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Archive for the ‘Volunteer Recognition’ Category

I recently attended City Club’s 2009 Jefferson Awards luncheon.  As a volunteer management professional, I was definitely inspired to hear the remarkable service stories of this year’s award winners, Dallas Jessup, Janie Plath and Mariana Quanstrom.  Check out their  stories!   What was really cool (and new this year) was that City Club arranged for the award winners to participate in a panel discussion with 3 of Seattle’s community leaders – Alison Carl White of Seattle Works, Nancy Long of Executive Service Corps, and David Okimoto of  United Way of King County.  The topic: “The Promise and Challenge of Service”.  When you read the extraordinary service of people like Dallas, Janie and Mariana, you do get a clear picture of the incredible promise of volunteers.  But what about the challenge? In an environments where volunteering and service is “in”, what gets in the way?   Here the discussion turned to the challenge of managing today’s volunteers effectively.  While 4 out of 5 nonprofits engage volunteers, the majority are not tapping the full potential of their volunteers.  As Nancy Long put it, “there aren’t that many envelopes to stuff anymore”.  Yet many nonprofits struggle to move beyond “envelope stuffing” kind of volunteering to a more effective repurposing of the skill sets that today’s volunteers bring to the nonprofit sector.  To accommodate the influx of new volunteers, nonprofits will need to “repurpose” their volunteer involvement efforts.  So here is the question:  What does that look like? 

To my delight, I listened as three key leaders in our community emphasized the important role that managers of volunteer involvement efforts play in nonprofit organizations.  Effectively tapping the skills of today’s volunteers requires more skill, training and resources than is often accorded to those placed in volunteer coordination roles.  Repurposing our volunteer involvement efforts will require elevating the position of volunteer managers within our organizations and providing all staff with the skills, training and resources to engage volunteers effectively.  Shifting the way we think about and engage volunteers is the nonprofit challenge.   Learning to partner with volunteers in new and innovative ways is the promise!  These are exciting times for volunteer management professionals for sure!

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At United Way of King County’s Spirit of Caring Celebration, community leader Karen Marcotte Solimano, was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year for her tireless work to end homelessness in King County. Karen serves on United Way of King County’s board of directors and chairs United Way’s Campaign to End Chronic Homelessness. Her efforts as chair have so far raised $12.4 million to move 1,000 people in dire need into permanent housing with supportive services. Congratulations, Karen!

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