Dedicated to helping improve health outcomes of individuals around the world, especially children and newborns, Ryan Kavanaugh provides support for the important programs at the March of Dimes. Donations remain important for helping the organization expand its education, research, advocacy, and outreach initiatives to new areas and reach more people. Financial support also helps the March of Dimes fuel important research.
However, the organization also counts on the generosity of millions of volunteers to accomplish its goals. Individuals unable to donate can still fight for the health of mothers and their babies by giving the gift of their time.
An Overview of Volunteer Service at the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes continues its work with the assistance of more than 3 million individuals around the world who collectively help raise millions of dollars for the organization and reach tens of thousands of people through education and outreach efforts. Volunteers have played a critical role in the organization since its earliest days. These individuals bring a wide range of different experiences and skillsets to the organization to help it achieve its goals and improve outcomes for both women and infants.
Currently, the March of Dimes has about 3,000 board members who provide oversight and direction for local volunteers. Each chapter and division works diligently to identify how new volunteers can make the most of their abilities to maximize their impact. Much of this responsibility falls on the shoulder of volunteer leaders, who help identify and recruit new volunteers. These volunteer leaders share the organization’s mission to inspire new people to donate their time while also making their own public speeches and presentations to raise awareness of the issues the group aims to combat.
The March of Dimes Volunteer Leadership Institute
Volunteer leaders accept a great deal of responsibility, but the March of Dimes does not expect them to do it completely alone. Consequently, it offers individuals them the chance to attend its Volunteer Leadership Institute, where they can learn how to inspire volunteers. The institute offers various training programs to help volunteer leaders grow both personally and professionally. In addition to coursework, the institute provides a number of leadership resources and other opportunities. Much of the institute’s programming focuses on encouraging collaboration between volunteer leaders and key organizational staff while fostering discussion among peers. This cooperation is key for increasing the efficacy of each chapter and bringing the greatest change to the community.
The heart of the Volunteer Leadership Institute remains the March of Dimes Executive Leadership Program, which encompasses 21 credits of coursework and leads to certification. The required courses examine the mission and fundraising efforts of the organization, as well as its overall strategic plan as the organization grows. This knowledge gives volunteers a greater sense of transparency so that they can see exactly where their efforts fit into the organization’s overall work. The organization wants volunteers to have a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
Individuals complete coursework for certification through five modules that contain a number of courses presented live and as prerecorded webinars. Online self-study is complemented by specialized retreats and board meetings where individuals can engage in the conversations critical to driving improvement in the organization.
Volunteer Opportunities for Younger Individuals
The March of Dimes understands that younger individuals often feel a call to give back and make a real impact in their communities. Through the Team Youth program, individuals from elementary school to college can make a commitment to the organization and contribute to its important mission in meaningful ways.
The organization’s commitment to youth volunteerism dates all the way back to 1955 when the first youth program focused on recruiting young leaders to teach their peers about the importance of the polio vaccine. This early initiative slowly developed into the full-fledged Team Youth program, which now includes approximately 1 million students and advisors. The organization also provides a number of development opportunities for young volunteers to help them develop into skilled community leaders.
Team Youth participants use Twitter and Facebook to stay connected and talk about the programs they have launched in their own communities. In addition, a monthly eNewsletter called Youth Times keeps young volunteers abreast of what other chapters are doing. Youth volunteers play a key role in carrying the March of Dimes message to schools and other outlets through programs like Teen-2-Teen. This initiative encourages teenagers to learn about the health issues relevant to pregnancy and start discussions with their peers. After all, the teens of today are the parents of tomorrow.
Young individuals can also give back while earning school credit by serving as interns with the March of Dimes. The organization presently has opportunities at its Office of Government Affairs in Washington, DC.