Reflections on the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service

It’s been a few weeks but we’re still buzzing about this year’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service – and not just from all the ice cream!

This year’s event was the biggest ever, and it was set in the Big Apple. In between appearances and performances by big names in entertainment and politics, there was a tremendous number of sessions and social events for business leaders who are engaged in volunteer programs. So no wonder it made a big impact on VolunteerMatch, our clients and partners who went, and a cast of 6,000 other conference-goers.

Here are some of our reflections:

  • New York City was hot! – Not only was the temperature smoking (96 and muggy on the first day), but holding the conference in such as a glamorous location was the perfect way to inspire the sector. Next year’s NCVS will be in New Orleans, and we know that will be a powerful experience as well as a memorable party.
  • Calculating Impact – Speaking of hot, in a sign that the sector is maturing, measurement and quantification of social impact was one of the hottest topics. Many workshops and panels that weren’t focused on “SROI” even circled around these questions.
  • The “New” Business Case – One of the most widely discussed sessions was the “New Business Case for Employee Volunteering,” with representatives of Eli Lilly, Target, Kraft, and JP Morgan Chase. After discussing the need for SROI (again!), internal advocates, businesslike approaches, and how to market successes, Michael Carren had a great quote about why employee volunteering matters more than ever: “Employee volunteer programs are the most tangible way most workers interact with corporate social responsible.” Lots of head-nodding!
  • Great Networking – From coffee klatches on social media to huge get-togethers like Target’s “Party of Good” which helped feed thousands of hungry families, face time with other participants was at an all time high. Many VolunteerMatch staff reported that the terrific networking was even better (and more educational) than the sessions. No surprise: few U.S. conferences have this combination of corporate, nonprofit, volunteer, policy maker, and academic participation.

These reflections are only a few tiny snapshots of the big picture of this year’s NCVS. Points of Light Institute and the Corporation for National and Community Service have posted a PDF with pictures and more memories. [PDF]

How about you? Did you go to this year’s NCVS? Share your favorite memories with us.

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