Microvolunteering – Evolution of the One-Time Volunteer Project

Community Service Blitz - Adopt a Senior Project Volunteers

Community Service Blitz – Adopt a Senior Project Volunteers

When I started my first full-time job after college, I managed a neighborhood based volunteer program for a local government entity.  The purpose of the program was to help neighbors organize in groups to offer assistance to elderly neighbors.  Early on, this program required an ongoing time commitment by neighborhood volunteers.

Although I had experience recruiting and coordinating volunteers on political campaigns, the nature of the service was short-term.  Not to mention, I was not an ongoing volunteer, because my sister and I enjoyed volunteering in a variety of one-time volunteer projects for multiple organizations.  In spite of this, I did not understand the needs, interests, and time commitments of my potential volunteers.  I was asking others to do what I was not committed to do myself.  As a result, I probably lost the opportunity for several months to utilize available human capital in making a difference in our community.

When a colleague and I decided to launch a joint project between our programs, this changed everything.  We launched the “Adopt-A-Senior” program in 2002, featuring one-time projects for at-risk teens to serve seniors.  For the first project, we painted the home of a grandmother who was raising three young grandchildren alone.  This was the first of many to follow.

As soon as my newsletter featuring the project was distributed, I received an influx of phone calls and emails from individuals and service groups interested in getting involved.  So, I offered two types of volunteer opportunities, the ongoing effort and the one-time projects.  By far, the one-time project was the most popular and successful.  Thousands of volunteers each year participated in these events, and many returned for our seasonal projects or for events designed for a specific volunteer group.  I lead one of the most successful, awarded, reported, and popular programs in the entire organization.

This one-time project idea was not welcome by all.  I had one hell of a time trying to convince my supervisor of its merits.  Although it was clear, by volunteer participation numbers, that the one-time project was in demand, I was criticized for the exposure of the one-time project and not the ongoing effort.  This is a classic case in the industry to consider what you THINK is best rather than what IS best.  People are extremely busy with work, family, and other commitments, so rewarding their desire to volunteer is important.  Making it fun and rewarding is even better, it is a win-win.

Listening and responding to the needs and interests of volunteers and how THEIR time and skills fits into the need of your organization will maximize the use of human capital for your organization. Doing so will increase volunteer retention and recruitment.  Your volunteer pool will expand and diversify.  Service hours will increase.  Even if your program DEPENDS on ongoing volunteers, find needs that can be fulfilled on a one-time basis.  If you are a nonprofit, I guarantee you will find a need.

If you are seeking volunteer opportunities, join those organizations who are interested in YOUR volunteer objectives.  There are many opportunities available with great organizations that will value your service and maximize your objectives.

What one-time projects are you participating in?  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!

Volunteermatch – 101 Volunteer Recruitment Secrets

Points of Light Foundation – Volunteering 20 Minutes at a Time

Faith-Based Volunteering – With a Spiritual Purpose

There is an abundance of good work that takes place in our communities, and it might not be obvious or well-known.  It is the work of volunteers through faith-based organizations of every denomination.  The religious purpose of volunteering adheres to a higher purpose, and many in the faith-based community aspire to this principle.  Faith-based organizations, such as the Salvation Army, are also typically organized in their service capacity, have a unique connection to or understanding of a certain need, enjoy access to a lot of human capital, and provide an excellent opportunity to serve those in need.

When I was a new volunteer coordinator for a public agency, I was discouraged from recruiting faith-based groups to my program.  Having been a member of a church for my entire life, it seemed plausible because of the existing service component in the faith-based community.  Besides, it seemed a little sketchy to me working on the public sector side of things.  However, as my program expanded and earned media, volunteers from all over town joined the team.  Faith-based groups from every population were interested in my volunteer program.  I could not turn them down.

South Natomas Caring Neighborhood - Max and Virgie Villavert (2)

Max and Virgie Villavert

One of my favorite groups included a Filipino American Church.  The two amazing service leaders were Max and Virgie Villavert.  They were the most sincere, heart-felt, volunteers who really wanted to make a difference.  Max and Virgie spent Friday nights hosting a teen program for neighborhood youth as an alternative for fun, and at some activities had around 100 kids in attendance.  As volunteers for my program, they were constantly seeking out elderly neighbors in need and going the extra distance to help out.  Max and Virgie did not expect anything in return except the opportunity to offer a helping hand.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of faith-based teams on one-time volunteer projects as well as ongoing endeavors.  These groups provide a unique opportunity to volunteer, as members include all backgrounds.  Some of these groups have the ability to reach individuals in their communities that will not respond to offers of assistance from outsiders.  Others have a sheer volume of human capital through their numbers. They certainly make the difference.

If you are a member of a faith-based organization, or if you live near a faith-based organization, contact leaders and find out what work they are doing in the community.  Faith-based organizations in my community do anything from operate a food closet and homeless shelter for women and children, to collecting in-kind donations of needed materials for a cancer center and provide free employment services.  Through my church, my family contributes monthly donations to three local nonprofit organizations, and we have worked with youth in building life skills and personal development among other things.  At the end of the day it does not matter what you believe, but what you do to help others that counts.

What is your experience with faith-based volunteering?  Please share.  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!

Salvation Army 

Mormon.org – Values and Helping Others

Mary House

Sacramento Loaves and Fishes

Catholic Charities

 

 

Are You Maximizing Your Employee Volunteer Program?

Corporate Volunteers Provide Safety Assessments to Elderly Neighbors

Corporate Volunteers Provide Safety Assessments to Elderly Neighbors

Today’s consumer wants to feel good about where he/she does business.  This is a growing sentiment that will determine where consumers spend their dollars.  Through Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, many businesses contribute a lot of capital, financial and human, to “give back” to the communities where they operate.  However, some companies are not maximizing the return on their community service.  What is your employee volunteer program about?  Are you maximizing your service experience for volunteers, the company, and the community?

When I was in college, I worked for a big bank that engaged in community service through an employee volunteer network.  Each location or city included an employee committee, open to all, which selected local community volunteer projects and recruited employees to participate, while the bank contributed a handsome cash donation to each event.  Some of these events included Junior Achievement, Special Olympics, American River Adopt-A-Parkway, Susan G. Komen Foundation Race for the Cure, and more.  These events were awesome.  I made a lot of friends and connections, including the CEO, through the volunteer network activities where employees and retirees with their friends and families volunteered on their own time.

Special Olympics Athletes CSUS

Special Olympics Athletes CSUS

Special Olympics – the crown jewel of events.   Employees from all over the region came out to volunteer in the 3-day event, providing coaching and cheering to developmentally disabled athletes, preparing lunch for all event participants and spectators, hosting medal ceremonies, and the like.  For the athletes, this was the event of a lifetime and volunteers were inspired by the opportunity to make a difference by serving others with severe limitations.  What is more, employees established a rapport with each other through volunteering for a perceived worthy cause, which raised morale in the workplace and throughout the organization.  I met Brian and Shelly from the branch in Elk Grove, who now know employees in the loan center, and we will volunteer together next year too.  It was not uncommon to hear, “I know him from Special Olympics,” “We worked together at Junior Achievement.”

What is the mission of YOUR employee volunteer program?  Are you maximizing the service experience for employees, benefits to the company, and improving the community?   Is your program objective to simply add a recipient to your donation board, or to leverage human capital of your organization to truly make a difference in the community where you do business?  If it is not the latter, you are certainly missing out.

Leave a comment.  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer.

YOU Have the Power to Make a Difference

There is something that everyone can do to make a difference in the world around us.  Yes, YOU have the power to improve your community or transform the lives of others.  Regardless of age, income, ability, time constraints, or responsibility, each of us has that power.  My purpose is to inspire you to act on that power and leverage your human capital to make a difference through volunteerism.Image

I never underestimate the potential of human capital.  I am humbled and inspired by many people who endeavor to do good in the world around us.  The social environment today is one where people desire to be involved in making a difference, not simply donate money to causes.  The experience of volunteering in areas of interest to the volunteer can provide a reward unmatched by many other activities in life and encourage a long lasting commitment to helping others.

Finding a good fit for volunteers is key in maximizing the experience.  All of us have talents and abilities that can serve as resources to organizations that help others, be they public agencies, non-profits, faith-based groups, or service clubs.  Many of us are time constrained by work, family, and other commitments but would like to find an opportunities to make a difference.  Those with declining abilities and limited mobility who wish to volunteer are certainly capable of doing so within their physical limits.  I have had the opportunity to engage individuals from many backgrounds with such constraints in rewarding volunteer work tailored to their needs.

My passion for volunteering is embedded in my personal values.  I began volunteering as a child helping my grandmother make baby blankets that her Women’s club donated to local hospitals for new mothers in dire circumstances as some women were so poor that the hospital discharged newborns wrapped in newspaper.  I was forever inspired by a desire to help improve the world I lived in.  And, I believed that I had a responsibility to do my part to make a difference.

So, I began to engage in a lifetime commitment to volunteerism.  I provided service in my community through church activities as a youth and adult. While in college, I was active in the employee volunteer network of a large, publicly traded, global bank.  I worked on campaigns to save open space, recruited and coordinated volunteers to further that cause.  I directed a program where more than 10,000 volunteers in my community donated their personal time to make a difference.  As a mother with a small child, our family seeks opportunities to volunteer in our community.

My purpose is to inspire YOU to act on your desire to make a difference in the community.   There are opportunities to volunteer as an individual or group through a variety of services, and my goal is to help you identify rewarding experiences through volunteerism that fit within your interests and schedule.  YOU have the power to make a difference.