Volunteer Commons Posts

Preparations for a course on Volunteer Engagement have me thinking about how we apply diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles to volunteerism in meaningful ways. What does DEI look like in volunteer engagement – from design to implementation? How do we invest in volunteerism so that it provides a bridge from the community into the…

Equity Making the Invisible Visible Reflecting and Learning Uncategorized

I think a lot about the relationship between volunteerism and community. It is easy to see volunteerism as an extension of community. But sometimes I wonder if we need volunteerism because we have a deficit of community. Or that volunteerism is a way that we outsource community to institutions like nonprofits or government agencies. It…

Uncategorized

In June, I wrote a blog about the dangers of centering the service experience primarily on volunteers while the client, staff, and organizational needs took a back seat. The question of who we center in volunteerism has stuck with me (thanks to Vu Le’s post on who we center in fundraising). It got me thinking…

Reflecting and Learning Volunteer Impact Volunteer Worth

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