Volunteer Commons Posts

After a keynote addressing equity in nonprofit organizations, an attendee asked for data to demonstrate the ROI of equity. She wanted to know if nonprofit equity investments work. The answer: there isn’t much data on what works. Maybe that is not the right question though. Perhaps we are looking for the wrong data to justify…

Equity Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning

In his recent blog, nonprofit leader Vu Le wondered if nonprofits and philanthropy have become the “white moderates” that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned about in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Le called out fundraising philosophies and practices “centered entirely on making donors who are mostly white feel good about themselves” as one…

Equity Holistic Leadership Making the Invisible Visible Reciprocity Reflecting and Learning

COVID-19 is shaking up volunteerism in ways that would seem unthinkable just a few months ago. Many organizations cannot have their volunteers serve due to program closures or health restrictions. Other organizations have had to quickly re-design their programming and bring on volunteers to serve in new ways. This upheaval is jarring, but it offers…

Holistic Leadership Reflecting and Learning

One of my research aims has been to figure out how to measure volunteer impact. It seemed that if we could identify the “right” volunteer metrics, then nonprofit leaders could justify investing in volunteerism. It hasn’t turn out the way I expected. First, I discovered how much language mattered. Every time I facilitated a session…

Making the Invisible Visible Volunteer Impact

Disasters have a way of showing us the tensions that lie just under the surface of our pretenses. In the U.S., that shows up as an espoused belief in community and communal ideals even as we celebrate rugged individualism and bootstrapping, rags-to-riches successes. We are especially conflicted about volunteering because it holds an inherent cognitive…

Making the Invisible Visible Reciprocity

“We are so anxious to classify and categorize, both nature and human nature. It is a beautiful impulse – to contain the infinite in the finite, to wrest order from the chaos, to construct a foothold so we may climb toward higher truth. It is also a limiting one, for in naming things we often…

Volunteer Impact

“Our lot as human beings dealing with a complex, multi-dimensional and paradoxical world, is that our knowledge can do no more than create a weak and rather uni-dimensional representation of that world.” Gareth Morgan   It’s that time of year: National Volunteer Month. It also happens to be the season when Independent Sector (IS) releases…

Volunteer Worth

Volunteers and the volunteer function are often overlooked in organizations. One reason is how we report on their work. Too often, the “value” that volunteers bring to organizations is reduced to their numbers, hours served, and an assigned dollar value for their time. These statistics are front and center in annual reports on service from…

Volunteer Worth

If volunteers were a new technology or drug, every hospital would be clamoring for them.  At least that was my impression after hearing Dr. Robin and Meredith Youngson speak at the 2018 California Hospital Volunteer Leadership Conference. The couple shared their moving story and cited findings from randomized controlled trials that spoke to the positive…

Volunteer Worth