Tag Archives: Jayne Cravens

My top blogs of 2016

logoThis blog entry that you are reading now is more for me than anyone else: here are my top blogs of 2016 – the ones I wrote this year and that got the most views:

Snapchat’s Potential Power for Social Good – with REAL examples

Volunteer management is community engagement

Vanity Volunteering: all about the volunteer

fake news, folklore & friendships

Universal accessibility in tourism! World Tourism Day theme 2016

Research needs re: virtual volunteering

Selling community service leads to arrest, conviction

Measuring the Impact of Volunteers: book announcement

Volunteering & social cohesion in a post Brexit world

Make volunteering transformative, not about # of hours

humanitarian stories & photos – use with caution

Citizens academy – intensive community engagement

Internet access / digital literacy in Havana, Cuba

Deriding the monetary value of volunteer hours: my mission in life?

Request to all those training re: volunteer management

Trusting teen volunteers with leadership – would you?

How Will Trump Presidency Affect Humanitarian Aid & Development?

Keeping volunteers safe – & keeping everyone safe with volunteers

The 2016 blog entry that got the most views was, in fact, On behalf of a Forest Grove family, but since I didn’t write most of that blog’s content, and it was targeted at an entirely different audience than my blog is normally for, I didn’t include it in the aforementioned list.

And it’s worth noting that the blog entry that got the most views in 2016, other than the aforementioned, wasn’t written this year – it was written in 2011. It’s Courts being fooled by online community service scams, about unscrupulous companies that will take money from people sentenced to community service and give them a letter saying they completed volunteering hours, when in fact, the people did nothing at all.

May your 2017 be full of strength, compassion and prosperity. And I hope you will consider me for help with your communications and community engagement needs.

Virtual volunteering: it’s oh-so-personal

logoThe 20th anniversary of the launch of the Virtual Volunteering Project is approaching! I count it as December 1, 1996, actually, though I could be off by a few days. It was probably summertime 20 years ago that the project was funded, actually.

All that was on my mind when I read that World Pulse, a global nonprofit organization, put out a call for stories that explore the role of technology in our lives and its potential to bring positive change:

At World Pulse, we see so many signs of the good. Every day, women and men creatively embrace tech tools to solve the pressing problems facing our communities and our world. From mobile apps designed to track incidents of violence against women to crowdfunding platforms that put money in the hands of social entrepreneurs, technology is making so much possible for women everywhere.

What technologies have the most potential to make a difference in your community? Do you have a story about using communication technology to form meaningful relationships or bridge a geographical divide? Maybe you are part of a group using technology to mobilize for change.

I submitted my own story for this challenge, noting:

I’ve been researching virtual volunteering for more than 20 years now, and the biggest shock for most people that aren’t familiar with the practice and hear me talk about it at length is just how close I feel to so many of the volunteers and volunteer-involving agencies all over the world. They are my friends and colleagues, just as real as people I work with onsite, face-to-face. These are all real people with hopes and fears and challenging ideas and humor and talents. So many of these online relationships, established through email and Twitter and online communities, are so very, very personal to me.

I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

By the time I left the Virtual Volunteering Project, I had worked with  more than 300 online volunteers. I could tell you so many things about many of them: their career goals, their music tastes, what they enjoyed doing as online volunteers, what they DIDN’T enjoy, and on and on. No, I didn’t know them all that intimately – not all of them wanted to be known that intimately, and there just isn’t enough time in the day to get to know 300 people that well, online or off. At least one of my online volunteers had mental disabilities, and his doctor was one of his references; I got to talk with that doctor once on the phone, and he told me what a huge impact virtual volunteering had had on this particular volunteer. I hung up the phone and cried – I’d had no idea.

I kept working with online volunteers when I took over the UN’s Online Volunteering service, then also a part of NetAid, in February 2001, and a year later, one of the online volunteers died that I had been working with since joining the UN Volunteers program headquarters. She was very young, killed in an accident. I was shattered. We had often IM’d each other, just chatting over this and that. She’d formed a nonprofit with other online volunteers she met through volunteering online with UNV. I was also heartened that, when I sent an email to the entire UNV organization announcing her death, something any program manager did for a volunteer killed in the field, the head of the organization then, Sharon Capeling-Alakija, immediately directed her staff to write the online volunteer’s parents a letter of condolence, just as UNV does when a UN Volunteer dies.

That’s why I get so weary of explaining over and over to people new to virtual volunteering, or skeptical of the practice without reading anything about it, that this volunteering is not impersonal. As I said in an email to someone that blogged disparagingly about virtual volunteering, saying that, as a result of it, “volunteering has the potential to lose its social and community-building benefits”:

Your blog assumes onsite volunteers work in groups and have lots of interaction. This is often not the case. MANY onsite volunteers work in isolation: they arrive, they receive an orientation and training, and then spend their time alone in a room stuffing envelopes, or sorting in-kind donations, or checking inventory, or cleaning something, etc. You cannot assume that onsite volunteering automatically means lots of personal interactions.

I’ve studied virtual volunteering since the mid 1990s, and what I’ve found is just as much or as little social and community-building benefits as any other volunteering. It all depends on the culture of management: is the manager of online volunteers one who provides lots of personal interactions, or one that gives a task and then interacts only at the request of the volunteer? Whether or not any kind of volunteering has social or community-building benefits depends on the manager and the culture of the organization, not necessarily the task being done onsite or online.

Working with virtual volunteering? It’s personal. At least it is for me.

vvbooklittleThere is lots more information about what it’s like to work with online volunteers in The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, available both as a traditional printed book and as a digital book. The advice is based on both extensive research of virtual volunteering practices at a variety of organizations all over the world and my own experience working with online volunteers – I’ve now worked with more than 1000, some of whom I’m still friends with online, some of whom have become friends offline as well. And if you are about to write about virtual volunteering, but you don’t want to read the guidebook, then PLEASE, at least, first read these Myths About Virtual Volunteering.

My web site: online for 20 years!

logoLast week, I celebrated the second anniversary of the publication of The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, (available for purchase in paperback or as an ebook (PDF) by Energize, Inc.). But there’s another anniversary as well that snuck up on me:

It’s the 20th anniversary of the launch of my own web site. The first version of my web site was uploaded on January 4, 1996.

Wow. 20 years. That’s centuries in terms of the Internet.

I began creating and posting tips on database management for nonprofits and other tech-related suggestions to the soc.org.nonprofit USENET newsgroup back in 1994 (see A Brief Review of the Early History of Nonprofits and the Internet for more about the early days of nonprofits and the Internet). Back then, questions about how to build and manage databases of volunteers, donors, clients and others was probably THE hot topic on any online discussion about nonprofits – not marketing (the other hot topic was, of course, how to raise funds). Two years later, I created my own web site to post my growing materials and favorite links, focusing on how nonprofits were, or could, use computer and Internet technologies. The earliest version of my web site that I can still access is at archive.org, from 1998. Super, duper simple design – like most of the web back then.

The original spirit of the Internet was to freely give information, as well as to take it, to make accessing information oh-so-easy, and to collaborate with anyone, anywhere. I got really caught up in that spirit. I was quite the Info Superhighway cheerleader back then. I still look at the 90s as a golden age, when sending just a few emails could double the amount of people that attended an event, when emailing a reporter or government official meant he or she would call you back, and when web sites downloaded oh-so-quickly. I wanted my web site to be a reflection of that, as well to promote my expertise and services as a new consultant, but back in the 1990s, it was online discussion groups, like USENET newsgroups, that got me jobs and built my professional reputation, not the web.

Why “Coyote” Communications as a name for my web site? Because I am quite partial to canines, and I think the coyote is unique among them, with qualities I greatly admire. Coyotes are amazingly adaptable to ever-changing surroundings – efforts to control or exterminate the coyote and the massive garbage-production of modern humans have produced an animal that is even more alert, opportunistic, and able to survive, even flourish. They are uniquely American creatures, incredibly misunderstood animals, much smaller than most people think, and often blamed for destruction not of their making. Coyotes are surprisingly, sometimes shockingly, intelligent, have the reputation of being “tricksters,” work well in groups, love to play, and have boundless love for their families. At night, to hear the high quavering cry or the short, high-pitched yips of coyotes is the most beautiful song you can hear outdoors. My only regret in choosing the name for my web site is that it is very hard for non-native English speakers to say, let alone spell, and most people abroad don’t know the word.

So, here I am, online for more than 20 years, and celebrating my two-decade-old web site. And this occurs within days of my 50th birthday. Wow. I’ had real champagne, not virtual bubbly, in case you were wondering.

Keynote speaking in South Carolina & Washington state!

logoCome here me speak this month or next!

Me in South Carolina Jan. 27 – 29, 2016
I’ll be the keynote speaker and presenting workshops at the South Carolina Association for Volunteer Administration (SCAVA) annual conference, January 27-29, 2016 in North Myrtle Beach! You do not have to be a member of SCAVA to attend. Join me!

Me in Vancouver, Washington (state – USA) Feb. 11, 2016
I’ll be the keynote speaker at the Nonprofit Network Southwest Washington / Directors of Volunteer Programs Association (DVPA) conference on Thurs., February 11 in Vancouver, Washington (state), USA.

You can book me for your conference or workshop! After February 2016, my consulting schedule is wide open. I am available for presentations, short-term consultations, long-term projects, part-time positions, and, for the right role, a full-time permanent position. Here’s what I can do for your organization/initiative.

There are free online workshops by me which you can view anytime, if you want to know more about my presentation style. Most are more than 45 minutes long:

 

I’m available for interviews on Skype or your preferred video conferencing tool, and, of course, by phone – I’m on West Coast time (the same as Los Angeles). I’m available for in-person, onsite interviews in and around Portland, Oregon (the area where I live), and am willing to travel most anywhere for an interview or as part of a short-term consultation.

Me: Fall 2015 Duvall Leader in Residence at University of Kentucky’s CFLD

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be in my Old Kentucky Home in October 2015, for two reasons:

logos for u of kentucky programsI’ll be the Fall 2015 Duvall Leader in Residence at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Leadership Development (CFLD), part of UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Oct. 26 – 30, in and around Lexington.

The week before, I’ll be in Henderson, on the other side of the state, to be the keynote speaker for a capacity-building event for nonprofits organized by the Kentucky Network for Development, Leadership and Engagement (Kyndle), serving Henderson, McLean, Union and Webster counties in northwestern Kentucky, and the Henderson Community Foundation.

CFLD supports leadership related activities within the UK College of Agriculture, the University of Kentucky campus, the local Lexington community and counties statewide. My visit is sponsored by the W. Norris Duvall Leadership Endowment Fund and the CFLD, and will focus on leadership development and community development and engagement as both relate to the use of online media. I’ll be talking a lot about virtual volunteering, of course, as well as using online tools for communication outreach and engagement,.

As Kentucky is my birthplace, was my home for the first 22 years of my life, is where most of my family resides and is where I will, someday, retire (when I’m not still out traveling the world, as I intend to do), this is a particular thrill and honor. Growing up in Kentucky was, in fact, fundamental to my success at working in international aid and development abroad.

I relish any and all university-based experiences: I have guest lectured many times at the university level. You can see my academic / research work at my profile on academia.edu. Most of the academic articles that have cited my work regarding virtual volunteering are listed at my Google Scholar account. And it is my dream to create &/or teach an entire university course – even better: to be based at a university.

Interested in having me a part of YOUR university? Or to consult for your nonprofit? I have a profile at LinkedIn, as well as details on my own web site about my professional activities. I’m also happy to share my CV with you; email me with your request. If you have any specific questions about my profile, feel free to contact me as well.

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:

Free webinar with me re: telecommuting, Feb. 5

logoThursday, Feb. 5, at 11 a.m. Oregon time (2 p.m. New York City; 7 p.m. London; 8 p.m. Brussels; 9 p.m. Kyiv), I’ll be doing part of a FREE short webinar for TechSoup re: telecommuting.

Register, login the day of the webinar and hear me blabble!

 

Most popular blog entries of 2014

It’s the end of 2014 – time to review my most popular blogs of the year. Some of my most viewed blogs this year weren’t from 2014…

Three of my most popular blogs, in the top five, are regarding virtual volunteering scams:

Courts being fooled by online community service scams
Online community service company tries to seem legit
What online community service is – and is not

That’s satisfying, as I really do want to get the word out about these unethical companies that are selling fake online volunteering.

Here are the other blogs people viewed most in 2014:

Making certain volunteers feel unwelcomed because of your language

The volunteer as bully = the toxic volunteer

Your flow chart for volunteers

What to do with old/vintage software

Why You SHOULD Separate Your Personal Life & Professional Life Online

It’s real: the unpaid internships & volunteers controversy

Internet-mediated Volunteering in the EU (virtual volunteering)

Jayne in Kiev, Ukraine for all August & Sept.

I’m a Frustrated Volunteer

Virtual Volunteering discussion group on LinkedIn

International Association of Fire Fighters is anti-volunteer

UN innovation events show how far they’ve come re: ICT4D

Advice for hackathons / one-day tech events looking for projects to hack

Too many volunteer matching web sites?

CSOs: submit proposals by 17 Aug. for USAID & SIDA

Now available: The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook!

Research on USA volunteerism excludes virtual volunteering

Me at Work: Photos!

Humans of New York guy posting re: Ukraine

Yes, indeed, Brandon Stanton, creator of the blog and bestselling book, Humans of New York, was in Ukraine last week and, this week, is posting photos and stories from his time here.

No, I did not meet him. Quit asking.
😉

This is part of his UN-sponsored trip for 50 days to countries in different parts of the world, asking about their main challenges, achievements and hopes. The goal of the trip is to raise awareness for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Stories and photos from his trip to Ukraine and elsewhere here can be found on his Humans of New York web site, , via his Humans of New York Facebook page,  and via his Twitter account, @humansofny.

More information about the entire trip via the United Nations in Ukraine web site (info co-written by myself and my Ukrainian office mate – she wrote a MUCH better lead than me. I just cannot write a lead that good… she was who accompanied him, and translated for him, and I get to hear her own stories about the experience, which are fascinating).

Latest reviews of The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook

Here are some of the latest reviews of The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook:

“We are engaging volunteers with smart phones to review public venues for accessibility. I must say the full review does take more like 45 minutes instead of 10. This information is then available on a website to anyone who might need it. We have found we are making people more aware of the needs of those with different abilities and the volunteers are loving this virtual opportunity. The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook was invaluable!”

— Marty O’Dell, CVA, Volunteer Program Manager, Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, Dayton Ohio, USA, via the comments section for Susan Ellis’ July 2014 Hot Topic.

“I highly recommend the Guidebook to all association leaders, directors of volunteers in agencies, NGO directors and faith based organizational leaders. Guidebook is a must read and resource guide that should be on the desk of any serious leader of volunteers.”

From his review of The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, July 24, 2014 by Thomas McKee (also posted to our page on Amazon).