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VOL. 37 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 22, 2013

Website matches volunteers, those in need

By Hollie Deese

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Megan McInnis launched her local nonprofit, Doing Good, in April 2011, and it quickly gained national attention.

Its website, designed to promote volunteerism and connect people with nonprofits, won four national 2012 MarCom awards, the equivalent of winning an Oscar for the marketing and communication field.

McInnis is a devoted matchmaker connecting volunteers and nonprofits, which is the reason she founded Doing Good.

“We needed something positive,” says McInnis, who plans to spotlight volunteers by promoting a Volunteer of the Month on the website.

“When people volunteer, it needs to work for them,” she says. “It needs to fit their schedule and interests if there is something they want to get out of it. It is so important to find the right fit for the volunteers, because that is when they just blossom.

“Each volunteer brings a unique set of skills and resources to that organization. They provide services and help stretch their budgets so it really becomes a win-win for the community.”

While in career transition and looking for a new challenge in corporate marketing, McInnis is focusing her efforts on Doing Good.

She envisions a multi-platform program under the Doing Good umbrella, including Doing Good, a one-hour, weekly TV show featuring volunteers making a difference in the community. A six-minute demo of the show is on the website as she moves forward on funding.

While executive director for U.S. Green Building Council Middle Tennessee, she increased its volunteers 712 percent, membership by 25 percent and added to its numbers of partners, sponsorships and funded grants, all in her first year on the job.

Getting started, getting help

McInnis met with other nonprofit leaders in the Nashville area before launching Doing Good.

“It really became a community project, because with each person I talked to, it changed a little bit,” she explains.

One of the people she talked with early on was speaker and author Sam Davidson, president and co-founder of Cool People Care, in Nashville.

Doing good garage sale

Saturday, April 6, 7 a.m.-1 p.m., 2324 Alteras Drive, Nashville, in Lenox Village.

This event is held at the same time as the Lenox Village Neighborhood Garage Sale. All proceeds go to Doing Good. Find out more about the organization at www.doinggood.tv.

“She shared her idea with me over coffee and was just looking for some ideas and input,” he says. “It was just an informal coffee meeting, like hundreds of others I have had, and I gave her my feedback, and we went separate ways.

“She kept working on it and putting the structure around it, doing what she really needed to do to get it to take off,” he adds.

“She offered me a chance to come on board and help with that.”

Davidson is now vice president for Doing Good, drawn to the organization because it is new and media-related.

“There is a heavy online component to what Doing Good does, but to me it was also interesting … it was interactive in terms of what they were providing,” he adds.

“I thought they had a chance to do something differently, disrupt something if you will, so that is what piqued my interest.

“My hopes for Doing Good are that it has the chance to shine a spotlight on organizations that might not get that experience often,” Davidson says.

“When there are small organizations or new organizations, they need that exposure,’’ he says. “They don’t have that big base of support and may not have the budget to run an ad campaign or get the attention of a pro-bono advertising firm to do some work for them. It is a way to amplify the voice of organizations in our community who badly need the attention.’’

Across media platforms

“We want to get the message across to people in the ways they want to receive their messages,” McInnis says. “In the long term we are working on four different areas to reach people, and that includes radio, television, print and internet.”

The TV show starts off with statistics and information about the spotlighted cause followed by three segments that feature volunteers from various aspects and agencies that affect that cause. The show closes with a local expert on the subject matter.

“We want to show what a difference one person makes,” she says. “If they volunteer once a month or on a regular basis, each person can do something.”

Budget is an issue for getting the show off the ground, considering professional quality costs anywhere from $20,000 to $500,000 just in production costs. Airing it costs even more.

Through the help of local professionals, McInnis is able to get the cost to produce and air each one-hour episode to $30,000.

“I expect to have several shows air on local CBS by the end of this year, and we are also looking to sign for a full series,” McInnis says.

Hands On Nashville is the fiscal agent for Doing Good, handling all donations that come into the agency as its works to obtain 501(c)3 status.