Reflections on Finding Community and Popular Blogs of 2020

They look like journals, but they are really packets of blog seeds.

As the year wraps up, I want to thank you for visiting Volunteer Commons. My word for the year was dare. One way I practiced daring was to get content out of the journals pictured above and into the world.

The best part of this daring was finding community at the other end of a blog post or article. Sometimes, it was as simple as an email about a reader feeling validated or challenged by the content. In other cases, it was a invitation to dig deeper and talk through ideas. Each interaction was a welcome opportunity to make or renew connections.

Top Blogs and More

I always enjoy when authors I follow share their popular blogs. I am also keenly aware that numbers and popularity do not tell the whole story. (Feel free to leave a comment if a post resonated with or touched you but did not make the list.) Here we go!

By far, the most popular blog this year was Power, Privilege, and Volunteerism. It talks about how volunteerism can perpetuate negative patterns of power and privilege when not designed well. Those of us with deep involvement in service have a responsibility to identify and change these patterns.

The next most-read blogs were Mission-Centered Volunteer Data Collection and The Gap between What is Meaningful and What is Measured. They address the disconnect between the way we measure volunteer engagement and what matters to those closest to the service experience.

Operationalizing Equity in Volunteer Engagement and In Search of Identity were next in line. The former offers guiding questions for applying diversity, equity, and inclusion principles in volunteerism. The latter explores how disaster suspends our judgment and the typical roles we assume in volunteering.

Finally, some of my writing showed up beyond the blog. I contributed an article to Nonprofit Quarterly that positions volunteerism as a strategy for nonprofits to act on their values and roots. Independent Sector posted a guest blog about When and Where to Use Wage Replacement Rates for Volunteer Value. Both pieces yielded valuable feedback.

Reflecting on the Year

As I consider the conversations that inspired and followed these pieces, I notice a common thread. In short, there seems to be a yearning for practicing and reporting on volunteer engagement that re-prioritizes community needs. For naming and challenging assumptions about service. For asking and answering a question, together: how do we want to be in community with each other?

Writing is a solitary activity. Pushing submit or post or publish sometimes feels like sending ideas into the void. Every comment, email, like, and share from you was a reminder that community happens in many ways. Even when quarantined or far apart. Thanks for being part of my community and making me part of yours!

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