Voices of Leaders Regarding Volunteer Engagement

David Eisner,

President and CEO, Repair the World
Former CEO of Corporation for National and Community Service, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE)

“What is the condition of democracy in America, and what is philanthropy doing about it?” I’ve seldom met anyone who doesn’t agree that the state of democracy would be stronger if more Americans were civically engaged. What I wish more of us were “doing about it” is building and modernizing the infrastructure that supports that civic engagement at a community level by, first, modifying the channels of participation to suit the work, time, and social preference of today’s Americans and, second, lessening the barriers to participation.”

“The economic realities we face mean two things: that it is critically important to increase the level of volunteering in our nation, and that it is also critically important to operate as cost-effectively as possible. As funders, we must find more and better ways to work together to support the nonprofit infrastructure as well as the more than 64.5 million Americans who volunteer each year through formal organizations. The resources of each sector must be leveraged the most effective way to broaden and strengthen the traditions of volunteering and civic engagement.”

Building Democracy through Service. May 2005.

Bruce Esterline,

Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Grants, Meadows Foundation

“Some of the most cost effective dollars we can invest may be in a volunteer manager, who can generate far more value from volunteer hours than we ever invested.”

Betty Stallings,

International trainer, consultant, author & keynote speaker specializing in volunteer engagement

“Investing in creative and effective volunteer engagement is the premier way to have positive impact on the missions that foster values important to us. For over 40 years I have had the privilege of supporting agencies and initiatives that are stretched and enhanced, beyond all measure, when citizens offer their time and resources to create a more caring community and world.”

Sarah Jane Rehnborg, PhD,

Former Director of Planning & Development, RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service

“While it is true that volunteers operate without receiving market-value compensation for the work performed, any serious organizational initiative – of any type – requires a strategic vision and an outlay of time, attention, and infrastructure. Someone needs to be assigned the important task of overseeing the venture, of facilitating community involvement, of preparing volunteers for the task at hand, of supporting their ongoing involvement, and of thanking them for the time given. The organization needs to know what it hopes to achieve and how that end product will help meet the overall goals of the group. The organization’s staff and leadership need to be committed to working with volunteers and, in many cases, offered staff development opportunities to learn how to work well with the community. In short, a credible effort needs a vision and plan, resources sufficient to the task at hand, and a dedicated, skilled, point person to assure that tasks run smoothly and reach completion.”

A Guide for Nonprofit and Public Sector Leaders. The University of Texas at Austin, 2009.

Beth Steinhorn,

President, JFFixler Group

“While our society has a great tradition of civic engagement, volunteers – as a resource – remain largely untapped. Traditionally, organizations view volunteers as a program, and that perspective has limited the potential that volunteers represent. The organizations that instead embrace volunteer engagement as a strategy to fulfill mission are able to increase their impact. And that’s not all! Embracing volunteer engagement as a strategy can strengthen staff, spread the organization’s message more widely, increase resources, and sustain the organization through changing and challenging times.”

Amber Coté,

Leadership and Community Steward, Center for Nonprofit Excellence

“The Leighty Foundation​ and Jane Leighty Justis are well known in our community ​for bringing high-impact volunteer engagement strategies to the forefront of organizations with a social impact mission. Through Jane’s involvement with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, we came to understand that human capital is equally as important as financial capital for nonprofits to effectively address community needs. As a result of partnering in this work over the last several years, our team has learned a great deal about leveraging volunteers and effective volunteer engagement, so we were compelled to step up as a powerful voice to our members and the community about this underemployed resource.”

“Jane recognized CNE’s commitment to strengthen the capacity of nonprofits to leverage volunteers and their skills to address community needs. Subsequently, the foundation invested funding, resources and an endorsement to carry forward this legacy of work. We are overwhelmed with the possibility this represents for our organization and more importantly, all of the lives that will be positively impacted through this initiative. It is our honor to continue the foundation’s work for years to come as we help build stronger communities across Southern Colorado.”