On Thursday May 9th, L.A. Works had the pleasure of meeting with three delegates from Brazil through the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles (IVCLA). IVCLA is a non-profit organization that implements the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) of professional and cultural exchanges. The delegates embarked on this trip to acquire a better understanding of NGO management and civic activism in the U.S. They were accompanied by a translator who also learned new nonprofit sector jargon related to volunteerism despite having an advanced level of Portuguese. We discovered that “Volunteer Supply Chain” was not a common phrase used in Brazilians’ vocabulary.
We began the conversation by sharing our history in Los Angeles, the impact we make on the community through the various programs we offer, and best practices in volunteer management and engagement. While volunteerism is widely practiced throughout the U.S., it is not as common internationally. Our guests were certainly intrigued by the volunteer engagement methods we implement allowing us to run an effective and efficient organization that engages 25,000 volunteers per year. The strongest points of the conversation revolved around best practices on volunteer management, recruitment, matching and training, supervision, recognition and evaluation that L.A. Works implements in order to build organizational capacity through our volunteer base. Efficiency and sustainability of volunteer integration, after all, increase the impact that L.A. Works creates in Los Angeles County. We have been able to effectively translate that into other nonprofits’ models to continue cultivating a community of even greater impact.
Each Brazilian Delegate had the opportunity to share details on the work they do, how they currently engage volunteers, and the challenges they have faced with volunteerism in their country. The biggest barrier they encounter, is that many of them are the only advocates within their organizations that promote volunteer integration as a way to maximize the impact of their work. L.A. Works offered some strategies to help shift the perceptions of their staff and give them insight into the power of volunteerism.
Despite the language and cultural barriers, we agreed on the power of volunteer service and shared a mutual appreciation for the various volunteer projects and initiatives happening around the globe. With one another’s support, L.A. Works and the Brazilian Delegates hope to collaborate on future endeavors to demonstrate how people around the world share a passion for bettering our communities no matter where they live and what language they speak.