About Service Enterprise

A Service Enterprise is an organization that fundamentally leverages volunteers and their skills across all levels of the organization to successfully deliver on its social mission.

Volunteers are at the heart of what we do. They are how we get our work done, we couldn’t do half of what we do without them, and the Service Enterprise process has strengthened that notion.

- Haley Nelson, Minnesota Children’s Museum

Research conducted by TCC Group and Deloitte demonstrates that nonprofits operating as Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations on all measures of organizational capacity thereby allowing these nonprofits to more effectively address community needs and operate at almost half the median budget. When an organization leverages volunteers and achieves an effective volunteer management model, not only do they lead and manage their organizations better, but they are also significantly more adaptable, sustainable and better resourced to do their work, and therefore able to sustainably go to scale.

This same research conducted by Deloitte identified the following ten characteristics as consistent and critical practices for nonprofit Service Enterprises:


About the Service Enterprise Initiative

The Service Enterprise Initiative (SEI) is a national initiative led by Points of Light that started as a partnership between CaliforniaVolunteers and Reimagining Service. The Service Enterprise Initiative serves to strengthen the capacity of nonprofits to fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills to address community needs. Through a comprehensive research-based assessment, training, consulting and certification model, selected nonprofits are equipped with the tools and technical assistance necessary to support nonprofit Service Enterprise transformations.


Participating organizations have access to:

  • A thorough research-based assessment of existing organizational volunteer engagement practices called the Service Enterprise Diagnostic (SED).
  • Up to 16 hours of training to assist in reimagining the ways in which the organization engages volunteers.
  • Up to 10 hours of individualized coaching to address unique organizational opportunities and challenges.
  • National certification signifying the organization’s commitment to and proficiency in appropriately leveraging the time and skills of volunteers to meet the social mission of the organization.

Service Enterprise Initiative History


June 2010 – CommonGood Careers, Deloitte, Taproot Foundation, and The TCC Group conduct four Reimagining Service research projects that provide additional perspective on the world of service and volunteerism. Additionally, the term Service Enterprise is coined. A Service Enterprise is an organization that fundamentally leverages volunteers and their skills across all levels of the organization to successfully deliver on the social mission of the organization.

Fall 2010 - CaliforniaVolunteers applies for a federal Volunteer Generation Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support the creation of the CaliforniaVolunteers Service Enterprise Initiative (CVSEI). The initiative was designed to create a model that would expand the capacity of nonprofits to become Service Enterprises, and Bank of America, Boeing, Deloitte, Chevron, Gap and HP provided funding for the effort. The Program Design Team included representatives from OneOC, Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership, Volunteer Center of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties and HandsOn Central California.

Summer 2012Points of Light and Reimagining Service partner to serve as project managers and training and technical assistance providers for the second year of the CaliforniaVolunteers Service Enterprise Initiative. This partnership would result in piloted and revised curriculum, a research-based assessment tool developed by researchers, marketing materials and additional tools and resources.

Fall 2013 – CaliforniaVolunteers supports Points of Light in piloting to 17 Service Enterprise Hubs in 11 states. Over 60 organizations are certified as a Service Enterprises.

Fall 2014 –Points of Light expands to over 15 states, working with 10 State Service Commissions and 15 HandsOn Network affiliates. Over 200 organizations have gone through the Service Enterprise transformational process. Points of Light begins testing new SEI models in prisons, municipalities and more.


Thanks to the leadership of CaliforniaVolunteers and the Corporation for National and Community Service for their investment and support, and thanks to TCC Group, Deloitte and University of Texas Austin for investing in the research, building the assessment tools and providing the data and analysis that built the foundation for this endeavor.