ASU Lodestar Center


A New Leaf recertification

A New Leaf reflects on the Service Enterprise Initiative following its recertification

August 9, 2023 - Through its work in Arizona, nonprofit organization A New Leaf casts a net that is nothing if not wide. 

The Mesa-based organization spreads its roots throughout the entire Central-valley, with programs spanning as far east as Apache Junction and as far west as Buckeye. 

Even larger than its physical locations is the sheer number of programs A New Leaf offers, tackling what it calls the “Seven Pillars of Crisis in the Community.” These vary from offering sexual and domestic violence services to family support and foster care. 

With such a varied number of programs, it is no surprise that A New Leaf has touched thousands of families in Arizona with its mission of addressing community needs. As of this year, over 24,000 individuals have taken advantage of A New Leaf’s many programs and services. 

But for every family that benefits from A New Leaf’s work, a volunteer is needed to make that work happen. For this reason, A New Leaf participated in the Service Enterprise Initiative, a program of AL!VE and Points of Light, offered in Arizona through the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. The national certification program is geared towards reimagining nonprofit organizations’ approach to volunteer management through diagnostic tools, individualized coaching, and more. 

According to A New Leaf volunteer manager Raven Yosick, the impacts of the SEI have restructured the organization from the top-down, in volunteer management and beyond.

“It’s the platform on which we've structured everything around,” Yosick says. “All our training includes SEI language. All of our training reinforces that we are a Service Enterprise certified agency.” 

According to Yosick, A New Life relied on SEI guidelines to discover new places where volunteers could be integrated into the organization’s workforce. 

“When the pandemic hit, that’s when it had to get creative because everything closed down, and you want to keep people engaged. Volunteers also wanted to stay engaged,” she says. 

Building off of the traditional model of volunteering, A New Leaf embraced flexibility in their new volunteer positions— implementing remote and virtual options in addition to in-person ones. These have even helped the organization overcome many of the limitations of working on site. 

“We’ve seen that with departments like strategic initiatives, virtual volunteering also gives us an opportunity to not have to struggle too much with physical placement. Offices are limited with space” says Yosick. “We want to make sure that people are able to do their work, and if we have volunteers that need to be on site then they are occupying those spaces— but volunteers may not necessarily have to be on site. They can work virtually to support us with the capabilities of being able to do video calls, conferences, and things like that.” 

However, Yosick argues that A New Leaf saw its greatest development from the diagnostics available as part of the SEI program. The Service Enterprise Diagnostic Evaluation assigns a number grade to several volunteer management categories, such as onboarding, leadership involvement, and resource allocation. This allowed the organization to plan and structure their efforts in improving volunteer management strategies in the long term. 

“As we restructured, we definitely paid attention to how much weight we need to put in each area for growth or where we needed to maybe build more infrastructure and things like that in order to carry the weight of some of these,” Yosick says. 

Overall, Yosick emphasized that the Service Enterprise Initiative program requires organization-wide effort and understanding to see its full benefits. 

“Really understand the soul of SEI and how it’s going to really grow your opportunities. It’s a beautiful structure, and that’s why we like it so much here. We’re a large agency and we can get lost in the weeds with a lot of things. Having an overarching healthy guideline, which SEI provides, keeps us accountable to what’s best for a healthy volunteer program. 

Story by Lillian Finley, ASU Lodestar Center.

Photo: ASU Lodestar Center's Dr. Robert Ashcraft presenting A New Leaf's Bill Scott, the board chair of A New Leaf, and CEO Michael Hughes


Get your organization certified as a Service Enterprise

The Service Enterprise Initiative is a national program that provides training and certification to nonprofits that are committed to implementing exemplary volunteer management practices to achieve operational efficiency and greater social impact.