Volunteers Get Their Due…

Here at the ToolBank, it’s impossible to truly place a numeric value on the time our volunteer’s give to support warehouse operations, special events and even good ‘ole data entry! They fill our days with smiles and we quite simply could not make it all happen without them! However, it was encouraging to see the “officially sanctioned” hourly value for volunteer service has been bumped up a bit. Check out the release below from our pals at Independent Sector.

About time!  Independent Sector announces that the 2014 estimate for the value of a volunteer hour is $23.07—a 52-cent increase from 2013, up 2.3 percent from the previous year.

The value of volunteer time provides one way to measure the impact millions of individuals make with each hour they dedicate to making a difference. The release of this important figure comes during National Volunteer Week, a program of Independent Sector member Points of Light held April 12-18, 2015.

“For more than 40 years, National Volunteer Week has recognized the value of volunteers to nonprofits, to the people they serve, to society, and to life on this planet,” said Independent Sector President and CEO Diana Aviv. “Though we could never truly put a price tag on what volunteers mean to their communities, we are proud to offer this figure to attempt to frame the immense value of the time and effort they give.”

IS also has updated the state-level breakdown for the value of volunteer time in 2013, ranging from a low of $19.31 in Arkansas up to $39.86 per hour in the District of Columbia. New for this year is an interactive map and table showing data for each state, where the value of a volunteer hour is highest and lowest, and how much the figure has risen or fallen since the previous year. Also new is the complete dataset for the value of volunteer time for all 50 states and D.C. from 2001-2014.

See the full map and table of national and state-level volunteer time values

The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data show nonprofits employ approximately 11.4 million workers—about 10.3 percent of the American private sector employment—and account for about 5.4 percent of GDP. According to data from the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 62.6 million Americans, or 25.4 percent of the adult population, contributed 7.7 billion hours of service in 2013. Religious organizations were cited as the type of organization that volunteers worked in the most (33.9%), followed by educational or youth service (26.2%) and social or community service organizations (14.8%).

US map displaying value of volunteer time data


Game On! #WithMyToolBank

So, how do you build an entire playground in just one day? Laurel Ridge Elementary knows just how to get it done!

1) Align with top-notch, community lovin’ sponsors.

2) Organize 600+ awesome volunteers.

3) Purchase $17,713 worth of tools… Oh, wait… spend $3,500 to rent enough tools.
OH, WAIT… Stop the sledgehammer – there’s a ToolBank in town! OK, Whew; borrow all the tools you need for just $531.67, and keep them for up to 7 days. That was a close one, folks. 

4) Have a great day building camaraderie and one heck of an amazing play space.

Congrats to the children, volunteers and staff of Laurel Ridge Elementary. Dreams do come true!



Ready to keep kids playing hard for a brighter future? Click to DONATE NOW!

Why Play?

We’ve all heard it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a ToolBank to build that village and keep it safe, sustainable and strong. When it comes to keeping kids on the move, your Atlanta Community ToolBank is dedicated to supporting local efforts to keep our youth engaged in serious fun. Check out why it benefits us all: 

Developing Leadership and complex problem solving: It all starts on a playground. Right now, future leaders are learning to delegate monkey bar rotation, developing slide rules and even negotiating terms for swing use. Lifting a friend after a fall, sharing gummy bears from a lunch sack, working past a spat – all good stuff!

Enhancing concentration and focus: We all want future drivers in our community to stay on point, right? Those cherubic faces on the playground will be sweet sixteen in a blink. Today, they are learning to stay on task thanks to organized play and games. Learning to follow, and when to break, those basic rules of play that will ultimately govern society for a lifetime.

Building imagination and creative spark: Let’s face it. Most dreams started at recess. It’s where you don that first super-hero cape, the first time you really believe you can fly, that initial inkling of what you just might want to become. Not to mention, all the mud pies you can make.

Maintaining overall health: Stronger immune systems, higher vitamin D absorption, lower obesity rates and all the associated chronic health issues – play is preventative medicine at its best.

Transformative Collaboration…

When most of us talk about “tools for transformation” these days, we’re usually referring to software as a service or specific types of business or operational strategies. At the Atlanta Community ToolBank, we certainly use digital and conceptual “tools” to help us serve our clients. But our client touch point is physical tools. We are America’s largest tool-lending organization. We maintain an inventory of physical tools that we lend to other nonprofits to enable community-based service projects.

IBM Corporate Citizenship Managers Christian Schoen (center) and LaTjuan Dogan (right) receive Atlanta ToolBank’s Corporate Partner of the Year from Board Chairman Brad Sand

IBM Corporate Citizenship Managers Christian Schoen (center) and LaTjuan Dogan (right) receive Atlanta ToolBank’s Corporate Partner of the Year from Board Chairman Brad Sand

We began our partnership with IBM during their Centennial Celebration of Service in 2011. Since that time, IBM experts have helped us develop strategies for efficiency, growth and collaboration with other nonprofits so that we can continue to provide our essential service. IBM and the Atlanta ToolBank eventually entered into a partnership that involves an annual consulting grant to help us refine operations and expand our impact across Atlanta. This critical strategic “tool” has been made possible by an IBM Impact Grant.

The IBM Impact Grant, and skills-based volunteer service of IBM experts, has helped us with numerous key initiatives. Among them:

  • Development of a Technology Roadmap to help us identify short- and long-term strategies for the use of technology in serving our clients
  • Delivery of a three-year Strategic Plan for capacity growth
  • Creation of a digital marketing template for replication across our nationwide
    affiliate network

ToolBank relies on pro bono support for a wide range of services, and a standout feature of our partnership with IBM has been the attentiveness of their staff’s contributions to our efforts. IBMers always treat our staff as clients, not “beneficiaries.” And IBM consultants listen, collaborate, dig deep and deliver. To put it simply, when IBM says they will get something done, it gets done!

Atlanta ToolBank recently gave IBM our 2014 Corporate Partner of the Year Award in recognition of their tremendous and ongoing support of our organization and its mission. Since then, our lead IBM consultant addressed the 2015 National Tool Bank Summit on the importance of measuring qualitative as well as quantitative outcomes of service. With all nonprofits caught in the squeeze between increasing demands and diminishing resources, our relationship with IBM has been essential in helping us sustain an organization that enables so many others to serve.

Patty Russart is Executive Director of the Atlanta ToolBank. IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Managers Tjuan Dogan and Christian Schoen manage the relationship and provide consulting services to Atlanta ToolBank, where Mr. Schoen also serves on the Board of Directors.

 Article reposted courtesy of CitizenIBM.com

Look For The Helpers…

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”  ~ Mr. Fred Rogers

Inspiring to see the compassion and swift response to the recent tornado devastation. Since the arrival of the ToolBank Disaster Services mobile unit in Fairdale, IL on Thursday, ToolBank tools have powered more than 3,000 volunteer hours in support of community recovery. We thank these brave men and women tirelessly giving their time. Such tragedy is hard to process and understandably raises many questions for residents across our city.

“What would I do?”

“How should I respond?”

Developing a personal plan for disaster prepardness is critical to increasing your chances of survival and decreasing risk of serious injury. Join your Atlanta Community ToolBank on April 30th for a one-hour PrepareAthon.  This hands on workshop is free and filled with important resources, and even the vital supplies, you need in the event of natural disaster. Register now: http://atlantatoolbank.org/AtlantaPrepareAthon.aspx

Volunteers in Action Healing Fairdale, IL

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What Does It Take….

To build a community garden? Watch Revive Atlanta in action, putting $1,710 worth of blue tools to work. Teachable moments and community building abound – and, the best part? They did it all for only $51.40 That’s the #PowerOfToolBank!

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So, what’s the big deal with urban gardening anyway? A big fat multiplier effect, that’s what! Consider this:

THE BLUE TOOLS WORK: On average, ToolBank tools support the construction and ongoing care of 18 full-scale ATL community gardens each and every year. What tool do you think our urban farmers check out most? HINT: Your hands love them…

YOUR KIDS GET BETTER: The CDC reports – nationally, community gardens decrease rates of childhood asthma and lead poisoning by increasing consumption of fresh produce and increased natural immunities to yucky stuff like local pollen types. Anything that fights the yellow and green works for us!

OUR WATER STAYS CLEANER: Community gardens filter our rainwater, working to help lakes, rivers and our groundwater stay crisp and clean.

THE EARTH STAYS GREEN: Local community gardens recycle massive amounts of grass clippings, tree trimmings and all kinds of organic waste. And – it all goes right back into the soil. Circle of life, ToolBank Style!

HUNGER DECREASES: Literally thousands of pounds of fresh produce grown from local community gardens of all sizes are donated to food pantries and hunger alleviation services across Georgia MONTHLY. Yes, not yearly – we said MONTHLY people!

BOTTOM LINE EFFECTIVE: Urban agriculture is 3-5 times more productive per acre than traditional farming. Dang, us city folk do know a thing or two…

WE ALL BENEFIT: Prettier green space, reduced crime rates in lower income areas, stress reduction and improved property values are all directly linked to the establishment of community gardens. And, that effect only increases over time. Well managed community gardens are the centerpiece of thriving neighborhoods in Atlanta’s inner city and a huge piece of the revitalization efforts underway right now in places like Vine City. No matter where you hang your hat, stronger neighborhoods mean economic growth and decreased crime across the board for greater Atlanta.

Cocktails and Ladders - FINAL-FINAL-3-13-2015-convertedSo now you know – community gardens make life better for us all! Ready to harvest? Simply click NOW to buy Cocktails and Ladders tickets, and keep the blue tools gardening away!


CJ10YearThe rumors are true –  ToolBank’s very own CJ Clark is celebrating 10 years of tool lending! That’s right folks – CJ made her big warehouse debut March 28, 2005 and has been true-blue ever since. Follow our online celebration throughout the year with #CelebrateCJ. Look out for fun facts about her service, unique contests and special surprises galore!  You can even kick off the fun with a special shout out on her message board.

CLICK NOW to leave your congrats on her big milestone!
So, just what has THE CJ been up to over the last decade?
Well, for starters… 
–Did you know she has loaded and unloaded over 1,400 wheelbarrows!?
–Led over 2,500 volunteers in service at our warehouse?

Learn more as we give props throughout 2015!

Heart Some Parks March 23rd…

Hot off the press! Get your green fun on with super ToolBank users Park Pride!


ParkPrideLogoPark Pride, an Atlanta-based nonprofit working with communities to improve parks and greenspace in their neighborhoods, is hosting the 14th Annual Parks and Greenspace Conference at the Atlanta Botanical Garden on Monday, March 23. The event, expected to draw 450 attendees, will explore the relationship between successful parks and the communities that sustain them under the theme, “Parks & People: A Declaration of Interdependence.”

The conference’s broad theme is a widely accessible topic appropriate for audiences from a wide range of backgrounds. Peter Harnik, the Director of the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence, is a featured keynote speaker. Other keynotes include: Cynthia Nikitin, Project for Public Spaces; Alexie Torres-Fleming, Bronx River Alliance, Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance, Access Strategies Fund; and Thomas Woltz, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.

In addition to the four keynote presentations, 10 breakout sessions are dedicated to the exploration of the relationship between communities and parks. Speakers include Kevin Green of Midtown Alliance, A.J. Robinson of Central Atlanta Progress, and Denise Starling from Livable Buckhead, who will discuss why their organizations invest so heavily in parks and the community benefits that have resulted from those investments. Executive Directors from Piedmont Park Conservancy, Chastain Park Conservancy and Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy will walk attendees through a comprehensive discussion of the evolution of a conservancy, offering unique perspectives on conservancy operation. Each session will feature distinguished park, business and academic thought leaders; the complete program is available on Park Pride’s website.


Atlanta’s Gordon White Park receiving some blue tool TLC thanks to Park Pride and a few well-known local volunteers!

Park Pride will also recognize eight Inspiration Award winners at the conference. These awards honor local leaders who inspire others to expand and improve public parks and greenspaces and work to raise awareness about critical, relevant issues. “Great parks are built by strong communities,” says Park Pride’s Executive Director, Michael Halicki, “and strong communities benefit from the leadership of great park champions who amplify the enthusiasm and motivation necessary to make change possible. Those champions will be recognized with this year’s Inspiration Awards.”

Registration for the conference is open. In conjunction with the conference, Park Pride is hosting two behind-the-scenes tours, themed “Public Spaces & Forbidden Places,” that include restricted greenspaces that have potential to become city parks, as well as parks currently being utilized by communities in unique ways.

Sponsor support for The Parks and Greenspace Conference has been enthusiastic, illustrating the commitment to greenspace from within Atlanta’s business community. Presenting Sponsor: Cox Conserves/Cox Enterprises. Venue Sponsor: Atlanta Botanical Garden. Community Building Sponsor: Kaiser Permanente. Gold Sponsors: American Rivers, The Conservation Fund, Ed Castro Landscape, HR&A Advisors, Springer Mountain Farms, The Trust for Public Land. Silver Sponsors: Astra Group, Brock Built, Dominica/GameTime, Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, HGOR, Jacobs Engineering Group, Jones Day, Manheim/ AutoTrader.com, Morgens West Foundation, Nelson Byrd Woltz, PNC Bank, Pond & Company, Stantec, Southern Playgrounds, USA Management. Supporting Sponsors: Andrew Lovell and Mark Wentz, Arborguard, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters, BigBelly,

CAP/ADID, City of Decatur, The Coca-Cola Company, Elite Landscape Services, Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Power, Invest Atlanta, Jamestown, KAIZEN Collaborative, Livable Buckhead, Olmsted Linear Park Alliance, One Ring Networks, Perez Planning + Design, Silverman Construction Program Management, Smith Dalia Architects, Whole Foods Market. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Contact Jane Zoellick (jane@parkpride.org) for information.

About Park Pride:
Founded in 1989, Park Pride is the only organization that works with communities all over Atlanta and DeKalb to improve their parks. The nonprofit engages communities through volunteer projects, community gardens, community-led park redesigns and by receiving grants for their parks. Park Pride is active in greenspace advocacy and educating both civic leaders and the general public about the benefits of parks, and annually hosts the Parks and Greenspace Conference. Learn more about Park Pride at www.parkpride.org.

Disaster Relief Across USA…

ToolBankUSADisasterServicesVolunteers responding to a string of tornado strikes near Conway AR were the first to use tools from ToolBank Disaster Services (TDS), a new program at ToolBank USA. Launched in 2014 to lend tools to front-line organizations like All Hands, NECHAMA, and Team Rubicon, the ‘ToolBank on wheels’ deployed to three disaster events in its first year.

TDS responded to its first flood event in September, after record rainfall affected over 118,000 homes in metro Detroit.

Partner agency Nechama valued the support,  “The TDS Mobile Unit was a real game changer for Nechama. It played a crucial role in providing our field teams with what they needed to bring relief to the suffering city. We are proud to have [TDS] in our corner and look forward to teaming up again in the future.”

In 2014, the TDS mobile unit logged more than 12,000 miles (most of which was made possible by UPS) and more than $115,000 worth of tools were loaned to volunteers in support of communities affected by disasters. For more TDS information, click here.DisasterServicesUSAtrailer-webshot

55 Days… 1,931 Blue Tools…


Trees Atlanta is everywhere ya’ll! #Props

So, how have the first 55 days of 2015 treated ya? ToolBankers have taken the blue tool power to the extreme! And, we couldn’t be happier about the progress:

67 Hammers Swung = 85 Home Repairs Completed

299 Loppers Utilized = 52 Miles of Trails cleared

585 Shovels Deployed = 165 Trees Planted

You get the drill. Can’t wait to see what Spring brings! Thank you, thank you to our early 2015 Tool Users!



John A White Park Gets a Facelift!

John A White Park Gets a Facelift!


Historic Fourth Ward Park Moving Forward.


First tool training for entire ToolBank USA network held at ATL ToolBank!




State of The Nonprofits…

NonprofitFinanceFundCalling all nonprofit leaders – Nonprofit Finance Fund (nff.org) is conducting its seventh annual nationwide survey examining the state of the nonprofit sector, needs YOUR contribution to this collective effort. The survey, which is anonymous and takes about 10 minutes to fill out, collects data on challenges and trends among nonprofits. Please take the survey and share it with other nonprofits in your network.