Yale Day of Service Toolkit

Introduction

Yale Day of Service logoThank you for your interest in Yale Day of Service! What began as a single day for Yalies to give back to their local communities is now an ongoing call to action for service activities that span the globe, in sectors from environmental clean-ups to educational webinars, legal clinics to house painting.

This year’s official Day of Service is May 7, 2022, but remember that any day that works for your alumni group and your community organizations can be a YALE day of service.

If you would like to help plan a Day of Service project, there are many resources available to help you. First, be sure to reach out to Yalies in your network: regional clubs, shared interest/identity groups, Yale College classes, graduate/professional school organizations, or other cohorts may already be planning a program of interest.

Next, explore the information in this toolkit for help connecting with organizations and volunteers, promoting your event, and recruiting fellow Yalies to participate. Additional information is available in the Day of Service FAQs

About Yale Day of Service

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Launched in 2009, the global Yale Day of Service is one of several service and volunteer opportunities for Yale alumni to engage with their local communities to make a difference. Many alumni give back by:

  • working in the nonprofit sector
  • sitting on boards of foundations and organizations
  • serving at the highest levels of government
  • becoming elected officials
  • volunteering for Yale
  • sharing time, experience, and energy with volunteer community projects

As part of Yale Day of Service, alumni and their families and friends work to fill community needs as part of ongoing service efforts often led by Yale groups such as regional clubs, Yale College classes, shared interest groups, graduate and professional schools, or other Yale alumni organizations.

Yale Day of Service is a wonderful way for members of the Yale community to meet and reconnect with alumni who share this commitment to giving back. And for many alumni, the program provides the opportunity to share this value with their families through a shared experience together on projects where they live or experience online.

Yale alumni have an unparalleled tradition of service. From Dwight Hall’s student-led, community-based programs to the highest levels of government service, Yale alumni have risen to the challenge to transform the world. Indeed many are doing just that as volunteers for Yale, in their professional lives in the nonprofit sector, by serving on boards of foundations, public servants, or by giving time, expertise, and creative energy to volunteer with community projects.

Yale Day of Service celebrates the many ways alumni give back and provides a way for members of the Yale community to come together to support local service organizations where they live.

The Yale alumni service initiatives, including Yale Day of Service and Yale Alumni Service Corps, continue to build bridges between short-term and intensive volunteer experiences for the Yale alumni network.

As we learn more about the changing needs of our alumni and their communities, we will continue supporting programs and initiatives that fulfill the YAA mission: to enhance and renew the lifelong Yale experience for all alumni, whoever they are and wherever they may be. We strive to inspire new ideas, affiliations, friendships, professional fulfillment, and acts of service, around the world.

Your Yale Day of Service Project

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Organizing a group of volunteers is both meaningful and challenging work. Planning ahead, collecting details, and recruiting participants are critical steps to ensuring your efforts are rewarded when the project is over.

Some project organizers start with the people – a group of volunteers looking for a service project. Others begin by identifying an organization or cause they’d like to work with. And others determine a project based on geography or a Yale-related connection.

Regardless of where you start, some helpful questions to consider:

  • Will this project be in-person, virtual, or hybrid?
  • If in-person, what are the safety protocols of your locality and what health and safety protocols will you require?
  • If virtual, what are the technologies required for you as the organizer and/or computer skills needed to participate?
  • Have similar projects been done in previous Day of Service cycles? 
  • Are any other Yale alumni groups working on similar projects or with similar target audiences where collaboration might make sense?


Questions for Yale alumni organizers:

  • Who do you think are the volunteers likely to sign up for your event?
  • What is a typical group size for Yalies in your geographic or subject area?
  • What types of work are these volunteers interested in?
  • Why are these volunteers likely to get involved?
  • What are these volunteers looking to get out of the experience?


Questions for community organizations:

  • What are the organization’s central mission, volunteer needs, and/or capacity for hosting volunteers?
  • Does the size of the project match the estimated size of the volunteer group?
  • Does the organization’s timeline fit that of the volunteers and/or Day of Service?
  • Are there multiple tasks volunteers can do that accommodate varying interests and physical abilities?

 

Once you have answered the initial questions, the specific "who, what, when, where, why, and how" of your volunteer project will be necessary to include when posting your event on the Yale Day of Service listings.

To see examples, you can review previous project listings on the YAA Events Calendar.

For more information on how to submit a Day of Service event to the YAA calendar, please see the instructions below:

Event Title: Yale Day of Service: City, State - Project Name

Organization: Name of Yale group organizing the program (e.g., Yale Club of Boston, Yale Black Alumni Association, Yale Class of 1977, etc.)

Event Category: Service

Event Venue: Name of location with City, State -OR- online platform such as Zoom

Address: Physical location of venue or web address/link to online project

Link URL: If you’re using a registration site such as Eventbrite, include that here. If you need the YAA to create a registration page for you, input yaledayofservice.org as a placeholder.

Description:

  • Details about the organization you’re working with
  • Activities planned and any age/ability details required
  • Preparation needs – what to bring, wear, etc.
  • For virtual events, technology requirements (operating systems, smart phones, applications to download ahead of time)
  • Parking or transportation information (if in-person)
  • Space/capacity limits
  • CONTACT INFORMATION for people who have questions

Contact Name: For Day of Service project, the name WILL be listed on the public site, with a link to the contact’s email and class or degree information.

The YAA will be promoting Yale Day of Service to all alumni, but no communications are more effective than those coming from YOU.  

Review the social media guidelines and the YAA’s communications toolkit for tips to promote your event. And please contact us to access the new Yale Day of Service wordmark/logo.

Volunteer recruitment will be most successful when you or a member of your committee promote your Yale Day of Service project to members of your Yale networks. Send personal emails, use photos from the service projects (with proper permissions), blast via social media, text, call, and media outlets.

Your alumni leaders likely have communication mechanisms that you can work with to get the word out as well. If you do not have a functioning regional club or an organized alumni group in your network, contact the YAA Day of Service team for help with outreach and contact information.

As a project coordinator, you will have access to the ongoing registrations for your individual event(s). All volunteers for your project should receive an individual email from you when they register. As their service event contact, suggested content includes:

  • Thank you for participating
  • Confirmation that you received their registration; list the specific project name and location or virtual link/platform
  • Directions and parking information (if applicable)
  • What to wear and/or bring
  • Day-of check-in details – where will they pick up their nametag and get their assignment, or what technical software/downloads they will use
  • For outdoor sites, what to do if it rains on the day of your Day or Service project
  • Contact name and phone number for the day-of (generally the Yale volunteer coordinator) and contact information for the person sending the email, if different from the coordinator

As the project coordinator, your contact information will be listed on the event posting for volunteers to ask questions both prior to and after registering for your site. Respond as best you can or contact your regional director or YAA staff if you need further information.

If a registrant needs to change or cancel their registration, they should contact Mara Balk at the YAA.  

Planning Timeline

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To ensure your service project goes smoothly, we recommend the following preparations:

  • Site contact and walk-through. Check in with the staff/liaison at the organization and, if possible, arrange to walk through set up areas for in-person events, or do a trial run for virtual events. Additional considerations may include:
     
    • Registration table or waiting room (virtual)
    • Actual place(s) for activities or breakout rooms (virtual)
    • Supplies/materials or software requirements
    • Signage
    • Introducing the project and organization 
       
  • Reminders. Send a reminder email to all registered volunteers with virtual or physical address, time, directions/parking, check in details (in person) or links, passwords, and sign-in information (virtual). This can be a modified version of the original email you sent when they registered. Make sure you supply the contact information of someone who volunteers can reach for day-of hiccups. 
     
    • Committee Check in. If you have a committee, distribute roles for preparation and follow-up. Assign people to greet volunteers as they arrive (in person or online) and provide initial instructions.
       
  • Rainy Day Plan. If your site is outdoors, discuss the rain plan with the organization contact. Often the work goes forward unless it is pouring rain, but your no-show rate is likely to increase. If it’s possible to set a rain date in advance, make sure to include that date on the site registration information AND let registrants know how/when you will determine a go/no-go situation.
     
  • Day-of Packets. The YAA will send materials to use on the Day of Service for both physical and virtual projects. Contents will vary based on the format of each project, and may include nametags, buttons, signage options, and forms for sign-in and on-site registration. In-person event coordinators should bring markers and pens as well.
     
  • Volunteer Support. For in-person events, most local grocery and “box” stores have donation programs that will supply $25 or $50 gift cards for community service projects. If you would like to supply your volunteers with items like water, snacks, sunscreen, etc., this is a good option. Contact Mara Balk at the YAA to learn more.

  • Arrival. Please plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early at the service site or in your online space. And plan to stay until the event is over.
     
  • Set up (in-person). Post any signage or entrance information, and/or have another Yale volunteer greet participants and help direct them to the registration area.
     
  • Introductions. Because the Yale Day of Service is both an opportunity to serve the communities we care about AND build connections with fellow Yale volunteers, we find that providing a short welcome and introduction to the project, and also to take a few moments to exchange names as a group, helps to create both a sense of community as well as ground the purpose for the work.

    Introduce yourself and the agency staff and have the volunteers say their names and perhaps Yale affiliation or other information that will help the group to get to know each other before the work begins.

    If possible, a member of the organization’s staff should briefly describe the mission and perhaps the work that the group is about to do, as well as what that work will mean to the organization and the clients served. 
     
  • Photos! Take them. Share them. Post them. Make sure there is ample documentation of your service site, and that posts tag photos and video accordingly:
     
    • Twitter: @YaleDayOfService, #YaleDayofService, #YaleAlumni
    • Facebook: YaleDayofService
    • Instagram: #YaleDayofService, #YaleAlumni

After an exhilarating Day of Service, celebration is fun! If possible, share some post-service social time, sharing stories of the day, especially if volunteers were split up into multiple groups or breakout rooms. 

In-person gatherings should follow local public health guidelines and volunteers should be prepared to adhere to safety protocols. Virtual gatherings can also be set up to accommodate small and large groups, fun activities, and opportunities to connect.

It is up to you to decide how/if this will work, but we know that many alumni enjoy the opportunity to build on the friendships they made during the day and bask in the glow of their collaborative efforts. 

If you have questions about serving as a coordinator for the Yale Day of Service, please email Mara Balk at the YAA.

  • Thank yous. Please make sure to send a word of thanks to all the participants at your service event AND to the hosting organization. These notes will help maintain relationships and build goodwill for future engagements.
     
  • Registration/Participant lists. The YAA relies heavily on project coordinators to report who attended events in order to maintain contact lists and calculate overall program participation. Please send your final lists to Mara Balk within a few days of the project’s completion.
     
  • Feedback. Please ask participants and host organizations for any feedback about the project itself, the volunteer experience, and/or modifications for future projects. Report any logistical/systematic feedback to YAA staff that could assist in supporting project coordinators and volunteers.