Reimagining Service: Taking the Next Step

Jun 20, 2012

reimagining serviceAs a national multi-sector coalition dedicated to increasing social impact through effective volunteer engagement, Reimagining Service continues to focus its efforts on increasing the adoption of effective practices, gathering new insights via research and encouraging funding investment to effectively leverage volunteer talent to address true community needs.

We continue to develop our nonprofit service enterprise model. Research conducted by the TCC Group demonstrates that organizations that strategically leverage volunteers outperform peer organizations on all measures of organizational capacity and have greater impact.

These organizations, known as service enterprises, often deliver these results with fewer financial resources than peer organizations. In fact, a $1 investment in volunteer capacity can deliver up to $6 in return.

Service enterprises fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills to successfully deliver on the social mission of the organization. Such organizations employ strong volunteer management practices that enable them to provide significantly more services with fewer monetary resources, thereby enabling them to accomplish their mission and strategic objectives and have greater impact in their community.

And yet, despite this compelling data, less than 15 percent of nonprofits nationwide demonstrate the characteristics of a nonprofit service enterprise.

As a result, we continue to build resources to help nonprofit organizations who are interested in becoming a service enterprise think about this work. Our nonprofit service enterprise quiz provides a simple set of questions that helps organizations think about their existing volunteer engagement practices and directs them to research and other tools and resources to begin the journey of becoming a service enterprise.

Further, we are excited to be partnering with CaliforniaVolunteers and Points of Light to develop and deliver nonprofit service enterprise training. Leadership and funding for this initiative is provided by CaliforniaVolunteers, via a Volunteer Generation Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. We believe this initiative will be groundbreaking – a pilot group of HandsOn Network affiliates in California will provide assessment, training and additional supportive services to assist nonprofit organizations in their regions become service enterprises. Learnings from the roll out of this initiative this fall will be leveraged for a national roll out in 2013.

Our nonprofit research efforts will continue to document the value that effectively engaged volunteers provide to a nonprofit organization. As we move forward, we’ll be able to identify pathways that organizations can take to maximize the value of volunteers serving with their organizations.

As a multi-sector coalition, we recognize the importance of cross-sector collaboration. We continue to encourage businesses to consider how the alignment of their employee engagement and giving practices can multiply impact in the community. Examples of this work continue to increase and we have recently launched our Reimagining Service Endorsement Process as a way to highlight initiatives that focus on effective corporate practices. Our first set of endorsements include:  A Billion + Change, Civic 100, True Impact’s Volunteer ROI Tracker and the Taproot Foundation’s Powered by Pro Bono initiative.

And finally, we continue to believe that increased investment in this work is critical to ensure its success.  As a result, we are encouraging the funding community to view investment in volunteer infrastructure (a key to effective volunteer engagement) not as a program investment, but as a cost-effective strategy to increase the impact of initiatives they already invest in.

We are excited about the progress that we are making, and invite you to join us in our work by signing on in support of the Reimagining Service principles and sharing our work with those you partner with.