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The Capacity Building through Volunteer Engagement Grant- 2013 VGF

Research supports the idea that many of the highest performing nonprofits leverage skilled volunteers to increase their capacity and achieve their mission. In an effort to position Kansas nonprofits and volunteer connectors to do this, the Kansas Volunteer Commission is launching its Capacity Building through Volunteer Engagement initiative as part of its 2014 Volunteer Generation Fund grant.

The Capacity Building through Volunteer Engagement initiative will aim to expand volunteering, strengthen the capacity of volunteer connector organizations and nonprofits to recruit and retain skill-based volunteers, and develop strategies to effectively use volunteers to solve problems. The KVC believes that using skilled volunteers within an organization in both direct and indirect service opportunities not only brings specialized skills, but provides new ways to make progress. Additionally, the KVC supports the idea that volunteer connector organizations are poised to be the catalyst in strengthening this movement.

As part of this initiative, the KVC awarded four organizations Capacity Building through Volunteer Engagement grants:

Barton County Community College - Volunteers in Action

Central Kansas Volunteers in Action (VIA) skilled volunteer initiative will include three in-house projects that require specialized knowledge and skills from volunteers recruited especially for these projects. These three projects will maximize staff efficiency in the day to day operations of the Meals on Wheels program, increase the agency’s visibility and accessibility via a current, vital website, and help to expand the agency’s programs into Pawnee County. The skilled volunteer initiative will also include outreach to local non-profit and governmental agencies via training and technical consultations to assist in the development of strategies to effectively use skilled volunteers. The third component of the initiative will be outreach to local employers and professional associations in the form of training and recruitment to increase the pool of skilled individual willing to volunteer.

Kansas Wesleyan University - The Volunteer Connection

The Volunteer Connection, a community service of Kansas Wesleyan University, will utilize grant funds to build volunteer capacity in a 14-county area of North Central Kansas through engagement of skills-based volunteers to assist in recruitment, training, referral and support of community volunteers to address area needs. Skills-based volunteers will be recruited specifically to assist in further development and operation of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program in area counties, the Saline County Emergency Food Assistance Program and the North Central Kansas Regional Medical Reserve Corps. Training and technical assistance regarding engagement of skills-based volunteers will be developed and offered to area non-profits and other entities interested in enhancing their capacity, as well, through this underutilized resource.

United Way of Douglas County

United Way of Douglas County’s mission is to address human service needs by mobilizing resources and building partnerships. In the 72 year history of our local United Way, the “resources” in this mission statement have primarily referred to funding, and in more recent years, have included volunteers. The grant funded program will leverage resources by putting special emphasis on recruiting, training, and retaining skilled volunteers. In the last three years, United Way’s new strategic focus is in the areas of education, self-sufficiency and health. There are several ways within each of the identified goal areas that skilled volunteers can have an impact. With this program they will select the specific skill-based opportunities to recruit and place volunteers.

This program will also include training on the effective use of skilled volunteers, including the Reimagining Service model of operating as a Service Enterprise. Training and technical assistance will be offered to all partner agencies. In addition, they plan to pilot a new approach that would include more intensive training and ongoing technical assistance by a skilled, trained volunteer matched to an agency and committing to a working relationship that would continue over a period of nine months. The result of this work would be creation of an action plan for each agency to take steps in the direction of operating as a Service Enterprise, and the opportunity to apply for an implementation grant from our community partner, the Douglas County Community Foundation.

United Way of Franklin County Association

United Way of Franklin County Association (UWFCA) has a vast network of partnerships with local businesses, corporations, faith-based groups, civic and nonprofit organizations. Currently, UWFCA recruits corporate partner volunteers with specific skills sets to assist with the annual United Way Campaign. These volunteers, known as “Campaign Loaned Executives”, drive United Way’s annual fundraising Campaign by “loaning” their professional skills to the organization in order to create campaign materials, maintain websites, update online social networks, and provide campaign financial oversight.

As part of its funded project, the UWFCA will use the “Campaign Loaned Executive” model to recruit skilled volunteers to assist United Way in service capacity building initiatives in the Franklin County area. UWFCA will work with its 16 member agencies to identify operational needs and create projects that will allow each agency to expand services. UWFCA will recruit, interview, train and coordinate professional volunteers with skillsets to help address these needs. The volunteer program will be known as the “United Loaned Executive Program” and each volunteer will make a commitment and donate an agreed upon amount of time to work on an assigned task or project. Each task or project will be carefully designed to help make United Way and its member agencies more efficient and better able to provide services and meet Franklin County’s growing needs for more social services.

To further leverage their efforts, UWFCA will offer each of our 60 corporations and 200 small business partners two volunteer programs to choose from in order to better recruit and sustain volunteers from these organizations. After assessing UWFCA and its member agencies’ needs, businesses will be asked to assist with a project that is alignment with the needs of a nonprofit. The second program would be offered to individual employees and would give them the opportunity to use their professional skills to help UWFCA and its member agencies build capacity. Employers would encourage employees with specific skillsets to join committees or be on a call/email list for UWFCA and member agency incentives.
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