The History of One Brick

One Brick was founded in San Francisco in December, 2001 with the goal of providing an easy way to get involved and volunteer.

The founding team, Dave Shefferman, Charlotte Rayne and Brian Gee met while volunteering at the San Francisco Food Bank in June 2001. The trio recognized that while many non-profits have the need for volunteers, and many people are interested in volunteering, there are very few organizations that make the volunteer experience convenient and can sustain continued commitment from its volunteers. A new approach was necessary to build a sustainable volunteer pool to support these organizations.

With this in mind, the team set out to understand the motivations and barriers to getting involved in community service, and built an organization that addresses these issues and makes volunteering easy: One Brick.

Every One Brick project we arrange is treated as a stand-alone event. Our ‘commitment-free volunteering’ allows people to choose when they volunteer, rather than having to make commitments for a certain number of volunteer hours, or agree to be available every week at a specific time. This flexibility makes volunteering convenient and provides opportunities to help when time and schedule commitments allow. This keeps volunteering from being a chore, but rather makes it an easy and enjoyable choice.

The Volunteer-Run Volunteer Organization

Perhaps the most unique component to One Brick’s approach is that each chapter within the organization is run entirely by volunteers! One Brick does not have a physical office, or even a telephone. In fact, on a National level, we only have a single employee who works from home and is responsible for paying the bills, dealing with legal and regulatory filings and ensuring the whole thing stays together. Everything else we do is facilitated by a team of volunteers working together to make a difference. Their efforts are returned exponentially with the impact we have on our communities. And yes, there’s always room for more people to join the team!

One Brick New York

In July 2002, eight months after our launch of One Brick in San Francisco, our fearless co-Founder, Brian moved to New York for graduate school. A One Brick junkie, Brian was determined to copy the model we built in San Francisco and launch a chapter in New York.

In September 2002, that vision became a reality as Dave joined Brian in NY to manage the first weekend of volunteer events in New York. Brian has since completed graduate school and has turned the New York reigns over to the team he built there: Rose, Patrick and Margarethe.

One Brick Chicago

As if joining McKinsey in 2004 and relocating to their Chicago office wasn’t enough, Brian set out to recruit a team to run a Chicago chapter of One Brick. In December 2004, One Brick Chicago was born with a great team taking charge and launching a successful chapter nearly overnight!

One Brick Washington D.C.

It appears to be contagious. One of our fearless leaders from the Chicago moved out to DC for grad school. Familiar story? Yup, Amber was so enthused about the great work One Brick does, that she wanted to bring it with her to DC. Conveniently, Brawley (also from the Management Team in Chicago) has a brother, Lindsay, also living in Washington DC. He had heard so much great stuff about One Brick that in the summer of 2006 he teamed up with Amber to make One Brick D.C. happen. The rest is history…in the making.

One Brick Minneapolis

After the success of the first 4 chapters, the newly-established One Brick board decided to venture into even colder climates in the coldest of months! That’s right- in February 2008, One Brick Minneapolis was formed. Minneapolis offered the perfect combination of an exciting group of people up for the challenge of starting a chapter, combined with a city in need of some great volunteers.

One Brick’s Impact on our Communities

The model we developed has been a huge success! In our first 7.1 years, a team of 580 volunteer Event Managers, Technology Developers, Marketers and Fundraisers has grown the organization to over 54000 volunteers, spanning the San Francisco Bay Area, the New York Metropolitan Area, Chicago, Washington DC and Minneapolis.

To date, One Brick has completed 4306 events, delivering 193554.25 hours of community service!


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