By Adam Ebnit & Hilry Hazelwood
April 30, 2012
This past fall, the NYU Center for Student Activities, Leadership, and Service introduced NYUServiceConnect (NYUSC), an online system to connect students, faculty, and staff throughout NYU’s Global Network University with volunteer opportunities. Within the first few months, NYUSC connected nearly 1,800 volunteers with over 325 different nonprofit organizations throughout the United States and abroad. By providing this service, NYUSC supports NYU’s continued commitment to its communities by being “a private university in the public service.”
NYUSC was created through a partnership with VolunteerMatch.org, an online community of volunteers and nonprofit organizations. Large national organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, the National MS Society, Habitat for Humanity, as well as thousands of local nonprofits have received over 5.6 million volunteer referrals through VolunteerMatch since 1998.
NYUSC is a co-branded website designed to be the foundation for volunteer engagement at NYU. It provides a comprehensive network of services that guides visitors through the entire volunteer process, from site selection to recording individuals’ service hours. When an NYU community member logs into NYUSC, they immediately have access to VolunteerMatch’s diverse selection of one-time and ongoing volunteer opportunities with NYU’s nonprofit community partners and the over 80,000 nonprofits now registered with VolunteerMatch.
Once logged into NYUSC, members of the NYU community can search the network of nonprofit and tax-exempt charitable organizations for volunteer opportunities that best fit their individual passions, schedule, and skills. Visitors can also search for projects best suited for groups, children, teens, or an older population. It is also possible to search for “virtual” opportunities, where individuals can volunteer without having to be physically present at a specific location—usually by phone or via the Internet. In addition, NYUSC provides tools for individuals to manage their own service projects for their club, school, department, or residence hall, making it easy to recruit and manage volunteers for special NYU-related volunteer programs.
VolunteerMatch’s extensive network also allows potential volunteers to search for service projects for any particular location by zip code, city, or country. Using NYUSC, students can find service opportunities catered to their interests wherever they happen to be; whether home for winter break or while studying abroad, students are able to find opportunities to serve their community. With this feature, NYUSC is able to support the University's priority and commitment to the Global Network University (GNU) by creating a streamlined system for all volunteer recruitment and management, no matter where one is living. NYUSC automatically knows where someone is located when they log on and will automatically populate volunteer opportunities within that area.
In addition to connecting the NYU community to service opportunities, NYUSC is extremely advantageous in providing the University with concrete data about community service—where it is happening and who is participating. NYUSC has partnered with NYU Information Technology Services to implement a single sign-on that allows visitors to connect using their NYU NetID and password. By using these credentials, ITS can provide VolunteerMatch with demographic information, such as a volunteer’s school or department, current address, or class year.
As NYU community members record their service hours through NYUSC, reporting and tracking becomes more accurate and extensive. Measuring program and community impact is thus easier and more accurate. The information generated by NYUSC is especially important for supporting the ongoing assessment and development of community service at NYU, enhancing community relations, and gathering data for recognition from the Corporation for National and Community Service and The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
NYUSC will continue to expand in order to help global sites effectively manage their service opportunities and assist local community partners in recruiting and managing NYU volunteers. Searching for volunteer opportunities and logging hours will soon be even more convenient with the planned release of a mobile app for the NYU community, which will feature NYUSC alongside other services.
To explore NYUServiceConnect, visit www.nyu.edu/service-connect and log in with your NYU NetID and password. If you have questions or feedback about NYUSC, please contact the Center for Student Activities, Leadership and Service by sending e-mail to email@example.com or visiting the NYUServiceConnect website.
Adam Ebnit is the Associate Director at the Center for Student Activities, Leadership and Service and the System Administrator for NYUServiceConnect.
Hilry Hazelwood is a New York Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA member serving as the Coordinator for Program Assessment and Service-Learning in the Center for Student Activities, Leadership and Service.