As the year wraps up, I want to thank you for joining me in the Volunteer Commons. There are so many demands on our time and attention these days, and I am grateful that you spent some of yours with the ideas in these blogs.
Thanks also to those of you who liked, commented, emailed, and forwarded the blogs onto others. I loved experiencing community through writing and digging into these ideas with you.
My word for the year was reckon, and it seems to have shown up in the writing. Many posts reckoned with the conventional wisdom, assumptions, and intentions surrounding volunteer engagement. What elements of volunteerism do you reckon with? What does your agency need to reckon with more actively? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments.
Top 2021 Volunteer Commons Posts (+ 1 Bonus Entry from 2020)
Here’s the lineup of the most popular 2021 blogs this year:
- What if We Stopped Counting Volunteer Hours? questioned conventional wisdom about how we value volunteer time.
- Are Volunteers More Trouble than They Are Worth? identified the benefits of viewing volunteers as trusted partners in meeting our mission.
- Abandoning Niceness in Volunteer Engagement challenged the idea that nice means avoiding honest conversations and mutual problem solving with volunteers. (I had a chance to chat more about this topic with Dana Litwin on her #TuesdayTips and #PricelessAdvice videos. Meridian Swift also blogged on niceness this year.)
- Trading Measurement for Witness was inspired by a post-workshop adventure in New York City. It served as a reflection on what we lose sight of when we focus on defining impact in numbers exclusively.
- Volunteer Purpose: Low-Cost Labor, Value-Added Partners, or More? discussed the need for clarity and alignment on the purpose for engaging volunteers in agencies.
- Gathering Volunteers: On Purpose dug into the importance of being intentional about the way we bring volunteers into the agency and how we equip them (and us) for success together.
- Why Volunteering for the Optics Is Not a Good Look took aim at volunteering that’s motivated by performance and offered recommendations for how to redirect it to meet community needs.
- Reclaiming Power in Volunteer Engagement reminded those who facilitate service that we have more power than we realize. It’s ours to claim and use for good.
- When and Where to Use Wage Replacement Rates (or Not) for Volunteer Value offered a primer on using the value of a volunteer hour (usually the one assigned by Independent Sector) in thoughtful ways. It outlines the benefits and limitations of assigning a dollar amount to service.
- Does Volunteerism Have a Low Value Proposition? provided insights on how the subjective perceptions that we have about volunteers can outweigh all the so-called objective data about how great they are.
- Last but not least, here’s a throwback from 2020: Power, Privilege, and Volunteerism. I included it here because it continues to be the most read blog overall. It points out the ways that volunteerism can perpetuate negative patterns of power in community and calls on each of us to unravel and reverse these patterns.