THE BVA PROGRAM WORKS
Volunteers for the Arts (BVA) Consultancy Match Program recruits,
trains and places volunteers from the business community to work
with nonprofit arts organizations as management consultants. Volunteers
are interviewed before they are invited to join the program. Arts
and cultural organizations asking for BVA assistance go through
a "management audit" to assess their needs. With that
information, we make a careful match of a volunteer and an arts
organization based on needs, skills, interests and personality.
New volunteers attend
an orientation/training program that covers general issues related to arts management.
The program shows the volunteer how to use their business skills in
ways that are relevant to non-profit arts organizations.
Participants learn consulting and problem-solving skills that they
will apply when working with arts groups and can utilize in their
professional careers as well. The training is conducted
by current BVAs and leaders in the
arts and covers:
of Nonprofit Arts Organizations - how they differ from for-profits,
why subsidy is needed, why they are important to the business
community, the artist as manager, working with creative people,
and the nature and role of the board of directors
- Legal and
Accounting Issues - to familiarize the volunteer with unique legal
and accounting principles in nonprofit arts management
- what is involved in fundraising; different sources of funds;
what do foundations, government and corporate funders look for
when making funding decisions
and Public Relations - the special characteristics of these as
they relate to the arts
- The BVA
Experience - how to be successful as a volunteer consultant, what
to expect from the experience
is held in the evening on three consecutive days. All volunteers are required to attend the training sessions
before they are placed to work with a group. This training is key
to the success of the BVA program and ensures that volunteers not
only have strong business skills but also an understanding of the
nonprofit arts and cultural sector.
If you are interested in joining the dedicated and talented group of
professionals currently helping arts and culture to thrive in Rhode
training will be held October 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2003.
When an organization
asks for assistance from BVA, the
BVA program director conducts
an in-depth "management audit" to determine how a volunteer
management consultant can be most effectively utilized. Many factors
affect this decision, such as: What is the level of development
of the organization? What resources, including staff, budget, board
contacts, does the organization have available to use for a project
involving a BVA? What management problems does the organization
audit is conducted with the participation of staff members from
the organization, but sometimes board members are involved as well.
Of course, the audit information is kept strictly confidential.
Based on this audit, we work with the organization to identify and
set priorities on projects for BVA assistance. Then we begin looking
for a BVA to place with the organization.
- An Art Unto Itself
When the volunteers
have been trained, arts organizations audited, and projects identified,
we begin the matching process. We pay attention to many factors
when making these matches, including:
disciplines the BVA volunteer wants to work with
· Business skills of the BVA volunteer
· Management needs of the arts/cultural organization
· Time restrictions of the project and of the organization
· Personality fit of the BVA volunteer and arts/cultural
a match is just the beginning. Information on the organization is
given to the volunteer along with a description of what the project
will involve. If the volunteer is interested in working with the
group, we set up a match meeting between the volunteer, staff from
the arts/cultural organization, and the BVA program director.
At the meeting,
the organization and the selected project are discussed. It is an
opportunity for both the volunteer and organization to get to know
one another. As often as not, the arts/cultural organization and
BVA volunteer start working immediately, talking about the first
steps of the project, timeline, how they will develop the necessary
At the end of
this match meeting, a simple scope of work is prepared by the BVA
program director and provided for approval to both the organization
and the BVA volunteer. It gives everyone a clear understanding of
what is being agreed to. From this point on, the organization and
volunteer work directly on the project together.
can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months. Because of the
complexities of the matching process we cannot always operate first-come,
first-served. Each BVA project is custom designed. The amount of
time it takes depends on the availability of the right volunteer
with the right skills - and the right arts group for the right volunteer.
Some projects requiring highly specialized skills may take some
time to find a qualified and interested volunteer. While we can
sometimes respond to urgent needs, generally projects that must
be addressed within a very short period of time may not be best
served by this program.
In some cases,
it is appropriate to place more than one BVA at a time with the
same arts/cultural organization, working on separate projects or
together as a team on one project. Business Volunteers for the Arts
is not a one-time-only program. Many arts organizations come back
to us time and time again with new projects. BVA volunteers, on
the other hand, are almost always placed with just one client at
itself can last anywhere from a few weeks to many months. Some of
our volunteers, once placed, have remained with the same group for
a number of years, working from one project to another. This kind
of long-term relationship is obviously of great benefit to the organization,
and is strongly encouraged. However, the often limited time of a
volunteer is to be respected (they make an average commitment of
three hours per week). They usually do not do projects that require
intense short-term time commitments.
& Board Membership
It is also a
natural outgrowth of BVA involvement that some of our BVA volunteers
are ultimately asked to become board members of the organization
they assist. In general, BVA volunteers are asked not to join boards
until they have completed their basic commitment to the BVA program
of three hours a week for one year. They are also asked not to join
the board of an organization they are working with until their project
with that group is completed. This is in recognition of the fact
that the value a BVA volunteer brings is often an outside perspective.
Board membership changes this relationship and also leads to new
with the BVA Office
BVA staff encourage
both arts organizations and BVA volunteers to stay in contact -
we have many resources that can be very useful in many projects.
We also can refer other BVA volunteers, suggest other service organizations,
and provide sample materials when needed.
consultancy does not develop in the way the arts/cultural organization
and volunteer expect. From our experience, we know that there can
be many reasons for this, and it can sometimes be difficult for
the organization and/or the volunteer to figure out what is going
wrong. If this happens the BVA program director and staff are available
to help pinpoint what has gone wrong and suggest ways to make corrections
and keep the project on track.
the arts/cultural organization, BVA volunteer and BVA staff person
is key to a successful consultancy. We encourage reciprocal communication
between the BVA staff, organization and volunteer. Formally, the
BVA staff tracks the progress of consultancies through phone calls,
personal contact, and written program evaluation forms.