ: I can’t even begin to put a dollar value on skills, talent and other resources. There is so much need for professionals who are smart, generous and community-minded — and connecting those people to nonprofits they can support with their talent and time.

We could never afford to pay Wray Ward the true value of services you will provide. Your incredible support gives us a tremendous boost and saves us from having to figure out how to fit it into an annual budget. Like most nonprofits we serve, we’re a small nonprofit. If we need these services, I know others do as well. And while cash donations are great, unless specifically designated, those may get applied to something that feels more desperate vs. something that will help the organization get stronger long-term.

EmpoWWer makes the impossible, possible.

Why did SHARE Charlotte apply for an EmpoWWer grant? What will Wray Ward do for SHARE Charlotte?

AJ: We are at an important growth point in our evolution. When we were born in 2012, we were primarily responsible for a website that connected the community to nonprofits. Over the course of our seven-year journey, we’ve realized Charlotte’s huge need for resources including education on how to collaborate with partners and navigate things like grants.

So, we created programming to support those needs. But the offering has no consistent brand or language. It’s disparate.

When we learned about EmpoWWer, we realized it’s time to take all these various services we offer to our nonprofit partners and package them in a meaningful way. Wray Ward will help us unify everything and tell a cohesive story about our body of work. We’re so in the weeds, we need a third party like Wray Ward to really nail that story.

"EmpoWWer makes the impossible, possible." -Amy Jacobs, Executive Director, SHARE Charlotte

What does the word “empower” mean to you?

AJ: I think it means empowering us to become more successful at organizing important work we’re doing in the space. An EmpoWWer grant empowers my team to focus on doing what they know and love.

Does the world need more programs like EmpoWWer?

AJ: Yes! There are a lot of generous companies in Charlotte, but EmpoWWer is such an impactful gift. It is an intentional program that best leverages the skills of Wray Ward’s employees and challenges nonprofits that apply to think about what they really need. I remember the application was insightful and thorough without being intimidating. It forced us to really think about what we needed and how we envisioned Wray Ward helping.

I also love the wraparound PR. Your excitement about working with us — from social media and the media announcement to this conversation and inviting me to join your staff meeting — serves as a great reminder of why we all work in this space. The meaningfulness is contagious. People aren’t like, “Gosh, another extra project or extra work.” Everyone is really jazzed about it.

What can readers do to support a good cause?

AJ: We want our neighbors to do one of three things:

  1. Know about the needs of your community. Follow us on social. Read our blog. We’re producing consumer-friendly content and sharing info from our channels every day.
  2. Care. We hope to move you to this. For example, you may know affordable housing is an issue, but maybe you don’t care about it yet. Take your knowledge of the issues and do something to help your neighbors and future generations.
  3. SHARE. Share your time. Talent. Resources. Network. Now that you care, do something about it. Want to give money? An hour? Buy the Urban Ministry Center laundry detergent or another item on its Amazon wish list? Use your social media platform with 50,000 followers to feature a nonprofit that could use a boost? No matter how you want to get involved, our website is a great first step.

Think EmpoWWer could be a good fit for your nonprofit organization? Learn more about the program and mark your calendar for October 1, when we’ll begin accepting applications for 2020. About EmpoWWer

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