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VAN Forum

Putting Your Passion Into Action: Volunteering Outside the Box

April 14, 2009
10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Kelly O'Brien, Director of RSVP of the Greater Twin Cities, a program of Volunteers of America Minnesota
Colleen Fritsch, Director of Volunteer Resources, DARTS
Mary Quirk, Volunteer Resources Leadership Project Manager, Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration

Town Hall Room
2555 Hamline Avenue North
Roseville, MN 55113

If you have a volunteer project that you want to propose to a nonprofit or government agency, this Forum will give you the skills necessary to succeed. You will learn how to identify and research the benefits of your idea, pick the right agency, present your capabilities and skills, and overcome any barriers to gaining the agency's cooperation.



On April 13, 2009 39 people gathered at Rosepointe, in Roseville, MN to attend the VAN forum, Putting your Passion Into Action: Volunteering Outside the Box. Kelly O’Brien, Colleen Fritsch, and Mary Quirk were the presenters.

Below are some tips that you can use when you create your volunteer project.

If you have a volunteer idea for an agency – here are some things that an agency will consider:

  • What is the agency budget? What is the cost financially to the organization? What is the staff time necessary for the project?
  • Does the project fit into the organization’s goals?
  • Does the timing of the project work best presently or in the future?
  • What is the organizational liability to approve the project?

Tips to create a higher impact as a volunteer:

  • Talk to your role-models (people who have accomplished this) and find out how they have done it
  • Do a self-assessment – look at what you know about yourself and your values – how will your project reflect these values
  • Look at what you are best at
  • Choose the right time to present the project to an agency – when do you have time available to do this
  • Talk with friends or your network to find the organization that will be a “best-fit” for your project.
  • Be flexible with your project
  • Align yourself with the strategic goals of the organization – find the annual report
  • Develop or create an ally in the agency who is passionate about the project
  • Pitch the idea to the Department head or leader
  • Put together a formal project description
  • Identify what you know and what you don’t know and have the organization help you with what you don’t know


  • Develop a relationship with that agency
  • Get to know them and have them get to know you
  • Figure out how to present autonomously and run with it


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