A new website hosted by University of Wisconsin-Stout is designed to become a clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities around the region, including for the school’s more than 9,200 students.
“It’s one-stop shopping for volunteers,” said Mary McManus, assistant director of the Memorial Student Center.
Volunteer Here! offers a central, cyber location for nonprofit organizations to post detailed descriptions of needs and for the public and UW-Stout students to sign up. Go to the website.
The site streamlines the process of publicizing opportunities and matching volunteers with organizations, a process that historically has been done by word of mouth.
To date, 18 local nonprofit organizations have registered with the Volunteer Here!, including the United Way of Dunn County, Dunn County Humane Society, Literacy Volunteers-Chippewa Valley, Bridge to Hope, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northwest Wisconsin, Dunn County Partnership for Youth, Positive Alternatives, ARC of Dunn County, WestCAP, 4-H/UW-Extension Dunn County and Girls Scouts of Northwestern Great Lakes.
Volunteer Here! has filled a void for the United Way of Dunn County, agency officials said. It was looking into obtaining a database to handle its many volunteer opportunities until it heard about Volunteer Here!
“There’s no way we can re-create what UW-Stout can do for the community. I’m really excited about the site. I’ve heard positive things about it from everyone,” said Diane Simon, United Way of Dunn County executive director.
“Volunteer Here! will be a major player in the lives of the nonprofits. All of our agencies operate on volunteer power,” Simon said.
How it works
After agencies are trained at UW-Stout, they open a portal in Volunteer Here! allowing them to post their information.
Nonprofit groups that don’t have regular volunteer needs don’t have to register with Volunteer Here! but can submit the occasional need to the site’s staff to post.
Nonprofit agencies interested in being part of Volunteer Here! must be nondiscriminatory.
On the volunteer end, UW-Stout students click a link to each posting. The public can view all volunteer opportunities but must follow a website link or email link to the listing organization to sign up.
Real-time updates keep organizations and volunteers informed about whether posted needs have been met or still exist. Volunteers also can follow links to learn more about the organizations.
“Our charge is to drive students to these opportunities and make sure the community knows about the open access,” McManus said.
The site’s calendar lists more than 20 volunteer opportunities the last two weeks of November and more than 30 in December.
Developed at UW-Stout
Volunteer Here! is hosted by UW-Stout’s OrgSync, a campus engagement system. UW-Stout has more than 200 registered student organizations.
Volunteer Here! has been developed in the past year by UW-Stout’s Ally Initiatives for Civil Rights and Civic Responsibility. Tyler Schroeder, a 2011-12 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at UW-Stout, was the lead developer.
Leadership Menomonie, a Greater Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce program, provided support.
A new AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at UW-Stout, Michael Schiel, is managing the site. Some features of the site are in development, but it is operating and ready to use, Schiel said.
“This is the hub. It’s an easy way to volunteer,” Schiel said. “Agencies can manage their volunteers from anyplace they have Web access.”
McManus said the project “fits well with VISTA’s efforts to alleviate poverty in that it connects students with opportunities to aid the community’s needs.”
UW-Stout’s AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers are sponsored by the Wisconsin Campus Compact through the Corporation for National and Community Service.
For more information, contact Ally Initiatives at 715-232-1772, McManus or Schiel.