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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.

The last few years have been challenging for non-profits. Fundraising and safeguarding scandals, accusations of excessive executive pay, concerns over political bias – the list of controversies has grown, negatively impacting the public’s trust and confidence in good causes.…
January 2019
Points of View authors Rob Jackson and Erin R. Spink were recently inspired by a Canadian article that highlighted the coming funding shortfalls due to an escalating reliance on the services non-profits offer. In this Points of View, they take a page from this article to…
October 2018
In this month's Points of View, Rob Jackson and Erin R. Spink consider the importance of "laddering" in the volunteer management profession.  Jackson and Spink define laddering as “the opportunity to report to someone more senior than you who is also a leader of volunteers.”…
July 2018
Definitions are important. But when it comes to volunteerism, a focus on the language we use can often result in a lot of navel gazing and little practical action. In this Points Of View, Rob Jackson looks at the ethical implications that can arise when we aren’t clear on the…
April 2018
The year 2017 is behind us and a shiny new year lies ahead, full of promise and potential. But before we look to the future, we should take a moment to reflect on the year past, to look back at the journey taken over the last 12 months, and consider whether that journey is…
January 2018
The Daily Mail online recently published a Reuters article, “Good job or taking work? Volunteering by asylum seekers in Italy praised and panned.” It provides an interesting outline of the pros and cons of an initiative in Italy which offers migrants from sub-Saharan Africa –…
October 2017
The disappointment began with a simple question: What are the significant issues facing volunteer managers today? And when the answers mimicked the exact same responses from 10 years before, volunteer management expert and Points of View co-author Rob Jackson’s heart sank:…
July 2017
Volunteer engagement certainly encounters its fair share of mistakes and failures, which is part of life. But think about it: When was the last time you went to a conference workshop that focused on how someone failed? Don’t we most often focus instead on the successes we've…
April 2017
In this thought-provoking Points of View, Susan J. Ellis and Rob Jackson profess that they are not trying to exhort volunteer managers or instill guilt (well, maybe a tiny bit). Rather, these two volunteer leadership vanguards explain why and how a strong profession like…
January 2017
In last issue’s Points of View, we examined the purpose and potential of a National Volunteer Week. We argued that such national celebrations are not just about individual volunteer recognition, and we took a more strategic look at the purpose and value of such weeks. In this…
October 2016
Now that we’ve gone through April, May, and June, most countries have completed their annual national “Volunteer Week” to celebrate volunteers and volunteering. Unfortunately, despite good intentions, it usually feels like the only people who are aware of the celebration are…
July 2016
In this Points of View, authors Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis take issue with recent research on volunteering and, in a cautionary tale, argue that asking the wrong questions will ensure the wrong answers. Point by point, they review troublesome assumptions in a published…
April 2016
Back in September, the BBC in the UK ran a series of news stories and articles looking at the development of robotics. They were following up on a study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte, a study predicting that about 35 percent of current jobs in the UK are at…
January 2016
A lot has been said about “spontaneous” volunteering when it materializes as an emergency response to natural disasters – the human impulse to help in some way, any way, when needs are life and death. But every once in a while, these unexpected circumstances illuminate not…
October 2015
Was Olive Cooke, a 92-year-old volunteer for the Royal British Legion, hounded to death by fundraisers this past May? In this Points of View, intrepid sleuths Susan J. Ellis and Rob Jackson turn the Olive Cooke case inside out and use it to debate a question that volunteer…
July 2015
In this Points of View, authors Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis debate an issue that every volunteer manager must confront: Should you compare and contrast your volunteer engagement to that of other organizations? Is finding a comparison a sign of achievement, or is it…
April 2015
It’s understandable that overworked volunteer resources managers look for quick and easy ways to do things. A common approach is to discover what others seem to be doing successfully and then use those practices or templates. But in this Points of View, Susan J. Ellis and Rob…
January 2015
Volunteer for four hours and get a free concert ticket. Volunteer for 100 hours and get a tax rebate. Or volunteer for 500 hours to organize a gala fundraising dinner, but pay for your own admission ticket to eat. Do we need to offer incentives to people to get them to volunteer…
October 2014
A central issue in the volunteer field has long been the lack of true support for volunteers (and of our professional roles) by organization executives. Oh, there’s been lots of lip service with lavish praise along the lines of “volunteers are the heart of our services.” But…
July 2014
Most Volunteer Centers have no independent purpose apart from the volunteer community they serve. So it would seem vital for a Volunteer Center to develop strong, mutually-supportive relationships with any organization committed to engaging or deploying volunteers of any kind.…
April 2014