Success story: Highly effective nonprofits value and engage their VolunTEAM

Chicago youth at Lawrence Hall Youth Services paint a mural

Youth paint during an activity with Lawrence Hall Youth Services.

by Jo Posselt, VP, Marketing & Development, Executive Service Corps

Lawrence Hall Youth Services is one of Illinois’ oldest child welfare agencies, established in 1865 to assist at-risk youth and their families with services that develop the self-worth, knowledge, and skills they need to lead independent and productive lives.  One Good Deed Chicago connected Lawrence Hall with the Executive Service Corps (ESC) of Chicago in September 2011 as part of the One Good Deed VolunTEAM project. Their objective: By the end of May 2012, to evaluate and structure the organization’s volunteer management to meet diverse needs while ensuring a positive and fulfilling experience for more than 200 volunteers.

The ESC consultant assigned to the project, Thomas White, has more than 20 years of corporate leadership and project management experience.  He works closely with Nathan Rosato, Lawrence Hall’s Director of Community Relations. Together, they began with a systematic study of current volunteer utilization patterns and needs assessment from a cross-section of program areas to identify required functions, estimated volunteer hours, responsibilities and needed skills. 

Armed with this data, White and Rosato began building a matrixed volunteer management program that that views volunteers through multiple lenses, all interconnected and each with different benefits.  To ensure the most capable and committed volunteers and balance the needs and objectives of both the volunteers and Lawrence Hall, the team is reviewing volunteer position descriptions and considering a more comprehensive use of existing volunteer management software to ensure the best match between talent and function and accurate tracking of hours for improved planning. They are updating a handbook that will help to standardize volunteer management policies and procedures throughout the organization and establish a targeted recruitment plan to ensure an ongoing source of the varied skills and talents needed throughout the year.

“We are taking a tactical program and giving it the depth and integration that will optimize the organization’s investment in its volunteers and their investment in the organization,” says White, “challenging, but not impossible, with the type of buy-in that we are receiving from all program areas and from Lawrence Hall leadership.”

Volunteer Wesley Tibbs describes his role as a member of Lawrence Hall’s Junior Board.

“I volunteer because I want to give back and Lawrence Hall gives me that opportunity,” he says. “An orientation prepares us and training helps us determine situations where we can be helpful.  There is opportunity for fundraising and developing leadership skills for future service.”

“”We want our volunteers to know they are valued and give them opportunities to be truly connected to our programs and invested in the work we do together, beyond a one-day volunteer experience,” notes Rosato.  “By the end of this project, we will be better equipped to help our volunteers with training and program-matching, build our volunteer program with an efficient recruitment effort and establish lasting relationship with our volunteers for the benefit of the people served by Lawrence Hall for years to come.”

Kim Luckey, Lawrence Hall’s Director of External Affairs, calls the project with ESC and One Good Deed Chicago an opportunity to re-evaluate their needs and review what’s working well and where extra help is needed.

 “Our volunteers are important to us; we not only benefit from their contributions of time and talent, they are our strong connection to the community,” she says.

As nonprofits struggle in an environment of unusually deep and lingering economic stress, facing diminished resources even as the demand for service increases, the need for a an effective volunteer program, streamlined, efficient operation, strong leadership teams and diverse sources of revenue become mission-critical. As a nonprofit with a proud reputation for service and results, ESC is the premiere consulting resource for nonprofits in these areas, ready to help with practical and affordable solutions for lasting impact.

To learn more about Lawrence Hall Youth services and its positive impact on youth and families, please visit www.lawrencehall.org.  To learn more about the Executive Service Corps of Chicago and its services in leadership development and coaching, strategic planning, fund development, urgent action, executive transition and interim executive director placement, visit www.esc-chicago.org or email Jo.Posselt[at]esc-chicago.org.

Metro Achievement Center celebrates special bond between mothers, daughters

midtown metro valentine's lunch

A mother and daughter celebrate their special bond at a Metro Achievement lunch

by Helen Gerety, Service Initiatives Coordinator, One Good Deed Chicago

“A mother must be physically strong, emotionally stronger, and spiritually strongest.” This is the message that Pascale Burns, mother of four and Midtown Educational Foundation advocate, shared with more than 200 mothers on Saturday, Feb. 18.

The day marked Metro’s 12th annual Mother-Daughter Day Luncheon, where people from Chicago’s underserved communities gathered together to honor each other with the Valentine’s Day –themed lunch, “Mothers are Stronger Role Models than Pop Culture.” I was lucky enough to spend the day at this event. As One Good Deed Chicago’s Service Initiatives Coordinator, I often get the chance to attend the events of our Success Coaches partners and see their work firsthand.

midtown lunch zumba

Mothers at the event do a Zumba-style dance exercise.

The event began with a call to action. Local priest, Father John Waiss, reminded not just daughters to honor their mothers, but mothers to also honor their daughters.

“Mothers, honor your daughters by picturing what qualities you want your daughter to possess and then acquire them yourselves,” he said.

Mothers and daughters separated for part of the day; Daughters wrote love letters to their moms, while the parents had a chance to discuss what makes a strong and successful mom.

The day came to a close when daughters rejoined their mothers for lunch and presented them with hand-crafted love letters. When mothers were asked about how Metro has impacted their daughters, one was especially thankful. She remarked “Metro taught my daughter how to become a young lady.”

The event reminded me of the important relationship that I share with my own mother and the significant role that she played in my development as a self-confident and independent woman. I am thankful for the work that Metro is doing to build and support similar relationships between the mothers and daughters in Chicago.

In addition to hosting an inspiring event like this, Metro for girls, along with its brother site Midtown Center for Boys, is celebrating 12 consecutive years of 100 percent graduation and college enrollment. Midtown Educational Foundation helps close the achievement gap for Chicago’s urban youth by providing one-on-one tutoring, high school prep, and college counseling.

If you are interested in contributing to Midtown and Metro’s success, become a tutor! Visit the profile of Midtown Educational Foundation, the sponsoring nonprofit organization for Midtown and Metro, on OneGoodDeedChicago.org to learn how.

Changing Worlds: A Success Story

A student works with a volunteer at Changing Worlds. Changing Worlds is one of One Good Deed Chicago's VolunTEAM partners.

by Jo Posselt, VP, Marketing & Development, Executive Service Corps

Changing Worlds is an educational art nonprofit whose mission is “to foster inclusive communities through oral history, writing and art programs that improve student learning, affirm identity and enhance cross-cultural understanding.”

One Good Deed Chicago connected Changing Worlds with the Executive Service Corps (ESC) of Chicago in September 2011 as part of the VolunTEAM program. ESC is a volunteer corps of nearly 300 men and women who use their skills and knowledge from long and successful careers to help other non-profits thrive.

The project is scheduled for completion in May, but the results to date are already a noticeable and satisfying success story on many levels for everyone involved, including the volunteers, the program staff and of course the children who benefit from these programs. 

Identifying needs

Changing Worlds Executive Director Mark Rodriguez points out that it was critical to the project’s success to create a clear direction at the beginning.

“We needed to be able to create an infrastructure for our volunteer program as well as a system and a process that would be sustainable when the project is over,” he said.

Patti Pangborn, Changing Worlds manager of office operations, finance and program support, said “we had a database we weren’t using, a wonderful core group of volunteers and no system or anyone on staff who could coordinate the volunteer experience or make it truly satisfying for the volunteer.  We weren’t fully utilizing our volunteer strength”

The ESC project management team, David Marienthal and Estelle Holzer, worked with Patti and Mark to evaluate specific needs. They then began identifying lasting solutions and immediate changes that could be readily implemented without additional workload burden or cost.  Both David and Estelle brought more than 20 years of experience in project and program management to the assignment and were able to make recommendations that produced immediate results.

Marienthal describes the process.

“We met every three weeks or so and tracked our progress together to ensure we had the solutions we needed,” he said. “First, we recommended the addition of a volunteer ‘volunteer coordinator’ position!  This focused more dedicated attention to an area of need and removed the additional workload burden from staff while we set up a process and procedures to get a structured volunteer management program set up.”

Seeing results

“Claire Gilbertsen is our new volunteer coordinator, a volunteer herself with lots of experience, who comes in two days a week to concentrate on this program,” Pangborn said. “We added a volunteer management module to our database to better track volunteer experiences, and we have begun putting together a handbook of policies and procedures and an orientation and recognition program for our volunteers.”

Rodriguez says “we value our volunteers and hope, through this project with ESC and One Good Deed, to advance our three primary goals toward 1) greater public awareness of our programs, 2) recruitment and retention of volunteers and, 3) fundraising to support our programs.”

As the economy struggles, as money from state and local governments dries up, and as donations and foundation monies shrink, non-profits are facing the perfect storm. Demand for their services is increasing dramatically, just as revenue sources are dwindling. The need for non-profits to improve their organizational performance is as important as it ever was. It’s ESC’s mission to help them.

To learn more about the Executive Service Corps of Chicago or apply to be an consultant, visit the ESC Website at www.esc-chicago.org.  For a list of all 19 nonprofits currently in the One Good Deed Chicago’s VolunTEAM program, go to www.onegooddeedchicago.org/priorities.

This February, Step Up to LOVE and ignite girls to fulfill their potential

By Kristen Field, Program Manager, Step Up Women’s Network

The New Year brought many resolutions that often have fizzled by now. Reflecting on my direction for the New Year, I challenged myself to take a different approach. Establish a theme for your year that inspires you. For me, it’s doing “everything from a place of love.” This theme is fitting for the month of February, where we often see hearts everywhere, celebrations of love, and cheers to Valentine’s Day.

Working for Step Up Women’s Network allows me to take my passion to give back and use this theme of love to make a difference. Step Up Women’s Network creates and implements impactful after-school and weekend programs that empower teen girls from under-resourced communities to be confident, college-bound, and career-ready. As a nonprofit membership organization of dynamic women coming together for this mission, Step Up is also able to propel professional women through connections, collaborations and continuous development.

I LOVE what I do! The main focus of my job is inspiring others to join Step Up’s mission to connect you to the professional women you need and the underserved teen girls who need you. How could I ask for more in a job?

On January 27th, our Teen Programs Manager, Whitney Capps, asked me to chaperone one of our Pathways to Professions field trips with our Step Up teens to The Big Ten Network. I of course was thrilled! Pathways to Professions is a Step Up program that inspires Step Up juniors to explore new careers through field trips to Step Up member companies. During our time at The Big Ten Network, Step Up teens toured the facility, met with individuals who had positions in advertising, sales, on-air, human resources, executive leadership, and so on. The women at The Big Ten Network gave their time to mentor for an hour or two, coming from a place of love, to impact a girl’s life. That’s all it takes.

While we were all in the studio, I paused to look around and take this day in. These young, eager minds wanting to learn as much as they possibly can about what career they may have in the future and women who have “made it” sharing their stories with the next generation of young women. Truly inspired to be part of something so amazing, something so necessary.

What inspires me even more, is that every week, throughout the year, Step Up Women’s Network provides opportunities for women to mentor girls in our dynamic afterschool and Saturday enrichment programs. Do you want to be a mentor for Step Up teens and a member of Step Up Women’s Network? For more information and calendar, go to www.suwn.org and contact me at kristenf@suwn.org

Do something “from a place of love” this February and invest in the future success of girls through mentorship and financial support. YOU are the match that will ignite a girls dream

And They Told Two Friends and So On…

Five tips for nonprofits to turn your constituents into your biggest advocates

By Suzy Whitfield and Rhett Del Campo, SocialRaise

You may already know that your best advocates are your most vocal and passionate constituents. They are the people who tell your story often and with enthusiasm. They are the folks who work the room, sell the tickets and ask people to show up on a Saturday morning to lend a helping hand. They personally thank their friends, relatives, neighbors and colleagues for their financial support. Without some of these people, your fundraising and programs would be struggling.  You want to hand those folks an engraved, gold plated, supercharged megaphone, right?

Well how about giving a megaphone to other people who are also great supporters, but maybe a little less vocal, and make it easy for them to communicate their enthusiasm for your organization’s goals, programs and events. Give them the tools to become your biggest advocates by providing the ability to share your message to their friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues – easily.

Are you old enough to remember the shampoo ad with “And they told two friends and so on and so on” until the screen was full of faces? If not, stick with me here.

Enter Social Media tools. The beauty is in the math. Say you have 300 loyal supporters and they each share your message with 10 people. Now you have increased awareness of your organization by 3,000 (use your own numbers). Think of what it would mean if only a small percentage would get to know your organization and become donors, board members or volunteers. OK, not everyone is on Facebook or Twitter, but most have email, right? So make it easy for them to share – any way they might choose.

How do you get this done without hiring an IT staff (or a teenager)?

1)    Make it easy for people to “share” – attach social media links to everything on your website (articles, announcements, events, donation opportunities, contests, volunteer needs etc.) to allow your constituents to forward, post, send, or share your message on their preferred social media networks.

2)    Make the message tell your story (and then ask for something specific). Illustrate your successes and highlight how the donors, volunteers and board members made a difference and how they can too.

3)    Ask your constituents to tell your story, engage their friends etc. Tell them they can help by spreading the word about your story or event.

4)    Thank or acknowledge the message sharing and tell or show them it makes a difference. Make sure that their efforts are noticed and appreciated by talking about growth and new constituents.

5)    When new visitors come to your site, make it easy for them to engage or get involved (e.g. make a donation, buy a ticket, volunteer, get more information, join a support group, attend a meeting etc.). In exchange they will leave their contact information and become part of your growing list of “leads,” people who are likely to become loyal constituents.

Think of your own experience. When a friend passes along a short article about the wonderful impact their favorite nonprofit organization has made in your community and asks you to get involved, you are much more likely to read it and, if asked, to act. Give your constituents the tools (great stories, links, offers, events and the means to share) and then encourage them to email, post, and tweet your organization’s successes with their friends, neighbors and colleagues. Include simple requests to join, sign up, donate, and volunteer. While this is not simple and requires a plan, it is no more complex than writing your end-of-year appeal, printing, addressing and mailing. But the potential reach is much bigger than a single letter. End-of-year appeals are great, but imagine if your mailing list were four times bigger this year.

In short, social media is much more than something teenagers use to plan a weekend. They are tools for success. Give lots of little “megaphones” to your volunteers, beneficiaries, donors and board members and ask for help in spreading the word.  With the right message in the right hands, Social Media can become a powerful communication vehicle for your organization.

Suzy is the Vice President and Rhett is the Director of Arts Initiatives at the Chicago-based company, SocialRaise. To learn more, please visit www.socialraise.com

Why volunteering makes sense, from a human resources professional

Volunteering can help you find your career path.

by Tony Rea, 20/20 HR LLC

There are many good reasons to volunteer your time and energy to a worthy cause. Volunteering can be rewarding whether you are currently employed or even if you are looking for work.

One of the strongest reasons to volunteer is the sense of fulfillment one gets from giving back to the community served by the nonprofit organization. You may volunteer because you are drawn to the mission of a particular nonprofit or because someone in your personal circle was helped in some way by that nonprofit.

You could volunteer you time assisting the nonprofit in their operations. A good example is the bell ringers during the holidays for the Salvation Army.

Another way to volunteer is to contribute your personal and / or professional expertise. Many nonprofits seek out this type of assistance which can be provided on a pro bono consulting basis or by serving as a board member. Board membership is typically built around having the right combination of business, marketing, accounting, legal and other professional level skills to lead the organization.

For those who are looking for work, this represents a “win-win” for both the individual and the nonprofit organization. What a great way to stay active and connected to your profession by giving back. For new graduates and those considering a career change, it is also a great way to break into a desired or new field of interest.

Volunteer experience looks good on a resume and can be helpful in covering employment gaps created by a period of unemployment. If you give of your professional skills, it will keep you sharp and also show initiative to any prospective employer. It also shows that you are resilient and respond to adversity in a positive and proactive way.

Volunteering can help improve your visibility through networking with people throughout your community. While most likely not a direct path to a position at the respective nonprofit, you will have the opportunity to meet and work with people within the nonprofit, those served by the nonprofit and possibly even influential board members.

While I don’t believe in spiritualism, I do believe that volunteering brings good karma!

Tony Rea is a human resources professional at Orland Park-based 20/20 HR, LLC.

 

This is part of a guest blogging series highlighting good deeds and volunteerism. If you have a story to tell, we want to hear it! Email alexandra.baird[at]cityofchicago.org for more information.

Show Us Your Good: Moustaches are back

Members of the University of Chicago Movember team

[Note:This is the first in a guest blogging series highlighting good deeds across Chicago. If you have a story to share, we want to hear it! Email alexandra.baird@cityofchicago.org.]

by Tracey Swanson (middle right), Web Marketing Specialist at the University of Chicago and Movember team member

A style trend is taking off among men of the staff, student body, and faculty of the University of Chicago. Since early November, upper lips have gone unshaven across the offices and classrooms of UChicago. This is no mere coincidence; it’s a soup strainer conspiracy—the University of Chicago Movember Team.

Movember, an international men’s health movement that began in Australia in 2003, has spread to over a dozen countries and has raised over $174 million, including $7.5 million raised by 1.1 million participants in the U.S. in 2010. Beneficiaries of funds raised in the U.S. include the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, The Lance Armstrong Foundation.

For some, the movement is deeply personal. Avi Schwab (middle left), an IT Specialist and Web Developer at the University of Chicago, was recently diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer. He joined Movember “to help raise funds so that others could receive the same high-level of care that he did.”

Dan Monico (top left), the team captain, who has been participating in Movember for three years, got started because his Australian brother-in-law was growing a Movember moustache.

“Getting people to sacrifice their face for a month is not easy,” says Monico, “but a lot of guys have responded well to it and no one I’ve talked to has ever regretted it. It has been an amazingly rewarding experience.”

As team member Jonas Attenhofer (bottom left) puts it, “some guys use Movember as a test of manhood, others as a beauty contest, and some even to further their mating prospects. Whatever your motivation is, we all achieve the same goal of raising awareness.”

This awareness benefits not only men at large, but also the moustache-growers themselves, who as men have a shorter life expectancy, are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and are statistically less likely to get regular health checks. These men (and the women who support them) not only have more opportunities to discuss issues affecting men’s health, but to give more thought to the ways they keep themselves healthy, including a strong reminder to schedule a yearly check with a doctor.

Few charitable activities are as simple. A month-long moustache is a surprisingly effective icebreaker to allow otherwise reserved men to discuss health issues that affect them and to support prevention, treatment, and research of cancers that affect men.

The 20-member University of Chicago Movember team has a $5,000 fundraising goal. You can help them meet it and see more photos at the team page at http://us.movember.com/donate/team-details/id/276796/.