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Episode 208 - Transforming Your Volunteer Strategy from the Ground Up

Time + Talent Podcast

Release Date: 11/02/2020

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SOAR365 (formerly the Greater Richmond Arc) was founded 65 years ago by parents determined to find new and different ways to support their children with disabilities. The agency provides a range of services and employment opportunities for people of all ages with a wide range of abilities.

Alison was hired a few years ago to transform their volunteer strategy. With the agency goal of “becoming Best-in-Class in all that we do,” the agency’s executive director included volunteer engagement in that aspiration. He understood the power of volunteers and assigned Alison the task of remaking the volunteer program from the ground up.

Their ultimate goal has been to expand volunteerism to every corner of their agency. And, despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, they have been making headway. At the time of this interview, SOAR365 was participating in the Service Enterprise certification process and hoped to achieve certification by the end of 2020, the culmination of over a year of introspection and focused program development.

To bring about a total transformation in the ways they engage volunteers also requires the support of all staff. One of their key strategies for managing this change has been to offer training to employees on volunteer engagement.  It is now part of all new staff orientations and at the time of this interview, they began presenting to all current employees. The level of training depends on the level of volunteer interaction a staffer will have, but it is mandatory for everyone.

As a result of Alison’s work, the total number of volunteers at the agency has grown exponentially, proving that smart strategy and a bold vision can get results.

If you want to learn more about the work of SOAR365 and its impact in the community, visit https://www.soar365.org/.

You can also reach out to Alison via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/alison-jones-nassar-cva-73446515/.

Guest Bio:

Alison Jones-Nassar, CVA
Volunteer Engagement Manager
SOAR365

Alison Jones-Nassar has served as the Volunteer Engagement Manager with SOAR365 since September 2017. Prior to SOAR365, she served in the same position for Virginia Supportive Housing (7 years) and the Children’s Museum of Richmond (6 years). She has been a professional in the field of volunteer engagement since 2007 and has a passion for connecting community volunteers to opportunities that serve and support vulnerable populations.

Alison has served a total of eight years on the board of GRAVA (Greater Richmond Association for Volunteer Administration), including two years as president, four years as secretary, and two years as professional development chair. She earned her CVA (Certification in Volunteer Administration) in 2011; completed the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders program in 2012; received GRAVA’s Volunteer Administrator of the Year award; and presented numerous basic and advanced volunteer management workshops locally and regionally.

At Virginia Supportive Housing, she led the entire organization through the Service Enterprise Initiative certification process, which promotes excellence in volunteer engagement through best practices, leadership, and strategic capacity-building. 

For More: For more on how another organization rebuilt their volunteer strategy from the ground up, check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 104: Using Radical Transparency to Build Volunteer Buy-In.