Twenty years ago, colleagues Steve McCurley and Susan J. Ellis together founded e-Volunteerism, which was at the time the first and only electronic publication for the volunteer management field. In this poignant Points of View, McCurley reflects on their shared vision and quest. He concludes that e-Volunteerism has turned out to be ….. well, you’ll have to read McCurley’s story to find out.
Volunteers can make the world a better place - but it behoves us to ask the question, "Better for whom?" In this Points of View, Rob Jackson and Erin R. Spink put this question front and center by challenging leaders of volunteer engagement to look at volunteering in real life from every conceivable angle. Jackson and Spink boldly note that “volunteering is not simply a nice thing to do: volunteers are directly shaping the world with their choices and actions.” As they write:
It would be naïve to proclaim that volunteering is always objectively good. The socially acceptable view of volunteering being for the greater good isn't wrong per se, but it has never demonstrated a true understanding of the complexities and nuances of volunteering in real life. In today's world, this overly simplistic conceptualization is actually a hindrance to understanding the power of volunteers and why our role as leaders of volunteer engagement is so critical.
At a recent Points of Light conference, a plenary session included short videos from volunteer programs around the world that showcased innovation in volunteer programs. Voices co-editor Allyson Drinnon found the videos inspiring, and gained permission to present a sampling of three videos for e-Volunteerism. These videos, along with Drinnon’s insightful narrative, clearly reveal why the terms “innovation” and “inspiring” are connected with these works.
With a nod to e-Volunteerism’s co-founder and volunteer management expert, the late Susan J. Ellis, Rob Jackson and Erin R. Spink use this Points of View to present a provocative and much-debated topic: What really makes someone a skilled and effective volunteer engagement professional who can train colleagues to work well with volunteers? The authors review many false assumptions about volunteer engagement in the workplace, while providing this insight: “While it’s important to recognize that everyone plays a role, it’s a fallacy to think everyone in the village brings the same skills or has the same focus. . . We forget that to our own detriment.”
In other words: It takes a village to raise a child, but not everyone can be the blacksmith. Jackson and Spink challenge readers to voice their opinions about this issue and join the debate.
In this e-Volunteerism feature, the story of volunteers at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo shows how and why your organization can empower volunteers to help tell your story. As writer Karie Hajek explains, volunteers are often referred to as the “heart” of an organization and represent a crucial, untapped voice that can help organizations embody their mission.
“With strategic attention to incorporating your messaging into your recruiting and training process, you can better equip your volunteers to engage your audience and support your cause,” writes Hajek, who is Volunteer Services Specialist at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. “It is through this lens that you can truly see and acknowledge volunteers as an invaluable extension and voice of your organization.”
Two steps forward, one step back. . . In this Points of View article called "The Volunteer Engagement Cha-Cha," Erin R. Spink and Rob Jackson ask some questions that every volunteer engagement professional will want answered about professional associations. Namely, what is the current and future state of our various professional associations? Why should we care? And what should we do about it?
Why did the Volunteer Manager and Marketer walk into a bar together? To discuss Seth Godin's blogs of course!
In this Points of View, Rob Jackson and Erin R. Spink consider the “wisdom of Seth” – namely, Seth Godin, a Hall of Fame marketer, author of several best-selling books, and a hugely popular daily blog writer about marketing who also happens to be one of Jackson’s and Spink’s favourite thinkers and sources of inspiration. As they dissect a few of this internationally famous marketing blog posts, Jackson and Spink identify different perspectives, thoughts, and ideas that Volunteer Engagement professionals should consider, and explore those unexpected pearls of wisdom gained by reading the work of thought leaders from totally different fields. Granted, not all of Godin’s blog posts can be applied to Volunteer Engagement work, but many of them highlight core truths that speak broadly to working with people, understanding them and their motivations, and striving towards simple and effective ways of working. And as Jackson and Spink remind us, these are things that all professionals can aspire to and be inspired by.
In this Points of View, Erin R. Spink and Rob Jackson share their thoughts on the words and phrases that no longer serve the volunteer engagement profession – and, they argue, could actually hurt us. They also present and review new ways to communicate about the volunteer management field. Beyond the simplistic and basic, they argue that a committed and consistent change in the language used by leaders of volunteers could be transformative for us all.