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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.

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
We’ve worked diligently to raise the standards of volunteer management. But we shouldn’t lose sight of some of the things that make volunteering different from paid employment, and help capture the volunteer spirit. In the past decade or so, we’ve tackled two types of…
April 2009
e-Volunteerism tends to be a pretty straightforward management journal. Despite the people-centered perspective that is at the heart of volunteerism, we don’t normally publish human interest soft stuff.  So why would we devote an entire issue to one person?  In this Points of…
January 2009
Those of us involved with volunteerism for a long time have always thought that the easiest way to ensure its future is to teach volunteering to children at a very early age. In fact, research shows that those who volunteer as children are much more likely to continue to…
October 2008
Every four years, the local organizing committee of either the summer or winter Olympics faces the challenge of recruiting and deploying thousands of volunteers in support of the massive event. And every four years, the committee seems to reinvent the system from scratch.…
July 2008
In this issue, Points of View tackles an often elusive topic that nonetheless seems always challenging to volunteer managers: how to expand an organization’s leadership and find the right volunteers for the job.  In “Trolling for Leadership,” we look at using real recruitment…
April 2008
In a crisis situation, a designated volunteer coordinator can take charge and handle the spontaneous outpouring of volunteers that typically accompanies the situation. This Points of View examines why those skilled in volunteer management can automatically tap into a proven…
January 2008
Much of volunteering happens outside of formal agencies and what we call “volunteer programs.”  Think of the thousands of all-volunteer associations, civic and service clubs, faith communities, professional societies and other groups with none or only a few paid staff – but each…
October 2007
In this Points of View, the authors won’t argue for a return to the old and casual systems for volunteer involvement.  After all, this is a different world with different problems – with criminal record checks serving as a perfect example of something that volunteer managers…
July 2007
When news first broke in March that veterans of the Iraq War had received inadequate treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, few people know that a medical center volunteer would soon be credited with bringing the story to light.  In doing so, the volunteer clearly…
April 2007
Every once in a while the subject of self-development bears revisiting.  Since one of the most important roles a volunteer program manager fills is that of in-house educator – the key advocate for effective volunteer involvement – it is vital for all of us to keep our…
January 2007
Many volunteer program managers bemoan the fact that they receive little support from top management.  In this issue’s Points of View we consider the consequences of having entirely too enthusiastic backing from executive decision-makers – whether politicians or agency…
October 2006