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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.

One of the more interesting leisure pastimes is watching the Internet colossus Google release new tools and gadgets to supplement its basic search engine.  One of these we’ve been contemplating lately is www.google.com/trends.   One of the things about search engines like Google…
July 2006
The recent demise of the Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA), affecting mainly Americans, has surfaced many issues around both the “profession” of volunteer management and the design of a possible association that would serve the needs of managers of volunteer…
April 2006
Volunteering is intricately intertwined with many areas of society and public life, some obvious and some that should be better recognized. In this issue of “Points of View” we discuss public policy arenas that relate to volunteering.  For each arena, we pose some philosophic…
January 2006
We often think of well-functioning volunteer programs as happy little families, systems in which people get along so well that they resemble the idyllic picture of family relationships portrayed in U.S. television shows from the 1950s. And while this is often true, occasionally…
July 2005
For quite some time the notion of “corporate social responsibility” has been discussed and demonstrated in various ways. The concept includes many things, from producing products in environmentally-safe ways to providing family-friendly working conditions, yet our field more…
April 2005
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
Just when you think you've seen everything in volunteerism, somebody comes along with something totally new. And then you discover that other people are thinking about it as well. Steve was sitting in the Washington Dulles airport over the holidays, engaging in the popular…
January 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
With this issue of e-Volunteerism we start our second year of publication. It was our intent - from the beginning - to publish something of value to colleagues anywhere in the world. We wanted to engage contributors and readers from as many countries as possible, representing a…
October 2001
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