Tag Archives: csr

Innovation & tech need to work for women and girls too

In September, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) launched the Global Innovation Coalition for Change with partners from the private sector, academia and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to encourage innovation and technology to work better for young women and girls around the world.

First, more about the GICC, then a short comment from me about it.

The coalition will focus on building market awareness of potential for innovations that meet the needs of women and will also identify the key industry-specific barriers that obstruct women’s and girls’ advancement in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. It will also work collaboratively to identify key actions that can help overcome these barriers through actions including sharing of good practices, developing capacity and investing in specific innovations through targeted support.

The background paper to the GICC launch, Making Innovation and Technology Work for Women , details the barriers that contribute towards creating and sustaining the gender gap in innovation and technology and actions by UN Women to address these barriers. Excerpts:

“Women face a multitude of barriers that results in the persistent and sometimes growing gender gaps. As a result, innovations are unlikely to be available on time and at scale to address the needs of women. Transformative results will require private and public sector partners to come together to address these barriers in an integrated manner. While the task looks daunting, being able to demonstrate progress in a given industry could have multiplier effects across other industries that will enable innovation and technology to break current trends and drive achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“The achievement of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably gender equality and women’s empowerment, requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches, and new solutions. Based on current trajectories, existing interventions will not suffice to achieve a Planet 50-50 by 2030. For example, it will be 95 years before there is parity in girls’ lower secondary education for the poorest 20%; it will be 50 years before there is gender parity in politics at the parliamentarian levels; and it will be 170 years before women worldwide will earn as much as men. Innovative approaches are central to delivering the SDGs for all.”

SDG 5 is “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” The reality is that none of the SDGs can be reached unless this one is.

Global Innovation Coalition for Change representatives includes:

  • Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls: Meredith Walker, Founder; Maggie Chieffo, General Manager
  • BHP Billiton: Karen Wood, Chairman of the BHP Billiton Foundation; Athalie Williams, Chief People Officer
  • Businesspros and Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship South Africa: Antoinia Norman, CEO, Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship South Africa
  • CISCO: Charu Adesnik, Deputy Director, Cisco Foundation
  • Citi: Yolande Piazza, CEO, Citi FinTech; Corinne Lin, Head of Operations, Citi FinTech
  • DELL: Jackie Glenn, VP Global Diversity and Inclusion; Trisa Thompson, Senior Vice President & Chief Responsibility Officer, Corporate Social Responsibility at Dell Technologies
  • Ellevate Network: Kristy Wallace, CEO of Ellevate Network
  • Ericsson: Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Senior Vice President, Chief Sustainability & Public Affairs Officer, and Head of Sustainability & Public Affairs; Paul Landers, Program Director Technology for Good
  • Facebook: Arielle Gross, Global Program Manager, Creative Shop
  • General Electric: Kelli Wells, Executive Director General Electric Foundation
  • HP Inc.: Nate Hurst, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer; Michele Malejki, Global Head of Strategic Programs, Sustainability & Social Innovation
  • Johnson & Johnson: Alice Lin Fabiano, Director, Global Community Impact; Carol Montandon, Head of Women’s Leadership Initiative
  • JPMorgan Chase: Ali Marano, Executive Director: Technology for Social Good, Diversity & Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase
  • LinkedIn: Nicole Isaac, Head of U.S Public Policy; Sue Duke, Senior Director of Public Policy – EMEA
  • MIT Solve: Hala Hanna, Director, SOLVE at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Alexandra Amouyel, Executive Director, Solve at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • NY Academy of Sciences: Lorraine Hariton, Senior Vice President, Global Partnerships
  • Pax World Management: Joe Keefe, CEO, Pax World; Heather Smith, Lead Sustainability Research Analyst
  • PwC: Ben Zelinsky, PwC Partner Technology Consulting
  • SAP: Jennifer Morgan, Executive Board Member for Global Customer Operations; Sinead Kaiya, COO, Products and Innovation; Ann Rosenberg, Senior Vice President and Global Head of SAP Next-Gen; Shuchi Sharma, Global Lead for Gender Intelligence, SAP Diversity & Inclusion.
  • Sony: Shiro Kambe, Executive Vice President, Corporate Executive Officer Legal, Compliance, Communications, CSR, External Relations and Information Security & Privacy
  • South32: Patience Mpofu, Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability
  • Statoil: Ana Prata Fonseca Nordang, Vice President, People and Organisation

It’s a good list, but I wish BPEACE was there. And I hope that this effort will continually listen to women themselves about what THEY want and what they need. I hope these partners won’t go into communities and institutions and say, “Here, we made this for you!” but, rather, “Hi, we need to hear your ideas, and then we want to know how to work with you to make them happen.”

Also see:

United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS)

How to be active & anonymous online – a guide for women in religiously-conservative countries

women-only hours at community Internet centers? why?

Enhancing Inclusion of Women & Girls In Information Society

papers on cyberactivism by women in Iran & Azerbaijan

Reaching women in socially-conservative areas

If you ignore women in Afghanistan, development efforts there will fail

Empower women, empower a nation

The Wrong Way to Celebrate International Women’s Day

UNDP and Religious Leaders Promote Women in Sport and Education in Afghanistan

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.

Corporate volunteers can be a burden for nonprofits

Back in 2011, I asked if group volunteering was really all its cracked up to be.

The sentiment has gone mainstream: the Boston Globe published this yesterday: Corporate volunteers can be a burden for nonprofits.

Corporate social responsibility folks, managers of employee volunteerism programs: are you listening?

My favorite virtual volunteering event originates in… Poland

ewolontariat logoThe Discover E-Volunteering competition by E-Wolontariat (E-Volunteering Poland) is the best showcase of new virtual volunteering initiatives on the planet. I’m a HUGE fan of this event – and governments and corporations in Europe should be too. Here’s why:

  • this is the first and only competition of its kind in the world. And it started in Europe – not the USA. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to scoop the USA re: something tech-related?
  • by making this a competition, the event ends up drawing out and then showcasing some of the most innovative initiatives in Europe that are blending technology with helping people, the environment, and other causes.
  • the competition grows every year, in terms of participants, applications and attention from both traditional and non-traditional media.
  • just about any person – people who are unemployed, people working at corporations, young people, retired people – can become online volunteers with many of the initiatives showcased in this competition. So virtually anyone can be a part of this event in some way.
  • the competition doesn’t just benefit the “winners”; E-Wolontariat shares much of what it learns from ALL applicants. via its web site and via its trainings, so that ANY NGO can benefit. That means, with more widespread promotion of the event, the event could build capacities at NGOs not just in Europe but worldwide, allowing those NGOs to involve even more volunteers.
  • governments and others are talking about encouraging young people to volunteer, how its so important, to help young people build skills for the workplace, to increase their civic engagement, to cultivate empathy and caring, and more. But there’s not much action to back up that talk. This event is actually helping to expand options for those young people to volunteer.
  • by helping organizations expand their involvement of online volunteers, this event is very likely helping them to expand their involvement of ALL volunteers, including traditional onsite volunteers, by helping them to improve recruitment and support of all volunteers.
  • by helping organizations expand their involvement of volunteers, this event is helping more people, including unemployed people and people who are often socially-excluded (the unemployed, immigrants, the disabled, etc.) to become better connected to society. And we keep hearing that we need to increase opportunities for socially-excluded people to connect with society…

Why tech companies, telecommunications companies, banks, and other multi-national corporations aren’t fighting each other to fund this event, I’ll never understand.

As I said in my last blog, there are so many corporate folks chastising nonprofits and NGOs, saying mission-based initiatives need to be more innovative, saying they need to embrace the latest network technologies and revolutionary management styles and on and on. Yet these same corporations demanding nonprofit innovation aren’t funding virtual volunteering-related initiatives. The Discover E-Volunteering competition would be a GREAT one to start with!

And media, you should be covering not only this competition, and not only the individual applicants to this event, but also all sorts of great virtual volunteering activities happening in the world.

More info about virtual volunteering, a widespread practice that’s more than 35 years old:

hey, corporations: time to put your money where your mouth is re: nonprofits & innovation

logoI started talking about virtual volunteering – without knowing it was called that – as early as 1994, more than 30 years ago. Soon after I started babbling about it, I directed The Virtual Volunteering Project, based at the University of Texas, back in the late 1990s. Back then, I thought that, by now, well into the 21st century, there would be corporations clamoring to sponsor virtual volunteering activities and events. I could see back in the 1990s that this wasn’t just a fun idea – it was an effective one for nonprofits, NGOs, and volunteers themselves – and that it would become a widespread practice. I just knew corporations would want to be seen as leaders in the movement and, therefore, fund it.

Yet, 30 years later, while thousands of nonprofits all over the world have embraced using the Internet to support and involve volunteers, corporations remain largely silent in their involvement and support. I am frequently contacted by nonprofits and NGOs looking to expand their involvement of online volunteers, or that want to do something particularly interesting or innovative regarding virtual volunteering, but they need funding, and they want to know if I can help. And I can’t. Because corporations clamoring to be a part of virtual volunteering just hasn’t happened.

It’s not true of all corporations: the international telecommunications company Orange seems to get it, to a degree: Fundacja Orange (the Polish branch) partially funds the ground-breaking Discover E-Volunteering competition, the best showcase of new virtual volunteering initiatives on the planet. But, sadly, the UK branch of Orange seems to have already discontinued its Do Some Good smart phone app to help people volunteer through their mobile phone, launched in 2012 – less than three years ago. Hewlett-Packard used to have a pioneering e-mentoring program, bringing together their employees, as mentors, with high school students, and the program is frequently referenced in academic literature 20 years ago about the promise of e-mentoring – but that program is long gone, and I can’t find any association between HP and virtual volunteering anymore. Rolex seemed somewhat interested in microvolunteering, a version of virtual volunteering that engages online volunteers in micro tasks, but that initial interest seems to have quickly, completely waned. Cisco was a key financial and in-kind supporter of NetAid, a part of which became the UN’s Online Volunteering service, but that support ended in 2001.1

You’ve heard it and read it so many times: corporate folks chastising nonprofits and NGOs, saying those mission-based initiatives need to be more innovative, saying they need to embrace the latest network technologies and revolutionary management styles and on and on. Yet these same corporations demanding nonprofit innovation aren’t funding virtual volunteering-related initiatives.

Time to put your money where your mouth is, corporations: there are some terrific virtual volunteering activities out there. There are outstanding innovations happening at nonprofits and NGOs all over the world. You say you want more risk-taking, more innovations, more tech-use by mission-based organizations – okay, they stand ready to do it. All they need is the investment. Are YOU ready to put your money where your mouth is?

vvbooklittleAnd also… why haven’t you bought The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook?

😉

1: The last sentence of this paragraph, regarding Cisco and NetAid, was added on July 24, 2015

Nov. 11, 2015 update:  Nonprofit leaders are not focusing enough attention on innovation, measuring the impact of their efforts, and creating funding structures that encourage risk-taking, according to a new report from Independent Sector. Great – who is going to FUND THOSE ACTIVITIES?!

Is group volunteering all its cracked up to be?

This blog was originally posted on February 23, 2011 at a now-defunct blog host:

Do most nonprofits really need groups of volunteers from corporations or other organizations showing up for one-day volunteering activities?

I’ve been thinking about this for a few months lately, and now the British-based company nfpSynergy has scooped me with its own thoughts on whether or not corporate volunteering really all its cracked up to be. An excerpt from its blog:

There is nothing more difficult to deal with than an employer who rings up a charity offering 30/300/3000 employees who want to do a bit of volunteering as part of their team-building on Thursday afternoon in three weeks time. Charities quietly (for fear of upsetting their corporate partners) dislike employee volunteering while companies are much more enthusiast.

It’s so true!

I started thinking about blogging about this myself when I saw that a certain corporation had won a certain state’s group volunteering award for its participation in a range of one-time events. IMO, this corporation was being honored for “volunteering” in events that had been created more to accommodate the corporation and others looking for a one-time, feel-good experience (and photo ops) than to actually make a difference in the community.

As any person who has worked with nonprofits knows, one-time volunteering events – walks, runs, dances, auctions, benefit performances, beach clean-up days, house painting, etc. – are very expensive and time-consuming. They are worthwhile for most organizations only if they result in one or more of the following:

  • measurable results regarding community awareness of a particular issue or organization
  • candidates for longer-term volunteering in more substantive activities regarding service delivery
  • funds raised to cover all costs, including staff time to organize and supervise the event, insurance, etc.

A school once asked me if it had to accept a corporation’s request for a group of their employees to hold a pizza party for two of their classes of fourth graders just before the students went home on an upcoming Friday. The corporation considered this as somehow a great thing for the kids, and as a volunteering experience for their employees. The teachers balked at losing even an hour of teaching time, and saw nothing beneficial about such an event for the kids whatsoever. They were reluctant to tell the corporation no, however, for fear of losing the chance of a grant down the road. The school representatives were at first stunned, and then relieved, when I told them they had every right to refuse any such offer, that they could say, “Thanks so much. Because every hour of teaching time is vitally important, we can’t do anything that takes away such time. But here’s information about our lunch-time mentoring program; we would love any of your employees attend our next orientation about this program. Or we could do a presentation at your corporation about the program and how your employees could get involved. We have some other volunteering activities we would welcome your help with as well.”

(In case you are wondering, the corporation declined. Lunch time one-on-one mentoring wasn’t the kind of experience their employees were looking for, and they didn’t have time for employees to sit through a presentation by the school. Sigh.)

The nfpSynergy blog continues, with an experience very similar to my own:

For nearly five years now nfpSynergy has had a company policy of giving each employee 5 days of paid volunteering time. Doesn’t that make us wonderful? Well no not really because it didn’t work: very few staff used their volunteering days. And this is despite the fact that almost everybody who works for us is very committed to the charities and non-profits.

So why didn’t people use their volunteering days? The answer is simple. Five days is ‘diddly squat’ in the world of volunteering. It was like telling people they could go and buy a free lunch on the company but only giving them 10p with which to do.

My experience exactly: once upon a time, I ran the philanthropy activities for what was then a Fortune 500 company with hundreds of employees at headquarters and at another location in the USA, and thousands abroad. We also gave USA employees five days of paid time off to volunteer. In the two years I oversaw the program, less than a dozen individual employees took the days. Only two groups of employees did, in events organized by me: people from our facilities department painted a room at a nearby family homeless shelter, and three employees from our IT department networked the new computers of a nearby nonprofit over two days. It took me twice as many hours to organize these two group volunteering events as it took the volunteers to actually do them! 

Right now, I’m trying to find group volunteering activities for Girl Scouts in my area. And the reality is that, not only are most organizations not prepared, in terms of insurance, supervision and program, to host groups of girls under 16 (most under 13, in fact) as volunteers, most organizations do not want a group of young girls as volunteers; the staff have critical activities that must be taken care of, that cannot be delayed in order to give a group of young girls a feel-good experience.

Attention corporations and governments: if you want to see more group volunteering activities by corporate employees, youth groups, professional associations, etc., prepare to pay for it. Money is needed to fund the staff, material, training and other resources to not only make the activity happen, but to make the activity a meaningful part of the organization’s mission or outreach efforts.

Also see:

Creating One-Time, Short-Term Group Volunteering Activities

One(-ish) Day “Tech” Activities for Volunteers

Finding Community Service and Volunteering for Groups

Pro Bono / In-Kind / Donated Services for Mission-Based Organizations: When, Why & How?

Incorporating virtual volunteering into a corporate employee volunteer program

A new resource on my web site:

Incorporating virtual volunteering into a corporate employee volunteer program 
(a resource for businesses / for-profit companies)

Virtual volunteering – volunteers providing service via a computer, smart phone, tablet or other networked advice – presents a great opportunity for companies to expand their employee philanthropic offerings. Through virtual volunteering, some employees will choose to help organizations online that they are already helping onsite. Other employees who are unable to volunteer onsite at a nonprofit or school will choose to volunteer online because of the convenience. This resource reviews what your company needs to do, step-by-step, to launch or expand virtual volunteering as a part of your employee volunteering program.

Inspired by my recent webinar with Kaye Morgan-Curtis, of Newell Rubbermaid for VolunteerMatch: Virtual Volunteering: An Untapped Resource for Employee Engagement.

Pioneering in “hacks for good”: Knowbility

Hackathons, hacks for good, hackfests or codefests are quite the buzz words these days.

There are a lot of new initiatives getting a lot of attention for mobilizing people with high tech skills to help various causes at individual events: these initiatives bring these people together to spend the day, or maybe a few days in a week, at computers, usually in one big room, with everyone using their skills to do good, eat some good food, take lots of fun photos of everyone in action, and celebrate the great work at the end of the day.

Good stuff. But one of the first organizations to do this, Knowbility, gets lost amongst the much better-funded, higher profile newcomer groups, and it’s such a shame, because more people really should get to know Knowbility!

AIR Houston 2007

Knowbility is a national nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas that creates technology programs that support independent living for people with disabilities, including veterans. Knowbility’s signature event is its Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) – a hackathon that brings together teams of web designers to learn about web design accessibility standards, and then to apply those standards in a competition to create web sites for nonprofit organizations. The result of an AIR event isn’t just a fun day and new web sites; all participants walk away with an understanding of web design accessibility standards they didn’t have before that they can apply to their daily professional work, and the volunteer teams, most of them from the corporate sector, learn about the unique work of nonprofit organizations, creating opportunities for better partnerships in the future.

Knowbility’s activities have earned all sorts of awards and recognition – like the Peter F. Drucker Foundation Recognition for Nonprofit Innovation. On September 21, 2000, the White House issued a press release to highlight programs across the country that are helping to bridge the digital divide for people with disabilities and Knowbility’s AIR event in Colorado was mentioned by President Clinton as a new and noteworthy initiative. And I’ll never forget when they got mentioned at the end of Oprah’s talk show, resulting in an onslaught of emails and phone calls and oh-so-much excitement.

Knowbility earns more than 60% of its revenue through fee-for-service offerings. But that means it still relies heavily on grants and donations. Knowbility is worth your financial support. I really want this organization to continue – more than that, I actually want this organization to launch more AIR events and other activities all over the USA, and beyond! Knowbility is worth your investment.

And if you have ever been involved with Knowbility in any way, consider blogging about your expereince, talking about it on your Facebook status update or Twitter feed or Google Plus profile or other social media profile, and linking to the donation page.

Here are some other blogs I’ve written about Knowbility:

Hackathons for good? That’s volunteering!

Volunteer online & make web sites accessible

Corporate Volunteer Programs: What Do Nonprofits Want From Them?

A blog today lists what corporations want from nonprofits, schools and other mission-based organizations for employee volunteering. It’s called Corporate Volunteer Programs: What Do They Want From Nonprofits?

Yes, yes, nonprofits, schools and others know what you want, corporations. The corporate world has written endless presentations and blogs about it. You remind us of it during your lectures at conferences on corporate – nonprofit “partnerships.”

But here’s a thought: how about considering what nonprofits, schools and other mission-based initiatives want from corporate volunteer programs?

(1)   Respect the expertise at the organization where you want to volunteer

Teachers are not teaching because they couldn’t make it in the corporate world, and just because you are a marketing director at a Fortune 500 company does NOT you can do their job for a day. The same for all the other people working at nonprofits and other mission-based organizations: many have experience, training and certifications you do not have. Respect their professional training and experience. Don’t imply that you could step into their roles for an hour or two – just as you know they couldn’t step into your role at your company.

(2)   Volunteering is not free.

It takes a tremendous amount of resources to design volunteering experiences that will give you the things you want, as detailed in this blog, like encouraging greater teamwork amongst employees, or enhancing skills development for your staff “resulting in deeper job satisfaction and retention.”

Are you ready to pay for the time of staff at these nonprofits, schools and other organizations to develop these volunteering opportunities for you, not to mention the time they need to supervise and support your employees? Are you ready to say to nonprofits or schools, “Tell me how much staff time will be required to create these opportunities, including staff time for meeting with us and supporting us as we do these activities, and we will pay for that time”?

(3)   Nonprofits & Schools Needs > Corproate Volunteering Needs

A mission-based organization is driven by its mission, and that may mean saying no to your offer of volunteering, no matter how “skills-based” you want the volunteering to be. Your fantastic idea for a one-day volunteering event for your employees which will make your staff feel all the things you want might not fit into the schedule or priorities of the organization. Your marketing team’s stellar idea on a new online community may not fit the organization’s critical organizational needs – or may be beyond the time or capabilities of staff to manage when your corporate volunteers move on to something else. Respect that.

A good starting point for developing your corporate volunteering partnership is to sit down with the nonprofit, the school or other organization you want to help and ask, “What do you need? What are your biggest challenges? What does success look like at this organization?”

And then listen. Not just for one afternoon – listen for days and weeks. Go to the events and activities the organizations already undertakes, and sit in on their staff meetings, and just listen. When offering your volunteers, frame the offer on what the organization needs, not on what it is your corporation wants to do. And work together to develop what success will look like for the organization as a result of your volunteering, and how the organization can communicate best to you when things aren’t working.

Here’s a radical idea: why not treat the nonprofit or school or other organization as your client?

Also see:

Volunteers: still not free

graphic by Jayne Cravens representing volunteersWikipedia is free – for users. Its more than 12 million articles can be accessed free of charge. It’s maintained by more than 100,000 online volunteers – unpaid people – who create articles and translate them into over 265 languages. That makes Wikipedia/Wikimedia the world’s largest online volunteering endeavor.

Unlike most organizations that involve volunteers, Wikipedia doesn’t screen the majority of its volunteers: anyone can go in to the web site an edit just about any article, any time he or she wants to. You want to volunteer for Wikipedia, you just start editing or writing any article. That makes the majority of its volunteer engagement microvolunteering, the hot term for short-term episodic online volunteering.

But, wait — maybe Wikipedia is not free…

This is from a blog post in 2012 regarding its latest fundraising campaign:

The Wikimedia Foundation’s total 2011-12 planned spending is 28.3 million USD.

Funds raised in this campaign will be used to buy and install servers and other hardware, to develop new site functionality, expand mobile services, provide legal defense for the projects, and support the large global community of Wikimedia volunteers.

That emphasis is mine – some of those millions of dollars are needed to support Wikimedia’s involvement of volunteers. Because volunteers are not free. It takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and expertise to wrangle more than 100,000 online volunteers and all that they do on behalf of Wikipedia/Wikimedia. And that takes money.

But it’s not just Wikipedia: any nonprofit organization, non-governmental organization (NGO), school, government initiative or community initiaitive that wants to involve volunteers has to:

  • Provide at least one staff member – an employee or a volunteer – to supervise and support volunteer work, to ensure volunteers don’t do any harm to the organization, its clients or other volunteers/staff, and to ensure everyone working with volunteers has the support they need to do so appropriately and successfully. That person has to know how to do that part of his or her job, even if it’s just 25% of his or her job, and that might require the organization to send the person to workshops or classes, to subscribe to e-volunteerism (the leading online resource in the USA regarding volunteer engagement), to read books about volunteer screening, supervising volunteers, child safety… and that takes FUNDING.
  • Everyone that works with volunteers must make sure the work volunteers undertake is of the quality and type the organization’s clients deserve. That might require sending multiple staff members to workshops or classes, to read books about volunteer screening, supervising volunteers, child safety… again, that takes FUNDING.
  • Staff has to develop activities for volunteers to do — activities that often would be probably be cheaper and done more quickly by staff themselves. Those activities must be in writing, to ensure everyone’s expectations are the same. And, newsflash: the majority of people charged with this task do NOT know how to do it! They need support and guidance in creating volunteering assignments. Who is going to do provide that support and guidance?
  • The organization has to monitor volunteers, record their progress and report it to the board and donors, as well as to the volunteers themselves and, perhaps, the public. That takes time and expertise.

Any organization that does not allocate time and resources to these volunteer management tasks ends up with:

  • people applying or calling to volunteer and never getting a response
  • people coming to volunteer and standing around for the majority of the time, wondering what to do
  • volunteers that don’t complete assignments – which means the organizations has to either recruit more volunteers and start again, or give the work to employees
  • volunteers that don’t complete assignments correctly
  • volunteers that blog and tweet about their negative experience with your organization and, perhaps, about volunteering in general!
  • staff that does not want to involve volunteers

Volunteers are not free. I’ve said it many times before, before, and before that and… well, you get the idea.

I’ll keep saying it until I stop hearing people say, “Volunteers are great because they’re free!”

I’ll keep saying it until campaigns to encourage people to volunteer also include resources to help nonprofit organizations, NGOs, schools, communities and others involve and support more volunteers.

And don’t even try to say volunteers save money, because that starts yet another blog rant…