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Do politics affect why people volunteer?

Posted By Erin Spink, September 28, 2017
 

Estimated reading time - 2 minutes. Written by Erin Spink. 

 

We're living in a time of significant upheaval, not least of which is being reflected in our political leadership, democratic institutions and civic engagement. Many of us have seen the groundswell of support online, in the streets and through financial donations to specific causes and charities in recent months. But do these shifts extend to volunteer behaviour? We know anecdotally that in North America some volunteer-promotion sites like VolunteerMatch in the U.S. have seen significantly increased traffic to their site, specifically on President Trump’s inauguration day. 

As leaders of volunteers, we have unique insights into shifts in our organization’s key stakeholders, yet we rarely document or share those trends with sector leaders or amongst each other. We’re often the first point of contact for members of the community to our organizations. There is a power and responsibility that comes with that- much like the canary in the coalmine, to announce the changing barometer of stakeholder opinions, priorities and motivations.

Not much gets written about the interconnections between politics and volunteerism, yet the entire political system in this country would collapse without volunteers. Beyond that, at a higher level, whether we work for a charity that is in the cross-hairs of a political figure or party or not, we may feel the shockwaves as people express their political views more tangibly through social activism, advocacy, donating and changing their volunteer behaviour.

I asked questions of both individuals and non-profits to document whether there is a shift going on in volunteer behaviour across North America, and whether any of it is connected to the political landscape. The survey closes Tuesday, October 3rd.

Initial results will be presented at Volunteer Toronto’s VECtor conference. If you're with the media and would like to learn more or attend the conference, please contact Cara Eaton.  

 

 

 

Erin Spink is the founder of spinktank, an innovative think tank on the profession of volunteer engagement. In 2008, Spink produced the first-ever academic work to quantify the concept of “volunteer engagement,” and has since been published in both Canadian and international journals. She has served on the Board of Directors for PAVRO (Professional Administrators of Volunteer Resources – Ontario) for five years, including two years as president, and has been an Instructor in Conestoga College's Volunteer Program Management faculty for eight years.

 

Tags:  activist groups  leaders of volunteers  Non-profit strategy  Toronto  VECTor Conference  VECTor Presenter  volunteer  volunteer engagement  volunteer management  volunteer programs  volunteering in Toronto  volunteerism  volunteers 

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Bringing the Grassroots Together: Maximizing Capacity for Mentorship and Collaboration

Posted By Claire McWatt, Project Coordinator, Grassroots Growth , March 18, 2016
 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

In grassroots groups, passion runs high, as dedicated volunteers commit their spare time to running an entire organization with very limited resources.

Limited access to resources is a problem shared not only by grassroots groups, but also by the entire non-profit sector (am I right?). It can be a major challenge to accomplish goals when stretched so thin. But for grassroots groups who have limited access to sector support and difficulty applying best practices to a grassroots context, this can be particularly challenging. Although grassroots groups find impressive ways to get crafty in a pinch, these tips are not readily available to all groups that could potentially benefit. By engaging in peer mentorship, grassroots groups can learn from each other, and share tips and tricks to facing the unique challenges of managing volunteer-run organizations.

Due to the entrepreneurial spirit of grassroots groups, often there are many initiatives operating at the same time, with similar goals and mandates. In light of this, it makes sense to explore how to foster more collaboration between groups, and build capacity for the development of partnerships and coalitions.

Collaboration can benefit groups in a number of ways, increasing efficiency, resources, support, reach, and legitimacy. However, for this to work, these partnerships need to be mutually beneficial, and that requires thoughtful preparation to ensure a smooth ride, and a strong outcome.

For more information on collaboration, check out this helpful article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, that outlines different types of partnerships and the various pros and cons.

As with a lot of sector resources, many are focused on larger nonprofits. Luckily, in the coming weeks Grassroots Growth will begin developing our Peer Mentorship strategy, specifically designed to bring grassroots groups together in our Community of Practice. This will allow for the sharing of tips, as well as tailoring of helpful approaches to collaboration to better suit the specific needs of volunteer-run groups. To learn more about how to get involved in shaping this process, contact Claire McWatt.

 

Claire leads the development of the Grassroots Growth project’s online community of practice, including the Peer Mentorship Forum and Wiki Resource Directory. She also manages relationships with Grassroots Growth partners, handles project administration, and collaborates with the Education Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator in research, training and outreach.


Tags:  activist groups  Challenges for Grassroots Organizations  collaboration  collaboration for Grassroots  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  improving your community group  Toronto 

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