Thanks to support from Best Friends Animal Society, Gateway Pet Guardians has been given the opportunity to pursue certification as a Service Enterprise through Points of Light. A Service Enterprise is an organization that strategically embeds volunteers and their skills across all levels of the organization to more successfully deliver on its social mission. Service Enterprises tend to be significantly more adaptable, sustainable and scalable than their peers. As an organization that has been volunteer-driven since its inception, we were excited to participate in this program. Volunteers are an integral part of our lifesaving work.

A team of staff formed to lead our Service Enterprise transformation, which kicked off in July, 2019. The program is an 18-month process, focusing on capacity building, change management and culture engagement. The program includes an orientation and six training sessions, a diagnostic assessment, and development and implementation of a collaborative Action Plan to guide our volunteer programming. Our Action Plan guided several projects over the subsequent months, including:

  • Creating a volunteer mission statement.
  • Establishing an onboarding process and training materials for new volunteers.
  • Creating volunteer position job descriptions and updated organizational chart.
  • Revising the organizational Volunteer Manual.
  • Implementing a volunteer management system called VolunteerHub.
  • Establishing standard operating procedures for managing and tracking volunteer data.
  • Seeking out professional development opportunities for all staff on topics pertaining to volunteer management.
  • Devising a communication plan to ensure volunteers and staff are up to date on open positions and volunteer needs.
  • Creating opportunities for volunteer recognition and engagement.

The list above is not comprehensive, but provides some examples of projects our staff and volunteers have been working on to support our Volunteer Program and pursue certification. 

“We are extremely grateful to Best Friends for presenting this opportunity to Gateway Pet Guardians,” says Executive Director Jamie Case. “We have a lot to learn from Best Friends, an organization leading the charge in volunteer engagement and nonprofit capacity building. Their coaching and mentorship has empowered our small but mighty organization to better serve the Metro East St. Louis community and save more lives.”

Gateway Pet Guardians is diligently working to create and implement the Action Plan, with a goal of achieving certification in late 2020. While COVID-19 restrictions have presented several obstacles, our Volunteer Program remains a critical component to our success and we remain committed to guiding this program forward. During COVID-19, we have worked to utilize and engage volunteers from a distance, while refining and improving processes and procedures to be prepared when restrictions lift.