About Service Enterprise

The Service Enterprise Initiative is a national initiative led by Points of Light that strengthens the capacity of nonprofits to fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills to address community needs. Through a comprehensive research-based assessment, training, consulting and certification model, selected nonprofits are equipped with the tools and technical assistance necessary to support their Service Enterprise transformations. The initiative is currently delivered through a national network of Service Enterprise Hubs, which have certified more than 300 organizations across the country since 2012.

Volunteers are at the heart of what we do. They are how we get our work done, we couldn’t do half of what we do without them, and the Service Enterprise process has strengthened that notion.

- Haley Nelson, Minnesota Children’s Museum

Participating organizations have access to:

  • A thorough research-based assessment of their existing organizational volunteer engagement practices through the Service Enterprise Diagnostic.
  • Up to 16 hours of training to assist in reimagining the ways in which the organization engages volunteers.
  • Up to 10 hours of individualized coaching to address unique organizational opportunities and challenges.
  • National certification signifying the organization’s commitment to and proficiency in appropriately leveraging the time and skills of volunteers to meet the social mission of the organization.
  • A peer network of organizations from which to access best practices and support.

The Service Enterprise program is based on rigorous research, and the process includes an application, diagnostic, training, coaching and certification, and is illustrated by the process wheel below. The time it takes an organization to complete this process can vary between six months to a year or more. To learn more about how to become certified or how to offer the Service Enterprise program in your community as a Hub, explore the links to the right.

Service Enterprise Initiative History

The Service Enterprise Initiative began when Reimagining Service partners CommonGood Careers, Deloitte, Taproot Foundation and the TCC Group started to collaborate around research and best practices for volunteer engagement. Based on that research, CaliforniaVolunteers started a pilot project to build the capacity of organizations to operate as Service Enterprises, through a grant made possible by the Corporation for National and Community Service. In 2012, Points of Light joined the partnership to help scale the initiative and developed the project’s curriculum, diagnostic and marketing efforts. Since then, the project has scaled across the country, with more than 50 Service Enterprise Hubs operating in 20 states, and more than 300 certified Service Enterprises. We thank CaliforniaVolunteers and the Corporation for National and Community Service for their leadership and early investment and support, and TCC Group, Deloitte, Algorhythm and University of Texas Austin for investing in the research, building the assessment tools and providing the data and analysis that built the foundation for this endeavor.


June 2010 — CommonGood Careers, Deloitte, Taproot Foundation, and The TCC Group conduct four Reimagining Service research projects that provide additional perspective on the world of service and volunteerism. Additionally, the term Service Enterprise is coined. A Service Enterprise is an organization that fundamentally leverages volunteers and their skills across all levels of the organization to successfully deliver on the social mission of the organization.

Fall 2010 — CaliforniaVolunteers applies for a federal Volunteer Generation Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support the creation of the CaliforniaVolunteers Service Enterprise Initiative (CVSEI). The initiative was designed to create a model that would expand the capacity of nonprofits to become Service Enterprises, and Bank of America, Boeing, Deloitte, Chevron, Gap and HP provided funding for the effort. The program design team included representatives from OneOC, Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership, Volunteer Center of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties, and HandsOn Central California.

Summer 2012Points of Light and Reimagining Service partner to serve as project managers and training and technical assistance providers for the second year of the CaliforniaVolunteers Service Enterprise Initiative. This partnership would result in piloted and revised curriculum, a research-based assessment tool developed by researchers, marketing materials and additional tools and resources.

Fall 2013 — CaliforniaVolunteers supports Points of Light in piloting to 17 Service Enterprise Hubs in 11 states. More than 60 organizations are certified as a Service Enterprises.

Fall 2017 — Points of Light expands Service Enterprise to 20 states, working with 50 Hubs, including State Service Commissions, HandsOn Network affiliates and city government offices. More than 300 organizations have gone through the Service Enterprise transformational process. Points of Light begins developing an online blended learning model for SEI training.