Frequently Asked Questions
General Event Information
When is the Serve-a-thon?
Saturday, June 9, 2012 from 8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
What is the Serve-a-thon?
The Annual Serve-a-thon is the largest day of service in the city of Chicago AND the largest fundraiser for Chicago Cares. Thousands of volunteers will come together to improve our city's schools and raise donations to support the hundreds of volunteer programs Chicago Cares manages each month.
Is there a cost to participate?
Yes, a $30 registration donation is required. This non-refundable donation covers a portion of the basic cost for each volunteer to participate in the event, which is not only a massive day of service but also Chicago Cares' largest fundraiser. A full waiver is available to members of sponsor teams. If you are a member of an AmeriCorps team or a similar nonprofit organization, a discount may be available. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the age restrictions for participation?
Due to the nature of the volunteer projects, volunteers MUST be at least 12 years of age on or before June 9, 2012, in order to participate. Each volunteer between the ages of 12-16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian (at least one adult per child between the ages of 12-16 is required). Volunteers aged 17 and over can participate on their own.
What are the hours?
Check-in is at 8:00 am at Serve-a-thon Plaza, located in the heart of downtown Chicago at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington). Volunteers will board buses to their service projects before 9:00 am. There will be a lunch break at each project. After the work is completed, buses will return volunteers to Serve-a-thon Plaza for a celebration with free food, drinks and live entertainment from 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm.
Can I just show up on June 9?
Pre-registration is required so that we can ensure that all planned work can be completed and provide adequate supplies. Walk-ons are not permitted. The registration deadline is Monday, June 4, or when we reach capacity, whichever comes first.
Will lunch be provided?
Each volunteer must provide his or her own lunch. You should bring a bag lunch or, you can pre-order a boxed lunch to be picked up at Serve-a-thon Plaza on the day of the event.
What should I wear?
Because projects include painting, planting and cleaning, you should wear clothes that you will not mind getting dirty. If you order an event t-shirt, water bottle or hat when registering, you will be able to pick up your gear at Serve-a-thon Plaza on June 9 - simply look for the "Merchandise" sign.
What if it rains?
Serve-a-thon takes place rain or shine. All projects have enough indoor work to keep everyone busy if it happens to storm.
What if I require wheelchair accessibility or have other health concerns?
If you require wheelchair accessibility, please notify us of your needs at email@example.com once you have successfully registered. If you have other health concerns, such as asthma, allergies to latex or pregnancy, you may also notify us and we will attempt to accommodate you. However, please be aware that much of the volunteer work for this event consists of painting or, at a minimum, being in or around a building where painting is taking place.
What roles are available? I've heard something about Production Assistants, Bus Ambassadors and Volunteer Leaders.
There are many ways to participate in the Serve-a-thon! Become a Team Captain and recruit a team of volunteers. Sign up to join a team or register as an individual volunteer. Bus Ambassadors are volunteers who are willing to distribute information, answer questions and share opportunities for continued service while on the bus to the project site. If you aren't able to stay for the whole day, the Production Assistant role might be perfect for you - morning and afternoon shifts are available. Or, if you are ready to step into a leadership role and take responsibility for managing other volunteers and making a project happen, consider applying to be a Volunteer Leader.
Registration & Teams
How do I register to volunteer?
Click Register Now to begin. You will be guided through the registration process. Once you have completed your registration, you will receive a confirmation e-mail. If you encounter problems with registration, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.780.0800 x 163. The volunteer registration deadline is Monday, June 4, or when we reach capacity (whichever comes first).
Can my friends and family be assigned to the same project as me?
Yes. Simply choose one person to be your Team Captain and form your own volunteer team. The Team Captain must register first. He or she will select "Start a Team" on the registration website. Once the Team Captain has registered, team members can select "Join a Team" on the registration website to register themselves to that Team Captain's team.
What is the minimum number of volunteers needed to form a team?
A team is any group of 2 or more volunteers. Teams can range in size from 2-50 people. Remember: the more, the merrier.
Can my team stay together or will we be split up?
Teams of up to 50 volunteers will be assigned to the same project site. We do our best to keep larger groups together, but due to project requirements and space constraints, we cannot guarantee it.
Why won't the system accept my username?
Your username must be unique, not just among Serve-a-thon participants, but among the thousands of individuals who use the Kintera system to register for non-profit events. Consider adding numbers or punctuation to your username to make it unique.
Do I need to be part of a team? How do I register as an individual?
How do I start a team?
Individual participants are welcome! In fact, participating in Serve-a-thon is a great way to meet new people. Click "register now" in the left hand menu and then select "join as an individual." Complete the form and you're all set! If you would prefer to register for a team of individuals who share your interests, you can also check out the Chicago Cares teams - these are groupings of individual volunteers with common interests, such as "Singles Serve" or "Sox Fans Unite." To view those teams, select "register now" and then "join a team" and search for all teams under Chicago Cares.
First, check out our Team Captain Checklist and team recruitment tips. When you are ready to start your team, click "register now" and "start a team." You can find plenty of resources and ideas on our "Team Captain Information" page, as well.
How do I join a team?
Click "register now" in the left hand menu and select "join a team." Search for the name of the company, team or team captain you are looking for.
Where is Serve-a-thon Plaza located?
This year, we?re bringing the fun and excitement of Serve-a-thon Plaza right to the heart of downtown Chicago, at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington). Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest news and information on Serve-a-thon.
Is there parking available near Serve-a-thon Plaza on the day of the event?
Volunteers are strongly encouraged to use one of the many public transportation options to Serve-a-thon Plaza on the day of the event, due to high congestion anticipated in the area. There are parking garages near Serve-a-thon Plaza but please note that Chicago Cares is not affiliated with these facilities and cannot validate parking. More information about parking and transportation.
Is there a place for my team to meet in the morning before check-in?
No. Due to space constraints and large crowds, there are no designated meeting places at Serve-a-thon Plaza. We suggest that you meet your team on the bus to your project.
What will my project be?
Due to possible site changes and logistical considerations, project assignments will not be given out prior to check-in on the day of the event. All projects will improve a Chicago school and create new opportunities for students. Projects involve painting, planting, building and other hands-on work, so be sure to wear clothes that you won't mind getting dirty. Click here for more about what to expect from your Serve-a-thon project and learn why the work you'll do is so important to our community.
Can I choose the project in which my team participates?
Due to the volume of projects and the number of volunteers participating in the event, we cannot honor specific project requests.
How will volunteers get to and from their project sites?
Chicago Cares will bus all volunteers to and from their project sites. Volunteers MUST check in on the morning of the event in order to board the bus and attend a project. Volunteers will board buses at Serve-a-thon Plaza before 9:00 am and will return to Serve-a-thon Plaza by approximately 3:30 pm. The event buses are the only mode of transportation to and from the project sites.
Can I drive to my project site instead?
Due to safety issues and logistical considerations, you may not drive to your project site.
What if I need to leave early?
Due to the nature of the event and volunteer activities, all volunteers must participate in the entire duration of the event. If you aren't able to participate in the full day, consider being a Production Assistant and helping Chicago Cares staff make the event happen. Morning and afternoon Production Assistant shifts are available.
Who will lead my project?
When you arrive at your project site, you will be greeted by your Volunteer Leaders. These individuals are Chicago Cares volunteers who have gone through extensive training and preparation for the project, and they will provide instructions and guide your work throughout the day. If you have questions about the work, the schedule or anything else taking place at your project site, the Volunteer Leaders are the go-to people. Remember, they are volunteers, as well - just like you!
Who should fundraise?
Everyone! Even if your company is a sponsor, Chicago Cares still needs your help to raise critical funds for our programs. Whether you are an individual or a member of a corporate, church, alumni or family team, you have the opportunity to ask everyone you know to support the volunteer work YOU will do on June 9. Check out our fundraising tips.
Every dollar that you raise for Serve-a-thon supports Chicago Cares' year-round work to build stronger communities by meeting our city's critical needs. Whether you raise $100 or $10,000, you and your supporters have the power to advance social change through Chicago Cares. We're asking every volunteer to take our $150 Challenge. We know it is hard work to fundraise on behalf of a critical cause, and we're happy to offer tips and some great prizes to recognize your fundraising efforts! Matching gifts count, too!
How do I collect pledges for Serve-a-thon?
It's easy to collect donations online - after you have registered, simply click on "My Account" in the left hand menu. You can also collect offline donations and mail them to Chicago Cares at Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon, 2 N. Riverside Plaza Suite 2200, Chicago IL 60606.
Is my donation tax-deductible?
Your donations (and those of individuals who make pledges to support you) are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Will my company match my pledges?
Quite possibly - many do. See if your company appears in our matching gift database and make your donation go even further.