Thursday, March 27, 2008

Volunteer program does well in park's budget planning process

This week, I've been finalizing the broad outlines of our volunteer program budget for the coming year. Like last year, our program is much bigger and more complex than it was two years ago! We now have a major partnership with SCA to manage, several grant applications pending, support from the Park Service's Centennial Initiative, and a big chunk of the flood recovery funding left over from last year's special appropriation in response to the November 2006 flood. Since my volunteer program manager position has become full-time, I've also taken on the responsibility of coordinating our Youth Conservation Corps program, and will probably end up playing a major role in the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks program too.

All of these elements have fared well in terms of funding. I'm sure the most important reason for this is that we demonstrated, last year, in no uncertain terms, what a good return on the investment we could provide. If you total up every piece of our volunteer operation, including staff salaries, equipment, and investments in infrastructure, we spent about $400,000 last year parkwide on expenses related to volunteers. In return, we received the equivalent of $1.6 million of service.

So, when SCA made their plans for this year, continuing our flood recovery partnership was an easy decision to approve. We are competing well for several grants, including NPS Special Project Funding and Youth Partnership Program funding, and with SCA's help recently won a $93,550 award from Boeing Corporation. Mount Rainier was selected as one of a few parks nationwide to receive a $48,000 base funding increasing to help pay for a full-time volunteer program manager position, rather than the 30% collateral duty we've had up to now. (I'm currently doing the job full-time, but under a temporary assignment.)

The park still has about $11.5 million left in our flood recovery account--a lot of money, but there's still a lot of work left to do. Like last year, we'll need to spend the money as efficiently and responsibly as possible. Every proposal for how that money would be spent was reviewed carefully, including our volunteer program. In the end, a few projects were cut, some were delayed, others were modified. But the volunteer program survived intact. We've set a good precedent, and I look forward to continuing to demonstrate the value of our volunteer partnerships in caring for Mount Rainier National Park.


Amir said...

Great job writing this blog, keep up the good work.

Brenda said...

I am trying to create a volunteer program and need to work on a budget. Can you share the outline of items that should be in a volunteer program budget?