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Engage Library

Points of View

None of us involved with Engage are short of opinions. In fact, we seriously considered emblazoning the slogan "Insight with Attitude" across our masthead.  Points of View is devoted to the exchange of opinions, viewpoints, attitudes and, we hope, insight. Within it, we discuss the political, social, ethical, and managerial issues that underlie volunteering. We encourage readers to join the conversation and to share your own points of view on the topics presented.

As we’ve often noted, the most frequently-requested topic for a workshop that any volunteer management trainer receives has always been, and continues to be, employee/volunteer relationships. The tension between paid and unpaid staff surfaces in all types of organizations and…
January 2005
Steve and Susan react to recent news stories and observations that perpetuate some frustrating thinking about volunteers. Volunteering is either undervalued or over-valued, elevated to selfless sainthood or seen as a means to the end of teaching the middle class to love others.…
October 2004
The Samaritans are a UK-based charity that provides confidential emotional support to those who are depressed or suicidal. Volunteers provide this service through 24-hour crisis-lines and e-mail response centers. One of the keystones of The Samaritans philosophy is that their…
July 2004
The UK think tank Civitas just announced a new publication with the intriguing title of Conspicuous Compassion: Why Sometimes It Really Is Cruel to Be Kind, by Patrick West. According to reviewers, West feels that people who wear colored ribbons to show empathy with worthy…
April 2004
Lightbulb jokes aside, one of the eternal questions which shows up on a regular basis in online discussions, training sessions and inquisitive e-mails is usually framed quite simply: "What's the recommended ratio of supervisory staff to volunteers?" Susan greets this question…
October 2003
Excerpt from "Steve Says…" The strangeness began about 20 minutes into the meeting when a number of the assembled academics launched an all-out orchestrated attack on the survey [entitled “A Measure of Commitment – Volunteering for Serious Social Problems.”],…
July 2003
Right now in volunteer management we are facing a rising tide: the increasing preference among potential volunteers for short-term, episodic volunteering. By all guesses, in practically all countries, the number of volunteers preferring a shorter term commitment is rising and…
April 2003
Every once in a while we run into someone from Corporate America who, upon learning that we work primarily with nonprofits, proceeds to talk about how charities should be run more like businesses. We also occasionally find the Nonprofit Executive who is certain that social…
January 2003
Susan and Steve explore the question: Are people who are required to do unpaid service really "volunteers"?
July 2002
The Internal Battle by Steve McCurley Niccolo Machiavelli is famous for writing a book entitled The Prince, which is about gaining and exercising Power. "Power" is something that you don't hear discussed much among volunteer managers, since most of them don't have it. In fact…
January 2002
We have been privileged to travel internationally during the past few years, which gives us a very different perspective on volunteerism than anyone working only in their home country. Unfortunately, we admit to being close to despair about what is - or, rather, isn't -…
July 2001
Susan: The question of finding "men" to be volunteers and also to be volunteer program managers surfaces quite regularly, frequently accompanied by deep sighs from female colleagues. When a live male candidate actually appears, the sighs change to heavy panting. As you can tell…
April 2001