by Bonnie Andrews, Volunteer Milwaukee Manager
Why would Points of Light Institute, an organization building nonprofit capacity through volunteerism, ask this question?
Because by calling it a program, we may miss the important strategic organization-wide importance of volunteers. At budget time it may be hard to allocate scarce dollars to volunteer support because it seems like we’re taking them from direct services, when in fact volunteers can have a positive impact on every area of a nonprofit.
As an alternative, let’s reframe volunteer programs as volunteer strategies. This shifts the position from one that competes with clients to one that supports clients. From this new perspective, volunteer time becomes an asset to leverage on behalf of clients and the community, not a drain on resources. Making the most of our assets requires an investment. Research from the Urban Institute tells us that the more we invest in volunteer engagement, the more our organizations benefit from volunteer contributions.
This strategy is one of the important elements of the Service Enterprise Initiative, an effort to help nonprofits leverage volunteers throughout their organizations and at all levels. The research shows when volunteers are engaged effectively there is a $4-$6 return for every dollar invested in the effort.
Want to learn more? Attend an overview of the diagnostic, training, and certification process on Thursday, September 10th. This fall we’ll be recruiting for our third cohort group to go through the Service Enterprise Initiative training. Sign-up for session
For more information, contact Bonnie Andrews –firstname.lastname@example.org – 414-273-7887.