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|Energize Volunteer Management Update|
|February Hot Topic: The Treasure Trove of Knowledge Philanthropists
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.
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|New Research on Rural Volunteerism|
Rural communities have always relied heavily on volunteers to perform key services and still do, but demographic shifts, changes in volunteer availability and shifting demands for services require serious attention. The Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) once again recognized the need for research in this area and has announced two important new resources: a survey report on the "Status of Rural Volunteerism in Minnesota" and an article in the Rural Minnesota Journal on "Rural Volunteers: A Vital Force on Fertile Ground." These free resources will be of great interest to anyone living or working in a rural community anywhere.
Volunteerism remains strong in rural Minnesota. MAVA's survey of 103 rural organizations that involve volunteers found that 88% of them report having as many, or more volunteers this year than last, with 60%+ of rural emergency food services, activities for youth, firefighting and transportation for older adults still done primarily by volunteers.
On the other hand, 98% of the organization reported seeing one or more changes in volunteerism in rural areas. The most commonly cited were:
- People seem busier (58%)
- Rising gas prices affecting how much people can volunteer (52%)
- Older volunteers no longer able to volunteer and no one to replace them (49%)
- Harder to find volunteers to take on main responsibility roles (43%)
- More use of the internet and electronic communication (39%)
- New people moving into the area are a new source of volunteers (31%)
- People care more about their community and are more willing to help (30%)
In the article, "Rural Volunteers: A Vital Force on Fertile Ground," MAVA members/staff Elizabeth Ellis, Katie Bull and Mary Quirk relate the rural volunteerism survey findings to demographic trends affecting different parts of Minnesota. The article highlights ten key demographic and economic trends affecting rural volunteerism including population migration to the recreational lakes areas, parts of the state experiencing population loss and job seekers volunteering for workforce experience. Mary Quirk, MAVA Executive Director, comments:
Given the importance of volunteers in rural communities, there is surprisingly little recent research on rural volunteerism in the US. MAVA is delighted to contribute to the knowledge base on rural volunteerism...Although, MAVA found volunteerism strong in rural areas, there is concern for organizations to be prepared to respond to changes in what volunteers expect, and shifts in volunteer availability as so much is dependent on volunteers in many communities.
The MAVA survey on rural volunteerism is available at http://www.mavanetwork.org/ruralvolunteerism and the article, "Rural Volunteers: A Vital Force on Fertile Ground," at: http://www.ruralmn.org/rmj/rmj2012quirk/.
|New in Our Online Journal, e-Volunteerism |
e-Volunteerism is our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers. A new issue opened in January: Vol. XIII, Issue 2 which will run through mid-April. As always, all past articles continue to be available to subscribers via the journal's archives.
These new articles are now available to readers since last month's Update:
A range of provocative articles are still to come in this issue, including how one university professor teaches critical issues in volunteering (and you can, too), a Voices form the Past feature on volunteers in juvenile and adult courts in the 1960s, a review of a study on how volunteer value is communicated, and an Along the Web answer to the question, "what have bicycles got to do with it?"
You can subscribe to e-Volunteerism for a full year or for 48-hour access. Note that subscribers have full access to the Archives of all twelve volume years.
|Susan's Tip of the Month: 10-Minute Challenge: Pushing the Boundaries of Roles for Volunteers
I recently developed a group exercise for a workshop that is also of value as an individual thought-provoker. I call it the "10-Minute Challenge" because it is meant to test your gut reaction to what types of volunteers or donated services you might accommodate - enthusiastically welcome? begrudgingly accept? - within your organization.
For each of the 15 lines below, respond to these two questions:
- On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being excitement and 5 being dread, what is my first reaction to the idea of developing a volunteer role for this type of person or this type of service?
- Off the top of my head, what can I identify as at least one real work assignment with potential for this volunteer/offer?
Ready? You will undoubtedly already have some of the volunteers on this list while others may catch you by surprise. Take 10 minutes to apply the two questions above to the whole list. See you at the end with some closing observations.
- Someone available one day a year
- A family of three generations wanting to volunteer together
- University professors
- Someone available only during the night
- Service via smart phone
- A group of children under the age of 14
- Seniors over the age of 85 who are mentally active but physically limited
- On-call service
- Current clients/patients/consumers who want to get involved while receiving services from your organization
- Families and friends of current clients/patients/consumers (particularly if visiting or waiting for their relative/friend)
- Entrepreneurial volunteers who want to experiment with new approaches to service
- People referred by a therapist
- Corporate employees in teams
- Off-site work
- CEOs of major companies
So, what did you learn? The point is not to rush out and recruit every one of these types of volunteers and, of course, not every organization can meaningfully involve everyone. But are you open to innovating? Pilot testing (no one said you have to take an army of 9-year-olds!)? Did you jump to conclusions as to the limitations of some of the categories rather than their potential to do new and different things? Did you first consider whether your recipients of service might benefit from this type of volunteer, or did you react primarily on the basis of, "wow, this would be hard for me to manage"?
There is no scoring system here nor will I give grades. My goal was to stimulate your thinking and, maybe, to let you self-assess your openness to new sources of willing talent.
Energize empowers and inspires leaders of volunteers worldwide. Our specialty is creating and selecting the most relevant, innovative resources in volunteer management. We're advocates for the power of volunteers and for the recognition of the leaders who unleash it.
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