Finding balance is essential to maintaining effectiveness. This message is clearly demonstrated in the Junior League of New Orleans’ Membership Curriculum, which drives members’ volunteer and engagement activities. It prioritizes the needs of both members and the League, maintaining balance and encouraging both personal and organizational effectiveness.
Through purposeful evaluation, JLNO has devised a new system for how members can best serve the organization and their community. Its Membership Curriculum applies to Provisional members, those in their first year of service with the organization, and Active members who have between one and 10 years of service. Combining formal training via workshops and lectures with hands-on activities allows members to learn everything from planning to promotion to programming.
JLNO’s Membership Curriculum reflects our members’ growing need for flexibility and includes innovative approaches for applying volunteer service, training, committee placement and financial responsibilities towards each member's annual voluntary commitments. It includes 40 hours of community service and four hours of formal training dedicated to achieving JLNO’s focus of advancing the wellbeing of women while retaining motivated and engaged members.
Many JLNO members work outside the home and are unable to volunteer during weekdays, so it was mutually beneficial to begin offering increased volunteer opportunities on weekends and evenings Another key component to the curriculum is the flexibility in how volunteer time is counted. For example, instead of requiring three-hours of volunteer service all at once, members can choose from a more diverse array of service options, including both League-based and community partner opportunities, that involve shorter or longer individual time commitments.
In addition to volunteer commitments, training opportunities enhance the organization's mission of improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. General Membership Meetings are joined by a variety of other opportunities to earn training credit, including Community Projects, presentations by JLNO’s strategic partners and programming presented by the Life, Leadership, and Learning Committee.
Allowing flexibility in how credits are earned and expanding training opportunities provides a meaningful experience for the member as she develops her potential. “Volunteer opportunities for our members should communicate the value proposition of the League,” says JLNO President Alice Franz Glenn. “All of our service is impact-driven paired with a commitment to training our members to be the best possible leaders.”
Communicating the value of Junior League membership is a main goal of JLNO’s Curriculum. JLNO members are valuable to their families as well as the workforce and nonprofit sector: their League membership should be adaptable to these other commitments. In addition to offering diverse volunteer and training opportunities, the Membership Curriculum accommodates a busy schedule, a change in employment or family situations, or increased participation in other community-focused endeavors. Members may elect to make financial contributions, give blood, donate diapers or feminine products, contribute articles to Lagniappe magazine, request a waiver of volunteer or training requirements, or go on sabbatical in place of new core components. These opportunities help members continue to serve the organization and their community while addressing career, health, or family needs.
JLNO’s Membership Curriculum allows each member to customize her Junior League experience to be as personal and meaningful as possible. This flexibility will maximize member satisfaction and utilization while simultaneously strengthening JLNO organizationally, thus manifesting our essential balance.
JLNO endeavors to make this curriculum flexible so that members can craft their own training and experience.
Hands-on volunteer activities include:
• Learning more about the internal running of a nonprofit by performing administrative tasks for the organization
• Focusing on direct service by training future caregivers at Safe Sitter or sorting diapers
• Gaining awareness of the community by working with nonprofit partners like Covenant House
• Cultivating support for the organization by soliciting donors or selling fundraiser tickets
• Enhancing communications skills by promoting the organization through Lagniappe, social media, merchandise, or word-of-mouth
• Measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of JLNO’s programs
Formal training includes:
• General Membership Meetings, where members gather to learn about what’s going on in the organization as well as hear presentations from leadership experts, other nonprofits, and business or community partners
• Personal and professional development opportunities curated by JLNO’s Life, Leadership, and Learning Committee
• Events raising awareness about broader community issues with partner organizations
• Programming presented by JLNO’s Financial Literacy, Get on Board, and WE Fellowship programs
• Committee-based training that provides knowledge and skills they didn’t have and enables them to better plan and implement within their group