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Episode 206 - Strengthening the Impact of Young Professional Volunteers

Time + Talent Podcast

Release Date: 10/19/2020

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Show Notes:

Like many organization’s Habitat for Humanity, NYC has faced challenges when tapping into the time and talent of young professionals, but Ricardo Sebastian seems to have found the secret to success!

When Ricardo took over the management of the Board he narrowed the focus of the Young Professionals Board to advocacy and fundraising and asked all current members to reapply. He wasn’t discouraged when only 3 existing members wanted to continue, and through careful and thoughtful recruitment he was able to build the Board to 21 members.

Prior to the pandemic, the Board focused on in-person events that focused on relationships and created member events that combined community, industry, and lifestyle activities all connected back to housing and the organization’s mission.

Ricardo’s approach focuses on flexibility and managing expectations, and he wants volunteers to find their passion even if it isn’t with the Young Professionals Board or Habitat for Humanity. He ensures that Young Professionals Board members are set up for success by deploying a 4 point system:

  • Prioritize the needs of the organization
  • Do what you say you’re going to do
  • If you can’t do what you said you’d do let us know
  • Meaningful financial contribution

He combines this with a very flexible leave system which includes professional leave, academic leave, and personal leave. Young Professionals Board members can take the time they need to manage other parts of their lives without feeling guilty. 

While this does create more management work Ricardo’s strategy is to create a long-term relationship with these volunteers and doesn't just see them as the volunteer they are today, but envisions how Habitat for Humanity NYC can be a part of their lives even after they’ve finished their time with the Young Professionals Board.

Ricardo also knows that most of the Young Professionals Board members don’t have an opportunity to say no in many parts of their lives, so he really sees this work as a way for them to practice saying no!

When the pandemic hit this flexibility and the open lines of communication served them well. The Young Professionals Board was able to mobilize quickly and were already prepared to jump in when other members needed to focus on work or home life. Young Professionals Board members have taken the lead on online and social media activities and they are working to move their Fall Gala online!

Guest Bio:

Ricardo Sebastián
Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives
Habitat for Humanity, New York City

Ricardo’s work brings people together, builds community, and creates a positive impact. In addition to producing events, he offers brand and talent management, and digital marketing services.

Beginning August 01, 2020, Ricardo started a new role as the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives with Habitat for Humanity New York City. His journey with Habitat for Humanity began as a volunteer with the Habitat Young Professionals network, which led to signing Habitat NYC as a consulting client in 2017. He is honored and excited to take on his new role as they continue to develop and preserve affordable housing across all five boroughs.

For More:

If you are interested in more on how to build vibrant nonprofits governing an advisory boards, check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 108: The Rewards & Challenges of Nonprofit Board Diversity - Part 1 and Episode 109: The Rewards & Challenges of Nonprofit Board Diversity - Part 2.