Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How will this data and analysis prompt you to modify your volunteer program?

If you have not read The changing face of volunteerism in the District: kids are the big winners, take some time to read and process.   Yesim Sayin Taylor interprets CPS data about voluntarism in some helpful ways.   Taylor asks a number of questons―such as, "What do the non-traditional organizations do?" and "What do volunteers do for them?"―and prompted me to think about what I know and think about voluntarism

Some of thoughts I have:

  • Here's an obvious one: Are kids the big winner because parents are volunteering for activities and organizations which engage their children?   Did parents volunteer before they had children?
  • Is there a common pattern to voluntarism?   For example, does volunteering wane during early parenting years to pick up in elementary school to taper off in middle school and high school and regain steam again when the kids are out of the house

    Melinda Vance, former president of the Junior League of Hartford, at one time contemplated the need for the League to modify two of the three stages of membership.   Simply, Vance argued that many women were not as able to volunteer as actively when their kids were young (when women, as League members, would be Actives) as they would be when their children were older (when women would become Sustainers in League parlance).   Vance argued that the League, and other voluntary engagement opportunities, needed to be much more flexible so as to attract and retain volunteers through their volunteer life cycle.   This change was never made but I remain convinced the change is needed.

  • Has service learning in schools, after-school, and sororities and fraternities played any role in how younger DC residents think about volunteering?
  • The last thought I have is about the word civic and what it means to different people.   I tend to think about civics in the sense of the citizenry―civic or citizen groups, political parties, friends groups.   As Taylor noted,
    Here is what the newcomers to the District (read, millennials) do not care for: Political parties and advocacy organizations, cultural and arts organizations, sports and hobby groups, labor unions, professional organizations and health research and education groups. These kinds of organizations either lost volunteers or barely added any new ones.

    Pew, as summarized in Millennials are not Joiners, found last year that millennials are less likely to report a formal association with a political party and religion.

    I wonder how the generations will bridge the divide.

Finally, I'm curious about how consumers of this information will think about using it to modify their volunteer programs.   Please leave your thought in a comment.

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