Do Good Lab is a San Francisco-based community organization focused on empowering local solutions in the developing world. Since 2009, they have worked with small, community-founded and locally-led projects in third world communities, helping to bridge the gap in resources between the developed and developing world and educating people in their Bay Area community about the need abroad.
Do Good Lab
285 Main Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
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Do Good Lab Executive Team
By Stephanie Rosenburg, Communications & Social Media Intern
Remaining committed to any job is difficult enough, but without the incentive of a steady paycheck, what's left? For Molly Brennan, Shannon Radsky and Aezed Raza, volunteering is essentially a full-time job. And as the executive team of Do Good Lab, things wouldn't get done without their continued hard work and commitment.
Do Good Lab has relied on a completely volunteer staff for almost four years now. The community-focused international development organization was started by a group of friends in 2009 and has grown to include over 20 regular and part-time volunteers. They use a team pyramid structure to get things done, breaking tasks into manageable bits. This allows a volunteer to commit as much time as possible for them, while making sure nothing gets missed. But it also requires a flexible and fully-committed team at the top to make it work.
Being a volunteer leader is challenging, the executive team agrees. "This is our time off," says Molly, Director of Operations. But they love it, they quickly add. So where do these management-level volunteers find the momentum to keep going? Their answer: in a solid community, a shared passion and a great support network.
"We happen to enjoy each others' company," Molly explains. This helps to build a close-knit organization based on friendship and community in addition to a shared mission.
For Shannon, Director of Projects, the sense of community was a huge part of why she got involved with Do Good Lab initially. She had been in San Francisco for about six months when her friend brought her to a Do Good Lab monthly Community Meeting. The idea appealed to her because she wanted to meet more people. But, as she explains, "I also wanted to do something good." Since that first meeting, her volunteer work with the organization has helped her do both.
"Volunteering with Do Good Lab has made me realize that there are far more people in the world that care about nonprofit work and sustainable development then I had ever thought," Shannon says. "Every day I feel thankful for having met such a spectacular group of people... It has been a whirlwind experience with an amazing community."
A solid community is only part of the recipe, however. As Aezed, Executive Director, explains, the momentum happens, "when people are united in a common cause with friends." Working with friends is great, but volunteers have to really care about what they are doing, also.
When Aezed attended his first Do Good Lab Community Meeting, he already had a mission to change his life. "I wanted [to] make it less about serving myself and more about making the world better for those who were not as fortunate," he explains. So when he was introduced to co-founder Ryan Jones by a mutual friend, he was instantly convinced by the organization.
"I left that meeting a volunteer," he reflects, describing how the focus on community empowerment got him excited about the mission. "My passion for the organization has only grown since then."
"The level of passion, compassion and drive is inspiring," Shannon agrees. At Do Good Lab, everyone feels like they are part of something. According to Molly, this has a lot to do with their strong support network.
Originally, Do Good Lab was a small group of friends who did everything. But more recently, the organization has grown and taken on a larger number of international projects. There has been an increasing need for more and more volunteers to help with everything from fundraising and community outreach to project research. In this larger and more complex structure, Molly says, "teams are essential!"
"We will ask for whatever you can give," she explains, with the organization relying on volunteers who can donate even just an hour per week. But, she also emphasizes, "We want you to feel supported."
The executive team understands that this requires a lot of communication and openness. It's a "give and take" relationship. You have to maintain a clear understanding of expectations and level of commitment, Molly explains. But you also have to be "outwardly appreciative," and it takes "lots of thank you's," Shannon adds.
It's this type of supportive and passionate environment that makes Do Good Lab such a "safe and encouraging space," explains Shannon. A place where anyone who is passionate about international development can come, collaborate and work to support sustainable change.
For Molly, Shannon, Aezed and the rest of the Do Good Lab volunteers, it seems that they have found not only a shared passion, but a solid support group of like-minded people. "We are all doing this because we love it," says Molly. And it really shows.