United Way of Greater New Bedford receives statewide recognition for innovative volunteer engagement

United Way of Greater New Bedford (UWGNB) was recently recognized for their work around volunteerism and the Service Enterprise Initiative (SEI). At the 2019 Massachusetts Conference on Volunteerism on May 7, UWGNB received the Service Enterprise Initiative Champion Award presented by the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA). MSA is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as the state commission on service and volunteerism and administers the SEI program in Massachusetts.

United Way of Greater New Bedford completed the SEI program and became a certified Service Enterprise in 2016. The goal of the SEI program is to help organizations enhance their nonprofit capacity through the fundamental and strategic use of volunteers and their skills to address true community needs. SEI components include a research-based assessment of existing organizational volunteer engagement practices, team-based change management training to re-imagine ways to better utilize and engage volunteers, and individualized coaching to address unique organizational opportunities and challenges.

Since becoming a certified Service Enterprise, UWGNB has increased its annual number of volunteers, improved volunteer retention rates, obtained funding for volunteer programming, and grown awareness of its Volunteer SouthCoast website. Additionally, the organization has significantly improved its Return on Volunteer Investment (ROVI); in 2016, the volunteer contribution to the agency was valued at $43,452, and the ROVI was $2.49 for every $1 invested. In 2018, the volunteer contribution rose to $68,171, and the ROVI increased to $3.45.

“We are pleased to be honored by the Massachusetts Service Alliance with the Service Enterprise Initiative Champion Award.” said Michelle N. Hantman, President and CEO of United Way of Greater New Bedford. “Service Enterprise has made a huge difference in the way we approach volunteerism at United Way and we’re proud to partner with MSA to bring this initiative to our community to help other organizations on the SouthCoast increase their capacity as we have.”

After participating in the trainings, implementing change in the organization, and becoming certified, UWGNB began coaching other organizations undergoing the Service Enterprise certification process. They have coached 12 organizations in the South Coast region since 2016.

“When an organization embraces Service Enterprise on all levels, great things happen,” says Emily Haber, CEO of the Massachusetts Service Alliance. “We are proud to honor United Way of Greater New Bedford, who joined our South Coast cohort in 2015 and began teaching the model to other organizations in 2016. They are an outstanding example of the power of Service Enterprise as they have fully, and with great impact, integrated this model into their organization.”

In Massachusetts, 38 nonprofit organizations and agencies have received their Service Enterprise Initiative certification. The Service Enterprise Initiative is administered nationally by Points of Light, with a network of hubs operating in over 20 states. If you would like more information about the Service Enterprise Initiative, please visit mass-service.org or call 617-542-2544.