Editor’s Note: Adam Alley, our amazing Senior Associate of Community Support, has taken the opportunity of December’s special focus on fighting hunger to get up close and personal with some of the hunger-related organizations that have recruited the most volunteers using VolunteerMatch.
Read the interviews in this series to be inspired and to learn from some of the most successful nonprofits in the network.
Interview with Danielle Lynch, Volunteer Program Manager at West Valley Community Services
Adam: You’ve been particularly successful at recruiting volunteers for your cause – do you have any suggestions for fellow organizations looking to emulate your success?
Danielle: My best advice would be to know what your volunteer opportunities are and who to reach out to for each volunteer need. At WVCS, we have many opportunities, all very diverse.
From weekly recurring receptionist and food pantry positions to one-time special event and group projects, we have a wide range of positions suitable to different members of our community, whether that decision is based on an individual’s interests, schedules, or skills. It is important to know what each position requires so that you can convey those responsibilities and effectively target and reach out to different members of your community.
Adam: How has VolunteerMatch helped you engage volunteers to fight hunger?
Danielle: VolunteerMatch has been a crucial part of our volunteer engagement strategy. Being able to recruit for each individual position through VolunteerMatch’s large community of givers has been enormously successful.
We are able to differentiate between each volunteer need, identifying key responsibilities and requirements, and potential volunteers are able to filter postings specific to their interests and needs. Having the opportunity to be a part of the VolunteerMatch community has enlarged our volunteer base, and helped us recruit for passionate and skilled volunteers who make WVCS so successful!
Adam: How do you show your appreciation for your volunteers?
Danielle: We are so thankful and grateful for our amazing volunteers at WVCS. Over 500 volunteers participate in WVCS activities every year – clocking in an astounding 16,000 hours – enabling us to provide crucial services to those in need in our community.
To show our faithful volunteers how grateful we are for everything they do, we tell them just that every day. In addition, thank you emails and letters, as well as recognition in our monthly Volunteer Newsletter, are important reminders of just how appreciative we are for their selfless acts. We also host an annual Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony, in which we invite all our volunteers for a dinner full of games, prizes, awards, and personal commendations from staff.
Volunteering at WVCS is not easy, from picking up hundreds of pounds of food at 8am in the pouring rain to translating between clients and case managers during meetings, being a WVCS volunteer is not a walk in the park. It is important for us to make sure that every single one of our volunteers feels our appreciation and gratitude for all the work they do to serve those in need in our community.
Adam: What’s the most challenging aspect of your role? The most rewarding?
Danielle: The most challenging aspect of my role at WVCS is managing our large volunteer force. The sheer volume of our volunteers, over 125 every week, warrants applause for our amazing community. Daily scheduling is a large task, but we are never lacking in interested volunteers, a testament to our giving community and the help of VolunteerMatch!
Another challenge of ours is getting supplies for our group volunteers to complete big projects. Although we are always in need, and our community is always reaching out to us wanting to help, it has been difficult to secure supplies such as paint, paint brushes, rakes, etc., for our volunteers to complete the work needed.
The most rewarding part of my job is interacting with our amazing volunteers. These individuals selflessly give us not only their time and energy, but their spirit. Speaking with our volunteers and watching them interact with our clients, it is impossible to miss their passion for our cause and their desire to help those in need. It is a heartwarming thing to witness, and makes me that much more thrilled to come to work each day.