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Joe Supervielle:

Welcome to Voices in Local Government, an ICMA podcast. My name is Joe Supervielle, and we're here for part two on the Give 5 Civic Matchmaking story with Greg Burris, president and CEO of United Way of the Ozarks and previous city manager of Springfield, Missouri from 2008 to 2018. And Cora Scott, director of public information and civic engagement of City of Springfield. Thanks for joining us today.

Greg Burris:

Thank you, Joe.

Cora Scott:

Thank you.

Joe Supervielle:

In part one we covered the background on the Give 5 program and the origins, the specific stories, and most importantly, the practical goals and the outcomes you all are going for. Which include increased citizen engagement and trust in government, decrease social isolation, and third, the transfer of knowledge through meaningful volunteerism using the skills of retired boomers. So put another way, instead of just typical generic volunteering, this program matches, not necessarily recently retired, but that crowd, that target audience, with the skills and knowledge they built up over decades of their career and finding a nonprofit that they can help out with those skills.

              Great feedback so far from staff and members. Today we're actually going to get into details on how other locations can launch the program with potentially zero impact on their own budget. I'll repeat that part because it's important, zero impact on the budget. This is a sponsored magnet, as Greg just put it to me. I think we'll get into that in detail, but I just wanted to mention that off the top that, "Hey, this is great, sounds great, but how is it getting paid for," might be the first and most important question. And we'll cover it because I think other locations have already proven that they could do it as well at no cost.

              With that, kind of take it however you want, Cora or Greg, just as supposed to start off with how can another community start a Give 5 program in their own location?

Greg Burris:

Thank you, Joe. And thanks for having us back. Of course we got great feedback on the fact we gave away a car during the first podcast, and so you just never know what's going to happen in this second podcast.

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah, I don't know about that. The ethics people might get on me quick.

Greg Burris:

That's true, that's true. Maybe we shouldn't say that. No, thanks for having us back. So how do you do it? Id you express some interest and you said, "We're interested in learning more about the Give 5 program, and really finding out whether it's a good match for our community," reach out and contact us. We have a website, which is give5program.org, with the number five. And on that is a video, a little short five minute video that really explains about the program, talks a little bit about the benefits of the program.

              But one of the things that Cora and I have learned is that obviously every community is unique. And so this is not a one-size-fits-all community, it's scalable, it's customizable and it's really flexible. And when we work with a community, what we do is sit down with the host organization. We can sit down with community leaders that you would recommend we talk to, and start to help identify how does this have the biggest impact?

              Because really the key to this is not just throwing skilled volunteers anywhere in your community. The real impact to this is when we focus, and when we say, "Okay, here's something you really want to move the needle on in your community." We're working with a community right now that wants to move the needle on childhood poverty. We're essentially going to be helping them take hundreds and hundreds of highly skilled volunteers and direct it toward that single issue. And that really has an impact on a community, or even really over the first couple of years of the program. Cora, you want to add?

Cora Scott:

Yeah, what's also unique and wonderful about it is that there are different organizations that can host this. In the City of Springfield we launched it at the city and it moved over to United Way of the Ozarks and other communities. Leadership programs become the host and the city becomes just an assistant to the program.

              What happens is, as Greg said, this is a sponsor magnet. So sponsors actually cover the licensing cost, and in a lot of cases the full operational cost. But it becomes pretty apparent, as a community investigates this further, what organization is most appropriate to be the host. From there just find the sponsors that match up with who wants to align with this type of a program, and it gets off the ground really quickly.

Greg Burris:

And to give you an example, Joe, in Springfield, Missouri, where the flagship program originated, we have United Healthcare as the presenting sponsor, but we also have a lot of local sponsors who like being associated with the program. Cora says this is kind of a good news story generator. People like to be associated with it.

              And so every part of our operational cost is covered by sponsorships. It costs our organization no additional dollars to run this program.

Joe Supervielle:

And you said earlier, choosing a specific topic or something the local government wants to help. That ties into not just volunteerism for the sake of it, but tying it back into what the local government is doing to help its own community, identifying maybe the most important and pressing need, maybe even based on citizen feedback and going from there.

              But let's get into a little bit more about the host, as you put it. Can you elaborate a little bit on the relationship between the city or county, the local government jurisdiction, and then the host program? You said it can be unique, it can be different types of groups. United Way is just one of them. But ultimately, who's the point person? If a local government manager, their staff's listening to this right now, what's their first step on identifying that host that's maybe not the specific government themselves?

Cora Scott:

Sure, yeah. It really is just a brainstorming process. And we work with that local government or that whatever organization is possibly interested in getting this launched. And it becomes pretty apparent through initially the first conversation, because you discuss what types of community challenges that the local government is facing. And a lot of those, as you all know, are things that are not typically under the service delivery of a local government. So they're more social issues and things that are more complicated, and local governments hear about these from citizenry. "Why aren't you solving our homeless problem? Why aren't you addressing things that no one else is addressing?"

              What this does is allows a community to identify what that challenge is, and then brainstorm about who might be the best host to actually provide the program, but the government comes alongside. And what we do here at the City is we have the mayor come and speak to each class and welcome them, outline what the challenge is that we're trying to address specifically through the Give 5 program. And then line out these nonprofits and go visit them, so that they understand they have these options for how they can get engaged and help solving that community challenge.

Greg Burris:

And one of the things that Cora talked about in episode one, they become ambassadors for the community. They become ambassadors for the city, because they're on social media defending the actual facts and truths. Because people hear rumors and there are cynics out there. I know that's a surprise, there are cynics out there, but these are people who get a chance to have that glimpse behind the curtain and learn more about their community. And so they can become defenders of the city to a certain degree.

              We don't expect host organizations or cities to have all the answers coming into this conversation. All we need to do is work with them, and we'll sit down and talk about what is the biggest challenge that you're facing, what are the biggest challenges your community is facing? And figure out how the Give 5 program is the best fit.

Cora Scott:

And we haven't had any trouble identifying host organizations. It really becomes a matter of prioritizing who would be the best organization. The most trusted organization in your community that has the bandwidth, given the additional support from a presenting sponsor and other sponsors who want to line up, who's the best organization to do that.

              And every community that we've sat down with thus far has immediately ... As they've learned more about it, they thought about the challenges, they immediately go, "It should be organization X." And organization. X is always willing to take that on. So it's a customized process, but it really is just talking to us. And it doesn't take a lot of time, we usually identify the host organization in the first meeting. Don't we, Greg?

Greg Burris:

Yeah. And in fact, in our case, that host organization was the City.

Cora Scott:

Yes.

Greg Burris:

We started at the City.

Joe Supervielle:

Okay. And even, whether it's the City itself or the third party host, it sounds like part of that sponsorship is also covering staff or resource time, because it's not just ... Well, when you're planning the budget and trying to figure out what the operational costs and investment's going to be, it's also time and expertise on staff.

              So is that covered? Is it potentially where the sponsor can, not necessarily help fund a new position or make a hire, but offset the hours put in? Because there's going to be effort, even if it's not a dollar amount.

Greg Burris:

Yeah, it depends on the organization. Some organizations have the organizational capacity to say, "Oh, you know what? We've got somebody who could spend X number of hours a week or a month helping to manage." This not a full-time job. Cora and I did this at the City when we were working full-time jobs, her as the director of public information and civic engagement, me as the city manager. And we were doing this as well. That tells you right there it's not a full-time job.

              But in some organizations, the sponsors provide enough sponsorship to really hire somebody part-time to run the program .in other organizations, they already have the organizational capacity and they just say, "Oh, this would be perfect for person X."

Joe Supervielle:

Okay, so you just said you two did it yourselves on the side almost. But if there was a dedicated person, if there's a city manager listening that's in and wants to reach out and talk to you two and see where this can go, if they're already thinking ahead on, "Who on my staff, or even who I might know at this host that can run this," is it project management skills mostly? Is there selling that needs to be done to the sponsors themselves? Is it a mix of things? Describe your, not candidate but-

Greg Burris:

Just the skillset?

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah. Describe your ideal person running the show here.

Greg Burris:

Good question.

Cora Scott:

It's obviously, it needs to be someone who is enthusiastic about the community and who really wants to see positive change, and needs to be a people person who can manage projects well.

              But it's very similar to running a leadership program where you're inviting participants to be a part of the class and going out into the community. But the difference is that it's focusing on your very unique, customized challenges, and knitting that together for the citizens who participate.

Greg Burris:

It is the same person who is the facilitator.

Cora Scott:

Yes.

Greg Burris:

For example, the Give 5 program is operating in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The same person who does the behind the scenes coordination is the same person who is the primary facilitator of the class.

              In our case, we have somebody who works behind the scenes, facilitating a lot of the logistics and the details, but Cora and I host most of the class and facilitate most of the class time. So it can be divided up or it could be the same person, it's very flexible.

Cora Scott:

Yeah.

Joe Supervielle:

All right. You said earlier too, each case is unique. What are the most common questions that you've run into as people have reached out and just trying to get that first wave of info on what they can do next? What are the FAQs?

Cora Scott:

The question I most commonly get is, "How do you recruit participants?" And the good news is that it's ... In my career of doing this almost 30 years and working with citizen engagement, I've never seen anything that's a magnet for people like this is. I mean, this is the perfect audience that's searching for something. They want to be relevant. In some cases they're feeling isolated and they want to get connected to the community.

              When we just put out the word through essentially media releases and press conferences, and it's all earned media, I've never actually spent any advertising dollars on it, they come out of the woodwork. And they're excited to get engaged in the program. So that's the most common question I get is how do you recruit participants. That wasn't the difficult part. The difficult part was ensuring that the nonprofits were ready, and I'll toss it over to Greg to explain a little bit more about that.

Greg Burris:

Yeah. And that was a bit of a surprise. When we started this, we said, "Okay, well, is our biggest challenge going to be the recruitment side?" We had 40 or 50 applications already completed before we even posted the URL. When it came out in the media the first time as part of ... I was retiring, and so part of the story was, "What are you going to do next?" And I said, "I'd like to continue working with the Give 5 program," we had 40 or 50 people go online and find the program. They drilled down into the City's website and found the online application and filled it out before we even published the URL. So we knew that we had hit on something right there.

              But of course, at the other side of the equation though, if this is romance and matchmaking, like we talked about in the first program, well, on the other side, you better have these really meaningful, purposeful volunteer opportunities, because that's what people are looking for. There are people who are looking for an opportunity to answer the phone and stuff envelopes, there's no doubt about it. But what we encourage nonprofits to do is have a wide variety. What are you going to do with the retired CEO? Or in my case, what are you going to do with a retired city manager? How do you want to plug those kind of people in? Maybe a retired teacher, a retired engineer, retired bank president, retired surgeons.

              We have all these people who go through the Give 5 program with these skills, and they're looking for something a little more meaningful. So maybe they want to help you with your social media strategic plan, or help you with fundraising, or help you with addressing something else to give you capacity in the nonprofit, because really it's fuel for the nonprofit. If the nonprofit looks like it that way, or looks like it and says, "Okay, we're going to put the turf issues aside. I want to bring in talent," that can really pump up a nonprofit's capacity.

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah. Another way of looking at it's, even whether it's a business, local government or nonprofit like ICMA, it's not just free labor like an intern, which is not a great stereotype. But it's not just that base level, "Come in and do this because we either don't have the people to do it or don't feel like doing it."

Greg Burris:

We don't want to do it.

Joe Supervielle:

Let's bring the high-end people who normally would be driving big salaries, but they're retired now and they want to give back to Give 5.

Greg Burris:

And they're used to doing that high-skilled work. And the other thing I would add is, from a local government's perspective, these are voters, these are voters. And what we found is these are very active people in the community. They're not all isolating. Some have been isolating, but the average age of voter in Springfield is in the seventies. And these are your voting population.

Cora Scott:

I also get the question of, "Why would the local government be so interested in essentially a volunteer program?" Well, it's much more than a volunteer program. It really is about building community engagement, and at the heart of it, unity and trust.

              In our case, we had been working on identifying and coming up with plans for addressing poverty in our community, and a very broad-based community engagement effort we called Community Listen and Zone Blitz. This became an evolution to where we created this as a way for people to get engaged in helping to solve that particular problem. And so it turned out to be even more successful than the initial feedback and engagement, and that was hugely successful. We had 800 people participate in a six-week timeframe on our initial Community Listen that led to the creation of Give 5.

              So for us, it's about building that trust, rebuilding trust in some instances, and getting people truly engaged in their local government, and also at a level that can help drive policy as well. Because they become super volunteers. They really understand how the community works, what role the government plays. Many of them have joined our boards and commissions, which has been a godsend. I am convinced that ultimately they'll end up on city council because they become that invested, but they're also donating their hours with their skills in the nonprofits.

Greg Burris:

And Cora, you've seen Give 5 graduates show up on city boards and commissions and it’s only a matter of time until we see them on a city council.

Cora Scott:

Yes.

Greg Burris:

Every city manager, every city is always struggling with trying to get people who are unbiased, who don't have an ax to grind, to come apply and be on your boards and commissions. Because it's easy for somebody to show up on your planning board if they're angry and they're just angry about something that happened. They said, "Okay, I'm getting on the board. I'm going to change things up."

              It's more difficult to find people who are high quality people who are unbiased. And these people can come into a city's boards and commissions and be that unbiased, high quality citizen who can really lend the hand, without just trying to blow everything up.

Joe Supervielle:

Projects like these can seem overwhelming to implement from zero, but when we're breaking it down here, it seems doable. The first step is identifying what priorities the local government wants to solve, which they likely already have written down, let alone in their head. They know what their priorities for the year are. And as Cora mentioned earlier, maybe some of those longer term, not necessarily in the service delivery realm, but things that they want to improve because that's just the overall quality of life where they are.

              Part two is finding the host, whether the local government's going to do it directly or find that third party partner. And as you two mentioned, that seems to be a pretty natural fit in most cases and not too difficult. Third, get a sponsor to pay for all this, which again, a good target demo is the audience. So it seems pretty reasonable or even easy to find the sponsors. It happened in Springfield, it happened in a couple of the other locations that have already launched the program. And then fourth is the volunteers themselves. And also, as Greg said, more people signing up than you were even necessarily ready for at the beginning.

              Big picture can seem like a daunting thing, but when you break it down into chunks it's doable and the impact on the community is great. I think the clear next step or first step is just for anyone interested to reach out to you two directly. Everything will be posted online, but we'll say it again here. The website is give5program.org, five, the number. Email give5@uwozarks.com.

Greg Burris:

Dot org.

Joe Supervielle:

And at Twitter is @give5rogram, also the number five.

Cora Scott:

Yeah, uwozarks.org. Sorry about that.

Joe Supervielle:

Oh, sorry. Dot org, okay. Again, it'll be listed for people to just click on it. They don't have to remember or write that down. Well, Caro, Greg, thanks for joining. Thanks for the info on this. Thanks for everything you're doing there in Springfield.

Greg Burris:

Thank Joe.

Cora Scott:

Thank you.

 


Episode is sponsored by

Guest Information

Greg Burris, President & CEO, United Way of the Ozarks; previous City Manager of Springfield, Missouri, 2008-2018

Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement of City of Springfield, Missouri
 

Episode Notes

If you missed part one, listen here to learn how to recognize the value retirees and other older adults have and the positive impact they can have on our communities, including municipal boards and commissions and special projects that fill service gaps.

Greg and Cora return for part two to dive into the details of what it takes to launch the Give 5 Civic Matchmaking Program, including:
 

  1. An overview on how to identify the community challenges that Give 5ers could help address
  2. How Give 5 can get started in your own communities: general operational needs and requirements and an estimated launch plan and budget.
  3. Instructions on what it takes financially and operationally to launch a program in the Give 5 network.
  4. Answering questions about community engagement, volunteerism and increasing levels of social capital to build unity and trust in local government.
     

Resources

Give 5 Program Website

Email Greg and Cora directly at: give5@uwozarks.org

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