SBV and Volunteer Engagement: Using the Cycle of Volunteer Program Development (part 2)

Every organization will ask at some point, “Why would a person want to volunteer with us?”  The responses will usually involve the organization’s mission addressing the need for their services and the benefits or impact of those services.  Humans generally want to believe that other humans are good.  The hope is that if a need is communicated effectively; it will tug on people’s heartstrings and generate a flood of willing volunteers who want to help change the world.  The reality is that all organizations have a mission and are dedicated to a particular cause.  Having a good cause, while noteworthy, doesn’t necessarily set your organization apart as THE place to volunteer.  

Building a volunteer program that touches all aspects of the organization allows an opportunity for organizational growth and development. This presents an opportunity for deeper engagement of volunteers because in addition to knowing they contributed to the mission of the organization, they also have the added bonus of knowing they contributed to building capacity for the organization itself. Looking at Volunteer Maryland’s Cycle of Volunteer Program Development, we see that SBV is an excellent opportunity for organizations to engage volunteers in building capacity.

The Hands-On Network had the following to say about skills-based volunteering:

For companies, skills-based volunteering offers a way to expand corporate philanthropy to include the highly valued commodity of workplace talent, which can reap considerable value – and do much good – for nonprofits and communities in need.  For individuals, skills-based volunteering provides the opportunity to use their expertise to make a measurable impact on issues they care about.

People from every walk of life are able to use talents and abilities to aid organizations with achieving their goals by offering assistance from anything from one-day projects to long-term assistance with strategic planning.  Providing an opportunity to use and sharpen skills or gain experience is a great way to engage volunteers.  It also tailors the volunteer experience provided by the organization so that the “good” which volunteers want to give has a reciprocal effect.

Some tips for the management and implementation of SBV:

–           completing a needs assessment to see what needs should be met,

–          creating project descriptions outlining the duties and tasks required to meet the needs,

–          determining how success will be measured,

–          holding informal interviews during which volunteers are matched with projects,

–          encouraging volunteer input and feedback,

–          creating a project evaluation

–          recognizing volunteers

What has your experience been with skills-based volunteering as an individual, a nonprofit employee, volunteer program manager, or a business?

Take the first Hands-On Network SBV mini-course for free! http://www.handsonnetwork.org/tools/handsonuniversityonline

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