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May 3, 2012 / HandsOnCorps

Capacity Building in Action

When I started my VISTA year this past November, I was not sure what I was getting myself into and I really had no idea what it meant to “build the capacity” of the Skilled Volunteering Program with HandsOn Greater DC Cares. Skills-based volunteering was a new concept to me, and I had a lot to learn about the program before working to make it better. The volunteer experiences I had growing up really did not relate to my current work with skills-based volunteering at all!

After spending the first couple months of my term learning the ins and outs of my program, I was finally ready to launch some of my own projects. Launching a project includes: First, finding the perfect skilled volunteer by reviewing their resume. The volunteer’s resume is then sent to the nonprofit representative for approval. After the nonprofit approves of the volunteer, I ask the volunteer if they are ready for a project, and I set up a kickoff call to get the project underway.

On the kickoff call, everyone gets together to discuss deliverables and deadlines. I record this information in a “Scope of Work” document, and send it to the team. This document not only clearly dictates what the project should entail, but it also allows the volunteer and nonprofit to make sure they are meeting the deadlines. I moderate this from the background, and the project is on its way to completion! Each project is designed to find a sustainable solution to the nonprofit’s need so that they can move forward with their growth and development once the volunteer’s work is done.

While I was feeling great about getting a ton of projects launched, I was also feeling very overwhelmed with keeping up with all of them and my other job responsibilities. It became very clear to me that I needed to start the task on my VISTA Assignment Description of developing a system to train volunteers to be project managers.  With this task, I will develop an easy-to-use system for volunteer managers to check projects and basically monitor them as I have been doing to take some of the heat off of my supervisor and I. Right now, this project is in the beginning stages, but I can already see how it will improve the system we are using now.

This is a huge step forward for the Skilled Volunteering Program because with this advancement, we will be able to launch a lot more projects and will be able to tackle a lot more nonprofit needs. I am really proud to be working on this assignment, and I am happy to see the Skilled Volunteering Program growing!

Erin Derosa

HandsOn Corps VISTA, Greater DC Cares

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