ABOUT VOLUNTEER MARYLAND
Volunteer Maryland builds stronger, healthier communities by developing volunteer programs with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and schools. The program’s vision is that all Marylanders will participate in and value service as a way of life to enrich and empower community, society, and self.
Maryland communities face myriad challenges in education, housing, transportation and environmental stewardship, just to name a few. To tackle these challenges, there are more than 32,000 nonprofits in Maryland – and many of them rely on volunteers to help them meet their missions. A 2009 report in the Stanford Social Innovation Review emphasized an increased need for volunteers: “The nation’s nonprofits are under strain from the current economic crisis, a leadership drain as older executives retire, and high turnover among younger staff. Volunteers are an undervalued and underused resource for tackling these challenges.” Despite that need, Maryland nonprofit organizations regularly report that they need help recruiting and managing volunteers and lack the resources to do so effectively.
Volunteer Maryland helps meet these needs by placing AmeriCorps members in nonprofit organizations, schools, and government agencies throughout the state to serve as Volunteer Maryland Coordinators, bridging the gap between communities facing critical problems and citizens who want to volunteer to solve those problems. The first step is to establish partnerships with organizations that can benefit from mobilizing volunteers. Together, VM and the partner organizations then work to recruit, train, and supervise AmeriCorps members to serve as Volunteer Maryland Coordinators.
Volunteer Maryland’s goal is to help partner organizations provide more services, improve the effectiveness of the organizations’ volunteer programs, and increase organizational capacity to manage volunteer programs. Volunteer Maryland provides intensive training to VM Coordinators who serve for 11 months. Each VM Coordinator works closely with organization staff to conduct a needs assessment, create policies, procedures, and training sessions for volunteers, initiate recruitment drives and media outreach, develop community partnerships, conduct volunteer recognition events, and train staff and volunteers in volunteer management skills. Volunteer Maryland, the VM Coordinator, and the partner organization all contribute to the success of the partnership.
A pioneer of the multiplier model, Volunteer Maryland trains AmeriCorps members (called Volunteer Maryland Coordinators) in the essentials of volunteer management and supports their 11-month partnership with nonprofit and government agencies. Volunteer Maryland Coordinators work with the agencies (called Service Sites) to develop programs and recruit volunteers to serve clients and communities in need. At the end of the partnership, each organization has in place a high quality program that can be sustained by the organization.
Volunteer Maryland’s multiplier model has been recognized as an innovative way to leverage the energy and talents of AmeriCorps members to get things done and to help re-build our communities through committed volunteer power. In 2010 and 2014, Volunteer Maryland was selected for inclusion in the publication Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of 52 of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps Programs in the United States, published by Innovations in Civic Participation and Americas’ Service Commissions.
Getting Things Done
Each VM Coordinator works with a nonprofit organization, government agency, or school to develop a viable volunteer or service-learning program that enhances the organization’s ability to deliver quality services to clients or the community. To do so, the VM Coordinator:
- assesses the needs of clients, staff, and key community players;
- creates volunteer program policies and procedures, position descriptions, and orientation and training sessions for volunteers or service-learning students;
- initiates recruitment drives and media outreach to engage community residents, business members, students, and others in service;
- conducts volunteer recognition activities and on-going program evaluation;
- develops partnerships with faith-based organizations, businesses, and schools; and
- trains key staff and volunteer leaders in best practices of program management.
Since 1992, Volunteer Maryland has worked with 688 AmeriCorps members to mobilize 126,323 volunteers, contributing nearly 1.7 million hours of service to Maryland communities. On average 80 – 85 percent met their volunteer recruitment goals and 90 – 95 percent are better able to manage their volunteer programs.
In our post surveys that we do three years after our partnership concludes, 90 percent are continuing to mange and expand the volunteer programs. In addition, each VM Service Site sets their own goals for serving their clients and communities. Volunteer Maryland Coordinators develop work plans to meet these goals and measure their progress throughout the 11-month partnership.