Nevada’s second certified Service Enterprise proves even a strong volunteer-centered organization can benefit from Service Enterprise

Nevada Volunteers is proud to announce the second certified Service Enterprise (SE) in Nevada, the Tahoe Rim Trail Association (TRTA) that achieved certification on June 6, 2016. While the Tahoe Rim Trail Association has always been a volunteer-centered organization, they began the Service Enterprise process in the summer of 2015 with the goal of strengthening their volunteer practices. Going through the Service Enterprise process required the staff to pause and reflect on practices, regardless of if they were working well, to see if they could be strengthened to better leverage volunteers.

The Service Enterprise process teaches organizations how to calculate Return on Volunteer Investment (ROVI) and then requires staff to calculate ROVI for the organization and each program. TRTA staff noticed in their ROVI that the free-guided hikes program, while utilizing volunteers didn’t have a high return on investment. TRTA made adjustments such as making sure every guided hike has an educational component through which participants learn useful skills and knowledge. This added educational component assured TRTA the effort made by volunteers in offering the program is also strategically aligned to help them meet their mission.

When organizations go through the Service Enterprise process they assess not only the roles volunteers play in the organization, but also staff roles and responsibilities around volunteer engagement. This assessment can lead to transformative change. For TRTA, it meant recognizing the value strong volunteer management brings to the organization and a new requirement that every employee take on volunteer coordination duties for the volunteers they work with instead of the responsibility falling on one person’s shoulders.

When TRTA went through the Service Enterprise certification process they had to prove they fundamentally leveraged volunteers across all levels. TRTA explored non-trail volunteer opportunities to achieve this. Before starting the Service Enterprise process, volunteers were mainly used for direct service, like maintaining trails and assisting with hikes. TRTA assessed their needs and added volunteering opportunities that supported the organizations internal capacity. Now skilled volunteers help with things like office work on a regular basis. TRTA staff makes sure this component of leveraging volunteers is not lost by, discussing upcoming projects and tasks volunteers could help with at every staff meeting. In addition to keeping it at the forefront of planning, TRTA has a designated staff member who organizes and delegates the tasks to the volunteers when they come in throughout the week. Examples of the tasks include data entry, filing, organizing, or assisting with preparation for larger projects.

Becoming a certified Service Enterprise requires an organization’s leadership to be engaged. That level of engagement is reflected in this quote by Mary Bennington, the Executive Director who was with TRTA during their SE process, “Going through the process of Service Enterprise Certification has provided the TRTA many opportunities to improve our processes, better leverage our volunteers across all program areas, and confirm that many of our systems are already humming along like a well-oiled machine! This process has helped us quantify the amazing value of volunteer effort in a way that has helped the board see the direct benefit to our programs.”

Nevada Volunteers is proud to support the Tahoe Rim Trail Association throughout the Service Enterprise process. As Nevada’s only Service Enterprise hub, Nevada Volunteers has trained and supported 11 organizations total; two organizations have achieved certification and nine are implementing strategies and working toward certification. Through the Service Enterprise Initiative, more organizations are learning and implementing strategies to effectively leverage volunteers and engage skills-based volunteers. At Nevada Volunteers we think this means not only more volunteer opportunities, but more organizations with high-quality volunteer programs offering more high-quality volunteer opportunities.

Nevada Volunteers will host a Service Enterprise training cadre in Las Vegas this fall. If you would like more information or to apply for the fall 2016 cadre in Las Vegas please contact sei@nevadavolunteers.org or call (775) 825-1900. Applications are due August 12, 2016.