Assessing New Models for Using Volunteers to Meet Community Needs
The Bloomberg Philanthropies and other funders created a Cities of Service leadership grant program based on a model for more strategic use of volunteers pioneered in New York City. This program supports the use of an “impact volunteering” model by cities across the nation led by a chief service officer (CSO) within the mayor’s office. Under this new paradigm for service, the mayor’s office leads a strategic planning exercise that identifies priority needs in the city, service programs based on partnerships are developed to meet those needs, and the results of the programs for city residents and neighborhoods are systematically measured. During 2012-2013, Abt Associates conducted an evaluation of the Cities of Service leadership grants program. Led by Jennifer Turnham, the evaluation used extensive interviews with CSOs and partner organizations and found that the CSO and impact volunteering initiatives added substantial value for large and small city governments. Evidence of this value is that three-quarters of the grantee cities chose to fund the CSO position locally at the end of the two-year grant term.