Associated Students Inc. is revamping its volunteer program to pique interest and increase student participation by branding volunteers as VIPs and offering new incentives, skills and experience.
“We had a volunteer program in the past but we weren’t getting a lot of student interest,” said ASI Marketing Manager Reuben Greenwald. “This program was developed as a way to kind of rebrand what we were doing and allow more students to get involved with ASI.”
The new program is built on a tier of 20 points. Each VIP volunteer will have a card and after every volunteer effort, acquire points. The points lead to free shirts, mugs, movie tickets and gift cards. Once a student earns all 20, the prizes include a Peak Adventures trip, a program certificate and a letter of recommendation.
ASI wanted to offer more than just rewards to bring students in. It has also implemented monthly VIP sessions where volunteers will learn about event planning, marketing techniques and ways to “pack the house” for each event.
“You’re getting some skills along with the fact that you’re also getting experience,” Greenwald said.
Approximately 25 students signed up for the VIP program after a Spread the Love event on Feb. 14. Students can now sign up for the new program at the ASI Hot Spot in the University Union, which will be the main hub for VIP volunteers.
Senior business major Alan Tham applauded the implementation of rewards and believes it will make a difference and increase student interest. Other students agree the innovative incentives are enough of a benefit to participate in the program.
“I think that it is a good opportunity, especially with a letter of recommendation,” said Lydia Chavez, senior communications major. “A lot of seniors, like myself, need that.”
Although reaching all students is ASI’s goal, students believe upperclassmen in particular would see the value of becoming involved on campus and gaining useful experiences and skills for the future.
“It depends on who and where they decide to advertise (the program),” said Cindy Thao, senior accounting business major. “Upperclassmen want to get their face out there and take advantage of having that experience.”
The hope of ASI staff is for students to appreciate the experience more than just the incentives. ASI regards the volunteer work as the ultimate reward.
“It’s more going to benefit the students than ASI,” said ASI Event Coordinator Daniel Jackson, senior public relations major. “It will give students experience in working on and planning events. In addition, it will allow students the opportunity to volunteer and support and give back to the campus community.”
Jackson said students would get the most out of the program by building their rÃ©sumÃ©s and portfolios.
Senior pre-nursing major and African Student Association member Banke Odubela has been a volunteer since the fall 2010 semester. She views her volunteer efforts as time well spent.
“I volunteer because I have always enjoyed helping others,” Odubela said. “It gives me a sense of purpose.”
Assisting at events such as the Causeway Classic Blood Drive, feeding the homeless with the Cooper Woodson College Enhancement program, helping students on Move-In Day and the Thanksgiving food basket drive, are valuable to Odubela.
“The most important benefit is meeting new people, making connections and character building,” Odubela said. “I believe it keeps some people humble to know that you’re helping others.”
The ASI staff and volunteers find students are unaware of the many components of ASI and know little about what they do on campus.
“You have fun while learning to work as a team,” Odubela said. “It’s very rewarding in more ways than you can imagine.”
In addition to helping at events, ASI has many tasks volunteers can be involved in such as: coordinating events, distributing tickets, coming up with new marketing ideas and conducting surveys for student opinion.
“Without having to be employed or without having to run for a position, any student that wants to get involved would have the ability and opportunity to come on out and get involved with the VIP program,” Greenwald said.
Through this new program, ASI hopes to show students all that it offers. Whether it will inspire students to volunteer this time around, only time can tell.
“It’s unfortunate that students don’t realize how much ASI does for them,” Odubela said. “For example: putting on events, providing volunteer opportunities, giving students a representative role in committees, dealing with school related issues all over campus. There is a lot that ASI is good for. We just need to help others realize that.”
By Maikalina Madali, State Hornet
Maikalina Madali can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.