I recently had the privilege of spending an intensive four days with volunteerism colleagues in Singapore (my fifth visit since 2001) on behalf of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVCP) there. Singapore is a small country, but amazingly multicultural and multi-lingual. Over the last decade, NVCP has focused on encouraging more intentional giving of time and money in both formal and informal ways. I learned about many interesting things during my most recent stay, and want to share three of them here.
In any discussion of evaluating volunteer services, someone inevitably will point to the results of a “volunteer satisfaction survey” as ostensible evidence that things are going well. How did we arrive at this particular method of assessing success with volunteers? Do such surveys reveal anything meaningful about the value of volunteer contributions? What might tell us more?
Anyone who leads volunteers has had this experience: an enthusiastic volunteer arrives, plugs in, provides consistent and thorough service, becomes central to your organization, and then one day, leaves. This can leave a volunteer manager both perplexed and dismayed. “What did I do wrong? Did I not show enough appreciation? Did I not challenge them enough? Or provide them with enough responsibility?”
Many in the volunteerism world in the U.S. (along with some international colleagues) are preparing for the annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service this June. It got Energize thinking about the best way to get the most out of attending conferences for professional development. Here are some ideas from Energize President Susan J. Ellis for taking a conference above and beyond sitting in workshops and taking notes.
We are generally primed to get excited by things that are new. But it's important to remember that traditional materials can remain useful, even vibrant. One great example is the Journal of Extension (JOE), the official refereed journal of the U.S. Cooperative Extension System (which includes 4-H, Master Gardeners, nutrition advisors and other volunteer-centered programs). As of June 1994, JOE has been published exclusively on the World Wide Web at www.joe.org. And the full contents are accessible to any site visitor at no charge.
Voluntourism, also known as volunteer vacationing, gives people the opportunity to travel for leisure and pleasure and volunteer in the countries they visit. Ideally, the vacationer gives meaningful service in return for getting the chance to meet local people in a personal way. A great place to learn more about all of this is VolunTourism.org, which has consistently advocated for the highest quality of service while genuinely doing good.
Guest commentator Rob Jackson draws three critical points from recent social media data that have direct relevance to leaders of volunteers – and gives tips for responding. Are you keeping up with how fast things are changing?
The Energize Bookstore is pleased to announce that we have back in stock print copies of four of Linda Graff’s books! A long-term friend of Energize, she is president of Linda Graff and Associates, Inc., based in Ontario, Canada and is internationally acknowledged as the volunteer field's leading expert in risk management issues. Her books have remained consistent best sellers from our store in e-book format, and there’s a good reason.
For some time now I have been impressed at the level and quality of the blogs and discussions across the pond in the UK via the social action platform, i-Volunteer.org,uk. A range of volunteer management practitioners use this forum to post thoughtful commentary, often on provocative themes, and – amazingly – other members respond in kind! Bravo to our British colleagues!
National Volunteer Week is about to start in the United States and Canada, and other countries will have their own celebrations in a few months. Many organizations are in the midst of planning special events to say thank you to the many people who donated time and skills this year. What form of recognition is the most meaningful?