The National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) in Singapore continues to produce initiatives and resources of value far beyond its city-state size. We’ve long been fans of its magazine, SALT, which launched as a print publication in 2003 and in 2010 moved to an online format, available to the world at no cost.
A new book, The Abundant Not-for-Profit, introduces the concept of knowledge philanthropists: time donors “who volunteer primarily with their head, by contributing what they know.” Consider how organizations can vastly increase their capacity (even in a poor economy) by engaging volunteers with any and all professional skills.
Around this time of year, a number of us take the time to step back from our normally busy lives and examine in what ways we feel we are able to give back. The holidays are known for bringing out the charitable spirit in people, whether that spirit is in the form of a monetary or in-kind donation or a service project such as volunteering at a food bank or children’s hospital. This is truly fantastic, but a question this always brings up for me is, in what ways can we harness this spirit year-round and use it to create a legacy of giving?
As social technologies evolve, more and more people use mobile media in new and creative ways in volunteering. This has become most obvious in the recent development of micro-volunteering. Micro-volunteering allows people to contribute to projects remotely, from their computers or their smart phones, in small, but nevertheless significant ways. Here are some recently launched micro-volunteering initiatives.
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.
The 1940 U.S. Census is going online as of April 2—a historical first! But there is no index by name, making it hard to find family members. But soon there will be – thanks to volunteers. On a collaborative and volunteer basis. Archives.com, FamilySearch and findmypast.com have teamed up to sponsor The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project to encourage as many people as possible to help create the index and improve accessibility for all
Situated on a small side street off of a busy commercial lane is an unassuming warehouse. Inside, however, one finds a bustling scene. Community members, such as libraries, publishers, authors, and individuals, drop off donations of unwanted books, while volunteers sort them and shelve them. Everyone is welcome to come during open hours to take as many as they’d like, for free.
Volunteer2 (volunteer2.com), provider of popular volunteer management software, has created another free online resource for the volunteer field: the Mission Points ROI Calculator, designed to help measure the “Return on Investment” associated with engaging volunteers at an organization.
Most organizations value the contribution of volunteer time without assessing its true worth. The concept that a report documenting more and more volunteer hours appears better does not take into consideration what gets accomplished during those hours – and what if that time was actually wasted? Further, the most popular method of measuring the ROI of volunteer engagement is calculating the wage replacement value of the number of hours contributed by volunteers. This simply furthers the questionable idea that hours equal cash equal impact.
The Mission Points ROI model treats the number of volunteer hours consumed by an organization as an expense. It also allows measurement of desired outputs
22 May: The Miami Dolphins Special Teams is a unique volunteer organization created to enlist and mobilize the ongoing volunteer services of the community with the Miami Dolphins staff, players and alumni. The mission of the Special Teams is "to offer hands-on services to communities and families in need, to partner with existing organizations on worthwhile social, civic and charitable programs, to provide assistance at Miami Dolphins Foundation events, and to support community efforts in times of emergency."
When Miami hosted Super Bowl XLIV in February, several thousand community volunteers were enlisted to help with all the activities (just as happens with all major sporting events around the world. But the Miami Dolphins football team saw an opportunity: harness the enthusiasm of these volunteers and direct it towards other needs. As one press release explains, "In 2009, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale ranked dead last in the nation in percentage of volunteers and volunteer hours per.
15 May: Points of Light Institute is "thrilled to announce a new way to celebrate the points of light in your life from the palm of your hand," through its new iRecognize Volunteers app for the iPhone.
The free app allows users to share inspiring stories, photos and YouTube videos that showcase how individuals have used their time, talent, voice and money to make a difference. The app is connected to the Institute's "Tribute Wall," through which anyone may easily easily write a tribute or pledge service on behalf of family members, co-workers, neighbors or friends to highlight their contribution to volunteer service. It is also integrated with Facebook. In the Institute’s words:
Join us in creating a culture that values service and encourages, supports and rewards civic engagement. ..this application is designed to recognize those who are at the center of community problem solving and enable everyone to share their stories of service on Points of Light Institute's Tribute Wall.