Melissa Ganley is the Executive director of One Brick, a non-profit organization and a community of volunteers that support other local nonprofits by creating a barrier free, friendly, and social atmosphere around volunteering. It started in San Francisco in 2001, and expanded to Boston, the youngest chapter, five years ago. One Brick currently operates in eight chapters across the country and its chapters are 100% volunteer-run! On a national level, Melissa is the single employee of One Brick who helps support the chapters.
Q: What led you to the work you’re doing now?
I’ve been doing nonprofit related jobs my whole career. I have done volunteer recruitment, training programs and human resources, and I’m a volunteer myself. In 2011, I joined the founding team to launch the Boston Chapter of One Brick, later becoming the Chapter Director. I’m passionate about what I’m doing now. It not only connects people with opportunities to serve, but also makes it fun and social. The thing that makes One Brick successful is we do more than just serve, we are also connecting volunteers to each other, and creating a community.
Q: Tell us about the community you serve/problem you solve?
We serve anybody who is actively involved in helping other people in their community. We are also enabling nonprofits to accomplish the important work they do by providing them with volunteers. We provide a calendar of volunteer and social events to help people get involved, have an impact, and have fun, without the requirement of a long term commitment. Each volunteer event has a event manager to coordinate, and each chapter has its director to manage. After each volunteer event our volunteer team will gather at a local restaurant or coffee shop where they can get to know one another in a relaxed social setting and have fun. We also organize community social events at least once per month to help build the One Brick community.
Q: If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
- Our society will be more tolerant and open-minded. People have more compassion to help others, thinking outside themselves.
- Through one brick, I could connect as many people as possible to volunteer opportunities. Through volunteering, people can see things they might not normally see, meet people they might not meet otherwise (outside their normal network), and feel good about themselves. This is what I called volunteerism. In such a way, people gain powerful inspiration which might change their life in a way they never imagined.
- One Brick could alleviate some pressure of volunteering management for nonprofits and let them focus more on their goals and mission.
Q: If you could go back and give yourself three pieces of advice when you started with this organization, what would that advice be?
- Don’t take yourself too seriously – do not go upset when something is not going the way you want, don’t go too hard on yourself.
- Ask a lot of questions and look for people you can ask questions of. Ask for help from others.
- Feel confident about the experience, and try different things, don’t limit yourself!