By Betty Stallings, a member of the Reimagining Service Council and author of the 12 Key Actions of Volunteer Program Champions: CEOs Who Lead the Way (2005) - In the past 10 years, it has become increasingly evident that funders needed to understand the components of excellent volunteer engagement and the impact on missions when carried out well. Although it is a slow moving trend, I have had the privilege of joining with foundations such as the Leighty Family Foundation and have seen the power that funders hold in setting expectations, and rewards, for organizations endeavoring to reinvent their volunteer engagement to greatly enhance mission endeavors. CEOs listen to funders!
By Katherine Tice, summer 2014 Bank of America Fellow - A common thread among our public sector interviewees [involved in our study] was the – often surprising – interplay between stability and innovation. The best volunteer initiatives take root in public institutions and grow by investing in and adding value to their public sector environments. A stable bureaucratic environment certainly requires its coordinators who oversee volunteer engagement to practice patience and persistence, but if you think public administration necessarily stifles innovation, think again.
By Brian Agnew, spring and summer 2014 Bank of America Service Leadership Fellow with Reimagining Service - Principle 4: In order to get a return, you have to invest. We recently surveyed Reimagining Service signatories, who support our four principles, to ask how they’re bringing Principle 4 to life; they offered examples and some recommendations. Through the process of becoming a certified Service Enterprise, the Community Food Bank team, including President and CEO Andy Souza, recognized that volunteers can also fuel the organization in other ways, boosting ROI. This emerging point of view, coupled with expansive growth for the organization, is raising questions about the type of investment needed for the volunteer manager position. One possible idea that Andy is considering in order to expand the organization’s volunteer engagement strategy is to elevate the classification for the volunteer manager position from a staff member in the programs department to a supervisor level, although it requires additional financial resources. It is an investment that Andy is betting will pay off.
By Brian Agnew, spring and summer 2014 Bank of America Service Leadership Fellow with Reimagining Service - Focus volunteer engagement on true community needs. Nonprofits put substantial effort seeking financial resources to fill a high priority need, and this philosophy can also be applied to volunteer resources. An important step in this process is for the community, or in many cases nonprofits, to gain clarity on what is most needed for impact, and designing volunteer opportunities to reflect the need. Volunteer interests and/or availability should not drive the type of service provided; instead, community needs should direct the service provided and the “right” mix of volunteers should be recruited to fill appropriate roles.
By Brian Agnew, spring and summer 2014 Bank of America Service Leadership Fellow with Reimagining Service - Reimagining Service recently surveyed over 300 individuals who have signed on in support of the four key Principles to find out how these principles have come to life in their organizations. Let’s start off by revisiting Principle 2: Make volunteering a core strategic function, not an add-on. Some of the burning questions we, at Reimagining Service, wanted to know more about: what types of changes were evident when volunteers became a more central source of capacity for an organization? We also wanted to know how an organization and its leaders shifted their mindset to make that change, the challenges they faced, and the results they’ve seen since.
By Brian Agnew, spring and summer 2014 Bank of America Service Leadership Fellow with Reimagining Service - Reimagining Service recently surveyed over 300 individuals who have signed on in support of the four key Principles to find out how these principles have come to life in their organizations. Let’s start off by revisiting Principle 1: The volunteer ecosystem is more effective when all sectors participate in its evolution. But what does Principle 1 actually look like in action? What are the practical benefits? What obstacles might an organization encounter along the way? What can be done to overcome these struggles and form better partnerships?
By Katie Campbell, executive director of the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) and member of the Reimagining Service Council - We all have a fairly good idea what “being ethical” means, based on our own experiences, values and beliefs. But in today’s complex world of social and organizational dynamics, our personal ethics is often not enough to tell us how to make the “right” decision at work. At the heart of every ethical dilemma there is a conflict between values – personal, professional, or organizational – which is exactly why it is so tough to choose the correct course of action.
By James Weinberg, partner at AchieveMission and member of the Reimagining Service Council - Recognizing that volunteers represent a significant portion of the human capital that drives the social sector, high-performing organizations need to ensure that their human capital management systems are capable of being adapted to include best practices in volunteer management. Reimagining Service has made significant strides in helping to raise awareness of these issues and disseminate best practices.
In support of the work of Reimagining Service, we at AchieveMission wanted to take a few moments to reflect on some of the perspectives and practices in human capital management that we have seen nonprofits adapt well, to address skill-based professional volunteer opportunities:
1) Recruit: Define your needs and attract the best possible talent for that role. Just as you do with paid positions, you need to define the role based on the organization’s needs and the core competencies that lead to success in that role. Undertake concerted recruitment efforts in order to attract a significant number of talented individuals for every volunteer opportunity. Determine fit by asking and seeking to understand your potential volunteers’ motivations and interests.
By Jane Leighty Justis, executive director of The Leighty Foundation and Reimagining Service Council member - The events of the last few years have changed our country’s landscape – at least for the foreseeable future. A crippled economy has caused escalating needs and dramatically shrinking financial resources. Nonprofit organizations will be required to engage communities in new ways to accomplish their missions in the wake of these tsunami-like changes. One of the chief strategies that the Leighty Foundation is seeing in response to this challenging economic climate is a renewed interest from nonprofits to fully engage volunteers to serve as critical resources. The Leighty Foundation, a long-time believer in the effectiveness of volunteer engagement, made a commitment to fund the 18-month Pikes Peak Volunteer Engagement Initiative that aimed to increase the volunteer capacity of 22 organizations.
By Kaira Esgate, executive director, Reimagining Service - For the past 18 months, Reimagining Service has partnered with CaliforniaVolunteers (the state service commission in California), Points of Light, and seven HandsOn Network affiliates/volunteer centers to develop the CaliforniaVolunteers Service Enterprise Initiative (CVSEI). Through this pilot initiative, HandsOn Network affiliates/volunteer centers support local nonprofits in completing a comprehensive assessment, training and consulting model that leads to nonprofits reimagining the way they strategically engage volunteers as well as earning certification as a Service Enterprise.
To date, 76 California nonprofits have met certification requirements and/or have completed the training and consulting portion of the model. Initial six-month follow-up data from nonprofits participating in the initiative is positive:
60% of nonprofits increased the number of volunteers engaged;
50% of nonprofits increased the number of skills-based volunteers engaged;
52% of nonprofits increased the number of service hours donated; and,
57% of nonprofits increased the number of service hours donated by skills-based volunteers.