The Volunteerism Challenge: An Inspired Approach to Visual Studio/ASP.NET

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Omaha Performing Arts
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Omaha Performing Arts is dedicated to enriching the lives of the citizens of Omaha and surrounding communities through the presentation of the finest local, national and international artistic performances. This mission is achieved through management and stewardship of its two facilities, the Holland Performing Arts Center and Orpheum Theater; the presentation of high quality performing arts events through its Presents series; and community commitment through education and outreach, bringing arts to diverse audiences such as students and low-income and at-risk populations.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Every day, Omaha Performing Arts utilizes Microsoft products in the delivery of our mission. Whether we’re sparking critical thinking and problem solving skills in students, empowering the underserved, or giving a patron the memory of a lifetime – Microsoft products have helped us get there. Publisher, Sequel, Outlook, Office, PowerPoint, and Excel affect every operation within our organization. These programs ensure that we – as a leading regional arts institution – are always efficient, effective, and well within budget. Microsoft’s most crucial impact on our organization, however, has involved the use of Visual Studio/ASP.NET to improve and streamline our volunteer processes through the creation of a unique, custom-built website.

The Volunteerism Challenge Other organizations that I volunteer for do not have the website connections that the Ambassadors have. I use the website every weekday, to stay on top of what is going on and what is available to volunteer for in the future. –Ambassador Nancy L. Cleaver A key component in the delivery of our mission is our large volunteer community, called The Ambassadors. The Ambassadors include over 500 passionate and generous individuals. Without them, our educational and performance events simply couldn’t take place. Performing a variety of integral duties – from seating patrons to scanning tickets, controlling patron traffic, and notifying staff of urgent circumstances – our volunteer base is motivated and dynamic, with many moving parts. One of the biggest challenges faced by non-profit performing arts organizations like ours is utilizing our wonderful volunteer base efficiently – without introducing a drain on resources such as funds and time. Omaha Performing Arts saw a need for software to keep track of every one of our volunteer’s unique duties, schedules, training needs, expertise, and individual stations within our two large, distinct venues.

How Microsoft Software Provided a Solution To overcome these obstacles, our software development team created a unique, custom-built website for the Ambassadors,, using Visual Studio/ASP.NET. Truly a one-of-a-kind website for performing arts organizations, this innovative use of Microsoft software has proven beneficial for our organization and our volunteers in a number of ways: 1) It allows for system-wide announcements regarding newly added events, emergency cancellations, etc. These announcements are relayed via email, as well as on the site itself.2) Scheduling is now a breeze, with all volunteers easily added or removed. Attendance is recorded smoothly, and Ambassadors can easily notify managers of changing circumstances well in advance of the event.3) House Managers can request a specific amount of volunteers per event on the website, depending on each event’s specific needs. Ambassadors are able to see these requests and sign up to work as needed.4) Volunteers accumulate premiums and benefits per hours worked. The website updates these benefits automatically – and volunteers can find and track their benefits at their convenience. Other convenient items on this website include easy access to performance synopses, one-click contact to provide feedback and request help, unique work histories for every Ambassador, samples of ticket types to prevent fraud while scanning, guidelines, training tips, venue information and more. The Ambassador website is a one-stop shop for information and scheduling – convenient and efficient on the front end for volunteers and on the back end for Omaha Performing Arts staff, particularly our House Managers. Your web site is wonderful! Phenomenal! One of the things that I especially like about this site is that it is so well thought-out and organized. It's very easy to navigate and obtain necessary information. I don't have to search and search for the information I need. There's another thing that I particularly like about this system, and that is, it's tied into e-mail. That means that there's always an e-mail reminding you that you're scheduled to work a particular night or verification that you've canceled. –Ambassador Judith Studt

The Future of the Ambassador WebsiteThe Ambassador website cut the time it takes to manage Ambassador scheduling by 75%. It took us from being reactive to proactive. It allowed us the time to really build the Ambassador program. –Kyle Anderson, Omaha Performing Arts House Manager Because the website is so easy to use and has had such an impact on our Ambassadors themselves, we find it helps us retain and attract volunteer talent. In fact, there has been a growing waiting list to become an Ambassador for over two years. The Ambassador website has been so helpful to Omaha Performing Arts that we are working to make this unique model available to other performing arts organizations in need of volunteer streamlining. Our hope is that this proprietary code – which wouldn’t exist without Microsoft software – will have a fruitful impact and long life beyond Omaha Performing Arts. We’d like to express our gratitude to TechSoup and Microsoft for making all of this possible.Becoming an OPA Ambassador has been the best thing I've ever done. I can't imagine being an Ambassador without this website. It is so easy to use. I love it! –Ambassador Georgene Gottsch

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery