The Self Directed Volunteer (SDV) Network™ is your community for all support, training, tips, and tools you need to develop, grow, and sustain effective Self Directed Volunteer Teams.

SDV Teams have become of increasing interest to organizations looking to engage new types of volunteers in new ways. By engaging SDV Teams, organizations discover new and innovative ways to address important issues and extend their mission. Herein, the volunteers, the organization and local communities derive tangible benefits. Mobilizing teams of volunteers who have the skills, experience and a commitment to their community is an excellent strategy for maximizing resources – and it’s exactly what we’re here to help you do.

Based on over 10 years of research and practice, SDV Network’s team-based, project-focused and outcomes-driven approach provides an unparalleled opportunity to leverage the skills, capabilities, and networks of volunteers.


What is a Self Directed Volunteer Team™?

A Self Directed Volunteer Team (SDV Team) is a multi-skilled group of volunteers who share responsibilities for addressing a challenge or opportunity in their community that they care about. Projects are usually time-limited, involve a continuum of volunteer roles and rely on the creativity and initiative of the team members to complete the work as a team. Through time, the team is empowered to take full responsibility for its own functioning and for results. Watch our two-minute video.

Are you just beginning to explore the idea of a SDV Team™?

By participating in the SDV Network™ you can learn how to develop and support self directed volunteer teams™ in your organization and community. With self directed teams you will have a researched, tested and proven model to engage new types of volunteers in a format that brings the best of their talents together to propel their projects to success. Concurrently, you strengthen your organization’s capacity to address critical community needs in a time of declining resources – by harnessing the skills of volunteers. SDV Teams™ work, and we have the stories to show it!

Have experience with SDV Teams™?

Please join our community and share your stories, expertise, and successes. Your contribution to this community of practice will allow you to share your expertise with others who may be just beginning.

What does the SDV Network provide?

  • Access to the latest self directed volunteer team training and coaching;
  • Networking opportunities with others;
  • Tips and tools to help with self directed volunteer recruitment, development, retention, and recognition;
  • A blog to keep you updated on the latest stories, current research, and best practices;
  • An opportunity to feature your projects and share your successes; and
  • An open forum to share your knowledge, lead in the development of the self directed team approach, and participate in research.

Who Benefits from Self Directed Volunteer Teams™?


Individual Team members gain the opportunity to:

  • work collaboratively and address an issue they care about;
  • put skills and experience to work; and
  • engage in lifelong learning.


Organizations gain the opportunity to:

  • engage people who can direct themselves;
  • maximize their resources;
  • involve volunteers in new and exciting ways; and
  • meet their missions more effectively.


Communities gain the opportunity to:

  • involve community members as change agents;
  • engage teams to focus on local concerns and initiatives; and
  • tap into talent that might otherwise be limited or unavailable.
Ellen Scully-Russ, Ed.D.

The Self Directed Volunteer Team™ model can also be explained as a structural intervention in a broader community that is intended to build new networks and strategic alliances and new capacity to address broad community issues and problems.  In this light the model can be viewed as a social change strategy with consequences for the broader institutional and social relationships in a community.

Ellen Scully-Russ, Ed.D.Assistant Professor of Human and Organizational Learning; Executive Leadership Doctoral Program; Center for the Study of Learning; The George Washington University