J.K. Rowling and the Villainous Voluntourist

We recently shared an article on our Facebook page regarding “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling and her thoughts, at least regarding this specific case, on voluntourism. You can read it for yourself here, but summed up, she explains in no uncertain terms that her organization, Lumos, does not support voluntourism.

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The thoughts below are of course, just that. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent that of Realized Worth, but we do believe this kind of discourse is important.

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Corey Diamond: Interesting rant. Thoughts?

 

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Katie Jarvis: I appreciate that she addressed the darker side of voluntourism (that these companies often exploit those they proclaim to help). But when I went on what was essentially a voluntourism trip, we were asked: Why would you spend that money just to come meet us? These men and women spent most of their lives feeling not just unwanted, but less than human. So I’d argue there is merit in showing up and giving your time and your attention to people, especially when you’re working with a marginalized group, even if it’s just so they can feel their own worth.


sabrinaiconSabrina Viva
: Wow. I have very strong feelings about this. On one hand, I agree with her about institutionalized orphanages. The aim should always be to reunite children with their families and to address the real systemic issues that allow for so many children to become orphans in the first place.

On the other hand, not all orphanages are state run institutions. I have had a first hand experience volunteering with an orphanage in Costa Rica that was run by an elderly couple. The state paid for two children, but they had 33 at the time. The countless volunteers I saw there were dedicated to supporting these children through education, music, art, and physical activity programs, to which they would otherwise not have access. In my case, I went on to do the shoebox campaign for 5 years after my trip. And while that didn’t solve any systemic issues in Costa Rica, I would like to believe that it gave them some hope and courage to push forward another day.

Sabrina has more to say on this …

christineiconChristine Foster: I can completely see the argument you are making, but I also had an experience with voluntourism in Ghana and it singlehandedly made me swear off volunteering for a long time. I was stalling the education of the children I was responsible for and was taking away a job opportunity from a local person who could have benefited from employment.

I don’t disagree with the stipulation that the experience of the volunteer is important and can lead to individual transformation and increased volunteerism in that individual’s life. However, if the volunteer experience is at the expense of the beneficiary (which it can be depending on the activity/organization), then in my opinion the potential good it creates is displaced by the harm it does. And if the volunteer realizes this and their contribution to something other than good, it can result in a negatively positioned thin space/transformation that can dissuade a potential lifelong contributing volunteer from volunteering again.

As stated in our previous conversation, I think the organization and the volunteer opportunity itself is vital to evaluating whether “voluntourism” is helpful or harmful to our global society, both for beneficiaries and well-meaning volunteers.

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SV
: Couldn’t we argue the same thing about the hundreds of volunteer opportunities that are available in our own backyards?

 

christineiconCF: Absolutely! That’s why finding good partner organizations for corporate volunteering opportunities is so important for companies. They can either encourage or discourage volunteerism amongst employees based on the community and individual impact(s) of their volunteerism – locally or abroad.

I think we are on the same side – wanting equally good experiences for the beneficiary and the volunteer.

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KJ: So where does that leave us? If volunteering can be harmful abroad and at home, is voluntourism the problem? Or is the real issue false information from organizations and a lack of research by would-be volunteers?

 

sabrinaiconSV: To your previous point, Christine, many nonprofits have limited (if any) funding and resources. Although their intentions to create a great volunteer experience for all volunteers is probably true, the reality is that they just can’t and/or don’t know how to do this.

This is where voluntourism and our field of corporate volunteering can play a larger role, sharing expertise through volunteering … skills-based, or even something many view as menial: virtual volunteering.

The good news in all of this is that there is a lot of room to improve the capabilities and knowledge of nonprofits, just as we currently do with corporations. We have an important role to educate and foster these important cross-sector partnerships so that they can grow and provide impactful, sustainable programs in our communities.


christineiconCF
: I never said voluntourism is a problem. Nor did I say that one experience represents all experiences. Just simply that it can be [a problem]. Voluntourism becomes problematic when the activity or organization is doing more harm than good to the beneficiary (and especially when the volunteer themselves realize this and realize they are contributing to the harm). Unfortunately, there are many well documented cases of this around the world – which is why the word itself tends to have a negative connotation.

I think it is on the volunteers themselves (and in corporate volunteering cases – on the companies themselves) to ensure that the nonprofits with which they are partnering/volunteering:

a.) do more good than harm in the community they are claiming to service, and;

b.) the activity of the volunteer contributes good (or at the very least does not harm the population). There are many great examples out there – like yours, Sabrina! Sure, this might take some more work/research up front, but it’s better than the alternative.

Nonprofits can have limited resources and still do no harm. It’s about knowing who you choose to partner with to ensure that the impact of volunteering with them on the community, company and individual are positive rather than negative.

I agree with you Sabrina, there is also an opportunity to foster cross-sector collaboration to ensure outcomes are positive and sustainable in the communities we are trying to impact.

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SV: Yes, I agree with you. This is where the hard work comes in. It’s nice to be part of the solution.

 


angiconAngela Parker
: Going back to Katie’s question (If volunteering can be harmful abroad and at home, is voluntourism the problem? Or is the real issue false information from organizations and a lack of research by would be volunteers?), I think it would be beneficial to define the problem – or at least parse out the issues. Here’s what I came up with:

Issue #1: The term “voluntourism.”

To me, this term feels negative. It starts the conversation with the assumption that volunteers are traveling to do volunteer work for their own pleasure – and that that’s inherently a bad thing. But is it not a similar scenario to a family deciding to serve food at a homeless shelter together at Christmas rather than eat a big meal at home? Shelters are overrun by volunteers at Christmas. They need people to serve meals the rest of the year and not just during the holidays. Isn’t this family being selfish? Serving for their own pleasure? Somehow we don’t see it that way. We see it as an admirable way that some families choose to adjust their posture at Christmastime and potentially change the longterm perspectives of their children who otherwise might forget that privilege is not afforded to everyone. In this sense, serving for our own pleasure is potentially life-changing.

Issue #2: The organizations.

Some NGOs and nonprofit organizations work with vulnerable populations who need to be protected from inexperienced or insensitive volunteers. At Realized Worth, we support the position that men, women, children, and animals who have been abandoned or abused or who are in otherwise vulnerable circumstances need consistent, committed, trained, and sensitive support in their lives. It is not appropriate to parade tourists through the lives of the vulnerable.

Christine provided two points to avoid this scenario:

… It is (the responsibility of) the volunteer themselves to ensure that the nonprofits they are partnering/volunteering with:
a.) does more good than harm in the community they are claiming to service, and;
b.) the activity of the volunteer contributes good (or at least does not harm the population)

Issue #3: The volunteers.

Voluntourists are often looking for an experience. Rather than just traveling for fun, they want to be immersed in the challenges facing societies. They want to go past the facades of restaurants and shops and be affected by the “real real.” The type of volunteering they find in “their own back yard” often does not promise to provide an experience. Unfortunately, this desire for an experience is sometimes seen as morally wrong – even though it’s a universally human phenomenon. But, to quote Joe Pine, “there is no such thing as an inauthentic experience. Why? Because the experience happens inside of us.”

I think volunteers and organizations (including companies!) can come together to provide the experience voluntourists are seeking. I think we can embrace the human desire to become immersed and changed. We can welcome “tourists” and be their gateway to longterm positive changes in their beliefs and behaviors. And most importantly, we can do this in a way that protects the vulnerable.

diconDainéal Parker: I agree that volunteers and organizations can come together to provide experiences for voluntourists, but for me, the question is: should they? Do we need to bother with vacationers with western savior complexes and their need to feel like they contributed?

My argument against voluntourism is very specific. And while the experience I mention below was incredible and I treasure the memory, I’m going to dispense with feelings and sentiment and consider the numbers.

In 2007, 3 other adults and I took 14 high schoolers to South Africa to participate in some AIDS relief programs. It cost $2700 per person, most of which was eaten up by travel expenses.

$2700/person + 18 persons = $48,600. Couple this with $300 or so of walking around money everyone brought, and you end up with another $5400, giving the entire excursion a budget of around $54,000.

Now, let me tell you about our accomplishments:

  • We painted a gymnasium (very RW, right?)
  • We built an in-ground trampoline
  • We packaged about 100 or so bags of food that could feed a family of 4 for weeks
  • We visited orphanages and spent time with the children there (though it is debatable what this accomplished)

I wonder how much it would cost to hire some local, cheap labor to paint a gym. Let’s say it takes 4 painters 8 hours to get the job done at $20/hour per worker. $640.

Let’s get those same workers to dig a hole for the trampoline, which they can do in half the time. $320.

When Chris, Corey, and I volunteered with AT&T at a food bank here in LA, there were probably a hundred high schoolers competing to see who could pack the most boxes full of food. I’m sure the organization I worked with in SA could round up some privileged folk from Cape Town High that would have done exactly what we did that day (and could probably have gotten a bunch of return volunteers that needed no training). Free.

As for visiting orphanages, well … sure, it’s special for the kids. They feel better for a moment. It’s important to keep them feeling loved and stimulated by new visitors with strange physical features (they were fascinated by my tattoos). But at the end of the day, we were sleeping in comfortable beds while they were still orphans in an orphanage. Depressing thought, I know, but it’s the harsh reality I refuse to look away from. Free.

So with a budget of more than $50,000, we provided about $1,000 worth of actual, real service. Let’s be generous and quadruple that number; we’re still sitting at a value of only 8%. All the while, we potentially robbed locals of temporary employment and/or volunteer experiences that could take tourists and make them travelers, travelers and make them guides. Because 9 years later, I haven’t been back there. But I will go to the LA Food Bank again because I’m connected to it, it’s local, it doesn’t cost $1500 and 20 hours to get there, and they need me.

What do you think those local organizations would have preferred: an afternoon with 18 random Americans they’ll never see again, or a generous contribution they can use to buy supplies, hire local workers, and develop volunteer outreach programs? That may sound cynical, but I’m betting the 18 of us, if we were really truly invested in benefiting the lives of those South Africans impacted by AIDS, could have done the exact same fundraisers and raised only a quarter of what we did and still … our cash would have gone a lot further than our presence.

So in terms of real, tangible value – and I’m sorry to oppose some of my colleagues here on this – I see voluntourism as counterproductive to volunteerism, and something we should be careful to differentiate. At the very least, we should have a healthy skepticism of the term and any organization that uses it.

chrisiconChris Jarvis: This seems like one conversation that is moving back and forth between two topics. On the one hand, as emphasized by Christine and Dainéal, we are concerned about doing harm through episodic volunteering abroad. This may be due to one of two (or more) factors. We’ve mentioned that there may be a lack of insight or considered intentions on the part of the individual who desires to volunteer while abroad or at home. The other factor could be the potential for incompetence or improper motivation of the nonprofit itself (such as using the cause or community to generate revenue or some other value at the expense of those being served).

On the other hand, we are discussing the topic of voluntourism as a practice and trying to evaluate its effectiveness. Here the conversation could be characterized as back and forth movement between effective and efficient leading to a consideration of other possible mechanisms that could result in a better outcome for the cause or community.

At Realized Worth, we take these valid concerns into account in all of our design, theory and practice. This means that we acknowledge the following realities:

  1. Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Volunteer Involving Organizations (VIOs) can vary significantly in resourcing, intent, competence, capacity, and ethics.

    Finding the right organization to volunteer with, whether at home or abroad, can be challenging. Many well-intentioned people end up supporting and working with organizations that prove to be a disappointment (this reflects J.K. Rowling’s thoughts). Most of these organizations, however, are quite the opposite, and without which our societies would be severely impoverished.

  2. People new to volunteering may not be able to tell the difference between good and bad volunteering.

    When people volunteer on an irregular basis or for the first time, it is very difficult to know whether the organization you are volunteering with is doing a good job or even the right job. At this early stage of volunteering we just don’t know what questions to ask or how to properly evaluate what may be going on at the organization. What’s more, when you’re new to to cause, community, issue or organization it is probably inappropriate to criticize or question. You’re there to learn. This becomes compounded when we factor in distance, ethnicity, culture, and more.

  3. The greatest result we can hope for through volunteering is a changed person (volunteer).

    In the Transformative Volunteering model (versus a Transactional Volunteering model) the goal is to see participating individuals changed at a psychological, convictional and behavioral level (see the research). The work is a means to this transformative change. We believe this result is required to address systemic issues on a geopolitical level.

  4. Volunteering experiences should never be at the expense of the beneficiary.

    To suggest that the beneficiary is more important than the volunteer, or vice versa, is a false dichotomy. Proper program design will avoid this undesirable volunteering experience. It is unfortunate, however, that due to the under-resourcing of NGO’s and and VIOs volunteers are often viewed as labor or worse, an unfortunate necessity. Equally so, volunteers must be educated to understand the realities facing the communities and issues they hope to benefit through their actions. Understanding the Three Stages of volunteers helps ensure that we guide people towards their highest level of contribution in the most beneficial way for those we intend to serve (see the research).

Finally, I would suggest that we explore how voluntourism may actually provide one of the most effective expressions of transformative volunteering. The conditions and environments of voluntoursim experiences are unique and offer many of the required elements for a transformative learning experience. Yet, as has been noted in research going back to 2012 further investigation is required to understand “some of the factors that prevent volunteer tourism from accomplishing societal transformation and how to foster transformative learning within volunteer tourism organisations, as well as adopting a community-based perspective on volunteer tourism, to understand the role hosts may play in forging a path of transformative learning and finally to address some of the issues around authenticity and emancipatory learning as volunteer tourism plays its part in redressing growing social and environmental issues.” 1


What about you, reader? We didn’t really draw any hard and fast conclusions here, did you? Let us know on Facebook and/or Twitter what your own thoughts are.


Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs for companies around the world. Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Notes:

  1. Alexandra Coghlan & Margaret Gooch (2011): Applying a transformative learning framework to volunteer tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19:6, 713-728
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Summer Volunteering: Can Coaching Soccer be a Transformative Event?

We are officially in the dog days of summer – much of North America (even Canada!) is stuck in an endless heatwave. Rain is now one of those things you talk about as if it only happened in the old days. Here at RW HQ, summer always presents a common and modern challenge: how do you juggle the heat, vacations, weddings (you may have noticed one of our own had a name change), summer concerts, activities for kids, and so on with our day-to-day work efforts?

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By Corey Diamond

The summer reminds me of how hard it is to fit volunteering into our daily lives. Let’s face it – for most of us, volunteering is on a long list of things we want to do, competing for our attention with a myriad of other priorities. BBQs, patios (it’s a Toronto thing), and reading in a hammock always seem to win out.

But does it really need to be one or the other?

I was at my daughter’s soccer game last night. Before the game, the kids were “warming up” (i.e., doing somersaults), and the coach brought them together in a semi-circle to talk about the upcoming game. The kids took a knee and listened. Positions were doled out, the rules were declared for the 100th time and then everyone got close together for the classic “hands in” cheer. It was a reminder to the kids, assistant coaches, and parents about the importance of their task at hand: above all else, HAVE FUN.

During the game, the coach worked with her assistants to direct traffic, cheer on the kids, and position them according to their skills. Each coach had a specific role: defence, forwards/midfielders, and goalie.


Can coaching soccer be a transformative experience for volunteer coaches? In the process of guiding the players in skill development, confidence, and other life skills, were the coaches themselves changed by the experience?


After the game, another semi-circle was formed and the team reviewed the game together. A lovely tradition of giving out the game ball highlighted the special work of two players in particular. Then, before the teams shook hands, the coach asked the kids a few questions, and they all answered in unison:

“Did you guys have fun today?”

YES!

“Did the other team play well tonight?”

YES!

“Do you all want a snack?”

YES!

I also noticed the coach interact with her assistants after the game, thanking them for sharing the duties that night. They talked about the progress they’re seeing in some of the kids and planned the next practice.

Without even realizing it, my daughter’s coach was demonstrating some of the keystone behaviours found in the transformative model of volunteering, where the primary focus is the change that occurs in the volunteers themselves.

Can coaching soccer be a transformative experience for volunteer coaches? In the process of guiding the players in skill development, confidence, and other life skills, were the coaches themselves changed by the experience?

To be fair, the keystone behaviours RW trains Volunteer Champions to carry out at corporate volunteer events are nuanced, while my daughter’s soccer game does not provide an exact one-to-one comparison. Still, there are some helpful similarities.

Let’s explore a few ways my daughter’s coach made the game meaningful to everyone involved:

  1. The pre-game meeting set the stage and reminded everyone why we were all there.

    This was meant to focus the players on the game, but it also doubled as a way to brief the assistant coaches and parents. In the practice of transformative volunteering, we call this “Framing the Experience”.

  2. During the game, the coach worked with her assistants to bring the best out of the kids.

    By placing the assistants in the right roles, she made it easy for each of them to enjoy the experience and motivate the kids to the best of their abilities. This makes it meaningful for the assistant coaches, and in turn a more fun experience for the kids.

  3. The post-game meeting posed some questions to the kids, and also to the assistant coaches.

    This type of critical reflection is important to make sense of the experience and think about how to apply it to future games, and ultimately to the rest of our lives.

By incorporating these elements, the coach was making it easier for all of us to have a fun and meaningful experience.

The whole (and perfect) evening reminded me that in the midst of a busy, hot summer, we can still find the spaces for transformation to occur. In fact, these spaces may be right in front of us, on a Monday night on a hot soccer field in the middle of the city, or, in fact, anywhere.

And in case you were wondering, the game ended in a tie. Everyone got a juice box.


Could the same happen for your volunteering program? Do you have volunteers in your company that can act like my daughter’s soccer coach and lead their colleagues to spaces where transformation can occur? Are you struggling to motivate your volunteer leaders in the summer? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out to us through Facebook and Twitter, or email us via contact@realizedworth.com

COREY RW PIC EDITED
Corey Diamond
Chief Operating Officer
coreydiamond@realizedworth.com
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4 Reasons to Adopt the Transformative Volunteering Method

In the traditional model of volunteering, the purpose is to freely provide a service to respond to a crisis or solve a problem. In the transformative model of volunteering, the purpose is to develop and strengthen empathy through experience.

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By Chris Jarvis

What is Transformative Volunteering?

Transformative volunteering creates space for participants to reach beyond the immediate context and circumstances of themselves and their communities. Instead of simply exchanging time or resources for the reward of making a difference, volunteers are guided to consider their potential to become increasingly pro-social human beings with a greater capacity for empathy.

The primary focus of transformative volunteering is the change that occurs in the volunteers themselves. Volunteering programs and activities are designed to invite all participants to “engage in critical reflection on their experiences, which in turn leads to a perspective transformation.” This transformation in an individual’s perspective is necessary to achieve change at the psychological, convictional, and behavioral level.

Read the research: Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

What is Transactional Volunteering?

Transactional volunteering is the voluntary giving of one’s time, knowledge, social network, expertise, skills, abilities, experience, knowledge, training, or insight for the benefit of another without any expectation of direct of commensurate compensation. The “reward” is typically the knowledge that one was able to “make a difference” by helping solve a problem or advance a cause.

4 Reasons to Adopt the Transformative Model

1. Increased levels of affective commitment

Employees who are enabled to act pro-socially (give, volunteer, and otherwise “do good” for their colleagues or communities) are likely to respond with increased affective commitment to their organization.

Read the research: Grant, A. M., Dutton, J. E., & Rosso, B. D. (2008). Giving commitment: Employee support programs and the prosocial sensemaking process. The Academy of Management Journal, 51, 898-918.

2. Improved job performance

Research indicates that “volunteering was associated with both volunteer and job meaningfulness, and that the pull of meaningful volunteer work was even stronger when employees had less meaning in their jobs. The results further revealed benefits of volunteering for employers. Volunteering was related to job absorption but not job interference, and it was therefore associated with better job performance.”

Read the research: Rodell, Jessica (2013). Finding Meaning through Volunteering: Why Do Employees Volunteer and What Does It Mean for Their Jobs? The Academy of Management Journal 56(5):1274-1294

3. Competitive hiring position

“For recruitment practice, our results suggest that the net effect of leveraging CSR practices in employee recruitment is clearly a positive one from the perspective of a hiring organization. The majority of our participants — about two-thirds of them — reported they were more attracted to the employer as a result of its community investment or environmental strategies.”

However, the research contains a very distinct and important warning: if the company’s CSR program is seen to be inauthentic or too small, prospective employees will take a negative position towards the company. In those cases where a company may not be willing to substantially invest in CSR, it may be better to not use citizenship programs in recruiting efforts. Additionally, community investment programs must be experienced as meaningful and relational.

Read the research: Jones David A., Willness Chelsea R., Heller Kristin (2016). Illuminating the signals job seekers receive from an employer’s community involvement and environmental sustainability practices: Insights into why most job seekers are attracted, others are indifferent, and a few are repelled. Frontiers in Psychology Volume 7 (00426).

4. Improved organizational resilience

By developing leaders through and experiential process of learning that involves intentional moments of critical reflection and sensemaking, employees in leadership positions acquire the critical skills necessary to contribute to organization’s overall resiliency. Transformative volunteering approaches develop leadership through the cognitive process of learning, modeling a practice of sensemaking and the creation of significance or meaning.

Equipped with this experiential knowledge, individuals possess the necessary skills and experience to contribute to the “organization’s capacity to anticipate, respond, and adapt”.

Read the research: (2014) Guidance on organizational resilience. BSI Standards Publication


Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs. Call us to discuss opportunities for your company, or email us via contact@realizedworth.com. You can also reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter.


Chris Jarvis
Realized Worth Co-Founder & CEO
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Lone Employee Volunteers: Connecting to the Company’s Program

The nature of volunteering carries within it the implication that everyone can make a difference, no matter what the size, value, or duration of the contribution. For companies, the benefits of volunteering go beyond making a difference. Studies show benefits ranging from employee retention to skills building to team building and more. But what about those rogue employees who prefer to volunteer alone? Is it possible for individuals to be transformed by the experience of volunteering and bring those benefits back to their companies? From Realized Worth’s perspective, the answer is a resounding yes! Individual volunteering has the potential to be as transformative as group events (assuming specific elements are included). The following outlines the theory behind those elements and recommendations for applying them.

corey blog i feel

By Angela Parker

Transformative Learning Theory states that when people experience change in a life-altering way, it takes place in three areas: their sense of self, their beliefs, and their behaviors. If corporate volunteers are going to become more engaged employees who experience the benefits of the volunteer program in their everyday lives, the elements of a potentially transformative experience must be included as much as possible in every volunteer opportunity.

RW Transformative Graphic

At volunteer events, Champions apply these elements by performing keystone behaviors including a brief that explains why the event is important and who it benefits; a debrief that facilitates critical reflection; and the opportunity to progress over time in stages of involvement or leadership appropriate to each volunteer’s desired level of commitment.

Each of the above elements are easily applied to group volunteering events, but may require more preparation or follow-up for individual volunteering. The following list provides a few practical ideas for making transformation more readily available to individual volunteers:

  • Proactive learning

    Encourage each individual volunteer to coordinate with the non-profit to understand the beneficiary on increasingly detailed levels. This will continually encourage cognitive dissidence as the volunteer more accurately understands “the why and the who.”

  • Monthly debriefs

    In order to keep individual volunteers from feeling isolated, empower one who embodies the competencies of a volunteer champion to gather other individuals together for a monthly or quarterly “happy hour” or debrief meeting. Note: this is better organized by a volunteer than by a member of the corporate citizenship team as peers are more willing to share openly with each other and reflect honestly than with someone they perceive as a superior.

  • Virtual debriefs

    Encourage Volunteer Champions to hold virtual sharing sessions with the individual volunteers in their area. Volunteer Champions can be provided a guiding agenda to help facilitate this conversation. Depending on the organization, it may be useful to invite a nonprofit representative to participate in these sessions.

  • Info sessions

    Provide opportunities for individual volunteers to educate their colleagues on the opportunities available. This will act as recognition and critical reflection as well as an avenue for recruitment.

  • Personal check-ins/interviews

    Equip Champions or corporate citizenship staff to speak regularly with individual volunteers and informally interview them about the way this activity is affecting their work and their perception of the company. This will effectively facilitate the critical reflection process and enable volunteers to connect the positive results back to the company that gave them the opportunity in the first place.

Other Considerations to Enhance Individual Volunteer Experience and Promote Leadership

  • Invitations to leadership

    Most individual volunteers are intrinsically motivated to get involved and will function at a higher level of contribution. To enable them to apply their understanding and progress in their knowledge, an invitation to become a Champion should be extended at regular intervals.

  • Sharing at champion check-in calls

    Regularly invite individual volunteers to champion calls to share about their experience. They do not have to be a champion to share their story; this is simply a form of recognition, idea sharing, and a way to connect the individual to the broader program. It also ushers the volunteer into deliberate critical reflection.

These ideas are a good starting point; more will arise naturally as individual volunteers, Champions, and other volunteer leaders are invited into the process. As long as individual volunteers are able to connect with “the why and the who”, have a chance to share their experience and connect it back to the company, and can apply their learning and grow in their understanding, their experience has the potential to be transformative, reaping myriad benefits associated with corporate volunteer programs.


Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs for companies around the world. Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Angela Parker
Co-founder/Partner, Realized Worth
Follow Angela on Twitter
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