What is a Volunteer Center?
A Volunteer Center is a key resource for volunteer involvement in a community. A volunteer center serves as a leadership organization for volunteer based community service, as a convener for the community, and as a catalyst for action.
Centers work through local partnerships and collaborations with businesses, law enforcement, grassroots groups, schools, agencies and community leaders. They identify community problems and design solutions.
This page is designed to provide you information on planning and developing a volunteer center in your community, as well as to provide you other resources from which to learn.
For a list of Arkansas's Volunteer Centers, click here
What is the size of a Volunteer Center?
The field of volunteer centers is as diverse as the communities they serve – centers can be found in most metropolitan areas as well as rural and medium sized communities. Staff size ranges from one full-time person to several employees in a large center.
What is the structure of Volunteer Centers?
- Independent non-profit organizations governed by a board of directors
- Program internal to another organization (many times a United Way)
- Part of a local government or a college of university
First Steps in Volunteer Center Development
- Determine the structure of the organization: Independent 501 ©3 nonprofit, or Internal division of a public or private nonprofit organization
- Research and meet legal and financial requirements appropriate to structure, including drafting by-laws, filing for appropriate tax status, and establishing accounting and financial management procedures.
- Secure start-up funding (See attached guide for potential funding sources)
- Clearly define board and/or advisory committee roles and prepare job descriptions and orientation materials
- Select the first board of directors or advisory board
- Set a clear vision and mission for the center
- Develop written personnel policies and procedures for paid and volunteer staff
- Secure adequate office space and equipment
- Develop a business plan for the volunteer center’s future
Who should be included on the start up team?
- Those who support the vision of a volunteer center and what it can do for the community
- Should reflect diversity of your community (representation from all sectors – for profit, public, etc. and all other types of diversity in your community)
- Share a commitment to volunteer center involvement – groups who can supply potential volunteers – example: corporate volunteer programs, communities of faith, and senior programs such as RSVP
- Those who have capacity or connections, resources, skills to help launch the volunteer center successfully
How many people should serve on the task force?
Between 8 and 15 members.
What will be the goals of the task force?
- Assess the need and potential support for a volunteer center
- Carry out initial planning
- Secure start-up funding
- Select the first Board of Directors or an Advisory Committee
Suggested Organizations for a Task Force
- Civic Organizations
- Faith Communities
- Junior League – Junior Auxiliaries
- Leadership Organizations (such as chamber of commerce leadership classes)
- Local Government
- Local Management Boards
- Non Profit Organizations
- United Way
What is needed for start-up?
- Data: Depth of community interest, sense of community expectation for a center, Board of Directors, 501©3 non profit status
- Computer: Data base program to record, sort and use information
- Space: An office, a telephone, a mailing address, a place to meet
- Office Equipment: Answering machine, fax, desk, chair, photocopier
- Operating Funds: Postage, phone, insurance, media, etc.
- Insurance: Board of Directors and Officers and later for staff and volunteers
- Outreach Campaign: Ways to publicize events and need for volunteers
- Staff: Paid (and volunteers) to be available during office hours
What length of time will this take?
Nine to twelve months before opening the doors (generally).