National Volunteer Month: Volunteer Engagement through Service Enterprise
April 11, 2018 | Myah McCoy

Kayla Paulson is our 55+ Initiative Coordinator and expert on Service Enterprise certification. Find out how nonprofits benefit from Service Enterprise and what it means for volunteerism in East Central Iowa.

From Volunteer Management to Volunteer Engagement

As Simon Sinek tells us, “Greatness doesn’t start with a market opportunity; it starts with a problem that needs solving. The opportunity comes from marketing the solution.”

Nonprofits are facing budget cuts and increase in demand; volunteers are the solution. Professional, skilled, and engaged volunteers can help nonprofits achieve their mission. The key to the solution is engagement.

Engagement sets volunteers up as active participants supporting and achieving a goal. It means you have something to contribute. Most volunteers prefer when organizations engage them, rather than manage them. The question is, are local nonprofits ready to switch to a strategic volunteer engagement model and let go of traditional volunteer management mindset?

Service Enterprise

Here at United Way’s Volunteer Engagement, we have had the privilege to serve as a national Service Enterprise Initiative hub. We have worked with nearly 20 local nonprofits complete the organization-wide change management program that helps them effectively and efficiently leverage volunteers to deliver their social mission. Executive directors/CEOs, board members, program managers, and volunteer engagement staff come together to reimagine volunteers and staff as a complete human capital strategy to achieve their mission.

From Millennials to Boomers, volunteers have an increased interest in investing their skills, talents, and time to become the solution. This may mean that nonprofits can job craft and provide a consultant-like role to help ease staff workload, leverage volunteers to lead staff and volunteers, or have volunteers complete one of the organization’s long-overdue projects. These strategies are consistent with organizations that engage volunteers well at all levels—also known as Service Enterprise.

Local Service Enterprises recognize that engaging, rather than managing, volunteers means we are more likely to see all the talents, skills, connections, and passions people bring when they show up to serve. And that means a richer experience for the volunteers, our organizations, and our causes.

Is your organization ready to achieve greatness and strategically engage volunteers? If so, we are ready to help! For more information, visit the official Service Enterprise Initiative website or contact me at