For GFWC, the Time to Serve is Nothing New
In the cover story of the September 10, 2007, issue of TIME magazine, community service was touted as the next big idea for Americans. As GFWC clubwomen know, however, volunteering has long been the best way to enhance the lives of others. Though many nonprofit volunteer organizations were mentioned in the article, the omission of GFWC and the achievements of its members was an oversight that needed to be addressed. Here is the letter that GFWC International President Jacquelyn Pierce sent to TIME's editor.
September 14, 2007
Mr. Richard Stengel
c/o TIME Magazine Letters
Time & Life Building
New York, New York 10020
Dear Mr. Stengel:
Your recent article about volunteer service in the United States was fascinating, but you neglected to recognize one of the country's most significant corps of volunteers. TIME should share with its readers the resources they need to take action, and in the case of volunteer service, there is no greater resource than the General Federation of Women's Clubs. In 2006, GFWC and its members raised nearly $32 million and volunteered more than 8.4 million hours. This represents more than ten percent of the 8.1 billion volunteer hours you report for 2006.
GFWC's history and record speak for themselves: for more than 117 years, more than 100,000 women in 4,000 clubs across the globe-including more than a dozen countries-have worked in their communities to enhance the lives of others through volunteer service. On the first page of your article, you recognize three organizations that have a combined total of 69 years of service-just half that of GFWC's generations of committed members.
In fact, your article introduction highlights 11 individuals-seven men, four women-with an average age of 31.8 years old. Your caption indicates that these individuals represent "different ways Americans serve across the country" but you fail to include a key sector of the volunteer community: women over 40. GFWC members are mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, doctors, teachers, and community leaders. In fact, some of our members are even men! Ours is an organization of inclusion-we continue to work under the motto of Unity in Diversity, a fact that challenges your assertion that "Diversity…seems to breed distrust and disengagement" for volunteering-and our members include entire families who volunteer together on a regular basis.
To share more with you about our legacy, I am enclosing GFWC's profile. You can find more information on our website www.gfwc.org, and I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you directly about how GFWC has been making the case for national service for more than a century.
In Federation Service,
GFWC International President 2006-2008
GFWC's Call to Action
- Log on to TIME's community discussion forums and write about your experiences with GFWC.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to let them know that a powerful volunteer organization is already available in your community. Use our sample letter to get started.
- Share GFWC's impressive profile with media outlets and community leaders.
- Discuss with your fellow clubwomen how important it is to use GFWC in the name of your club—identifying your club as part of the GFWC team will go a long way toward helping potential members find you. Learn more about the GFWC brand in the GFWC Stylebook.
- Publicize your club's activities on a regular basis, to create a reputation for supporting your community through service. Use a GFWC Briefing Book to learn more about publicity outreach.
- Use GFWC emblematic merchandise—like our fun window decals—to raise your club's profile in the community. Fly the GFWC flag during meetings, parades, and events to remind passersby that your club is strong and active!
- Consider creating a signature event or partnership in collaboration with a deserving local charity. Aligning yourself with worthy causes helps both organizations share recognition. You could choose to work with a women's shelter or hotline to help further GFWC's work on the President's Special Project: Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention.