CiviCore Interviews Laura Renner – Volunteer Manager, Humane Society of Missouri
- June 9, 2010
This week, CiviCore had the opportunity to interview Laura Renner, Volunteer Manager for the Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO). Laura is a true leader in the field of volunteer management for the animal service arena and has many significant accomplishments. Laura completed her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Sociology and later completed a masters degree in Non-Profit Management. She also worked for The Boeing Company for more than 6 years before moving to the Humane Society of Missouri in October 2008. Here is what she had to say:
1.) What are you most proud of in your efforts as Volunteer Manager for HSMO?
In July 2009, the Humane Society of Missouri executed the largest dog fighting raid in US history. We rescued over 500 animals from dog fighting rings across Missouri and Illinois. With such a huge influx of animals, we had to create a new, temporary shelter and bring in out of state volunteers from other agencies. For about 6 months, I was responsible for managing an additional 300 people including making travel arrangements, issuing reimbursements and training. It was a huge undertaking but completely worth it. We were able to adopt out over 200 of these great dogs and I was able to meet amazing volunteers from all over the country.
2.) How does HSMO calculate the value of volunteers to your organization?
With many organizations, it’s easy to take volunteers for granted and assume they will always be there as “free labor”. I have found the best way for people to realize the value of our volunteers is to put it into dollars. In fiscal year 2009, if our organization had paid minimum wage for the service our volunteers gave, it would have cost over $400,000!
3.) How do volunteers contribute to your ability to achieve your mission?
Our main goal is to get the animals in our shelter adopted into loving homes. Our volunteers provide crucial training, socialization and basic care that make these animals more adoptable to families. We also use a select group of volunteers to assist with disaster and rescue efforts. Having them available in these high stress situations takes a huge weight off of our staff and allows them to better care for the animals.
4.) Is the importance of volunteerism recognized throughout your organization? How so?
Volunteers have been part of our organization since it began in 1870. There is always room to improve staff/volunteer relations but overall I think everyone at the Humane Society of Missouri recognizes that the care of the animals would suffer if our volunteers were no longer there.
5.) How important is training for your volunteers?
Training is such an important aspect of utilizing volunteers. Not only does it keep the volunteers and animals safe but it helps the volunteers to know that the organization views them as an important asset. It shows we want to invest in them to improve their skills to better serve our animals. We are currently updating our training program to better prepare new volunteers for the work ahead of them which I feel will greatly improve our volunteer retention rates.
6.) Has technology enabled you to be more effective? How so?
Yes! Yes! Yes! We are currently moving to an online orientation and application process which will free up the time of the Volunteer Department to focus on retention and training. Also, the Civicore volunteer management database has been a huge catalyst in improving communications with our volunteers. It makes it so simple to contact everyone that I am able to easily do weekly, monthly and quarterly communications with nearly 600 people.
HSMO operates in 4 locations across central Missouri, has a volunteer force of about 600 people, and manages their volunteer workforce through a CiviCore Volunteer Management software platform. Here’s what they have to say about their work: “The Humane Society of Missouri is dedicated to second chances. We provide a safe and caring haven to all animals in need – large and small – that have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Our mission is to end the cycle of abuse and pet overpopulation through our rescue and investigation efforts, spay/neuter programs, and educational classes. We are committed to creating lasting relationships between people and animals through our adoption programs. We further support that bond by making available world-class veterinary care, and by providing outstanding pet obedience and behavior programs. www.hsmo.org