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Service Enterprise Shout-out

Polly Roach
Many thanks to MAVA member, and Service Enterprise site lead, Valerie Jones for sharing an article she wrote about the impact Service Enterprise has made at her organization, the College of Saint Benedict (CSB) in St. Joseph, MN. The article, “What Happens When Volunteers Are No Longer a ‘Nice to Have’ Resource, but Instead a Strategic Investment?”, was published online in May by Academic Impressions, a higher education training resource, and details the impact of shifts the College made to upgrade how volunteers are seen and utilized on campus.

In the article, Valerie shares her perspective as her college’s Executive Director of Alumnae Relations on some of the unique challenges volunteer engagement efforts face in the higher education arena. These includes the tendency to utilize volunteers only on a one-time basis, a lack of connection between volunteer activities and the institution’s mission, and less investment in tools and resources to volunteerism. She describes what a commitment to building a solid infrastructure for volunteer engagement has done for CSB, and outlines the steps her team took to develop that infrastructure.

Critical to this work was a decision to participate in the Service Enterprise Initiative, which CSB began in 2016. Valerie describes her team as approaching the Service Enterprise change management process “with great gusto”, using the opportunity to go beyond what was expected in the process and lay out a long-term plan for transforming the culture of volunteerism at the College. These efforts paid off, not only in visible awareness and support for volunteer engagement at every level, but also in development of a collaborative team that sustains the work and advocates for inclusion of volunteer involvement in new CSB initiatives. As Valerie demonstrates in her article, the payoff has been seen in other ways as well – having well-developed processes in place enabled the College to respond nimbly to support its surrounding community in a crisis. Another important result? The College of Saint Benedict was the first institution of higher education in the country to be certified as a Service Enterprise in May of 2017.

To learn more about the impact of Service Enterprise at the College of Saint Benedict, read the complete article here; for more about how your organization can be recognized as a Service Enterprise, visit the MAVA website.