Author: <span>Sue Carter Kahl</span>

I just finished reading Fr. Gregory Boyle’s Barking to the Choir. The following sentence hooked me and wouldn’t let go. “We always seem to be faced with this choice: to save the world or savor it. I want to propose that savoring is better, and that when we seek to ‘save’ and ‘contribute’ and ‘give…

Equity Making the Invisible Visible Reciprocity Reflecting and Learning

Reciprocity Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Worth

Volunteer numbers. Service hours. The financial value of volunteer time. These are the figures tucked into reports on volunteerism. It’s all well and good for compliance. Yet it doesn’t tell us much about if or how volunteers had an impact on the community. Isn’t that interesting? The things we report most tell us little about…

Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Impact

Volunteer Impact Volunteer Impact Insights

“One of the things I like about our agency,” said the Volunteer Manager, “is that we can do things just because they are nice*.” The faith-based foundation of her agency meant a Return on Values drove their work as much as a Return on Investment. Her comment stands as a stark counterpoint—or maybe a final…

Adaptive Leadership Holistic Leadership

When I taught strategic volunteer engagement, students often described their agencies’ work with volunteers as an afterthought. Sure, they involved volunteers, but there wasn’t much intention or investment in the effort. It seemed that having some volunteers in some roles was somewhat good enough. As if volunteers were just one more box to check, an…

Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning

Making the Invisible Visible Volunteer Impact Volunteer Worth

“Organizations that invest in volunteer management capacity are more likely to attain high net benefits”. That was one of the conclusions that researchers Mark Hager and Jeff Brudney made in a 2004 study1,2 of volunteer management in nonprofits. That conclusion held true when they revisited some of those nonprofits in 20193. It sounds pretty basic,…

Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Impact

One of the best parts of writing a blog is finding like-minded colleagues on the other side of clicking “publish”. This year, I was delighted that some readers reached out with an email or phone call. Some wanted to dig into or question a blog topic. Others just wanted to share that it was good…

Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Impact

It’s been said that what gets measured gets managed. The adage is useful: the process of measurement supports goal setting and accountability. And yet, it can also fall short when it comes to things that are hard to measure or when the act of measurement is harmful or distracting. In those cases, it may be…

Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Retention