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Revolutionary Leadership for 21st-Century Volunteering

Revolutionary Leadership for 21st-Century Volunteering


Two and a half years after the emergence of COVID-19, the world has changed in many ways. Some things about today’s life would have been completely unimaginable in December 2019. To assume that volunteering is immune from this massive wave of change would be naive at best and foolhardy at worst.  

In this Engage feature, author and volunteer management expert Martin J. Cowling argues that COVID-19 has accelerated a shift in volunteering that was already happening. Combined with COVID-19, Cowling writes that “the change has become seismic. We have seen a massive shock in volunteering numbers in nations across the world.” Cowling declares that our models of volunteering from the 20th century are no longer "fit for purpose" in the 21st century as he calls for radical, revolutionary change. Provocative, engaging and filled with examples, Cowling’s thesis will hopefully lead to new thinking and new action. As he cautions, “Read it if you dare.”

To read the full article

Fri, 07/29/2022

This article could not be more accurate, relevant, and well said!  

Our old-school organizations need to wake up and make major changes if we want to continue to make positive impacts on our communities.  

Martin, thank you for putting pen to paper (or whatever the 2022 equivalent is)!  

Thu, 08/11/2022

Hi Joanne

Thank you so much in turn for "putting pen to paper" and gviing some feedback. Thrilled to see your comments. You have summarized it perfectly with this: "Our old-school organizations need to wake up and make major changes if we want to continue to make positive impacts on our communities.  "


I love it. Stay safe and well.

Fri, 07/29/2022

Isn't it sad that it took a global pandemic to shake (at least healthcare volunteerism) out of the old model? But what an exciting time to be able to take the message forward!

As an advocate of a new vision for community engagement: patient facing roles, service LEARNING for aspiring providers, resume building opportunities for job seekers, workforce development for local students. Each a meaningful volunteer role in its own way, all with the potential to enhance the hospital environment and the patient experience. 

It's a new day and I am excited!

Fri, 07/29/2022

Insightful article, Martin. I especially liked how you emphasized that the main impact of volunteering is with the volunteer themselves. As a volunteer, leader of volunteers and board member, I've seen that first hand but have never really considered it before. Thank you!

Thu, 08/11/2022

Hi karen

Thanks for dropping in a comment. Much appreciated. I am glad that the thoughts around the impact f volunteering on volunteers resonated. Its a  passion of mine (if you cant tell).
keep pressing forward!!


Martin J