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A Systems Perspective of Volunteering

A Systems Perspective of Volunteering

Person in food line

In Voices, Thu-Trang Tran, the CEO of Volunteer West, takes a step back from the dynamics of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) that is reverberating today throughout the volunteering sector. Through her helicopter view of volunteering as a part of the socio-economic system, Tran asks Volunteer Engagement Leaders to consider the potential unintended consequences of practices and ideals held in the volunteering sphere. Is volunteering propping up community building as governments defund community services in fiscally tight times? While skilled and corporate volunteering are welcomed 'resources' for the community sector, are they band aids for chronic under-investment in community infrastructure? 

Tran argues that practitioners and policy-makers need to account for the ambiguities in volunteering practices that can uplift yet perpetuate system-level challenges when reimagining volunteering in a VUCA world. And she concludes that the reimagining of volunteering must – with clear-eyed intention and experimentation – ameliorate those unintended system-level impacts. 

To read the full article

Fri, 12/09/2022

Thank you for this article, we are in the west of Ireland and it is just as relevant here.

Wed, 12/21/2022

@vounteergalway - Thank you for sharing that you too are facing similar dilemmas. How do you reconcile some of the tensions, say for example, around encouraging programs that are open to community volunteers vs say focusing on intaking from a corporate partner's employee volunteer program; or perhaps it's a case of managing both intakes? 

Thu, 01/05/2023

Hi, over the years we have disengaged from supporting corporate volunteering, aside from giving talks on volunteering to company employees and giving general advice.  We found that we were spending too much time creating team volunteering opportunities that were of more value to the company than the community organisations, and the companies expected us to do the work for free - because they were supplying 'free labour'

Our main challenge these days is supporting organisations to create volunteer roles that we can advertise to potential volunteers.  We have plenty (too many!) people who want to volunteer but not enough opportunities for them.

How about ye?

Donncha, Manager