Service Enterprise Initiative

AL!VE Service Enterprise Program

The Service Enterprise Initiative (SEI) is a leading capacity building certification program for nonprofits, led by AL!VE and administered in Massachusetts by the Massachusetts Service Alliance.

SEI helps organizations achieve a greater "return on investment" (ROI) for volunteer engagement and ultimately their mission statements.

Interested in joining the 2024 cohort? Watch the info session video and reach out to Lisl Hacker, MSA’s Director of Training and Technical Assistance, at, by January 31st, 2024.

Service Enterprise FAQ

Service Enterprise FAQ

Becoming a Service Enterprise allows an organization to leverage the full value of volunteer time and talent and leads to more efficient engagement of volunteers. It leads to program growth and increased capacity and sustainability. It also offers specific financial incentives by increasing the ability of paid staff to focus their time and energy on roles and activities for which they are uniquely qualified and as a result will fundamentally grow an organization’s operational capabilities.

An average Service Enterprise certified organization benefits from:

  • 23% increase in volunteers annually
  • +2,700 hours of donated time from volunteers annually
  • $63,000 in valued labor from additional volunteer hours
  • 80% of Service Enterprises report an increase in both volunteers and skilled volunteers, with 60% reporting an increase in average volunteer hours

As of 2022, 113 Massachusetts organizations are either certified Service Enterprises or are participating in the program towards certification.

The Massachusetts Service Alliance administers Service Enterprise in Massachusetts, helping organizations achieve full certification through valuable training and organizational support.

  • A thorough and research-based assessment of existing organizational volunteer engagement practices
  • Up to 16-20 hours of team-based change management training to help you reimagine ways to better engage volunteers
  • Individualized coaching to address unique organizational opportunities and challenges
  • National certification symbolizing the organization's commitment to volunteer engagement
  • Technical Assistance valued between $10,000-$15,000!
The three Service Enterprise Domains are:
  1. Establishing the Foundation - creating and sustaining the appropriate groundwork and necessary organizational underpinnings to assure the successful engagement of volunteers and other community resources
  2. Best Practices in Volunteer Engagement - practices that ensure the effective engagement of volunteers and community partners
  3. Impact and Outcomes - the degree to which your organization utilizes the tools at your disposal to create and sustain relationships, tell your story, listen to your stakeholders and measure success against your mission and organizational objectives

The Service Enterprise characteristics are:

Establishing the Foundation:

  1. Funding & Resource Allocation - The provision of the financial, human, space, and material tools necessary for the engagement of volunteers, as well as the willingness to seek additional support as needed
  2. Technology - The broad-based utilization of technology to facilitate all aspect of volunteer engagement, including record keeping, communication, and service options
  3. Leadership Involvement - Executive and board leadership demonstrate through actions their commitment to community involvement and the engagement of volunteers as a key strategy to achieve the organization's mission
  4. Planning - Thoughtful, comprehensive preparations for volunteer and community engagement based on established principles and practices of effective management

Best Practices in Volunteer Engagement:

5.       Recruitment & Cultivation - Engaging individuals and groups to serve your organization is an ongoing cultivation process. Recruitment should be targeted to assure a diverse mix of community members with the skills, interest and abilities to further your mission

6.       Onboarding - Providing a smooth pathway to service through careful screening, preparation, and guidance that includes both community members and staff involvement

7.       Training - Education and skill development, as well as the knowledge of organizational parameters and boundaries, are critical to ensure that both volunteers and staff are equipped to perform their work and to work effectively together

8.       Supervision & Support - Supervision assures that oversight and support are consistently provided to volunteers and community partners to ensure they are given the opportunity to succeed and to feel valued and appreciated

Impact & Outcomes:

9.       Collaboration - Being a part of your community is vital to the work and services of nonprofit and public sector organizations. Collaborative undertakings with other organizations, your constituents, and your volunteers build relationships and sharpen the focus of service organizations

10.   Communication - Effective communication takes many forms and operates through an increasingly wide and diverse array of channels including formal and informal means, print and social media to send information to external and internal groups

11.   Growth & Change - Vibrant, exciting organizations seek ways to improve services, cultivate leaders, continuously seed new ways of thinking, and create new platforms for action and problem solving. Staying on the cutting edge of industry practices motivates staff, whether paid or unpaid

12.   Tracking & Evaluation - Tracking and evaluation assesses the degree to which an organization monitors progress towards institutional goals and the performance of volunteers, staff and community partners in reaching these objectives of community partnerships.

Contact Lisl Hacker, MSA's Director of Training and Technical Assistance, for more information!

Sources and Additional Resources