Leaders of the Santa Clarita Valley nonprofit community gathered Wednesday, meeting in person for the first time in more than 18 months for the 2021 Nonprofit Symposium.
“As much as we are a small town, with a small-town feel, we are the third-largest city in the county of L.A.,” said John Musella, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We are a very giving community in Santa Clarita with hundreds of nonprofit organizations.”
It’s the personal relationships within the community that were at the focus of Wednesday’s event, as the city of Santa Clarita’s Volunteer Engagement Program, in partnership with the SCV Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit Council and SCV Nonprofit Leaders Network, worked to inform attending organizations of how they could turn volunteers into donors.
“I haven’t met a donor yet who didn’t have some type of personal relationship with our organization,” said LaVal Brewer, president and CEO of South County Outreach and guest speaker at the symposium. “It’s all about personal relationships, all about engagement, all about people knowing people.”
Volunteers who know what an organization does well enough that they are committed to the cause are the making of a donor, Brewer said.
“It’s critical that everyone in the organization have a relationship with your volunteers in order for them to foster the ability for that volunteer to understand that they can give your organization and give back to something they love,” Brewer added.
Brewer cited a 2012 Bank of America survey that found that 89% of wealthy individuals had actually volunteered their time to the nonprofits they were donating to, along with a Fidelity Charitable Group study that found that volunteers donate 10 times more than regular donors.
In addition to the presentation, organizers discussed available resources and opportunities to collaborate with the nonprofits.
While started nearly a decade ago, the SCV Nonprofit Leaders Network, which provides free learning opportunities to the nonprofit community, was revived at the beginning of the pandemic, according to Susan Christopher of the network’s 2021 steering committee.
Among those organizing the event were many who were, in fact, spurred amid the pandemic to provide nonprofits with assistance, including the chamber’s Nonprofit Council.
“We saw there was a gap and a need, and we wanted to work on bringing businesses and nonprofits together to better work together and provide nonprofits an opportunity to meet and see different businesses they might not normally have exposure to (and vice versa),” Musella said of the council.
Similarly, the city launched its Volunteer Engagement Program last year as a resource for the city and its nonprofits to advertise their volunteer needs.
“What we know through the pandemic is we have a lot of (potential) volunteers in our community who are looking for ways to help both their local government and nonprofits,” said Gabby Vera, volunteer engagement coordinator.
The city’s Community Resource Collaborative’s quarterly meetings are also expected to return in early 2022, allowing nonprofit organizations to connect with school districts and other youth organizations to discuss the current issues and available resources for teens and at-risk youth.
To find out about volunteer opportunities in the SCV, visit santaclaritavolunteers.com.
The SCV Nonprofit Leaders Network meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month via Zoom. For more information, visit scvnonprofitleaders.com.