The volunteer experience is rich and dynamic; therefore, our approach to communicating volunteer impact needs to be as well. Too often, service gets reduced to numbers and a dollar value. Unfortunately, this does a disservice to the diverse contributions that volunteers make to the community and the agencies they serve. It overlooks the many ripples that result from volunteer service.
Purpose and Goals
The purpose of these Volunteer Impact pages is to encourage and equip those who work with, support, or fund volunteerism to tell a fuller story about service.
My goals are to:
- remind us that volunteer value (or any) indicators of success are most useful when they flow from mission and purpose,
- establish that there is a time and place for the industry standard indicators of volunteer numbers, hours, and wage replacement rates but not every time nor every place,
- expand awareness and use of diverse volunteer value indicators that are meaningful and relevant to a particular community and agency context, and
- offer tools that help practitioners generate meaningful indicators.
What’s Happening So Far
- Here are some blogs with fresh thinking about volunteer impact.
- Here is a tool (and samples) to help you consider volunteer impact from the point of view of those closest to the mission.
- Here is a permission slip if you need a little encouragement to get started on a new path.
Co-Creating and Commoning
The goals above are based on issues I hear about volunteer impact in workshops and classrooms and offices. I’ve heard them from colleagues in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia. Many say they feel alone in trying to shift the culture around volunteerism. Hearing that refrain has made me wonder how those of us doing this work can connect.
So, another goal is to practice “commoning” or working as a community to expand indicators for communicating volunteer impact. Ideally, this website will be one place for that.
Let’s Get Started
No one person has all the answers for sorting out volunteer impact. Collectively though, we can come up with a richer approach than we have now. I’d love to hear from you about what you are learning and wondering.
- What questions do you have about articulating volunteer impact?
- What tools, story pages, reports, infographics, or other creative ways do you use to convey volunteer impact? (Are you willing to share them? Let’s build a library of samples that could help inspire others.)
- What have you learned about volunteer impact in your personal and professional experience?
- How do we change the narrative about volunteerism from one that treats volunteers as a nice-to-have add-on into one that invests in volunteers as a powerful strategy for engaging the community in a collective goal?
- How would you like to make the most of a volunteer impact commons?
Please comment below or reach out through the Let’s Connect page. You can also follow my blog where I often write about volunteer impact. The blog sign-up box is in the top right corner of this page (when viewed on a larger screen). I’m eager to learn from and with you.
“What wretchedness to believe only in what can be proven.”