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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.

Connecting with colleagues in volunteer management is essential for the profession and for each of us as individuals. No one argues this point. But are we as a field effectively networking and collaborating with the tools available to us today? Despite enormous technological…
January 2014
Local volunteer centers exist in many countries around the world. Granted, they operate under different names and reflect regional differences in the specific things they do, but all volunteer centers have a surprising number of things in common, such as matching volunteers with…
October 2013
There was a time when the word “intern” was used mainly for doctors-in-training. Over the last 50 years, however, the concept has widened to include many different experiences in nonprofit, government and for-profit settings. Some internships are formal requirements through…
July 2013
Money – or lack of it – always rears its ugly head in discussions of professional development for those in volunteer management, even though successful leaders of volunteers are creative when it comes to finding resources for volunteers. In this Points of View essay, Susan J.…
April 2013
What is the definition of “giving?” Has the term become synonymous with nothing but money – rather than the giving of an individual’s time, talents and skills?  And what about the word “philanthropy?” Has it, too, become indistinguishable from the giving of only money? Are…
January 2013
In the previous issue, we asked e-Volunteerism readers to help us in “Keeping the Plural in Points of View,” and a number of you did just that.  We received a range of thoughtful and provocative opinions about the major challenges facing leaders of volunteers in their everyday…
October 2012
Points of View is moving into new territory. For the past 12 years, I have written this quarterly essay with Steve McCurley, who recently retired. But I have no desire to change the title of this feature to “Point” of View. The plural "Points" has always mattered. So we will do…
July 2012
e-Volunteerism is now 12 years old, and their joint amazement about that fact caused Steve McCurley and Susan J. Ellis to look back and review what they’ve done. They write this Points of View in a somewhat anecdotal and disorderly fashion, since there are a lot of different…
April 2012
To kick off a new year and a new issue, Points of View authors Susan J. Ellis and Steve McCurley sink their editorial talons into the lack of quality academic research on volunteering, lashing out at researchers who approach volunteering as a mystery and routinely neglect to…
January 2012
Between them, Steve McCurley and Susan J. Ellis have about 70 years of experience in teaching volunteer management, providing training for far more than 500,000 managers of volunteer programs. In this Points of View, these well-known trainers and authors nonetheless acknowledge…
October 2011
The next time you have a few volunteer program managers together, here’s an interesting exercise question:  “How many of you have volunteers working side-by-side with you to do what’s needed for successful volunteer engagement – beyond helping with clerical work?”  When we ask…
July 2011
In March 2011, 10News in San Diego, California, ran a story with the following headline: “Habitat For Humanity Charging Local Volunteers: Group Forcing Local Volunteers To Pay Before Helping Build Homes.” The resulting controversy revealed both facts and opinions about “passing…
April 2011
The European Commission has declared 2011 to be the European Year of Volunteering (EYV), which coincides with the United Nations’ International Year of Volunteers + 10. Both organizations have created a variety of “working groups” to study and report on issues that are…
January 2011
At some point in any meeting of volunteer managers there emerges a recurring theme:“They” don’t respect us! It is raised in tones ranging from angry shouts to bemoaned cries, and is often followed by a litany of examples of neglect, misunderstanding and abuse. To whom the “they…
October 2002
In their last Points of View, Steve and Susan offered a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reaction to the current fad that suggests volunteer involvement would improve if we simply turned everything over to corporate human resources “professionals.” But in this follow-up column, the…
October 2010
e-Volunteerism’s Steve McCurley and Susan J. Ellis recently attended the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service, where they were deluged with what is becoming an increasingly common message: “Don’t despair. For-profit corporations and their business wisdom are…
July 2010
With this issue of e-Volunteerism, co-founders and co-publishing editors Susan J. Ellis and Steve McCurley begin their tenth year of publication. When they began this effort, both admit that they had no idea whether a venture like e-Volunteerism would succeed at all, much less…
October 2009
 “What kinds of work should volunteers do?” Volunteer program managers tend to run into this discussion in a number of different ways, often centering on the issue of whether volunteers can do some positions/work or whether only paid staff can do the work. And the usual context…
April 2010
For the last decade, we’ve watched professional associations of volunteer program managers – on local, state/provincial, national and even international levels - launch, thrive, wither, revive or stagnate in dozens of countries. Our conclusion? There is still no consistency of…
January 2010
Over the years we’ve seen an impressive array of attempts to “re-conceptualize” volunteering, at least to re-name it.  Last fall, the United States saw a flurry of special events, legislative proposals and media attention focused on the subject of “service.” It was brought to a…
July 2009