Leaders from HandsOn Network's 10 Innovation Hubs recently came together for a five-day summit near Atlanta to share creative ideas, develop new strategies to engage volunteers and create cutting-edge community engagement models that can be replicated across the network.
"The summit was an intentional and strategic deep dive into innovation and how it is applied to community challenges in a rapidly changing world," said Tara Smith, executive director of Seattle Works. "I think it ignited a conversation that would have otherwise not happened and will yield powerful results for our role in community transformation across the country."
The summit included presentations by Alison Fine, co-author of the bestselling "The Networked Nonprofit," Rick Smyre, president of the Center for Communities of the Future, and Michael Margolis, founder of Get Storied, who helped drive and enhance the ideation process. It was facilitated by Michelle James, founder and CEO of the Center for Creative Emergence.
Now back at their respective offices, each Innovation Hub is working to develop strategies and plans based on the themes that emerged during the summit including:
- How might we modernize and reinvent "done in a day" projects? While HandsOn Network revolutionized this work 20 years ago, we are searching for ways to build on our success, while at the same time developing strategies attuned to changing local conditions and delivering a demonstrable social impact.
- What are new forms of ongoing projects we should create and develop? For instance, creating meet-ups to develop online guides for communities or developing a community-wide contest to preserve green spaces.
- How can we create a civic tipping point? How could a HandsOn Network affiliate address one specific service area like education, environment, economy or emergency preparedness, and create measurable change?
HandsOn Network's first group of Innovation Hubs – Boston Cares, Chicago Cares, HandsOn Central Ohio, HandsOn Greater Portland, HandsOn Twin Cities, New York Cares, Seattle Works, Volunteer Center of Bergen County, Inc., Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County and Volunteer Marin/Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership – were chosen for their potential to innovate and their desire to advance the collective mission of HandsOn Network, Points of Light's network of local volunteer action centers.
This strategic investment supports the Innovation Hubs in becoming learning labs for community engagement , experimenting and testing new ideas, programs and strategies to meet the needs of 21st century volunteers and communities and replicating promising practices across the country.
"To me, acting like a network is moving the best ideas freely between us all to help us all be better, faster and more successful," said Smith.