Maximizing our Community Impact as a Service Enterprise
Michelson Found Animals (MFA) is dedicated to being a driving force behind improvements for animal welfare in Los Angeles, because we believe that people and pets belong together. Pets give us endless love and compassion. They make homes happier, people healthier, and bring communities together. In exchange for all pets do for us, we need only provide them with food, shelter, protection, and affection.
Volunteers play a vital role in achieving that mission and are the backbone of our organization. In fact, from 2010-2020, the total number of volunteer and foster hours was over 450,000! Because of that tireless effort, nearly 17,000 total animals were adopted out to a new and loving home. And even with those huge successes in hand, MFA recognizes that continued challenges to grow our expertise can maximize our volunteer efforts and community impact.
That is why MFA is pleased to announce that our organization has earned a Service Enterprise certification from Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Achieving Service Enterprise certification is a prestigious accomplishment for an organization. In fact, organizations that are certified are among the top 11 percent of nonprofits nationwide in volunteer management and organizational performance. Receiving this certification means that organizations have the capability and management expertise to strategically use volunteers to improve the performance of their organization. By achieving this level of excellence and certification, MFA is now better equipped to leverage the time and talent of volunteers and better meet our mission of saving pets and enriching lives.
“The assessment, coaching, resources and peer support we received through our participation helped us fine tune and grow our program to provide even stronger operational support. This will allow Michelson Found Animals and Adopt & Shop to further its social impact mission of saving pets and enriching lives.”
– Lori Hutchins, MFA’s Chief People Officer
MFA leverages this certification program to benefit our mission and our volunteers. For example, we’ve established a clear process for identifying and recruiting high-impact volunteers. “This process allows us to find volunteers with specific skills and experience, and helps our team accomplish more by putting those skilled hands where they’re most effective” says Heather Thomas, Volunteer & Foster Program Manager at MFA. “we like to call it our ‘Multiply our Hands’ approach.”
Throughout the training course, MFA learned how to make digital training courses easily accessible to volunteers and fosters. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become a crucial part of business. “MFA has been a tech-driven team for years, and it really lent itself well to this time period. We were better equipped to change our approach, because we have always been committed to working remotely while maintaining our efficiency” Thomas said.
Another reason that MFA’s volunteer program has been successful is our work environment. Many animal shelter volunteer coordinators work at the shelter itself, and can be pulled in several directions. This can often cause an individual to focus on a more urgent need at hand, and leave little time to develop a volunteer strategy. Because MFA’s volunteer coordination team works in a central office apart from our shelter, we’re able to stay focused and effective, making sure our volunteer and foster efforts are getting the guidance and support they need to thrive.
Even so, an effective volunteer strategy isn’t successful unless it’s properly communicated. At MFA, Thomas likes to say that the foster team comprises professional communicators. “We’re communicators, with a focus on animals” she says, “we make sure volunteers and fosters know exactly what they’re getting into in order to have a positive and productive experience. This thorough communication extends through all of our language on our website, in emails, and through our training.”
Receiving the Points of Light certification also aligns with one of MFA’s goals – to lead animal welfare through expertise and example. Achieving Service Enterprise status establishes MFA’s credibility in a space that is heavily dependent on credibility. When someone signs up to be a volunteer or foster, they are guaranteed to have a great experience because we are certified and qualified to provide that experience. As thought leaders in the animal welfare industry, we are committed to constantly challenging ourselves – finding new and better ways to serve our community of people and pets.
MFA is proud to have earned a place among the 500 volunteer organizations who have achieved the Points of Light Service Enterprise certification. Understanding and fulfilling the potential of a true Service Enterprise has made a massive impact on our organization. “It empowered us to rethink our volunteer program in a way that streamlined our organization,” Thomas says. Throughout this process, we have learned to think even more critically about how volunteers can support our mission in more areas, and how to implement new programs effectively. With the training and confidence this Service Enterprise certification has granted our teams, we can set bigger goals than ever and continue in our mission to positively impact the people and pets in our communities.