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Service and Priorities - In conversation with Pam Gerber, Entrepreneurs Foundation of North Texas

 

-How do you define an ideal service project – objectives, impact etc?

"IDEAL" WOULD BE THAT THE SERVICE PARTNER (THE BENEFITTING NONPROFIT AGENCY) HAS A BUDGET TO PROVIDE THE MATERIALS AND THEY WORK WELL WITH VOLUNTEERS.  THE OVERALL PROJECT WOULD BE "TRANSFORMATIONAL" SO THAT THE VOLUNTEERS WOULD SEE AND FEEL THAT THEY MADE A MEANINGFUL IMPACT.  THE INDIVIDUAL PROJECTS AT THE SITE (E.G. MULCHING A PLAGROUND, PAINTING A MURAL)WOULD REQUIRE A TEAM (VERSUS ONE PERSON) SO THAT THEY COULD PROBLEM SOLVE AND IMPLEMENT TOGETHER. BEST CASE SCENERIO, THERE WOULD BE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE VOLUNTEERS TO CONTINUE TO PARTNER WITH THE AGENCY IN A MULTITUDE OF WAYS AND EXPAND THE PARTNERSHIP (E.G. MENTORING, DEVELOPING AND HOSTING ACTIVITIES FOR SENIOR CITIZENS, ETC.)

 

-What do you think are the primary objectives of companies/employees when they participate?

- TEAM BUILDING

- MORALE BUILDING

- POSITIVE CORPORATE IMAGE

- IT FEELS GOOD

- IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO

 

-what is your opinion about the desire to have direct contact with the recipients – or do you find that service projects are normally geared more towards building, painting, planting for a specific reason – i.e. volunteer preference versus actual Non Profit needs?

THERE IS NO "RIGHT" ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION, ALTHOUGHT THE TENDENCY IS TO DO PHYSICAL/TRANSFORMATIONAL PROJECTS.  THEY HAVE TANGIBLE AND VISIBLE OUTCOMES THAT PROVIDE A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT.  THAT SAID, OUR VOLUNTEERS HAVE EXPRESSED VERY POSITIVE EXPERIENCES WORKING ON "PEOPLE PROJECTS" LIKE TAKING SENIOR CITIZENS ON NATURE WALKS OR CONDUCTING EASTER EGG HUNTS WITH KIDS LIVING IN TRANSITIONAL SHELTERS "they felt like they were actually helping people and not just landscaping." 

 

-          Do you find that some kind o relationship typically gets sparked post a service project between the company and Non profit or are the interactions mostly event based?

ABSOLUTELY.  JUST A FEW EXAMPLES -- WE HAVE VOLUNTEERS CONTINUING TO WORK WITH DALLAS FIRE-RESCUE'S BOX 4 PROGRAM, SEVERAL COMPANIES WILL BE DEVELOPING MENTORING PROGRAMS FOR THE CLIENTS AT GIRLS INC., AND ONE OF OUR VOLUNTEERS HAS SIGNED UP TO BE A COUCH AT THE PARK SOUTH DALLAS YMCA.  AND I CAN'T EVE GUESSTIMATE THE CONTRIBUTIONS - BOTH CASH AND PRODUCT - THAT HAVE STREAMED INTO THE PROGRAMS AFTER WE HAVE HOSTED A PROJECT THERE.

 

-How many of your members are more interested in sustained service versus event based service?

MAYBE 10%

 

In other countries especially in India there seems to be a push towards sustained, ongoing connectivity – would you say the same for company employees here? Put another way, what are your thoughts on event based versus sustained service?

OUR COMPANIES HAVE A CLEAR PREFERENCE FOR "EPISODIC" (EVENT BASED) SERVICE.  IT'S CONCISE, MEASURABLE, AND WRAPPED UP AT THE END OF THE DAY SO THAT THEY CAN FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEIR ACCOMPISHMENTS, THEIR COMMITMENT TO THE TEAM, AND CAN THEN GET BACK TO WORK.

 

-what in your mind are the key elements of a good service experience for all parties?

- THE AGENCY WORKS WELL WITH VOLUNTEERS

- THE TEAM HAS FUN

- THE TEAM LEARNS ABOUT THE BENEFITTING AGENCY AND THE ISSUE IT ADDRESSES

- THE TEAM GETS SOMETHING ACCOMPLISHED

- THE VOLUNTEERS PROVIDE QUALITY SERVICE

- THE COMPANY VALUES THE EXPERIENCE AND ENCOURAGES/SUPPORTS MORE SERVICE DAYS TO HAPPEN

 

Any other thoughts?

I LOVE MY JOB.