What Is a Service Enterprise?

A Service Enterprise is an organization that strategically leverages volunteers to achieve operational efficiency and greater social impact. Service Enterprises are among the top 11 percent of nonprofits in the country in volunteer management and organizational performance. Research conducted by TCC Group and Deloitte shows that nonprofits operating as a Service Enterprise are as effective as peers but at almost half the median budget, and they are significantly more adaptable, sustainable and scalable. Become a leader in capacity building and engagement by becoming a certified Service Enterprise or Service Enterprise Hub.

Become a Service Enterprise Today

About the Program

POINTS OF LIGHT’S SERVICE ENTERPRISE PROGRAM STRENGTHENS NONPROFIT CAPACITY THROUGH THE FUNDAMENTAL AND STRATEGIC USE OF VOLUNTEERS AND THEIR SKILLS TO ADDRESS COMMUNITY NEEDS.

Service Enterprise Benefits & Resources

Organizations certified as Service Enterprises have access to:

A Comprehensive Diagnostic

Organizations have access to the Service Enterprise Diagnostic, a thorough, research-based assessment of their existing volunteer engagement practices that informs their training and provides tailored recommendations for improvement.

Volunteer Engagement Training

Organizations receive up to 16 hours of training focused on change management and volunteer engagement to help them transform and reimagine how they currently engage volunteers.

Coaching

Organizations receive up to 10 hours of coaching to help them translate knowledge from the training into action for their organization.

Certification

Organizations receive a designation signifying a commitment to leveraging the time and talent of volunteers to meet the organization’s social mission.

A Network of Peers

Organizations that join the Service Enterprise program will be able to network with each other, share best practices and provide peer-to-peer support.

Research and Resources

Organizations gain access to proprietary content and research, including a robust resource library with trends and reports about how best to engage and manage volunteers.

History & Methods

The Service Enterprise program started in 2010 with a simple question: how can we better engage volunteers? It has since become one of the nation's most impactful nonprofit certification programs.

THE HISTORY OF SERVICE ENTERPRISE

The Service Enterprise program began in 2010 when Reimagining Service partners CommonGood Careers, Deloitte, Taproot Foundation, The RGK Center for Philanthropy at the University of Texas and TCC Group collaborated around research and best practices for volunteer engagement. Based on this research, CaliforniaVolunteers leveraged a grant they received from the Corporation for National and Community Service to start a pilot project aimed at strengthening the capacity of volunteer organizations.

In 2012, Points of Light joined the partnership, collaborating with the RGK Center and TCC Group to integrate a diagnostic component that informs the process for organizations taking part in the program. Points of Light then developed the curriculum, marketing materials and content necessary to scale the program to organizations within our affiliate Network and other partners in the sector.

Since then, the program has scaled across the country through a network of Service Enterprise Hubs operating in more than 20 states, having certified over 500 organizations as Service Enterprises. We thank all involved for their leadership, early investment, research and assessment tools that built the foundation.

A Research-based Approach to Building Service Enterprises

Based on rigorous research, Points of Light’s Service Enterprise program utilizes a proven process that starts with a diagnostic which informs the training and coaching organizations experience before they are certified. As organizations apply new learnings, they continuously assess their progress and retrain as needed. Typically, the process from start to certification takes six months to a year

The program is currently delivered through a national network of Service Enterprise Hubs, which have partnered with Points of Light to certify more than 500 organizations nationwide since 2012.

The Research Process Behind the Service Enterprise

The Service Enterprise curriculum is based on an analysis of data from more than 600 organizations that took the TCC Group’s Core Capacity Assessment Tool. Data showed that 11% of these organizations were top performers in volunteer management, and we called this elite group “Service Enterprises.” Other key findings among Service Enterprises:

  • Organizational capacities are markedly stronger for nonprofits with a strong volunteer management model.
  • Organizations that are well led also engage and manage volunteers well.
  • Organizations are significantly more adaptable, sustainable and capable of going to scale.
  • Organizations are committed to maintaining strong and well-developed human resources management practices.
  • Organizations that engage volunteers are just as effective as their peers that do not leverage volunteers, but accomplish their work at almost half the median budget.

The 10 Core CHARACTERISTICS of a Service Enterprise

Based on additional, thorough analysis of the data, Deloitte, Points of Light, Algorhythm and the RGK Center for Philanthropy at the University of Texas at Austin identified ten core characteristics that are now the basis for the determination of a Service Enterprise:

  1. Planning & Development
  2. Leadership Support
  3. Resource Allocation
  4. Tracking & Evaluation
  5. Outreach
  6. Funding
  7. Effective Training
  8. Onboarding & Supervision
  9. Technology & Communication
  10. Partnering to Extend Reach

See the Results of Becoming a Service Enterprise

“Service Enterprise forced us to become proactive in our volunteer engagement efforts rather than reactive. In less than 6 months, our Return on Volunteer Investment increased from $3.42 – $5.38.”

— Jessica Elbe, Northwest Compass, Inc.

See the Results of Becoming a Service Enterprise

Interested in learning more about the research on volunteerism and Points of Light’s Service Enterprise program? Check out these resources:

  • A quick and easy summary of the Reimagining Service Principles and nonprofit service enterprise findings.
  • Research conducted by the TCC Group that highlights the impact of volunteer engagement on a nonprofit organization’s overall effectiveness.
  • Research conducted by Deloitte that identifies the original eight characteristics that served as critical practices for nonprofit service enterprises.
23%
Increase

In Volunteers Annually

1.5
Employees

Value of Increased Labor Hours

63k
Dollars

Value of Increased Labor Hours

80%
Report

An Increase in Skilled Volunteers

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Interested in the Service Enterprise program and want more information? Send us your inquiry, and our team will get in touch with you!

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