The Points of Light Global Network operates with innovative volunteer-mobilizing organizations that serve 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 Edie Falk from The Service Collaborative of WNY, a Points of Light affiliate in Buffalo, New York, to discuss volunteer retention.
The Service Collaborative of WNY seeks to give opportunities to people who choose to dedicate time in their lives to service. Using a hands-on approach, TSCWNY addresses needs of individuals and organizations, leveraging strengths to build stronger communities. The organization’s Annual Beds for Buffalo Program is a shining example of a volunteer retention effort. Read more to learn about this effort and how TSCWNY engages its volunteers.
How is your organization engaging volunteers this year?
One of the programs that TSC runs is called Beds for Buffalo. This program engages participants from our other programs, alongside community volunteers and corporate teams, to make and distribute twin-sized beds and bedding to families surviving poverty. Some of our volunteers have repeatedly worked with the project for several years. We will be highlighting their wonderful commitment to this project and honoring them across social media, as well as getting them special treats.
How are you engaging with volunteers to inspire them to participate in community service activities?
We really try to show volunteers the impact that their work has in our community. Younger children lacking beds is a larger issue than anyone would expect, and physically helping to build the furniture itself is a really inspirational act.
What resources or tools are you providing to volunteers to help them get involved in their community?
To get our volunteers involved, we teach them about woodshop safety, show them how to use certain tools for their portion of the project, and guide them through the construction process!
What role does volunteerism play in your organization’s overall mission and objectives?
All of TSCWNY’s programs involve volunteering in some capacity. Whether it’s community volunteering with Beds for Buffalo or committing to a year of national service through one of our AmeriCorps programs, we’re really a volunteer-centric organization. Without all of our members and participants who sign up to volunteer, the work that we do simply could not happen.
Share one success story of a volunteer (or a group of volunteers) in your community who have made a significant impact.
Our Beds for Buffalo program has had a really dedicated group of volunteers from HSBC since the project’s inception in 2017. We have about four volunteers who have shown up time and time again to help build beds for children in our community who desperately need them and who have come to have a deep understanding of the issue. They’ve also done an amazing job of pushing the project to other corporate volunteers that they work with.
Can you share any tips or best practices for other organizations looking to recognize and retain volunteers?
Reflecting on all of the volunteers who have assisted in getting our projects off of the ground and to where they are now has been wonderful. If you already have a dedicated volunteer base, taking the time to plan ways to really highlight their commitment is a great place to start.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s looking to get more involved in their community through volunteerism?
Reach out to local organizations that are doing things that you’re interested in and see what opportunities they might have for you. A lot of cities and towns also have volunteer boards that post opportunities regularly.