This is such an important topic, there will be two parts to this article. VolunteerSpot is a fantastic organization designed to help you give back to your community. There are no more excuses! During this holiday season, take the time to learn more about your neighborhood and what their needs are.
The founder of VolunteerSpot, Karen Bantuveris, recently took time to answer questions about her mission and hopefully will give you inspiration to take steps to help others this holiday season and all year round!
1. Why and when did you start VolunteerSpot?
I’m a working mom and when my daughter entered school I knew I wanted to be active in the classroom and with her Scout troop, etc. I wanted to quickly and easily schedule my volunteer commitments with the rest of my business calendar, but my inbox kept filling up with back and forth emails over how many cupcakes to bring to the class party or whose turn it is to help at recess or other really clutter some communication – I knew several parents that just said ‘take me off the list’ because of this.
It’s not that parents didn’t want to help, it’s that there wasn’t a good way to ask them – so that’s when I got the idea for VolunteerSpot.
We launched our ‘Early Edition’ in the Spring of 2009. What started as a tool to help my PTA in Austin, TX has grown to helping more than 100,000 volunteers participate in their communities across the country.
2. VolunteerSpot offers many resources. What do you feel people benefit most from your organization?
We save volunteer leaders time and frustration and get more people volunteering. Typically we hear that it’s always the same people volunteering at school, little league, library, etc. With VolunteerSpot, we make it easy for more parents to volunteer – because it’s so easy to find a spot on the schedule that fits in their busy lives. Open an email, click to the schedule, click a shift and you’ve found a volunteer job. Plus parents also love our automated reminders so they never forget what they signed up to help with.
3. How many different states have participated in VolunteerSpot and how can people join?
We’re currently serving volunteers in more than 40 states (and several countries)! Anyone can launch a VolunteerSpot sign up – it’s really easy to get started with our simple planning wizard. It’s been truly remarkable seeing all the wonderful ways folks find to use VolunteerSpot. In addition to helping parents and teachers coordinate volunteers at school and sports, we see congregations and nonprofits using us for their good work like after school mentoring programs, literacy outreach, community arts festivals, handicapped riding programs, building teams and community kitchens.
4. Do you charge any fees? Do you have sponsors?
VolunteerSpot is free for teachers and grassroots volunteer leaders. We ask that workplace volunteer teams, leagues and nonprofits with budget contribute to keep us free for groups that can’t afford us. Sponsors are important to our business and we’ll be adding new features soon to help them support the good work of our volunteers.
5. What motivates you and what inspired you to start this wonderful organization?
Professionally, I’m a business process expert. When I saw good people drop out of volunteering, and leaders burn out over frustrating communication obstacles, I just knew that there had to be a better way! By simplifying the volunteer experience, our tool has increased volunteer participation by more than 20%, reduced leader burnout and increased donations to the organization that use us!
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