5 Insights on Nonprofit Volunteers
This month I am pleased to provide an interview with Alisa who has been the Executive Director of The Volunteer Center for two years after serving on the board for 5 years. I have been a board member for two years and look forward to my continued work with Alisa. As you will see below the goal of The Volunteer Center is to promote volunteerism. This is such a critical component to so many nonprofits.
Last year Volunteer Center inspired more than 18,000 people to give back to nonprofits. Over 246,000 volunteer service hours were devoted to 500 nonprofits volunteer power which translated into economic value of $7.5 million.
Alisa H. Kesten
Tell me a little bit about The Volunteer Center?
The Volunteer Center is a one-stop resource for all things volunteer. For over 60 years, we have encouraged adults to serve, youth to build character, families to bond, young professionals to excel as leaders, mature adults to stay engaged and businesses to address community needs. Through our online database at www.volunteer-center.org we match volunteers to meaningful opportunities every day. At this moment we have 631 active volunteers in the database – something to suit anyone’s interest and availability. That same database, HandsOn Connect, also serve as tool for volunteer management for nonprofit organizations.
What specific support do you offer nonprofits in regards to Volunteers?
We currently work with more than 500 local nonprofit organizations. They range in size from those that have no paid staff at all to some with hundreds of employees, including a full time Volunteer Coordinator. So our range of support varies from finding a few volunteers for a one day project, to fulfilling an ongoing skills-based role, to helping arrange for a full day of service with 100+ volunteers, and everything in between. We help nonprofits determine where and how they can use volunteers. Then we drive volunteers to these organizations through social media, community-wide days of service, outreach activities in the community, one-on-one, managed corporate days of service, etc.
We also provide professional development for nonprofit staff whose job it is to manage and recruit volunteers. We are currently providing training on how to utilize HandsOn Connect. We also manage The Westchester Association for Volunteer Administration (WAVA), the local professional association for mentoring and sharing best practices and solving problems together.
Tell me a little about how you work with for-profits to encourage their employees to volunteer?
For-profit businesses are great partners in our efforts to focus volunteers to address community needs. There are many ways in which we can work with companies of all sizes to support their interests. Here are just a few examples:
- Manage Customized Corporate Days of Service where employees can volunteer all together as a team.
- Engage companies in our two community-wide days of action on MLK Day and 9/11.
- Provide on-site “lunch and learn” sessions where our staff presents an overview of our services that are available to employees and their families.
- Build leadership through Leadership Westchester, a cutting-edge eight month learning program that prepares passionate, knowledgeable and highly-skilled individuals to assume positions of influence and impact, particularly as Board Members at nonprofits.
Why are volunteers so important to nonprofits, and what value do they bring?
As we all know, nonprofits are asked to do more and more with fewer dollars. It is just not possible to fulfill important missions without both skills-based and front-line volunteers. But the secret that is shared by all volunteers is that you get back more than you give. It’s an incredible win-win situation.
How does The Volunteer Center help to develop board members for nonprofits and what value does that bring?
One of our signature programs is Leadership Westchester as described above. I’m quite passionate about it because this was my personal pathway to The Volunteer Center. Graduates spend time honing skills, focusing on areas of deep interest, and learning the basics on what it means to serve on a nonprofit board. Nonprofits should definitely consider Leadership Westchester as a pipeline for qualified candidates to consider for board membership.
Check out our previous post “Managing Volunteers In Your Organization”
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