All of your thoughtful work will pay off when the Impact Volunteering initiative launches and the city, citizen volunteers, and community partners are getting things done and solving problems together. Two more things to think about after you launch:
Plan for sustainability of the Impact Volunteering initiative from day one, if not earlier! Impact Volunteering initiatives that are not sustainable do not solve problems. Think about sustainability holistically, in terms of how you keep the effort going not just financially, but through the stakeholder buy-in and support needed to keep the effort going. And it is important to think about sustainability from day one. Here are some questions to help you consider the sustainability of your initiative:
- What resources — volunteers, money, partnerships, political support — are needed to support this initiative?
- Who can help capture stories of impact to share with stakeholders? What are the events you need to document?
- Are there “champions” of the initiative and if so, how can you best deploy them?
- Is there a natural home for the initiative? A city agency? A community-based organization? A block association or neighborhood group?
- If continued funding is necessary, where will those funds come from?
- What can the community itself do to fund the initiative?
- Are there other likely funders?
- Can the initiative be incorporated into the city budget?
- Is there a role for the community foundation or other philanthropy?
- How will you keep key people and organizations engaged and interested in the initiative in the long run?
Plan to stay in touch. You will need a plan for communicating with key people and organizations throughout the initiative, keeping them up-to-date on:
- The final design of the initiative and how their good ideas helped inform its framing.
- Opportunities for further engagement.
- Progress and “stories from the field.”
- Lessons learned and ways in which the initiative is evolving.
- Successful impact and outcomes.
- Plans to sustain the initiative
Ultimately, Impact Volunteering is not only about making progress on solving city problems, but also about creating social capital and increasing social cohesion. The benefits to the city and the community will be tangible and powerful. Connections between people — and with local government — will feel authentic. Collaborations between community groups and with local business and nonprofit organizations will become the norm. Resources will be leveraged and used more effectively.
By utilizing the Impact Volunteering model, you will engage city stakeholders — citizens, elected officials, and community leaders — to work toward a common goal and solve public problems together. When each of the key elements outlined above are exhibited in your implementation, Impact Volunteering will help create a stronger and more vibrant city.