Frequently Asked Questions

We're here to help you every step of the way. View a full list of commonly asked questions to get the information you need.

What are the requirements to be a Big?

•  18 years or older
•  Must live or work in Dane County
•  Complete online application process, interview, and references
•  Pass a background check
•  Valid driver’s license and auto insurance
•  Have a reliable car for transporting Little
•  Parent/caregiver and child MUST connect with Match Support Specialist monthly during the first year and quarterly after a year of being matched
•  One-year commitment

Who are the Bigs in the program?

Our Bigs come from diverse backgrounds just like our Littles. They are regular people, just like you. You don’t need any special degrees or job skills. You just have to want to positively impact a young person. Role models come in all shapes and sizes, and you could be a perfect fit.

Can couples and families be Bigs together?

Yes, couples and families can volunteer together at our agency! What does that mean? Couples and families that apply to mentor a child will go through the enrollment process the same as an individual - each completing the steps separately. Once approved and matched with a child, outings will start with all members planning and enjoying outings together. Couples with at least one male will be matched with Little Brothers in our program due to boys waiting longer for a mentor than girls.

What is the screening process like?

Before becoming a volunteer with our program there are several steps in our enrollment process to complete. First, individuals just apply by filling out the online application. Volunteers applicants must complete a background check (federal, state, and local), and provide references. Next is an interview with our staff before review and approval.

What is the time commitment?

We ask individuals interested in becoming a mentor to be able to commit to seeing and spending time with their Little at least 2-4 times a month. Depending on the outing and day of the week, outings typically last approximately 1-3 hours each outing.

What are some good ideas for outings with my Little?

Share an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Go to the library, check out a book, and read together. Play a board game. Go on a nature walk. Hit a bucket of golf balls at the local driving range. Take a ride in the car with the radio on and talk about the music you like. You want to select activities that give each of you a chance to learn more about one another. For children, playing can be learning. Most important: keep it simple and enjoy yourselves! (Pssst: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County gives Bigs a list of match outing ideas in the enrollment process to help get you started!)

Can I bring my spouse, a friend, or a family member on outings?

In the beginning, it’s most important for you and your Little to get to know each other. This can happen best on a one-to-one basis. However, over time it’s also valuable for your Little to get to know the people who are important to you.
The main focus is the friendship you develop with your Little. If you wish to include a spouse, friend, or family member in your outing, this would need to be approved by the caregiver of the Little prior to the outing.
(Also, couples and families can volunteer together at our agency. Couples and families that apply to mentor a child will go through the enrollment process the same as an individual - each completing the steps separately. Once approved and matched with a child, outings will start with all members planning and enjoying outings together.)

How much money should I spend?

The quality of the time you invest with your Little is more important than anything else. That’s why we discourage spending a lot of money on your Little, including on outings. The goal of the relationship is to help your Little see the world through a different lens so you can inspire your Little to become something they never thought possible. We encourage Bigs to seek out low-cost activities, such as playing a game together or sharing that pizza that you were going to have for lunch anyway. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County offers donor-supported group activities that are a great way to meet other Bigs and Littles. As a Big, you may also receive notices for free tickets to cultural and sports activities for you both to enjoy free of cost.

What kind of support can I expect from BBBS of Dane County?

Once you are matched with your Little, a Match Support Specialist from the agency will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and give feedback. (These are mandatory check-ins. Matches under one year will be contacted once a month. Matches over a year are contacted quarterly.)
However, anytime you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation, you will have a Match Support Specialist there to help. They’ll help you with ideas for activities, guidance for handling possible difficult situations, and feedback on how you are making a difference.

We'll also provide:

  • BBBS-hosted activities each month for Matches to attend (skiing event, Halloween party, craft night, etc.)

  • Tickets to sports, concerts, performing arts, etc. for Match outings

  • Discounts or free admission to businesses around town for Match outings

  • Resources and training for Bigs to increase cultural competency, trauma-informed mentoring, acknowledging biases, etc.

  • Access to support services for families

Will I become a replacement parent?

No, Littles have a parent or guardian in their life already. What they need is a Big to spend quality, one-on-one time with them. Someone to have fun with, someone they can confide in, someone like you! (Here are the expectations of parents and caregivers.) 

How do I apply?

The application takes 30-45 minutes to complete and if you exit the survey, you can save your progress and resume later. You'll be asked for your contact information, employment, personal and professional references, and volunteer history. Otherwise, if you still have questions and want to speak to someone on our team, you can fill out our Volunteer Inquiry Form.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have, we're always happy to help.