With a freshly renovated volunteer center, a newly minted volunteer coordinator, and an expanding set of volunteer roles, it may seem as though Food Bank of Iowa has made the most of the opportunities that volunteers provide. There’s still room to grow, however, and Service Enterprise certification will take our volunteer program from good to great.

The Service Enterprise Initiative is a capacity building program that helps nonprofit organizations expand their existing volunteer program. The entire Food Bank of Iowa staff is currently working through the training and certification program, which will equip our organization to maximize our return on every hour of volunteer investment. Ultimately, this experience will allow us to serve food insecure Iowans more efficiently.

“Over the past few years, our volunteer program has gained a lot of ground,” said Michaela Devaney, volunteer manager. “We’ve already shown success with investments in the Wellmark Foundation Volunteer Center. Service Enterprise will take us into the next level of professionalism and efficiency with all of our volunteer roles.”

Coordinated in Iowa by Volunteer Iowa, the Service Enterprise Initiative was created by Points of Light. Points of Light is an international nonprofit, nonpartisan organization headquartered in the United States dedicated to engaging more people and resources in solving serious social problems through voluntary service. Points of Light came into existence during the George H.W. Bush administration.

The Service Enterprise Initiative includes four intensive half-day training sessions, followed by a year of change management. Coaches provided by Volunteer Iowa monitor progress and help participating nonprofits advance throughout the process. Through the creation and implementation of an action plan, each organization identifies specific areas in which they will seek change or improvement.

Food Bank of Iowa’s action plan includes more than 40 action items, including training for paid staff on volunteer management, development of volunteer leaders, and a robust volunteer recognition program. Each action item is designed to elevate volunteer roles, providing new levels of organizational efficiency and volunteer engagement.

“We’re excited to bring the whole Food Bank of Iowa staff into this initiative,” said Devaney. “Within a year or two, volunteers will assist staff in every role, from food sorting to deliveries, from strategy to communications. We have a whole world of experienced, passionate supporters, just waiting to help us make a difference.”