Friday, September 23, 2011

Leaders in the volunteer sector reinforce bad practices

Jayne Craven just posted UN Volunteers, IFRC, ILO & others make HUGE misstep. and the news she brings us is not good.

Quoting Jayne,"The measurement so many of us have been campaigning to end - or at least not make the primary measurement of the value of volunteering - is being officially embraced by UNV and IFRC."

I agree with Jayne that there are more useful and quite frankly more accurate ways of measuring the value of volunteer engagement.
To Jayne's list of ways we can talk about the value of volunteers at the community level, I would like to add one at the organizational level.
  • To what degree does the engagement of volunteers lead to the accomplishment of the organization's mission? 
I see a use for calculating a value for the time a volunteer contributes but given that it is a resource that is consumed in the process, it ought to be treated in a similar fashion to money being spent. It is a part of how something gets accomplished and not, as the UNV/IFRC position views it, the accomplishment itself. An organization spends money and spends volunteer time in pursuit of a mission. In a well run organization the value of what it accomplishes outweighs the grand total of both types of expenditures.
In the next couple of weeks I'll be introducing an ROI (Return on Investment) calculator for volunteer effort. It does not look at the big community/global picture such as the enlightened ways Jayne describes volunteering can be valued.  This calculator is designed as a management tool to help nonprofits allocate resources in a manner that maximizes the accomplishment of its mission. Common to Jayne's view of valuing volunteer effort, the focus is not on the accumulation of hours as goal. It is being sponsored by so it will be available to use at no cost.

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