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

When I started out as the executive of a volunteer center, I thought volunteerism was a win-win-win for everyone involved. It seemed to offer benefits to volunteers, agency hosts, corporate partners, and the community at large. Right? Not entirely. The view up close revealed a more complex picture. In fact, I discovered a shadow side…

Adaptive Leadership Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning

Behind every annual report touting the number of hours that volunteers serve is a host of staff harassing gently reminding those volunteers to submit their time sheets. Tracking volunteer hours inflicts pain ranging from annoyance to misery and does so across sectors and role. Volunteer Directors, Corporate Social Responsibility Managers, Service Learning Coordinators, and the…

Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Impact

Making the Invisible Visible Volunteer Impact Volunteer Worth

1 Abandon numbers and dollars when describing volunteer value. In folk tales, when a gift is counted or priced, it loses its magic.1 2 Remember that you cannot measure everything that matters, especially when it comes to community and volunteerism. As William Bruce Cameron puts it, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not…

Volunteer Impact Volunteer Worth

It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day which meant two things in my corner of social media: 1) lots of Dr. King’s quotes and 2) volunteer project photos. One post broke the mold though and stopped me in my tracks. Consultant and activist Breauna Dorelus said she wasn’t interested in my favorite MLK quote. She…

Equity Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning

You know the organization. The volunteer manual is gorgeous. The volunteers are involved in a variety of roles. The CEO highlights achievements during Volunteer Month. They check all the boxes on how to engage volunteers. You also know the Volunteer Director feels like she is carrying the entire volunteer effort on her shoulders. She struggles…

Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning

Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Impact

In his latest book, The Practice1, Seth Godin shares a distinction between comfort and hospitality, compliments of his colleague Marie Schacht. Schacht defines comfort as “reassurance, soft edges, and an elimination of tension”. Hospitality, by contrast, is “welcoming people, seeing them, and understanding what they need” (p. 53). Defining comfort as the elimination of tension…

Adaptive Leadership Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning

Volunteers can be beneficial to organizations and the communities they serve. Yet, it’s hard to prove. Not that your team hasn’t tried. The volunteer hours painstakingly collected. The calculations of a financial value for volunteer time. The articles promoting the health or employee engagement benefits of volunteerism. Data about volunteers donating more money than non-volunteers.…

Holistic Leadership Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Impact

A colleague recently reached out with a question about volunteer demographics. His team wanted to collect them more consistently and thoughtfully. They wondered when the best time would be to ask for demographics: upfront in the application or after the volunteers were on board. Either way, they planned to make the reporting optional. I immediately…

Adaptive Leadership Equity Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning