Volunteer Commons Posts

Nonprofit leaders love to extol the virtues of volunteers. They declare that volunteers are the heart of the organization. They assert that the organization cannot do what it does without volunteer involvement.   Yet the dirty little secret of the nonprofit sector is that many of these same leaders think that volunteers are more trouble…

Reciprocity Volunteer Impact

“One of the most common ways people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker For years, the big funder in town had been bringing by wealthy donors to volunteer in the large community center. The donors often wanted to (and did) serve in the preschool. The problem was that…

Equity Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning

A little more than a year ago, many nonprofit agencies told their volunteers to stay home. This unthinkable action became reality almost overnight. Now, as we slowly emerge from a world turned upside down, nonprofit leaders are planning for what happens next and reimagining their volunteer strategies. One colleague in the throes of these decisions…

Equity Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning

 “The most enduring and controversial question within the field of volunteerism is the one that relates to the ‘value’ of volunteers and the hours they contribute”. Andy Fryar This enduring question comes to the forefront each year during National Volunteer Month when Independent Sector releases its annual update of the financial value of a volunteer…

Making the Invisible Visible Volunteer Impact Volunteer Worth

Three years ago, I facilitated a session about capturing volunteer impact in Manhattan. We discussed connecting volunteer contributions to the organization mission. I encouraged the group to think about capturing volunteer impact instead of measuring it since so much of what volunteers offer doesn’t show up in numbers. The participants teamed up to match volunteer…

Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Impact

Dirty. Icky. Gross. A colleague who facilitates group volunteering shared a trend she noticed in Summer 2020. Some of the groups calling her began asking for service projects “with a diversity focus”. When pressed for what that meant, most could not offer specifics. One corporate representative replied that he was only the messenger, merely passing…

Equity Making the Invisible Visible

The scene… A volunteer administrator puts the finishing touches on his budget for the year. He is excited about the ways this funding will enable volunteers to advance the organization’s mission in meaningful ways and support paid staff in engaging those volunteers well. The budget is higher than in past years but still modest compared…

Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Impact

Reflecting and Learning

I’ve been wanting to write about right relationship for some time. It keeps surfacing in what I am reading and journaling, but I have struggled to sort it out in a blog. It seemed like an appropriate time to remember this blog is a sandbox for experimentation and community conversation. One of the stumbling blocks…

Equity Holistic Leadership Reciprocity Reflecting and Learning

In a 2018 article, nonprofit leader Jan Masaoka called the nonprofit sector to task. She named the growing professionalization of the sector and its reliance on consultants as a step away from nonprofit roots in activism and the causes that drive it. This shift has led to increasing “sophistication” in nonprofit operations, with paid professionals more…

Equity Making the Invisible Visible Volunteer Impact Volunteer Worth