Volunteer Connections

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago (TVC)
City & State:
Arlington Heights, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The mission of The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago (TVC) is “enriching lives through community volunteerism”. TVC accomplishes this by mobilizing volunteers to support nonprofits and training nonprofit staff in volunteer and nonprofit management. TVC provides these services for 147 local nonprofits. In this way, TVC enriches the lives of volunteers, as well as all individuals being served by TVC’s 147 partner nonprofits.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago (TVC) received Microsoft’s Small Business Server 2003, in 2006, from TechSoup. SBS has enabled us to leverage available resources in effective, cost efficient ways in order to improve the impact and quality of the services we offer. This valuable resource is the unique professional skills and expertise of internal volunteers.

Prior to the use of SBS, our technology infrastructure could only support 8-10 people at a time. There was no centralization of information, communication and information sharing was extremely limited, and information could only be accessed from computers in the office. Because of these limitations, staff were the only people to have access to key files, documents, and data, and gathering this information cost a great deal of valuable staff time. Due to the limited access to information, we could only assign very simple tasks to volunteers, such as stuffing envelopes, compiling statistics, and answering phones. Volunteers could only access information by working with several staff members, all of whom held different types of information and were the only ones to have access to that information. As a result of this, volunteer retention was low, because many volunteers were frustrated that their positions were not more challenging and that their contributions were limited.

We recognized that many of our volunteers held highly developed professional skills and could greatly help us streamline internal processes and improve the quality of services we offered. However, our technology did not enable us to capture these talents. A volunteer made us aware of the availability of SBS through TechSoup, which we could afford on a very limited budget. We recruited a skilled volunteer with a great deal of technology expertise to help customize SBS to our needs. This transformed the way we were able to utilize the skills of volunteers.

SBS allows us to share documents, files, data, statistics, and key information through a shared data drive, on which all internal documents are stored. Not only can these documents be accessed by anyone in our office, but they also can be accessed remotely. Skilled volunteers require consistent access to internal data, because they are performing high level tasks, which normally would be outsourced or done by a staff member. In continuation, this allowed us to provide flexibility for volunteers to work from home or other remote locations. As a result, we recruited and placed more skilled volunteers. In addition, because we have limited office space, we could host almost triple the amount of individuals as before, thus removing the ceiling on the human resource support we could engage. Lastly, this platform fostered efficient networking between staff and volunteers. For example, through SharePoint we hosted several calendars and posted task lists, which allowed staff and volunteers to understand who was doing what and coordinate activities. By incorporating the proper technology infrastructure, we leveraged hundreds of hours of skilled volunteer support, which is worth thousands of dollars and otherwise would have fallen by the wayside.

As a result of implementing SBS, we have increased the internal placement of skilled volunteers from 3 to 32 in two years. These volunteers have developed brochures and annual reports, conducted trainings for nonprofit staff, helped develop two new programs, rose over $50,000 in new funds, organized community events, and developed a website.

Not only did SBS allow us to increase the placement of skilled volunteers internally, but is also improved the impact and quality of our two main services: volunteer support and professional development training for nonprofit staff. Skilled volunteers provided greater human resource support in key programmatic areas, which has primarily translated into the recruitment of more volunteers for 147 local nonprofits. In fiscal year 05/06, TVC made over 11,000 volunteer referrals. In 07/08, this number jumped to almost 15,000 volunteer referrals. In addition, skilled volunteers also developed and conducted professional development trainings for nonprofit staff. In 05/06 TVC held 12 workshops and in 07/08 was able to provide 24 workshops.

We are now positioned to start training partner nonprofits on utilizing Microsoft technology in similar ways to secure skilled volunteer support to build their capacity. We anticipate this will allow them to continue meeting local needs through additional human resource support, despite diminishing funding and staffing support during the current economic crisis.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology
Project Image
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