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Learn why and when you might want to take advantage of personnel resources, where such people might be found, and how to go about it.

 

  • What do we mean by available personnel resources?

  • Why tap into available personnel resources?

  • When should you tap available personnel resources?

  • Where do you find available personnel resources?

  • How do you tap into available personnel resources?

The Public Arts Forum was finally getting to the point where its board felt that the organization could stand on its own two feet. There were enough subscribers and contributors to the performance series to keep the artists coming (and paid), and the building renovation program seemed to be doing well.

Administration was a different story, however. The part-time Executive Director was overworked, and all the financial work was the province of the Treasurer, a volunteer board member with a full-time job. As a result, there were drawers full of files that no one had gone through in years, contracts got buried or accidentally thrown away, and most of the financial records of the organization existed only on random sheets of paper or on post-it-notes that might or might not make it into a file folder.

The organization clearly needed organization, but it wasn't easy to see where it would come from.  Then the Director got a call from the local university. An undergraduate business program was looking for internships for its students, many of whom were majoring in nonprofit management. Would the Arts Forum be interested?

The Arts Forum was definitely interested. It was able to arrange for two interns, one of whom assumed the task of straightening out the financial records and creating systems to make sure they stayed straightened out. The other worked with the Director to clean out old files, organize and refile what needed to be kept, and take care of much of the business that had been buried in the clutter. In return, the interns gained valuable experience and confidence from working with real-world problems, exposure to all the aspects of running a non-profit organization, and the Arts Forum's undying gratitude.

Sometimes, organizations have needs that can't be met from within. These may be long- or short-term, general or specific. The solution may be to look outside the organization for people who can fill those needs without the organization having to hire them. This section will discuss why and when you might want to take advantage of these services, where such people might be found, and how to go about it.

What do we mean by available personnel resources?

Available personnel resources are people who are already doing, or could do, the job you want done, but who don't work for your organization or initiative. They might come from any number of sources - other organizations or institutions, government, the community, schools - wherever people do, or are interested in, the kind of work you're looking for.

The issue behind the use of available personnel resources is usually money. This chapter, after all, is about sustaining your efforts, and that often comes down to money - to buy materials, to pay rent and utilities, and, most expensive, to pay people to do the work. If you can find interns, for instance, as the Arts Forum in the example did, to do something your organization needs, but doesn't have the financial or other resources for, that's a huge help.

Money isn't always the issue, however. The personnel in question might not work for your organization at all, but simply deliver a service your participants need, or do something else as part of their regular jobs that helps to further your organization's mission.  In that case, it makes sense to use what already exists, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

The need for this kind of "borrowing" can vary tremendously. It could involve a time-limited, very specific task (creating a data base of program participants past and present, for instance), or a longer-term programming need (employment counseling in a shelter for battered women). Someone from another organization might come in once a week to offer services to participants in your program, or you might find yourself with a full-time staff member who's paid by someone else. You might need people just to respond to an emergency - a mailing to protest a pending decision that could be disastrous for environmental quality in the community, perhaps. Any of these situations, if the conditions are right and you've laid the groundwork, might be addressed through the use of personnel outside your organization.

Why tap into available personnel resources?

There are a number of reasons why you might want to look for personnel in places other than within your organization. Although the first - and, admittedly, probably the most important - reason is what you'd expect, the others could be tremendously beneficial to your organization over time.

  • Economics. The obvious reason to look for available personnel resources is that it's cost-effective. If you can get good services without paying for them, it means not having to cut back in other areas, and still being able to provide or do something extra to advance your mission. That can be a real boost for your organization.
  • Extending your reach. Tapping into available personnel resources may allow your organization to provide services or take actions that you never would have been able to otherwise. These kinds of opportunities add to your stature and credibility, make it easier to get funding, and - most important - increase the effect you can have on the issues you're concerned with.

Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a Boston program that works with homeless youth, provides free dental care, using the services of volunteer dentists. This is a prime example of a service the organization couldn't have offered on its own without paying a dentist, which was financially impossible. The use of an existing resource - dentists who were willing to volunteer their time - made it happen.

  • Opportunities for collaboration. Working with other organizations, institutions, schools, and even community volunteers around using available personnel resources can lay the groundwork for continued and more far-reaching collaboration.
  • Developing community support. The more sectors of the community you draw on, the more people will become familiar with and supportive of the work of your organization, and the more the community will feel ownership of and responsibility for it.
  • Providing those who help you with new skills and information. The people who act as available personnel resources for you will gain from their work with your organization, in ways that may help them in their employment, in their personal relationships, or in other areas of their lives.
  • New perspectives. Having someone in the organization who's not of it - who doesn't necessarily have to conform to the organizational culture or buy all its precepts - can be refreshing.  Someone who's both inside and outside can often see things, both positive and negative, that aren't apparent to you and others who are steeped in your organization's assumptions. New ideas and positive changes can come from the perspective a person in that position can offer.
  • Ideas for more comprehensive programs.The initial cooperation around your use of existing personnel resources can also, as mentioned above, lead to larger collaborations. In some cases, collaboration with one or more other organizations or institutions can generate community-wide programs or interventions that address several aspects of an issue simultaneously, or that address an issue from a number of perspectives. Such overarching efforts are often more successful in having a permanent effect than those that are more limited in both scope and conception.

Many communities try to combat youth violence with stricter enforcement, or with midnight basketball leagues. Consider, in contrast, the possibilities that could be engendered by a community effort that includes the police (enforcement of laws and weapons regulations), street workers (counseling, referrals), health providers (free medical and dental care), the schools and institutions of higher education (imaginative learning programs for those who struggle, coupled with free or vastly reduced college tuition for those who qualify), the media (a media campaign aimed at reducing violence), the faith community and secular youth and recreation organizations (the Y, the city recreation department), neighborhood groups (neighborhood watches)...all part of a community anti-violence coalition with a coordinated plan to create social change in the community.

When should you tap available personnel resources?

Any time is a good time to use the resources available, but there are times when it may be particularly appropriate.

  • When money is tight. When it's not just a matter of adding something, but one of keeping your program or initiative going, the use of personnel from outside the organization may be a life-or-death proposition. Even when circumstances aren't quite that serious, the use of potential resources may mean the difference between providing a needed service and failing to do so, or between a great program and one that's merely adequate.
  • When you have a specific job that needs to be done, and don't have the capacity to do it within the organization as it exists. Particularly if your organization is focused on providing service, other necessary tasks can often slip between the cracks. Over time, this slippage can come back to haunt you, in the form of funders' demands for reports, the need for accurate and acceptable financial records, or the lack of computer-based program information. Bookkeeping, data entry, and other clerical services are among those that often get left behind, and are also among those easiest to supplement with the use of available personnel resources.

An organization with which the author worked found itself in this situation. Although it had 10 employees working at four widely-scattered sites, it had neither a bookkeeper nor any clerical staff. Eventually, it was able to obtain both through a senior employment program. As funding improved, the two were hired as regular staff members, but the organization could not have waited until that point for their services.

  • When you're an initiative that doesn't provide direct service, but it's clear that direct service is needed. Your work may have determined what's needed, but your organization isn't equipped to - and isn't intended to - meet that need. Your job here is not to provide the service, but to find someone who can.  The work may be farmed out to an appropriate organization or institution, to volunteers, or to local government. It needs to be done not by your staff, but by other, existing personnel.
  • When funders ask for something you can't deliver alone. You may have to partner or contract with another organization to provide whatever it is you can't, or recruit volunteers to make it happen.
  • When you actively want to initiate a collaboration or partnership with another organization. The need to tap into their staff expertise may present a perfect opportunity to work together, and serve to establish the relationship necessary for further collaboration.
  • When you need more manpower quickly to accomplish an immediate goal. The election is on the line; the City Council is about to rule on the siting of that heavy metals plant; your organization has to raise $100,000.00 in the next month in order to stay afloat.  You need to mobilize the public, and fast.  Finding the help you need outside your organization may be absolutely necessary in this type of situation.

In a variation on this theme, you may need people to work only briefly on a short-term project that's not an emergency, but simply has to be done. A neighborhood clean-up is a good example, as is poll-watching. These and other one-time tasks can often be accomplished through the use of available personnel resources.

  • When existing resources become available, and fit in with the needs and mission of your organization. Like the Arts Forum in the example at the beginning of the section, you may be contacted by the local university about the availability of interns. A retired professional - a CPA or lawyer, perhaps - may call to volunteer her services to your organization.  To play on the words of a Rodgers and Hammerstein song, don't let your golden chances pass you by.

This circumstance can arise when someone approaches you with an idea for an exchange: they'll do something in return for your doing something for them. The "something" involved may be supervision, as with an internship, a trade of services, space in your program for another organization's participants or their family members - almost anything that can benefit both organizations. Even if the initial proposal isn't one you'd favor, you may be able to negotiate something else that works just as well.

Where do you find available personnel resources?

An old recipe for rabbit stew begins, "First, catch your rabbit."  By the same token, before you can take advantage of available personnel resources, you have to determine what and where they are.  So before we begin discussing how to tap into them, let's look at the possibilities. Just where are you likely to find these folks?

Staff of other organizations. There are a number of circumstances under which you may be able to obtain the services of staff from other organizations.

  • Loaned. An organization may loan staff to another to accomplish specific purposes, or simply to assist the second organization in its mission. Usually, the lending organization is committed, at least to some extent, to the same population as the borrower, and has some of the same or similar goals.  The loan may grow out of the need of the lender to serve the population that the other organization has access to. Organizations with very specific users - public housing tenants, special education students, women with disabilities, diabetics, etc. - often are in good positions to receive the loan of a staff member from another organization to provide its services to their population.
  • Shared. Here, a staff member might be paid jointly by two or more organizations - usually proportional to the amount of time he spends at each - to provide the same service to them or their participants. This makes it possible for organizations that can't afford a full-time staff member for the purpose to nonetheless get at least part of what they need.

Some communities establish human service centers, where several health and human service organizations are headquartered in a single building. Often, receptionists and clerical staff work in a central location, and are available to all these organizations. Each organization pays the center a monthly fee, which covers rent, utilities, incidentals, and the pay of the shared staff.

  • Contracted. An organization that receives a grant may contract with another to provide some of the services required.  In that case, the staff member providing the services is usually paid from funds received under the contract.
  • Employed in a collaborative or joint program. Collaborating organizations often agree to provide whatever staff is appropriate to carry out the goals of a project. Thus, staff from the two organizations may work together, or staff from one may temporarily work under the auspices of the other.  When a joint grant is involved, the obligations of each organization are usually spelled out under the grant, and may include some sort of joint personnel arrangement.
  • Bartered or traded services. Organizations may trade services evenly - an employment counselor, for example, may work with the residents of a battered women's shelter in return for domestic abuse counseling for her organization's participants from shelter staff. Organizations may also barter staff services for other considerations - the use of equipment or space, for instance

Interns. Interns - usually either students in training or beginners in the field trying to gain some experience - work free or for small compensation in return for supervision and/or learning about your issue and what you do and/or filling the practical part of a certification requirement. As a result, they often come with desirable skills and enthusiasm.  Internships are time-limited - usually to a year or less, and sometimes to as little as a few weeks - and can take different forms.

  •  Paid internships. Interns, because they are getting experience and supervision in return for their work, usually are paid much less than regular staff doing similar work. (Think of medical interns, recent medical school graduates who do a two-year stint at a hospital, during which they are paid much less and worked much harder than any other physicians.) Thus, they can represent a considerable saving, especially if you have specific, time-limited tasks for them to do. You may pay them yourself, or they may be paid from other sources (educational institutions, government agencies, grants).
  • Unpaid internships. These usually arise in conjunction with educational or training programs. Undergraduate and graduate programs in social work, nursing, counseling and clinical psychology, and education, for instance, almost always include an internship as a graduation requirement, as do many for-profit career training schools.  In addition, interns are sometimes available in other fields, ranging from public health to marketing to journalism to engineering. Regardless of the work of your organization, you may occasionally be approached by someone with training in your field who's willing to intern with you for nothing in return for supervision and experience.

There are some potential drawbacks to using interns, depending on what they do within the organization. One is that, because their time with the organization is usually limited, they may develop relationships with participants or start projects that then have to be broken off, or picked up by someone else. The work they do is usually valuable enough so that the trade-off is more than reasonable, but it's worth considering.

Another consideration is that interns, whether you pay them or not, aren't free. They need supervision, not just for their own purposes, but for the purposes of the organization. How much supervision, and what kind, depend on their previous experience and on their personal skills, character, the rules of the intern's home organization, and other factors. In any case, supervision takes staff time away from something else. If the intern is reasonably independent and competent, you'll get a lot more back than you have to give out. If he's unsure of himself and wants constant reassurance and direction, you may find him costing much more than he's worth.

As with anyone who works with you, full-time or otherwise, it's important to negotiate at the beginning what everyone's obligations and expectations are. If either your organization or the intern feels the cost of the internship is too great, or the payback isn't high enough, you can mutually decide not to go forward. If you do agree, each of you will be clear on what you're giving and what you're getting back, and can use that understanding to address disagreements that might arise.

Volunteers. Volunteers may be the largest source of pre-existing personnel. You may recruit them, using advertising, posters, word-of-mouth, or other methods, or they may call or walk in off the street and ask to be of help.

Individual community members form by far the largest group of volunteers. Many have professional expertise in their current work, work only part-time, or are retired from professional or other careers that they're not quite ready to relinquish. Retired teachers often volunteer in schools or in adult literacy programs, for instance.

One woman taught for nearly 40 years, retired, and shortly took a job as a kindergarten aide. She retired from that job after ten years, but came back to volunteer in the kindergarten classroom for another 17 years, until she was well into her 80's. Her professional and volunteer career in the schools spanned three full generations of students, and included the parents, children, and grandchildren of many families.

Other sources of volunteers are schools and colleges that require students to perform a certain number of hours of community service; those same students in periods when they have free time (summer vacation, e.g.); businesses that encourage employees to volunteer in the community; parents, especially as school volunteers or coaches; welfare programs that require a set amount of community service in return for payments; court-mandated programs that impose community service as all or part of the penalty for drunk driving, white-collar crime, and other non-violent offenses; and volunteer organizations such as SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) that match volunteers with organizations that need them.

 Potential volunteers, as is obvious from the above paragraphs, are everywhere. The best way to convince someone to volunteer is to ask her. In surveys, the most frequent response to the question "Why did you volunteer?" is "Somebody asked me."

People who work directly for your organization, but are paid by another source. Some government programs and some businesses will pay people to work for non-profits. Businesses may have "loaned executive" programs, whereby they pay their managers to give as many as ten hours a week of consulting time to non-profit or human service organizations (often in conjunction with local United Ways). Senior employment programs provide and pay elder workers to work for non-profits for up to two years. The workers in question may be skilled or unskilled, but are matched with the organization and the job.

Such government sponsored volunteer programs as VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and the Peace Corps pay volunteers a stipend to work, respectively, in communities or agencies with low-income constituencies, and in the developing world. Privately-funded programs such as City Year do similarly in specifically urban settings.

Program participants. Participants in programs and organizations that provide services are often willing - even eager - to give something back to the organization.  Involving them in this way benefits everyone: the organization gains needed services, and the participant gains a sense of ownership of the organization, a feeling of being a valued contributor to the life of the organizational community, and - often - new skills.

Some ways in which the abilities of participants might be tapped:

  • Tutoring/mentoring. In many kinds of programs, participants at a higher level can assist those just entering. Job training, literacy, and substance abuse treatment are only three examples of programs in which participants might contribute in this way.   Asking participants to take on these roles - assuming proper supervision and support from the organization - can benefit all three parties involved: the participant doing the tutoring or mentoring, who learns skills and gains enhanced self-esteem and feelings of competency; the participant being tutored or mentored, who gains skills as well, receives support from someone who knows what it's like to be in her position, and sees the potential results of her participation; and the organization, which is allowed to offer enhanced services.
  • Logistical and administrative tasks. Many program participants, in appreciation of the services they receive, are willing - even eager - to give something back to the organization in the form of cleaning services, food preparation, vehicle maintenance, filing, or other necessary tasks that they have the skills to provide.

In one program, for instance, a participant management committee at each site took over cleaning, providing coffee, planning and scheduling events, and even negotiating with the landlord each year when the lease came up for renewal. In another, a group of participants with carpentry experience completely redesigned and rebuilt the interior of the program's facility. They not only provided the labor, but also persuaded local businesses to donate all the necessary materials.

In both these cases, not only did the organization receive valuable services, but the participants gained a true sense of ownership of the space and the program. Their contributions motivated them to commit themselves to getting the most they could out of what they were being offered.

  • Board service. Participants can be recruited as board members, bringing a valuable perspective to the oversight and policy discussions of the organization. Their service as board members adds to the organization in at least two other ways: it provides them with enhanced skills - skills that are often valuable in employment and other areas of life - and self-esteem; and it supports the participatory philosophy of most community-based and grass roots organizations.

Participants can - and have, in many organizations - become effective and valuable board members, but many need help in learning how to function in a board environment. Without that help, they often resign fairly quickly, or simply fill out their terms without contributing. Many have little experience in meetings, and don't know the unspoken rules that govern discussion and process. As a result, they may be confused, or may be unwilling to speak up when they have important things to say, for fear of embarrassing themselves. If you're recruiting participants to your board, you should plan for mentoring, training, and supporting them. It's a little extra work, but it can pay big dividends in the long run.

  • Fundraising, and other community outreach. Participants can be especially effective in fundraising and public relations. Their personal stories affect listeners much more strongly than statistics or more generalized accounts of the issue at hand, and their testimony about the effectiveness and value of the organization carries far more weight than that of staff or board members.

Other sources. There are at least two obvious sources of outside help when you have a specific, time-limited job to do, or when you need certain well-defined skills. One is temporary workers (i.e., from a temporary worker agency), whom you may only need for a short time. The other is consultants, people who work independently to perform particular tasks. These may range from office cleaning to piano tuning to organizational development. Both these groups need to be paid, of course (although you can sometimes find consultants who will work pro bono, i.e. free, for non-profits), but can be hired to do only work that needs to be done. You don't have to make a long-term commitment to finding salaries for them.

Creative thinking may come up with other existing personnel resources as well.  Some would, in fact, say that everyone in the community is a potential source of help.

How do you tap into available personnel resources?

Now that you know what some potential sources of personnel are, you're ready to try to take advantage of them - or to prepare to do so if you need them in the future. Here are some steps you can take to make it happen.

Start by knowing what's out there. What sources are actually available in your community and circumstances?  There are some things you can do to find out, and to be in a position to act when necessary.

  • Network with other organizations. This should be standard practice for your organization in any case Establish relationships not only with health and human service organizations and others that engage in work similar to yours, but with a broad range of other non-profits as well. You never know when an arts organization might be a source of dance therapy or street theater. Join community or issue-oriented coalitions, and make it a point to meet individuals in the community - community opinion leaders, coalition staff members, public officials - who might act as brokers of information and introductions.
  • Contact colleges and universities, job training programs and schools, high and vocational schools, etc. to find out about the possibility of interns, even if you don't need them at the time.
  • Keep contact with interesting job applicants and other people you come across who have skills you might need.
  • Contact volunteer umbrella organizations that operate in your area.
  • Find - or, if necessary, conduct - a survey of community resources or assets. Such a survey should turn up numerous potential sources of personnel that you can use.

Discuss possibilities with likely sources before the need arises. 

  • Talk with other organizations about ways you can work together, and about what their staffs might be able to do for you and vice-versa.
  • Let colleges, agencies, and other sources know you're interested in hosting interns under the right circumstances.
  • Discuss with volunteer groups how their volunteers might add to your organization.

These discussions accomplish two purposes: they keep your connections to sources of available personnel resources open; and they may actually suggest ways in which you - and the other party as well - may be able to use those resources.

Remember that, in many of the possibilities described here, your organization is also a source of available personnel resources. You're providing an institution supplying interns, for instance, with free supervision and experience, just as they're providing you with free labor. Seeing the transaction in those terms may make it easier to obtain the use of free personnel resources - you have something to offer in return.

Clarify what you need personnel for. Are you addressing a temporary situation, or a short-term or long-term need? Just how long do you expect the arrangement to last? What exactly do you want done?  What's the outcome you expect? What, if anything, are you willing to offer in return - Money? Staff time? A service?

The ideal arrangement for the use of available personnel resources is one that both parties gain from. Your organization gets something it or its participants need, and the source of the personnel resource is able to accomplish something it wanted to. The second best deal is one where one party gains and there is no cost - in money, labor, trouble, etc. - to the other. An arrangement that is entirely one-sided, or that has no positive results for either party, on the other hand, is likely to create problems, and can threaten your relationship with the other party.

It is helpful if you can offer something on your side, even if it's limited to the possibility for the other party to achieve something related to its mission. It's important for both to feel that they're at the very least furthering their goals through this arrangement.

All of these questions should be answered carefully before you embark on an arrangement with another party. The availability of existing resources doesn't always mean you should take advantage of them. They should fit your needs, and, even more important, they should be consistent with the vision and mission of your organization. Just as it's almost always a mistake to take money that asks you to do something that conflicts with your vision or mission, it's a mistake to take or use services that do the same.

Another twist on this issue concerns the organizations and personalities involved. If your organization is collaborative and concerned with the empowerment of participants, it might not be well served by an arrangement with an organization or individual that is essentially paternalistic and treats participants with little respect. In a less extreme example, if your organization operates within a specific structure and with specific methods, you might think twice about partnering with an organization whose structure and methods are significantly different. Such differences could make it difficult for personnel from either organization to work comfortably with the other.

Find the people you need. This step involves using the knowledge and contacts you've already developed, both to know who might be able to help, and to get the word out about what you need. In addition, you might consider creating a community volunteer bank - a list of willing potential volunteers, with their skills and preferences.

Once you've settled on a potential arrangement, work out the details carefully. Both you and the other party should be absolutely clear on what the arrangement entails, how it works, and what the expectations and obligations are on both sides. Some of the details that should be attended to:

  • Who will pay the salary or stipend, if there is one.
  • Who the actual employer is (i.e., does the person work for your organization directly, or is she only working with you, and employed by someone else?).
  • The details of employment (or volunteering, for that matter): how and how much people are paid, holidays, benefits, work hours and times, weather cancellations, etc.
  • Who supervises, and the amount and nature of supervision.
  • Professional development.
  • Meetings and other requirements.
  • The person's place in the organization (in relation to other staff, administrators, etc.)
  • The job description and any other expectations for the work.
  • Communication between organizations.
  • The duration of the arrangement. It could be just for the duration of a contract or a particular situation (e.g., until the vote on the siting of the toxic waste dump), until the completion of a specific project, until the grant runs out, or indefinitely.
  • How the person's work and the arrangement will be evaluated.

All of these details call for agreement between the your organization and  the other organization(s) or the individual(s) involved. It's important that there be communication channels among the parties, and that they're used (see no. 6 below). It's also important that, if the arrangement is between or among organizations, that the individuals who will actually do the work also be involved in the discussion of how things will work. If they have control over their situation, they are far more likely to buy into it, and to be concerned with doing the best job possible.

Put it in writing. Once you have worked out the details, draft an agreement, a  contract, a memorandum of understanding - whatever seems to be the appropriate document for the arrangement you have.

As the Tool Box often points out, it is absolutely crucial that all parties to any kind of agreement understand exactly what is expected of everyone, and what the terms of the agreement are. Putting it in writing not only makes this possible, but provides a guide for the work itself.

Putting it in writing is just as important when the arrangement concerns volunteers. Many organizations that employ volunteers ask them to sign a contract. The contract lays out the terms of their volunteer service - how many hours a week or month they agree to give, and for how long; what they'll do; and what they'll get in return, in the form of supervision and support. While such documents aren't legal contracts, they make clear that a volunteer is taking on obligations, and that others depend on him to fulfill them.

Follow up on and maintain the arrangement. If the personnel resource you're tapping is another organization, you should make sure that there's a workable communication structure between you, and a regular schedule for using it. You may need very little oversight, or you may need a great deal, depending on the situation. Regardless, there should be regular contact, if only to check in.

If there's a monitoring and/or evaluation plan, it shouldn't be ignored. Even if this particular use of existing personnel resources is time-limited, you may want to pursue a similar arrangement again, with the present or another partner.

Don't forget to thank both the individual(s) and the organization(s) involved, both verbally and in other ways. Everyone needs to know she's appreciated, and everyone is more likely to be helpful again in the future if they have that need satisfied.

Collaborations, whether with other organizations or with community volunteers, don't maintain themselves. Like any other relationship, they need attention if they're to be successful and fulfilling to both partners. Don't forget that element of tapping available personnel resources, once you've done the rest.

In summary

In looking for ways to sustain your organization or initiative, you may find that there are available sources of personnel who can perform tasks or deliver services without adding to current staff duties or hiring new people. If you can tap into these resources, you may be able to accomplish part of your mission without taxing the rest of your organization.

The general reasons for taking advantage of these resources are financial, but there are others as well. Sharing staff with other organizations or borrowing staff from them, for instance, may open the way to collaboration in other areas, and enhance both partners.Using volunteers engenders community recognition and support. In addition, using available resources in this way improves service and strengthens your reputation in the community.

Not all of these resources are free. You may pay part of a shared staff person's salary, or provide an intern with a stipend, for instance. They are, however, less expensive than having to provide the service through your organization, and allow you to pursue your mission with the resources available in the community.

The major sources of available personnel that you might use are other organizations; interns - usually from schools and training programs, but sometimes self-referred; volunteers; agencies and businesses that provide employees (and pay them) for non-profits; and program participants.  In general, you can find these folks through networking and establishing relationships with organizations, businesses, institutions, and individuals in your community. Broaching the possibility of shared or loaned staff or volunteer possibilities before there's a specific need can lead either to ideas for a partnership, or to the use of existing personnel when a need arises.

Once a partnership arrangement has been entered into, it's important to define it clearly in writing, and to maintain it, even if the personnel arrangement is short-term. There may be other possibilities in the future.

Online Resources

The Idealist and Action Without Borders. Among other things, this organization and its website help to connect non-profits with potential employees and volunteers.

Internship matches for Canadian college graduates and students.

The United Performing Arts Fund of Milwaukee, assigns loaned executives from area businesses to help local arts organizations with fundraising.

Volunteer Match links non-profits and potential volunteers. Either can sign up looking for matches.