Volunteer Workshop “Totally Worth It”
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Illinois Main Street, along with the Waukegan Main Street and Donna Ann Harris the principal of Heritage Consulting Inc., hosted a“Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Strategies” Workshop at Urban Edge in May.
The workshop attracted managers, executive directors and volunteer coordinators from non-profits throughout Lake County, northern Cook County and Kenosha County. Organizations represented included Waukegan Park District, Habitat for Humanity Lake County, Downtown Kenosha, United Way of Lake County, Lake County Bike Project, GWDC, Words on Wheels, Waukegan Township, Waukegan Arts Council, HACES, City of Evanston, Kenosha Chamber, Waukegan Port District, and several Illinois Main Streets.
The lively five-hour workshop focused on the basics of working with volunteers, including the “Three R’s of Volunteers” – recruiting, retaining and recognizing them. After an examination of useful techniques for volunteer recruitment, the 40 participants discussed the importance of volunteer orientation, training, and leadership opportunities for any nonprofit organization. “The workshop gave me additional tools and ideas around volunteering and that made coming to the event totally worth it,” said one participant. The day wrapped up with a discussion of volunteer alternatives, including using small task forces to engage more people in an organization’s work.
Workshop highlights included:
- Learning how to plan the organization’s work using volunteers
- Discussing recent research about why people volunteer, and the three basic recruitment techniques that can be used in any nonprofit organization
- Training techniques to assure that you retain your volunteer(s) and manage them well
- Learning how to emphasize the need for a work plan, volunteer descriptions and high quality supervision to ensure success.
“I am honored to be the ambassador for the Illinois Main Street program,” Lieutenant Governor Sanguinetti said. “This workshop provided valuable information that will help nonprofits grow and succeed while also expanding the Illinois economy. A thriving and innovative nonprofit sector is critical to fulfilling the potential of our great state.”
The State of Illinois has participated in the Main Street program for more than 20 years and currently has 37 designated communities with 1 new community scheduled to be designated in June. A recent sample of participating organizations disclosed that Illinois Main Street downtowns completed more than 396 construction projects, opened over 149 new businesses and created more than 843 jobs during 2014.
Illinois Main Street is an historic preservation-based economic development program that applies the comprehensive Main Street Four Point Approach® to the revitalization of Illinois’ downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. Developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street approach focuses on four key tenets: Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring.
Nationally, Main Street communities and their local programs have created nearly 915,000 jobs and represent public and private reinvestment of over $48 billion.