Highlights from the 2010 NCVS

Time for another update from Youth Challenge America based in NYC. Last week we attended the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service. It was a tremendous three days filled with thought-provoking forums, hands-on workshops and engaging sessions. More than 5,000 participants attended and there was a stacked cast of presenters from the nonprofit, corporate and government sectors.

This was my first NCVS conference and it was a pleasure meeting so many people, learning more about volunteering in the US and introducing Youth Challenge America.

Some of the highlights for YCA included the Opening Plenary session at Radio City Hall where the PS. 22 choir sang “I’ll Stand by You” while Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, addressed the audience. Michelle Obama also addressed the audience via a video message. Michelle Obama has been highly involved in supporting volunteer service in the US in particular with the government’s United We Serve initiative.

It wasn’t all fun and games though. There were 175 sessions and it was near impossible to decide which one to attend. The days were packed with 7 a.m. starts that ran until late in the evening. One panel worth highlighting was the “The End of the Nonprofit (as we know it),” which featured the CEOs of CauseCast, DoSomething, Echoing Green and the Editor-in-Chief of Mashable, discussing how nonprofits can learn from successful and “impactful” models, including social entrepreneurship, cross-sector collaboration and leveraging new media and technologies. Is it the end of the nonprofit as we know it? If nonprofits as we know them are dinosaurs with stagnant programming, zero interest in becoming effective, efficient and “impactful,” and whose ultimate purpose is to maintain the status quo, then yes. But that’s that vast minority of who I meet at these functions.

The wave of the future for nonprofits, as I see it, are efficient organizations that collaborate and share best practices, innovate to create programs that address community need, continually assess their programs to ensure they are effective and who step away the “norm” to implement creative solutions to real problems. And, thankfully, at a conference 5, 000 strong, the buzz words are “collaboration,” “innovation,” “best practices” and “social entrepreneurship.” I think that the wave of the future is here (or is, at least, mighty close).

-Jane Baldwin, Program Development Manager, Youth Challenge America

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