Nonprofit organizations can thrive on their own, but we are even stronger when we come together to share ideas, inspiration and methods that have been proven effective. The Points of Light Global Network seeks to bring nonprofits together, operating with more than 145 affiliates across 39 countries around the world. Together, we are inspiring, equipping and mobilizing more people to use their time, talent and resources to create positive change in their communities.
We spoke with Madison Taylor from Spark the Change Colorado, a Points of Light affiliate operating statewide in Colorado. We discussed training and equipping volunteers, and tools that the organization uses to keep volunteers engaged.
Spark the Change Colorado exists to spark change and inspire a movement of good through the power of volunteerism, service and civic engagement. The organization envisions a world with stronger, more resilient, equitable and connected communities through the power of volunteerism. Its values are community, collaboration and courage.
How are you engaging with volunteers to inspire them to participate in community service activities?
At Spark, all of our work centers around volunteerism. We provide direct service programs— like our Mental Wellness, Senior and AmeriCorps Programs— that recruit, train and engage volunteers to solve community problems. We provide education and training courses for other nonprofit volunteer programs to create a stronger and more equitable volunteer environment across the state.
We also operate an online database platform that connects volunteers anywhere in Colorado with our nonprofit members who post hundreds of volunteer opportunities readily available for sign up. We are also beginning to integrate The Points of Light Civic Circle® in all that we do, recognizing that the community service industry is changing and that individuals, groups and companies are giving back every day in a variety of innovative and impactful ways— not just volunteering.
What resources or tools are you providing to volunteers to help them get involved in their community?
Our online volunteer database is a key resource for volunteers to find and engage with volunteer opportunities from, not just Spark, but a variety of nonprofits all across the state. We operate a monthly Volunteer Newsletter called “The Spark Plug” that is packed with different ways to volunteer and engage all year long.
Our direct service volunteer programs engage skilled volunteers directly, particularly seniors aged 55 and better, mental health professionals practicing in or entering the field, and individuals seeking board service opportunities. And our courses for education and training make it easier for participating nonprofits to engage volunteers in new and innovative ways.
What role does volunteerism play in your organization’s overall mission and objectives?
Our mission and objectives are 100% centered around and rooted in volunteerism. Everything we do comes back to volunteering! Our mission is to SPARK CHANGE and INSPIRE A MOVEMENT OF GOOD through the power of service, volunteerism and civic engagement. We have direct service volunteer programs, support other nonprofit volunteer programs and provide tools and resources for anyone— individuals, nonprofits or corporations— looking to lend a hand and make an impact.
Share one success story of a volunteer (or a group of volunteers) in your community who have made a significant impact.
I would love to mention our Mental Wellness Program volunteers and all the amazing work they do. Our Statewide Mental Wellness Program is fully volunteer driven. The way it works is that we engage fully licensed and insured therapists as volunteers, and they dedicate their time to see clients pro bono, completely free of cost to the client. One specific story is that of our volunteer, Sofia Webb, MSW, LSW, CTP, being named a Denver7 Everyday Hero!
What are some future plans for your organization to continue promoting volunteerism and civic engagement?
We will always promote volunteerism and civic engagement in all that we do, but we are planning on increasing the use of The Civic Circle to frame engagement in a way that is easy and accessible to all. We love the framework of The Civic Circle and are finding so many new ways that each element applies to the services and programs we already provide, but also ways we can start integrating multiple elements to make our services and programs more well-rounded and impactful.
Can you share any tips or best practices for other organizations looking to recognize volunteers?
Center the storytelling! People love to hear about other people, seeing pictures of people that look like them and hearing stories from people that sound like them. We are always looking for exciting ways to tell our volunteers’ stories, but also just share about them as the amazing humans that they are!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s looking to get more involved in their community through volunteerism?
Connect with Points of Light and connect with Spark the Change Colorado! Why reinvent the wheel? We put so much time and effort into gathering resources, building programming and finding the best tools to make volunteering and engaging in your community easy! Sign up for our newsletters and visit our websites. If you start with “Listening and Learning” you’ll gain all the tools you need for action.