Volunteer

If you are interested in volunteering to support the work of Earlham School of Religion, please contact us at 1-800-432-1377 or esr@earlham.edu.

Admissions Volunteers

Overview

Admissions volunteers are an important part of the external communications area of ESR! As advocates of seminary education, these people fulfill a variety of tasks from lifting up the value of seminary education in public forums to interviewing prospective students to staffing tables at Friends events and graduate school fairs.

Tasks for admissions volunteers include

  • Attending graduate fairs in your area as a representative of ESR

Throughout the year ESR is invited to participate in graduate school fairs. The Director of Admissions is not able to attend every one, even those which we think might be beneficial to ESR.  Sometimes ESR sends a faculty member or a student to these events. There are times when it is helpful to use someone else to represent ESR. The most beneficial use of admissions volunteers is when the graduate school fair occurs near them. It can be is especially helpful when this person also has some affiliation with the institution hosting the fair or event.

  • Interviewing students identified by ESR in the area and completing follow-up documentation (in person interviews preferred)

Another way admissions volunteers can be engaged is when a prospective student lives close by.  Rather than the student traveling a long distance or conducting an interview over the phone, the volunteer could arrange to meet with the prospective student in a mutually satisfactory location. ESR provides the volunteer with interview questions and space for taking notes and writing comments.  This makes the interview process much more personal and enlightening.  Additionally, this benefits the prospective student as well as ESR in finding a good match.

  • Thinking and praying for discernment in meetings and churches regarding leadership skills and ministry possibilities of those around you

One of the very important ways to help with admissions is to be an advocate for ESR in your local worship community. One way to be an advocate is to work with those who identify gifts for ministry. In some cases, that will be with young people as they choose college and begin to form their career and life goals. Other times, people form those calls to ministry later in life; perhaps as a second career or after retirement. ESR admissions will supply meetings with literature and will send announcements and promotional material, but we can't see that it gets put on display and brought to people's attention. We rely on our admissions volunteers at the meeting to help promote ESR and make our goals known. Beyond the local meeting, an admissions volunteer can be a presence at quarterly and yearly meetings as well. A table of literature is not as productive as is the voice of a knowledgeable admissions volunteer, someone who can talk in scheduled or spontaneous moments about the value of an ESR education.

Development Volunteers

Overview

The work of development is fundamental to ESR’s success. If ESR were forced to depend on tuition alone for its revenue, it would either be unaffordable or it would have to curtail its programs severely and reduce faculty and staff. Consider that 72% of ESR’s revenue comes from either unrestricted or restricted endowment support. The other 28% is derived from tuition revenue (non-scholarship) or annual fund.  Without endowment or annual fund support, an ESR education would cost approximately $28,500 per year instead of $8,370. It is truly the generosity of Friends that allows ESR to function at its current capacity while also at a more affordable level. Cultivating philanthropic interest on behalf of the school is essential!

For an institution motivated by Christian purpose, stewardship and philanthropy are at their best when they embody the spirit of the faith that sustains us. The work of development is more than raising needed dollars or meeting institutional goals. On the side of the institution, it is about casting vision, articulating ideals, and creating opportunities for meaningful engagement with our constituents. On the side of the donor, Christian philanthropy involves imitating the generosity of the divine, contributing to projects that support meaningful values and causes, and trusting God to sustain—especially when one gives a gift that stretches one’s comfort zone.

As a faith-based institution, ESR’s fundraising is rooted in its understanding of Quaker values.

  • Stewardship of resources is basic to life, and includes contributing to the work of our faith community.
  • ESR’s fundraising activities are mission driven--a mission that grows directly from a leading of the Spirit. 
  • We attempt to act and ask with integrity.
  • It is our business to make the school’s needs known with kind, but plain, speech.
  • We commit to valuing the concerns and capabilities of those whom we solicit.

ESR invests its development energy in three significant areas:

  • Event planning: This activity is covered in another portion of the volunteer manual. However, it is worth noting that events are part of ESR’s development strategy. Our events are designed to contribute value and resources to the group involved in the event. We intend them to demonstrate the quality and value of our work, with the hope that they help build credibility and interest among current and potential donors.
  • Annual Fund: Accounting for 13-15% of our annual budget, this important activity allows donors of all levels to offer support of our mission. In a typical year, gifts range from $25-$15,000. ESR uses letters, phone calls, and personal visits to solicit these funds.
  • Major Gifts: Either through capital gifts, pledges, or planned giving, ESR seeks support for specific programs or initiatives for which it believes endowment support is beneficial.

ESR believes that engaged volunteers are likely to do two things: support the causes for which they work; invite others to join them in their support of an organization they find to be meaningful. ESR has found that donors are more responsive to volunteers, who happen to be their peers, than to paid staff. This does not eliminate the need for paid staff or excuse them from participating in visits and asks. It does, however, elevate the role of volunteers as an integral part of ESR’s current fundraising strategy.