An online nonprofit directory aims to be a one-stop shop for central Virginians looking to volunteer their time or resources. The website, called ReImagine CVA, launched March 30.
The directory was precipitated by an outpouring of community support amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Raquel Suarez, senior membership manager for the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.
“There were a lot of individuals who wanted to volunteer or help, but they weren’t sure how to get connected to nonprofits or items that needed to be donated,” Suarez said.
The Center for Nonprofit Excellence partnered with The United Way, The Equity Center at the University of Virginia and Thriving Communities Group to create ReImagine CVA.
In the directory, users can filter through more than 200 nonprofits based on their missions, location, needs, frequency and type of volunteering and training necessary. Even if someone doesn’t have time to volunteer, organizations on ReImagine CVA can post lists of items they need — like clothes, vehicles or food items.
The site also features on its front page BIPOC-led or -founded organizations, as well as stories written by individual nonprofits.
“We really do want to make sure that those organizations are elevated because, if you’re BIPOC-led or BIPOC-founded, you’re most likely connected to that community in ways that other organizations may not be,” Suarez said.
Equity Center Executive Director Ben Allen got involved with the project over the summer to ensure the directory highlighted emerging and BIPOC-led nonprofits.
“One of my biggest hopes for it is that it’s something that levels the playing field,” Allen said. “No matter the size of your organization, you can still be highlighted on this site, and people can be steered towards your organization and your goals.”
Nonprofits shown on the website can curate their profiles to include stories about their work and specify their volunteer or donation needs.
Alongside others working on the project, Allen connected with different organizations through personal and professional networks. Nonprofits can also contact ReImagine CVA to be included on the site.
Sin Barreras — a Charlottesville nonprofit that connects Latino immigrants with local resources — is among the organizations to which Suarez reached out. Chayla Rowley, volunteer coordinator for Sin Barreras, sees ReImagine CVA as a way to “get the word out” about Sin Barreras’ work in the community.
“It’s a way of, hopefully, having more people in the community aware of what we’re doing and aware of the kinds of skills we’re looking for,” Rowley said. “It could be that somebody who thinks, ‘Oh, as wonderful as Sin Barreras sounds, I think that they probably only need Spanish speakers or something like that’ — which isn’t necessarily the case.”
In her role as curricular coordinator of community engagement programs at UVA, Ellen Blackmon encourages university faculty and staff to engage with the Charlottesville community through volunteer work. She said that ReImagine CVA offers opportunities for potential volunteers to apply professional skills in a volunteer capacity.
“Somebody who’s coming in with expertise in accounting, they put that to use, or if you’re an excellent academic writer, you can put that to use,” Blackmon said.
People interested in using ReImagine CVA don’t need to create an account to participate, but nonprofits interested in being featured on the site can register online.