New organization promotes volunteerism across the state

The Wisconsin National and Community Service Board received a federal grant and recently launched the Volunteer Wisconsin Initiative, which will support and promote volunteer opportunities and training all around the state.
The organization will be based in Milwaukee.

“The purpose of our organization is to promote volunteerism across the state and support communities that don’t have volunteer centers currently, and also support program development for those that do,” said Rachel Manuel, director of Volunteer Wisconsin.

According to Manuel, about 70 percent of the state is not served by a volunteer center.

“Right now, there are about 15 volunteer centers across the state serving about 30 percent of the area,” she said. “There’s a need for this. Our goal is to provide adequate opportunity for everyone to volunteer.”

The organization is in the process of developing a website that will include an online state-wide volunteer portal, where individuals can search for and sign up for volunteer opportunities.

“Another part of our goal is to work with nonprofit organizations in the community to train them on how to keep track of the data we collect,” Manuel said. “It will help us calculate the impact of volunteerism on the state.”
Serve Wisconsin received a three-year $75,000 grant from the federal government. The grant money, provided funding exists for the next three years, will help pay for the cost of the website, and developmental training, Manuel said.

“Keeping this organization sustainable beyond the life of the three-year grant is something we are going to take a very close look at beginning next year,” Manuel said. “There is a need for this in this state. Many states already have state-wide initiatives like this.”

Prior to coming to Volunteer Wisconsin, Manuel lived in Iowa, which does have a state-wide Volunteer organization.

“The feedback we received after the initial launch was sort of one of ‘finally,'” Manuel said. “People and organizations know we need this.”
The organization will host a launch reception on Thursday, Sept. 8 at the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee, 2819 W. Highland Blvd., beginning at 4 p.m. Please RSVP to Rachel Manuel at volunteerwisconsin@gmail.com to indicate your attendance for food and beverage purposes.

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