Curtis Lee, Civic Engagement Manager
Why are volunteers important for furthering the missions of local nonprofits? What kinds of nonprofits benefit from volunteers?
Connecting with volunteers is an affordable way to get your nonprofit’s needs met, and it’s an excellent way to bring real human connections to your work. If you bring community members in so they can see what your mission is and how you operate, and if they have a good experience getting involved in your work, they’ll go home and talk to their circles about your organization. Nine times out of 10, they’ll come back to volunteer again. They may even become a board member or a part-time employee.
We see that nonprofits of any size can benefit from volunteers. Smaller organizations who might not have as much financial capital benefit from the human capital of volunteers, and larger organizations depend on volunteers to scale and sustain their work.
How can nonprofits build their capacity to engage with volunteers?
Our Service Enterprise Diagnostic Plus (SED+) program is a great place to start. SED+ is a self-paced, nationally recognized tool that examines your current volunteer strengths and provides customized solutions to expand your current volunteer practices. You work one-on-one with SED+ coach Katie Campbell to complete the assessment, and then you’ll receive recommendations on how you can improve or modify your volunteer program to better achieve your mission.
You can also go through our Volunteer Management Training course, led by Tobi Johnson. At the end of this 5-week modular curriculum, you’ll become a certified volunteer manager. This is the only program of its kind that shows you exactly how to attract qualified volunteers and make your organization the place they want to return to again and again.
I recommend that every organization take advantage of both of these offerings, especially now because volunteering has changed so much over the past few years and it’s important to have the right tools for right now. Interested organizations can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 409-5595 to learn more.
Gail Cavallaro, Civic Engagement Manager
Why do people find it valuable to volunteer? What kinds of people volunteer?
There are so many reasons why people find volunteering valuable. It is very personal to the individual and the way they volunteer can take many forms, from a structured project to helping a neighbor. Many folks have a strong desire to positively influence their community, and volunteering is a way for them to do that. We also see volunteers who are looking to meet new people or make connections with people they wouldn’t ordinarily run into, or people who feel passionate about an issue and who want to get engaged. Some people will volunteer in groups, whether it’s with their family, their company, a book club or other social group, or their faith-based organization, as a way to do some creative team-building while also helping others.
I don’t think there is a type of person that volunteers – we really believe that anyone can volunteer, and every single person has something to contribute.
How can people learn more about volunteer opportunities in the region?
With our volunteer hub, HandsOn Greater Richmond, we source many varied volunteer opportunities from over 150 nonprofits. We have projects that are done in a day like planting trees at a local park, and ongoing activities like tutoring and mentoring. For more flexible time commitments, we have DIY Volunteering where people can create kits for nonprofits at home on their own time and just drop them off during the drop-off period. If you want to use your specific expertise to complete a project for a nonprofit, like updating a website or developing a social media strategy, we have skills-based volunteering through Skills Connect. No matter your age, your skill level, or how much time you have, we have something for you.
If you’re not sure where to start, we offer a free workshop called Civic Life Today that guides you through identifying your values and interests and seeing which local organizations are doing work that resonates with you. There are so many different ways to approach any community issue, and we find that people have the best volunteering experience when their efforts are intentionally channeled toward what matters to them.