Sustainability Award
of the Year
San Diego
Action Center

CRY San Diego stated in 2009, and soon grew to be a thriving action center. The Walk became a reliable annual event, new successful events like Nite Heist (a Bollywood party) were added, there were partnerships with other orgs, and revenues grew every year. At any given time, there was a core team of at least 6 people, and a volunteer list of about 25. But over time, people got busy with their jobs and theirlives. In early 2012, the action center was floundering. The core team shrank, and only 2- 3 people would show up to meetings. It was CRY America’s 10 year, and there had been talks about celebrating the year with more events than before. Instead, we were in danger of having no events. We even joked that instead of doing more, the 10th year would be a year for resting. There were discussions about doing a Holi event in March, but nothing happened.

The Nite Heist event ran into logistical issues and an enthusiasm gap, and was postponed indefinitely. Even the Walk seemed like a daunting task given the lackluster volunteer base. But Ed – the AC lead - would not give up. Not only was he determined to make the Walk a success, he wanted to host the annual CRY America volunteer conference in San Diego. He had attended pervious conferences, and was a great believer in their ability to light a fire under people. And so, with some trepidation, we postponed the Walk to December, and agreed to host the volunteer conference in October. Ed got on the organizing committee for the Festival of Lights – a huge Diwali event that has an attendance of almost 10,000 people. We reached out to other orgs and co- hosted events or tabled at their events. These efforts brought us new volunteers. Meeting attendance grew to 6+ people. Some volunteers who had gotten busy started helping out again. We managed to pull off the conference. And Ed was right – it was extremely motivating. A lot of the volunteers – old and new – came to meet the whole CRY team at the barbeque on the beach. The national Walk lead and others inspired us to commit to some pretty aggressive fund- raising goals.

After the conference, we got serious about the Walk, and pulled off our most successful walk yet. We had set a fundraising goal of $10,000. We raised almost $14,000. And more important for our sustainability, we got some really dedicated new volunteers. Not only did they raise a lot of money for the Walk, but they made things seem possible again. And that helped revitalize the existing core team members and volunteers as well. We started committing to events again because we knew we would have consistent enthusiasm in the core team. We were reminded that we need to talk about the things that motivate us to volunteer.

And we need to make our events social and fun. The right mix of the two is important to keep our volunteers engaged. Also, we need to constantly bring in fresh blood to keep enthusiasm high. In early 2012, the chapter seemed to have shrunk its ambitions – by the end of 2012 they were soaring again, and we had committed to not only our old events, but to new events for 2013.

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