TOPEKA – Douglas County CASA Inc. recently became the sixth nonprofit organization in the state to become certified as a Service Enterprise – joining the top performing 11% of nonprofits nationwide in volunteer engagement and organizational performance.

The Service Enterprise program, administered by AL!VE (Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement), strengthens nonprofit capacity through the fundamental and strategic use of volunteers and their skills to address community needs, according to A Service Enterprise is an organization that strategically leverages volunteers to achieve operational efficiency and greater social impacts.

The Kansas Volunteer Commission notified Douglas County CASA Inc. about the certification on Jan. 24. Certification remains in effect for three years. Organizations are required to apply for recertification after three years.

The prestigious award was approved by AL!VE and Points of Light, the world’s two largest organizations dedicated to volunteer service.

The certification recognizes Douglas County CASA as a leading organization in volunteer engagement. To earn the certification, the nonprofit completed an extensive organizational assessment; 19 hours of training; 20-plus hours of coaching; intensive planning; and the implementation of change management practices.

Meeting the certification criteria means that Douglas County CASA Inc. is fully equipped to utilize the time and talent of volunteers to expand and enhance its services.

“The process of applying for and working on our Service Enterprise certification has provided us the opportunity, the accountability and a network of peers to focus on improving our focus on recruitment, onboarding and support of all of our volunteers,” said Erick Vaughn, executive director of Douglas County CASA Inc. “It has really helped confirm much of what we do, while allowing and supporting us to expand and improve volunteer management best practices.”

The Service Enterprise program concept was formed in 2010. In fall 2013, Points of Light scaled the project to 17 Service Enterprise Hubs in 11 states and certified 60 organizations. Points of Light between 2014 and 2021 scaled the project to 31 states and certified more than 640 organizations. In October 2022, AL!VE began administering the program.

Service Enterprise training and certification is delivered through a network of Service Enterprise Hubs, which are qualified organizations designated as trainers in the program standards.

In July 2019, the Kansas Volunteer Commission became the first organization in Kansas to receive Service Enterprise certification. Now, the Commission serves as a Service Enterprise Hub for the Midwest.

Research conducted by the TCC Group, a national program and evaluation firm, found that organizations operating as Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations on all aspects of organizational effectiveness and are more adaptable, sustainable and capable of scaling their work.

Research also shows that Service Enterprises are as effective as their peers while operating at almost half the annual budget. For every $1 Service Enterprises invest in volunteer engagement, they get $3-$6 in return through more effective program delivery.

The other five Kansas nonprofits to receive Service Enterprise certification to date are: