Does Your Organization Leverage Volunteer Skills?

Service Enterprise-10-characteristics-updated-10-06-2014As a busy nonprofit professional I know that there is never enough time to get everything on my “TO DO” list done. I balance my budget, write reports, answer 100’s of emails every week and keep my program website and social media up to date. Not to mention, fundraising, committees, local government meetings, and special events. Fortunately, at the Volunteer Center, I am able to rely on an incredible resource that helps me to stretch my capabilities, expand my vision, and complete tasks on the ever growing action list- Volunteers.  Everyday, I see examples of how the Volunteer Center works because of the generous volunteers who support our staff in strategic areas, from those who provide consultation and expertise to those who answer the phones.

How effectively does your nonprofit organization leverage volunteers’ skills across all levels of the organization to deliver its social mission? We call nonprofits that have adopted this model of volunteer engagement “Service Enterprises.”

Research shows that organizations operating as Service Enterprises exhibit ten characteristics in critical practice areas including planning and development, leadership support and resource allocation. The key is putting in place practices and processes to get your organization to the next level.

At the Volunteer Center, we provide training and support to organizations that want to re-imagine their volunteer programs. Thus far, we have certified ten local programs as a “Service Enterprise.” Participants have repeatedly stated that by putting this training into practice they have transformed their relationship to volunteers.

“The work we did in this program paid off! We were able to present a complete volunteer program to local businesses and tell them, ‘this is how you can help us.’ We never would have done this without the Service Enterprise Training.” – Jennifer Bagley, Jacob’s Heart.

A study conducted by TCC Group and Deloitte demonstrates that Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations on all measures of organizational capacity, enabling them to address community needs more effectively and operate at almost half the median budget.

When an organization leverages its volunteers and deploys an effective volunteer management model, it is significantly more adaptable, more sustainable and better resourced to do its work – and therefore, better able to go to scale. Research shows that Service Enterprises deliver a 600 percent return on investment in volunteer capacity (Source: Reimagining Service).

We will be honoring our newest round of organizations that have been certified as a Service Enterprise on April 22nd with an luncheon from 12:30 to 2:00pm at Beer Thirty, 2504 S Main, Soquel, CA 95073. Join us to meet community leaders from these organizations such as the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Pacific Voices and Grey Bears. Our cohort of organizations that have already been certified and those in the process will also be there. You can RSVP to the luncheon by emailing Larissa or calling the Volunteer Center (831) 427-5070.

This summer we will bring together 16 new organizations in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties to support each other through the process of becoming a Service Enterprise. You can join us at this training by completing an application. The Deadline to apply is May 2nd. Download the Application Here.

We are a part of a National training program supported by California Volunteers and the Points of Light Foundation.

Learn more about how you can join us.

For more information you can also email Larissa or call the Volunteer Center at (831)427-5070.


christina_thurstonBlog Post written by Christina Thurston our Director of Volunteer Engagement. Christina started her work with the Volunteer Center as a teen volunteer and has played a crucial role in the development of our Volunteer Mobilization Department over the past 10 years.  She is passionate about inclusive communities and loves finding ways for people to connect. 

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