As part of its efforts to inspire volunteerism, Northfield Shares has rolled out the first-ever interactive volunteer portal for the Northfield area. The free online system, provided through Galaxy Digital, will enhance the service experience for individual volunteers, nonprofit organizations and community-minded for-profit organizations.
“Northfield Shares is excited to offer this free resource to the Northfield community,” says Mary Lynn Oglesbee, Northfield Shares board member and chair of its Inspiring Volunteerism Committee. “We believe the portal will provide an effective and quantifiable means of recruiting and managing volunteers. Galaxy Digital provides tools and resources to help get organizations started and best serve their clients and volunteers.
The volunteer portal provides a variety of benefits:
- Nonprofits now have the vehicle to increase their ability to provide meaningful volunteer experiences that support and enhance their mission. After creating an agency profile, nonprofits can list volunteer needs, track service hours related to individual volunteers, programs and events.
- Companiescan use the portal to manage group volunteer activities that benefit the Northfield community. This will offer flexibility to employee volunteer coordinators who have that function as one of the many parts of their job.
- For volunteers, the portal will promote volunteer opportunities available through local nonprofit organizations. They will be asked to create a personal profile that includes their preferences for causes, organizations and types of opportunities as well as their interests, skills and availability.
Both nonprofits and companies can communicate with their volunteers via email through the platform. They can also set up check-in kiosks at a service location, enabling volunteers to check-in/check-out via their organization’s laptop or tablet. Individual volunteers can sign up for specific shifts as needed by the organization.
Northfield Shares invites local nonprofit organizations, individual volunteers or groups to sign up for the new volunteer portal at northfieldshares.galaxydigital.com. The site is already being used to sign up flood relief volunteers for possible sandbagging efforts this spring.
The first organization to express an interest in using the portal was the Northfield Retirement Community (NRC). Milosha Malecha, NRC’s director of activities and volunteer opportunities, has already posted two different opportunities. She’s been impressed with the system thus far.
“I can’t believe how easy it was to personally join and to create an agency account for NRC,” she says. “It is such an easy process to navigate the system to get started, and the program walks you through step by step. I hope other community agencies use this wonderful tool for their volunteer needs.”
The road toward developing a volunteer portal started with focus groups and a community survey in 2017. Information generated offered insights into what is important to local volunteers and volunteer coordinators within the nonprofit and business communities.
For several months in early 2018, Northfield Shares researched a variety of online platforms from across the country, but found their answer through HandsOn Twin Cities, a regional organization that promotes local, organized and relevant volunteer opportunities. “We reached out to HandsOn Twin Cities and learned a lot about the Galaxy Digital platform,” says Oglesbee. “After further discussing the functionality with Galaxy Digital staff, we decided this platform provided the most benefits.”
Malecha agrees that Galaxy Digital was the right choice. “Northfield Shares did a really good job with this new web-based program,” she says. “I’m so glad I decided to work with them. It’s really great how easy their websites are to update and manage.”