Volunteers religious

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Volunteers religious

  1. 1. EFFECTIVELY ENGAGING FAITH-BASED VOLUNTEERS: MAXIMIZING BENEFITS FOR NONPROFITS AND VOLUNTEERS
  2. 2. Role of faith-based volunteers • Over 80% of charitable nonprofits use volunteers • About a third of nonprofits partner with religious organizations (including 15 percent of nonprofits identified as secular) • Nonprofits partnering with religious nonprofits report a greater scope of volunteer use and greater benefits from volunteers • Three fourths of adult volunteers attend religious services • One third of adult volunteers learned about service opportunities through their congregation • About one fourth of youth who attend religious services also volunteer regularly • Summary – in general: – Most nonprofits rely on volunteers – People with active religious commitments are more likely to volunteer for both religious and secular organizations – Organizations that use religious volunteers experience greater benefits from their volunteers (Volunteer Management Capacity Study)
  3. 3. What you will .. and won’t … learn today  General volunteer mobilization and management best practices (regular supervision and communication with volunteers, written policies and job descriptions, feedback, recognition, etc.) Management dynamics related specifically to faith-based volunteers. Learning to better understand and engage religiously motivated volunteers translates into better delivery of benefits for the community as well as more fulfilling experiences for the volunteer.
  4. 4. Learning goals Develop an appreciative understanding of: 1. The variety of ways faith motivates, guides and gives meaning to volunteer service. 2. The scope and benefits of faith-based volunteer support for community nonprofits. 3. How religious elements in a nonprofit's history and culture informs strategies for mobilizing volunteers from the faith community. 4. How to communicate constructively with volunteers about expectations and policies related to religion. 5. Strategies for enriching the participation of faith-based volunteers through opportunities for training, reflection, and dialogue. 6. The call for organizations to relate to religious volunteers not merely as resources to be used but as whole persons.
  5. 5. Research source: Faith and Organizations Project • Case studies of 81 organizations to understand how faith based nonprofits and their sponsoring faith communities sustain their relationships. • Compared strategies across religious traditions and among a variety of FBOs. • See Maintaining Vital Connections Between Faith Communities and their Nonprofits: http://www.faithandorganizations.umd.edu
  6. 6. Who are faith-based volunteers? • Many volunteer in congregation-based service activities: 83% of congregations sponsor service projects; 91% of these use volunteers from the congregation • Many volunteer for faith-based nonprofits linked with a congregation or faith community: 73% of FBOs partner with a religious organization • Some volunteer for secular organizations with ties to their faith community: 15% of secular nonprofits partner with a religious organization • Some religious individuals work in secular settings: people who regularly attend religious services are more likely to volunteer for secular as well as faith-based organizations. • Some work for organizations that are intentionally interfaith. Volunteer Management in America’s Religious Organizations (Corporation for National and Community Service, 2004)
  7. 7. Why do people of faith volunteer? In general, faith directs volunteers to care about others’ welfare and to seek justice. • Christian volunteers experience the link between faith and service in various ways – some themes are shared and some are unique to each faith tradition: o Evangelicals tend to cite a Scriptural mandate and to point to Christ’s example of compassion; o Mainline Protestants are more likely to echo the biblical prophets’ call for justice and to walk in the social gospel tradition; o Quakers may be led by an inner sense of personal calling; o Catholics draw on a rich tradition of church social teachings and may be inspired by saints who gave their lives in service.
  8. 8. Why do people of faith volunteer? • In the African American context, participation in church- sponsored community service may be viewed as an extension of church membership, as an arm of the church’s mission of social uplift and empowerment. • In the Jewish tradition, every community member has a responsibility to support those in need through commandments to do justice and provide charity (tzedakah) and engage in acts of compassion (chesed). Service not only expresses individual faith but strengthens the bonds of the community of the faithful.
  9. 9. Why do people of faith volunteer? In addition to motivating service, faith can be deepened or strengthened by service. • Service may be perceived as a spiritual discipline, bringing one closer to God. Some religious traditions emphasize encountering the presence of God in those who are served. “Working for the Jewish community or working for the good of humanity is equivalent to being in prayer” • Volunteering can be viewed as an embodied declaration of gratitude, devotion, or worship. “I have always seen involvement in the community as an integral part of expressing one's faith.” • Volunteering alongside others of faith is a way of participating in religious community.
  10. 10. Why do people of faith volunteer? Some religious traditions also seek to share faith through service, either directly or indirectly. • Some Christian volunteers are motivated by the goal of evangelism. They hope that service opens the door to explicitly sharing the gospel with beneficiaries. • Volunteers may also be motivated by the desire to build personal relationships that earn trust and credibility for their faith. • Other volunteers believe they best share faith by demonstrating their beliefs in action – their acts of compassion speak for themselves.
  11. 11. Volunteers and organizational religious character • Volunteers’ experiences with a nonprofit may be influenced by its religious character, whether formal and/or informal. • Formal ties to religion may include: religious mission statement, partnership or affiliation with a religious group, religious requirements for hiring, and religious activities incorporated into programs • Nonprofits may also reflect informal or embedded religious influences (values/expressions that may not be explicitly articulated, but help define the particular faith community): o A history of religious influences in the founding story o Religiously-inspired values that impact service delivery o Informal linkages with a faith community that draw faith- motivated staff and volunteers o Styles of communication, decision-making and leadership that reflect the culture of a religious tradition
  12. 12. • Volunteers often play different roles in different religious traditions: o Mainline Protestant: Volunteering is typically channeled through church-sponsored programs or spin-off nonprofits. The faith element is often more implicit in the act of service rather than explicitly expressed. o Evangelical: Volunteers are often drawn through attachment for a particular faith-based cause or leader. Nonprofits may expect volunteers to participate in the religious mission. o Jewish: Volunteerism is a religious duty, but service may or may not be channeled through the religious community. Volunteers and organizational religious character
  13. 13. Benefits of faith-based volunteers Practical benefits of volunteers overall: • 38% of faith-based nonprofits have a large scope of volunteer use (rely on more than 50 volunteers a year serving more than a total of 50 hours in week); 25% of secular nonprofits use this level of volunteers. (Volunteer Management in America’s Religious Organizations) • The estimated value of volunteering in the U.S. in 1996 was estimated at $203 billion. (Eleanor Brown, Assessing the Value of Volunteer Activity, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 1999) • Many nonprofits simply could not do what they do without volunteers.
  14. 14. Benefits of faith-based volunteers Unique benefits of faith-based volunteers: • Promote agency visibility and legitimacy within religious institutions and networks • Help reinforce an agency's connection with its historic religious roots • Strengthen the religious component of an organization's mission • Provide opportunities for leadership development in the faith community
  15. 15. Recommendations 1. Seek to understand and affirm the faith motivations of volunteers. Volunteering in a faith-based context is a two-way street: Volunteers enable the organization to carry out its mission at minimal cost; the nonprofit supplies an avenue for volunteers to express their spiritual values. Emphasizing the reciprocal nature of this relationship strengthens the ties between a nonprofit and its faith community.
  16. 16. Benefits of understanding Value to nonprofit leaders and supervisors of understanding the connection between volunteers’ faith and involvement: • Volunteers’ faith orientation may be different from yours, so there may be assumptions or misunderstandings to overcome. • Respecting volunteers’ faith perspective is one ingredient in a strong working relationship. • Appreciating the value added by faith can help you to attract and retain volunteers from the faith community. • Understanding religious motivations can help you craft a service experience that is a meaningful outlet for volunteers’ faith. • You can be more intentional about encouraging volunteers to integrate spirituality and service, thus enriching their experience. • Knowing volunteers’ faith background helps you better communicate the organization’s religious culture and policies.
  17. 17. Benefits of understanding … But don't allow reliance on the faith motivations of volunteers to be a substitute for excellence in volunteer recruitment and management practices! “The greatest challenges that charities and congregations face is an inability to dedicate staff resources to and adopt best practices in volunteer management. … Despite the willingness of charities and congregations to take on volunteers, challenges prevent them from meeting their full potential.” - Volunteer Management Capacity in America's Charities and Congregations (Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, 2004) (See resources for volunteer management in faith-based settings at http://www.faithandorganizations.umd.edu/ pdfs/Strategies_additional_read )
  18. 18. Recommendations 2. Help volunteers integrate faith and service. • Provide faith-based volunteers with opportunities to integrate their spirituality and their work, in a manner that best suits your organization's religious culture. • Integration opportunities include training, reflection, and dialogue on the religious aspects of volunteers' service activities and the nonprofit's mission. • Recognize that not all volunteers want to discuss their faith openly. Less overt ways of helping remind volunteers weave religious meaning into their work include symbols or rituals (a cross, iconic images, times of silent prayer or meditation). • Offer to include volunteers in spiritually enriching group activities, such as prayer circles, devotionals, or Bible studies.
  19. 19. Recommendations 3. Communicate with volunteers on faith matters. • Communication is a vital factor in any volunteer program. For nonprofits that rely on volunteers from the faith community, it is particularly important to be able to communicate on matters relating to faith. • Offer channels and styles of communication that resonate with the supporting faith community. • Provide volunteers with an orientation to the agency's religious roots, values, and culture. • Clarify guidelines for how volunteers can express and witness to their faith, appropriate to your organizational culture, context for service, and funding restrictions. • Maintain consistency between formal expectations and policies relating to religion, and day-to-day informal practices.
  20. 20. Faith-related policies • Articulate specific volunteer policies that relate to faith, in order to prevent unnecessary conflict. For example: o What if anything is expected of volunteers in terms of representing the religious character of the organization (e.g. dress, lifestyle, religious speech)? o What is the organization's stance toward volunteers from a different religion, or no religion (e.g. would an Evangelical organization welcome a visibly Muslim volunteer)? o If the organization includes volunteers from multiple faiths, how are volunteers expected to deal with religious diversity and relate to one another? o If the organization sponsors explicitly religious activities, what participation is expected of volunteers (e.g. attending chapel services or prayer times)?
  21. 21. Recommendations 4. Develop appropriate strategies for mobilizing volunteers from the sponsoring faith community. Building connections with the faith community can include: o personal invitations from nonprofit staff / volunteers to co- congregants; o notices in religious publications; o emails / letters to members of congregations or other religious bodies; o notices printed in church bulletins or announced in worship services; o personal visits by nonprofit staff to religious services or meetings of the faith community; o volunteer opportunities posted on websites or blogs followed by people in the faith community; o requests through denominational channels; o information sessions or "ministry fairs" held at congregations; o internships from religious schools; o special events such as a concert or arts festival co-sponsored with the faith community.
  22. 22. Recruitment strategies The religious culture of the faith community will affect the choice of connection strategies. • Faith traditions with a strong centralized organizational structure (Jewish, Catholic) often work through a centralized volunteer clearinghouse. • In the Mainline Protestant, African American or Quaker faith traditions, congregations and denominational structures may play a greater role. • Among Evangelicals, personal networking and religious media are often likely to be most effective. Religious culture similarly influences the most effective form of volunteer management. The same channels for sharing volunteer requests can often be used for communicating volunteers' feedback and ideas to the agency.
  23. 23. Recommendations 5. Care for volunteers. Nonprofits founded on the religious value of caring for others should apply this principle to their volunteers. • See volunteer management not only as a matter of efficacy, but as a part of the mission of the organization. • Treat volunteers not just as resources to be used but as whole persons: identify spiritual, social, relational and emotional needs that the organization can help to meet. • Provide opportunities for volunteers who would not consider themselves religious to connect with a faith community. • For youth volunteers, recognize the potential for making service a life-transforming experience. • Care for volunteers by providing adequate training and resources so that they do not burn out. (See e.g. Michael Sherr, Social Work with Volunteers (Lyceum Books, 2008)
  24. 24. Take-home conclusion When nonprofit leaders understand and appreciate how faith motivates and guides service, they are better able to connect with volunteers as whole persons, nourishing the spiritual and personal aspects of their involvement. In this way, engaging volunteers can become a mutually enriching exchange, rather than a merely utilitarian resource management strategy. Integrating the service of volunteers in a way that affirms their faith commitments and enriches their experience allows volunteers and FBOs to thrive.

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