Revised with new information as of November 22, 2011
Jayne Cravens: As a Volunteer
Many people know me as a volunteer manager and advisor and trainer on volunteer engagement issues. But I am also a volunteer myself.
Why do I volunteer? I guess I'm a typical Gen Xer in that regard: I don't volunteer primarily out of a sense of duty to my country, nor because I think I have to, or nor because I think it's "nice"; I volunteer to make a difference in the causes I believe in, and for what I personally gain out of doing so.
Some of my volunteer activities were undertaken simply because someone asked me , and I liked the idea of being associated with the particular organization or activity. And for some I thought, after being asked: hey, this will look great on my CV.
I believe that there is nothing wrong with any motivation to volunteer, as long as the motivation isn't something destructive, and the volunteer always puts the mission of the organization first when engaging in his or her activities. I think it's important to remember that different people volunteer for very different reasons, and to respect and appreciate these differences -- and even to leverage these differences for the benefit of the organization.
What has kept me volunteering long term for some organizations?
- feeling that my contributions are valued by the organization and those it serves
- regularly hearing from the organization about the difference my contributions have made
- working with other volunteers (very energizing)
- getting the opportunity to do things I don't get to do in my professional work (participating in trainings, for instance)
- having fun while volunteering
- receiving regular communications; always feeling a part of the organization (never isolated or left out)
Here is a selected list of my advisory board experience, pro bono work, and other volunteer contributions to various organizations:
- Moderator of the Volunteers and Technology" online forum for TechSoup.org, an organization that helps nonprofit organizations regarding computer and Internet technology. 2002 to the present.
- Member, Canby Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee. This government committee is made up of volunteers who work to keep informed about current trends in bicycle and pedestrian services and administration, to contribute to plans for bicycle and pedestrian services and facilities in Canby, and recommend policies related to the bicycle and pedestrian transportation system in our city. I initiated participation of the city in Clackamas Co. Tourism & Cultural Affairs' 'Bicycle Tourism Studio' in Nov. 2011; created & manage a Facebook page to announce activities & information related to bicycles & pedestrians in our city, & allows any Canby-area citizen to offer information and comments regarding bicycling and walking in our community; and directed events of the Walk+Bike to School Day for a local school when the original organizer was unable to do so at the last minute.
- Various duties for Bpeace (Busines Council for Peace), a UNIFEM partner and non-profit organization that mobilizes business professionals as volunteers to help entrepreneurs in countries emerging from war, like Rwanda and Afghanistan, to expand local businesses and create employment (and thereby build a peaceful, properpus future). I've detailed my volunteering with BPEACE on a web page of its own. 2008 to the present.
In November 2010, I received a VERA (Volunteer Excellence Recognition Award) from Business Council for Peace (BPEACE), a USA-based nonprofit that recruits business professionals to help entrepreneurs in countries emerging from war, like Rwanda and Afghanistan, to create and expand businesses and employment (particularly for women). I received the award as recognition for my online volunteering work with BPEACE. I then posted a photo of myself holding the award online, posted it to my Facebook page, to my blog, etc. So in addition to making me feel a part of BPEACE and feeling appreciated for my contributions, I got to help further build excitement for an organization I care about.
And in addition to that fabulous trophy pictured at left, I also got the fabulous DOSTI soccer ball pictured here as a thank you (made by women in Afghanistan - women that received support from other BPEACE volunteers!)
You can also read a long list of causes I actively support as a volunteer or donor.
- Girl Scouts. From September 2009 to the summer of 2011, I was the volunteer communications coordinator for Service Unit 12 (includes all troop leaders and other Scouts volunteers in Canby, Colton, and Molalla, Oregon - South Clackamas County, Oregon), part of the Girl Scouts Oregon and Southwest Washington (a regional office of the Girl Scouts of the USA). Now, I help two troops with program activities (like planning a camping trip in 2012!).
- Online tutoring, mentoring and advising a Master's Degree student, first at Kabul University when she wascompleting her Master's Degree project regarding the lack of women leaders in community and government organizations in Afghanistan, and why women's leadership in such is essential for development success in Afghanistan, as well as regarding her work at an Afghan government agency and her own career development. Now, she's in Australia studying for a second Master's degree at a university in Brisbane, and I continue to help her with her studies. Summer 2008 to the present.
- Contributor and original author of various topics on Wikipedia, including the entries for Online Volunteering San Francisco Women on the Web. You can see my Wikipedia contributions to date. Also serving as a member of the Enhance community health and culture task force, part of the Wikimedia Strategic Planning process. 2009.
- Volunteer Coordinator, Advice Page Editor and Forum Moderator for Aid Workers Network (AWN). Dec. 2007 - Dec. 2008. Advisory board member for AWN, providing information about board governance and nonprofit management to the organization behind the forum, as well as a frequent poster to the forum to answer questions about volunteerism and civil society capacity-building. 2004-2006.
- Online mentor for new women bloggers in Kenya, through Fahamu and the Women's Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC), to help them learn to use blogs as a method of democratic expression and empowerment. 2008.
- Online mentor for the inaugural Blogs for African Women (BAWo) Mentoring Project, focused on women living in Nigeria, to help them learn to use blogs as a method of democratic expression and empowerment. 2008.
- One-on-one career counseling volunteer (online) for students interested in careers in international development work, through Open University (where I completed my Master's Degree). 2004-2007. Also a participant in the OU's Careers Quick Queries Forum, advising OU undergrad students regarding volunteering for career experience and working in international development. 2011.
- Online mentor for the Young Caucasus Women Blog Project, for small group of young women from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia living as exchange students in the USA. January - March 2006.
- Online volunteer, contributing volunteer management resources and commentary, to CYBERVPM. 1998-2006
- Providing advice regarding board development and management for Pearls of Africa. 2005.
- Through onlinevolunteering.org: advisory board member/online volunteer regarding increasing volunteer involvement for the Youth Resource Center of Guria, in Georgia (formerly part of the Soviet Union). 2004
- Advisory board member (mostly as an online volunteer) and onsite event volunteer for Knowbility and its Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) events in Austin, Texas. 1998-2004
- Facilitator of the soc.org.nonprofit / NONPROFIT online discussion group, 1997 - 2000 (I think those dates are right... it seems so long ago...), and frequent poster to the group to answer questions about volunteerism and civil society capacity-building. 1995 - 2005
- Online mentor with a fourth grade girl in Austin Texas, part of the Sanchez Elementary School Online Mentoring Program, to help build students writing abilities and to reinforce good practices in online safety (2000)
- Online and onsite volunteer with HerDomain, based in Austin, Texas, advising on membership outreach and staffing the booth at SXSW, as well as actually working at said booth, and serving food at one of the evening events. 1997-1999.
- Organizing committee member advising on online mentoring for the Governor's Mentoring Initiative (Texas). 1999
- Judging panelist for the Governor's Volunteer Awards (Texas). 1999
- Online volunteer advising on nonprofit creation and management, and web master, for Twangfest. 1998-1999
- Board member in charge of communications for the Austin DOVIA chapter (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies). 1997-1999
- Judge for the National Volunteer Awards by Women in Community Service (WICS). 1998
- Member of the Nonprofits' Policy and Technology Working Group, sponsored by OMB Watch. 1997-2000
- Onsite volunteer helping with online communications for the Texas Freedom Network. 1996 - 1997
- Onsite volunteer helping with database issues for the Texas Abortion Rights Action League (TARAL). 1996
- Onsite and online volunteer with Impact Online (now VolunteerMatch) from 1994 - 1996, helping to support organizations using this pioneering volunteer-sign-up service (to see how the Impact Online site looked in those early days, go to www.archive.org and type in www.impactonline.org into the "Way Back" machine.
- Member of the 1995-96 San Jose (California) Festival, Parade and Celebration Grant Review Committee
- Compiling, editing and coordinating production and distribution of the newsletter for the South-Bay chapter of the California Abortion Rights Action League, staffing public information booths for the chapter, conducting a workshop for all Northern California chapters regarding creating effective newsletters, and participating in an intensive two-day training by the National Abortion Rights Action League for North Western state offices regarding countering campaigns by religious fundamentalists, then training South Bay grass roots volunteers, including from the local chapter of Planned Parenthood, in a mini-workshop later.1992-1994
- Member of the first technology advisory committee for the Nonprofit Support Center in San Francisco (1993?)
Did I volunteer as a child? Indeed! As a teenager, I stuffed envelopes for St. Anthony's Hospice in Henderson, Kentucky and helped in the radiology department as a candy striper for what was then Henderson Community Methodist Hospital. Also as a teen volunteer, I escorted kids from Henderson, Kentucky participating in the Kentucky State Special Olympics in Bowling Green. As a pre-teen (way back in the 70s), I was a Junior Girl Scout (and before that, a brownie) but, sadly, my troops never engaged in volunteering activities...
Return to my volunteer-related resources
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