Tag Archives: charity

Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research

CALLS FOR CONTRIBUTIONS:
Thirteenth International Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR)
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
10 July  – 13 July 2018

Conference Theme:
Democracy and Legitimacy:  The Role of the Third Sector in a Globalizing World

DEADLINE FOR CONFERENCE ABSTRACT SUBMISSIONS:   27 OCTOBER 2017

Conference organizers are keenly interested in a wide range of submissions, especially on topics related to democracy and legitimacy. In addition, ISTR is also interested in research which advances our understanding of theory, policy, and practice of third sector organizations. Conference themes include:

  • Democracy and Civil Society Organizations
  • Challenges and Opportunities of Advocacy by NGOs and Nonprofits
  • Governance, Management, Adaptation and Sustainability of Third Sector Organizations
  • Hybridity, Legitimacy and the Third Sector
  • New Models of Philanthropy and Voluntarism
  • Active Citizenship and Activism
  • The Third Sector and Development
  • Social Innovation and the Third Sector
  • Research on Teaching Third Sector Studies
  • Emerging Areas of Theory and Practice

Abstract Submissions
Contributions may take the form of a paper, a panel, a roundtable, or a poster.  The abstract must be less than 400 words in length.

Full details regarding submission specifications are found in the Call for Contributions.

Submissions for Panels, Papers and Posters
All panel, papers and poster proposals for the Conference must be submitted using ISTR’s online submission service. To submit your paper or poster abstract using this service, go to the ISTR website – www.istr.org/Amsterdam – and follow the link for ‘Submit a Proposal.’

How to look at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

I had planned on writing my thoughts about the Chan Zuckerberg initiative – then found this blog by Anil Dash (thanks, Susan Tenby) which says it better than I can:

It is absolutely fair and necessary to be critical of Zuckerberg’s philanthropic efforts, both past and present, to ensure that this gift of $45 billion dollars is put to good use. That is because the default dispensation of the money will be to waste it. For example, Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark schools to almost no effect, in a gift that was revealed to have been explicitly managed by Sheryl Sandberg to be timed to offset the negative publicity surrounding the release of the movie The Social Network. Given that track record, our default assumption should be that this is a similar move, though obviously this announcment (sic) being coupled to the birth of their daughter makes such assumptions seem churlish or rude.”

Please read the full blog by Anil Dash here.

Good Housekeeping UK Flubs Virtual Volunteering story

One of the reasons I created the list of myths about virtual volunteering was because of journalists who kept writing articles that did not reflect the realities of online service. They loved to say “this is so new!” and that “it’s great if you don’t have time!”, for instance – despite virtual volunteering starting in the 1970s with the advent of the Internet and all volunteering, online or off, taking real time. I ask every journalist that calls me to read those myths before they interview me – and I can always tell if they have or not. 

I have been in positions to develop assignments for online volunteers and to recruit and support volunteers in those assignments since 1994. When I lose volunteers in virtual assignments – the ones that disappear with their assignment undone – the excuse is almost always the same: I didn’t realize how much time this would take. Never mind that I tell all volunteers, up front, how much an assignment might take – and often, it’s a micro assignment, taking just minutes a day or a week. But even a few minutes a day, just once, is A FEW MINUTES A DAY.

This article by Good Housekeeping UK is representative of what so many journalists get wrong about virtual volunteering. Not only does this article claim the practice is new (it’s more than 30 years old), not only do they think it’s great for people that don’t have much time (most virtual volunteering assignments take just as much time as onsite volunteering assignments, just without the need to travel and park), and they think the terms micro volunteering and virtual volunteering are inter-changeable – they just can’t get it that, while micro volunteering online IS virtual volunteering, not all virtual volunteering is “micro.” You know, like group volunteering is volunteering, but not all volunteering is group volunteering.

The magazine even highlights one of my favorite initiatives, the online mentoring program Infinite Family, and then brands it as micro volunteering – despite the program requiring volunteers to make an ongoing commitment of several hours regularly – because that’s what kids deserve, not just a few minutes here or there that a volunteer might be able to spare.

You want to do a story on JUST micro volunteering? Great. Here are some initiatives you can mention:

Carnamah Historical Society virtual volunteering initiative (Australia) – Online volunteers help with transcription and indexing projects to make historical records more discoverable and searchable.

ebird database, supporting the National Audubon Society. You go “birding” or bird-watching, observing birds with your eye or binoculars, and then enter into the database when, where, and how you went birding, completing a checklist of all the birds seen and heard during the outing

Help From Home has a mix of volunteering activities you can do from home, both online and without a computer.

Koodonation, part of Sparked / Extraordinaries, hosts a database of online microvolunteering assignments (tasks that can be completed in around an hour or two online) in support of different nonprofit organizations. Both nonprofits and volunteers must register on the site to view microvolunteering assignments.

NetSquared, an initiative of TechSoup, is a place where nonprofits, corporations, government agencies, NGOs and individuals propose ideas that involve “the intersection of technology and social impact.” Anyone is welcomed to comment on the proposed projects on the site, and there are often opportunities to vote on which projects should receive funding.

Smithsonian Digital Volunteer program. The Smithsonian seeks to engage the public in making its collections more accessible. “We’re working hand-in-hand with digital volunteers to transcribe historic documents and collection records to facilitate research and excite the learning in everyone.” Transcription turns handwritten and typed documents into searchable and machine-readable resources, creating an incredibly valuable asset for art, history, literary and scientific researchers across the globe.

TechSoup has a series of discussion groups where nonprofits ask questions about technology. You can log into the community at any time and try to help nonprofits and volunteers with questions about software, databases and more. TechSoup also needs people to transcribe its most popular archived webinars (requires that you listen to the pre-recorded webinar and type what is said, re-listening as you need to in order to capture what is being said). 

Wikipedia, the largest online volunteering initiative in the world. To volunteer, you simply find an article you have some knowledge of and add information to the entry. 

And that’s just the virtual volunteering that is “micro” – there’s LOTS more virtual volunteering assignments that allow you to take on leadership roles, manage an entire project, work as a team with other online volunteers, build relationships with other people, and more. I have many links to various initiatives you can get involved with here.

There is no excuse for this flub, Good Housekeeping. NONE.

Community Service Help Cons Another Person

It’s happened AGAIN – the shady company Community Service Help – communityservicehelp.com – has conned another person.

I just approved this comment on one of my blogs about this deceptive company. The comment says, in part:

“I wish I would have read this article before wasting my time using the community service help website. Of course the court did not accept it and now I have been put in a real bind trying to complete my hours… I have PTSD and social anxiety from my military service and was searching for a way to complete my hours when I stumbled across the website which seemed perfect for me due to my disabilities should have known it was too good to be true. I wish I could leave a review somewhere to prevent people from making the same mistake I did.”

I’m so sorry for this person’s experience – as an advocate for virtual volunteering since the early 1990s, it makes my physically ill that this company, as well as many others, are ripping people off with their scheme to charge people money to watch videos and call it “volunteering”, and to claim it will be accepted by courts. I’ve encouraged this person to contact this company and demand his money back. I also have asked him if he would be willing to talk to someone from the media about his experience with this fraud – there have been at least two local TV news stories about this shady company, and I would love to see many more.

Back in November 2012, I got an email from a TV reporter in Atlanta, Georgia who used my blogs about this racket to create this excellent, DETAILED video about this scam and the people behind it. Thanks again, Atlanta Fox 5! Of course, after an NBC affiliate in Columbus, Atlanta did a similar, shorter story, this scam company put a tag on its web site noting as featured on NBC news!

I would love to know this deceptive company’s response to the court refusing his community service hours – it’s a response they have to make regularly to people who find out the court will not accept “community service” that consists of watching videos rather than actual volunteering.

I’ve also told this person that most recently commented on my blog that, if he still needs community service, and he wants to do it online, there are MANY places to find such, with legitimate nonprofit organizations that won’t charge the volunteer, and where the volunteering will be *real* – it will actually help the organization, which is what volunteering should be.

Here are other blogs I’ve written about this deceptive company:

Back in 2011, and again at least once since then, I wrote the Florida State Attorney General’s cyberfraud division, the Consumer Services Department of Miami-Dade County, numerous parole and probation associations, the Corporation for National Service and AL!VE to PLEASE investigate or, at least, take a stand regarding these scam companies – to date, they still have done nothing.

And, yes, I still get harassing emails and blog comments from people who supposedly are satisfied customers of this company. The commenters never use their names or location, the messages are packed with misspellings and grammar errors, they ramble on and on about how watching videos really is community service, and they call me some rather vile names. I’ve been deleting those comments – but I think I’m going to compile some and make a blog post just about those, to show you the caliber of support for this company.

12.March.2014 Update: Just found this story from Portland TV stations KATU about a similar scam in Seattle. Another example of a judge rejecting watching videos as community service.

July 6, 2016 update: the web site of the company Community Service Help went away sometime in January 2016, and all posts to its Facebook page are now GONE. More info at this July 2016 blog: Selling community service leads to arrest, conviction

What did you learn today? Or this week?

Are you an employee, a consultant or a volunteer at/with a nonprofit, library, NGO, school, government agency, charity or other mission-based organization?

Then these questions are for you:

What did you learn today, or this week, or recently, about computer or Internet/networked tech while working with or for a that mission-based organization? Or some other thing you learned about tech that would be helpful to others? And per this learning, what else do you need to know?

It could be:

“I learned to do this cool thing with Outlook – I can now…”

or

“I learned that I really don’t like such-and-such feature on LinkedIn. Here’s why…”

or

“I learned that washing my LG 500 feature phone in the washing machine leads to it no longer working” (Yes, that’s me).

I would really love it if you would answer that question here on the TechSoup Community Forum.

Registration on TechSoup is required in order to respond, but registration is free. And by registering, you can participate in TechSoup community activities in the future! Come on, let’s hear from ya!

Answering tough volunteer involvement questions

Here are two questions regarding volunteer engagement I am seeing a lot through various channels… but not seeing many answers to:

Where can young children – children under 13, even as young as 6 – volunteer? What kinds of activities can they do and exactly where can they do these?

and

Where can people with diminishing mental abilities, or with mental disabilities, volunteer? What kinds of activities can they do and exactly where can they do these?

The first set of questions come from parents, as well as children under 13, on various online discussion groups, like YahooAnswers.

The second set of questions come primarily from volunteer managers – from those in charge of recruiting and involving volunteers at an organization – and are often the result of a long-time, beloved volunteer becoming less and less capable of helping, and requiring so much supervision and assistance that the organization feels the benefits of involving the volunteer are far below the costs. Or, that volunteer becoming verbally abusive, or saying inappropriate things to other volunteers, as a result of their diminished mental capabilities. But I’ve also seen the question asked by siblings, parents and other caretakers of people with mental disabilities.

I’m very disappointed not to see organizations that are supposed to have the promotion of volunteerism as the central focus of their mandate jumping in to answer these questions. Where are you, Points of Light Foundation? Hands On Network? Why aren’t you out there on various online fora, such as YahooAnswers, addressing these tough questions about volunteering?

Anyway…

I’m not at equating children and people with diminished mental capacities. These are two VERY different groups. But they do have one thing in common: they require much more planning, support and staff time to involve than adult volunteers. Hence why I’m discussing these two groups at once here in this blog.

The reality is that it’s more efficient, economical and immediately beneficial for most nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and charities to involve adult individual volunteers who can successfully complete a project, from start to finish, with minimum supervision. Also, most organizations do not have the money, staff, time and other resources to create volunteering opportunities focused primarily on fulfilling the needs of various types of volunteers, rather than creating volunteering activities that are focused primarily on fulfilling the needs of an organization (I’ve said this about microvolunteering as well!). For most organizations, volunteer engagement is primarily about fulfilling the organization’s mission, not fulfilling the wishes of volunteers.

If you think nonprofits, NGOs, charities and others should involve everyone who wants to volunteer, no matter the volunteers’ ages or abilities, then consider this: no matter what your job is, no matter what sector you work in (for-profit, government, nonprofit, whatever), could YOU come up with a safe, fun, meaningful hour-long activity for a 10 year old child to do in your office twice a week, or a two-hour weekly activity for a dozen 10 year olds to do in your office, and do you have time to supervise that child or those children during that activity? What about creating similar activities for someone who has severe short-term memory loss? If you could not do it in your own job at such-and-such corporation, why do you expect nonprofit organizations to do so?

Just as creating one-time, short-term group volunteering activities for adults is difficult, creating volunteering opportunities for children, or for people with diminished or diminishing mental abilities, is also difficult. Should a nonprofit, NGO or charity be spending time and resources to involve these groups? In some circumstances, yes.

First, think carefully about what is in it for you, the organization or program, to create opportunities for either of these groups. What benefit are you looking for?:

  • measurable results regarding participant or community awareness of a particular issue, program or your organization. Could the volunteering activity help children understand a particular issue? Could the activity help parents or family issues understand the issue more fully?
  • cultivation of donors who would be interested in funding this part of your organization’s program. The staff time to create opportunities and support these volunteers, the materials needed by volunteers, etc. all need funding. Are there foundations, corporate philanthropy programs, government agencies or individual donors who would be attracted to funding the resources required?
  • activities that fulfill your organization’s mission. The volunteering experience results in activities that reach part of your organization’s mission. For instance, if you work with seniors, particularly those with diminished mental faculties, then involving these seniors as volunteers would be a part of your mission. If your organization is focused on children under 13, then involving those children as volunteers would be a part of your mission.

I wrote a page on creating one-time, short-term group volunteering activities, and it includes a long list of activity suggestions. Some of those could be adapted as volunteering activities for children, or for people with very limited mental capacities – but not all of them. And to be honest, I’m stumped on creating voluntering activities for either of these groups.

Not every organization is going to be able to address any of those three bullet points – and, therefore, is not going to be in a position to create volunteering opportunities for either of these special needs groups. What I advise those organizations to do:

  • For those that are getting called by parents who want their children to volunteer, have a list of other organizations in your area to refer their child to. For instance, for girls, I recommend the Girl Scouts of the USA (or, in other countries, Girl Guides). I also have a web page of recommendations for family volunteering – specifically families that include children under 16 – note that many activities are home-based.
  • For those that ask about volunteers with diminished mental capacities – for instance, an organization that finds a long-term volunteer can no longer undertake any of the volunteering opportunities at the organization, could a placement be found elsewhere?  Is there a community theater that could involve him or her to hand out programs before a performance? Could the volunteer help serve refreshments at an event – just putting cups filled with a liquid, not doing any of the fillings of the cups him or herself? And does the family of this person understand that a family member will have to be with the volunteer at all times? Or is there an organization in your community that helps people with diminishing mental capacities that you could introduce the volunteer to, that could give that person meaningful activities to engage in – like going to community events in a group? Does this volunteer attend events by a community of faith (a church, temple, mosque, etc.), and could that community be called on to help in this situation?

What other advice do you have for parents seeking volunteering activities for young children, or nonprofit organizations that are going to have to let a volunteer go because of diminished mental capabilities? Leave your answers in the comments. What I’m particularly interested in: how did you go about letting a long-time volunteer go that you had to let go because of his or her diminished mental capabilties, and what did you learn from that expereince that you would like to share with others?

Also see:

Creating one-time, short-term group volunteering activities

Recommendations for family volunteering – specifically families that include children under 16