Nonprofit Insights: Future Forecast - Four Big Shifts That Will Change Volunteerism...for the Better


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As society evolves, so too does volunteerism. Are you ready? How will today's cultural shifts influence the needs and desires of your volunteer supporters? What can you do to address these needs both now and into the future?

VolunteerMatch and expert consultant Tobi Johnson kicked off the Nonprofit Insights webinar series in 2014 with an exploration of four thought-provoking cultural and scientific trends that will transform how we engage volunteers for our organizations...and may even make your program stronger and better.

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  • Thanks to Shari Ilsen and others at VolunteerMatch for inviting me to participate in the Nonprofit Insights Series. In the spirit of the new year and new renewal, I’m hoping today’s talk will offer you a new way of looking at old things.I’ve out together two handouts that accompany this talk – 1) thumbnails of the slides, and 2) and overview of the key trends, challenges brought about by each, links to further source reading, and some key takeaways. I hope these will be helpful to you.A few caveats:This is not a scientific study of trends. Rather, some musings on key pinch points and issues that organizations – both for profit and nonprofit – are struggling with.Also, I rely heavily on workplace research only because similar research is extremely limited or non-existent in the nonprofit sector, and more specifically focused on volunteer populations.I believe that the successful negotiation of these challenges offers opportunities that can change our sector for the better.
  • Here’s who I am and how to get in touch with me. If you want to hear or learn more, I encourage you to visit our website.Also, I recently joined Enroll America as the State Director for TN where we are building a statewide volunteer-led effort to help consumers understand their health care coverage options under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Predicting the future often involves looking back to the past. When you compare the past with today, times certainly have changed dramatically. In “Ye Olden Days,” teenagers like myself admired heroines like Nancy Drew, who used her solo smarts to sleuth out low-risk mysteries. Today, heroines like Katniss, of the Hunger Games, are charged with high-stakes fights to the death amidst crowds of spectators.Similarly, today’s world of volunteer administration is much more complex and, because of email and social media, our successes and failures are very public.
  • For many reasons volunteerism, like heroism, is now more sophisticated than ever. We have a maturing profession – In response to the call to build credibility and support for our field, the CVA and other volunteer management credentials have been instituted; however, they are not commonly held yet.Tech advances are game changers – the wide use of new hardware and software innovations offer new opportunities to engage the community in our work, but also create the need for tech literacy.We have a changing and more demanding society – we have greater and greater access to tailored solutions in all aspects of life, including volunteering, and programs must keep pace to maintain viability.Cross-disciplinary thinking – Research in behavior economics, psychology, neuroscience, and other fields has been accessed to inform how we design fundraising and community involvement in some nonprofits.
  • The rapid pace of change also exacerbates and complicates the change process. As new advances take place, they ripple out and affect our work with volunteers. What in the past may have felt like small waves of change, now feels like a torrent of transformation.In anattempt to sort it all out, in today’s webinar we’ll discuss four key trends and shifts that will likely affect volunteerism. These certainly don’t represent everything that may rock our world, but they are likely already have some significance for you and your program.
  • Advances in how we understand brain functioning can help us better recruit, train, involve, and support volunteers in support of our missions. The is to figure out how to choose volunteer administration practices that work with the brain not against it, in order to produce positive results for individual volunteers, teams, and organizations.Fortunately, some helpful models have been developed that can give us real clues about our choices.
  • BJ Fogg’s model shows us that in order for behavior change to occur, three elements must be present – motivation, ability, and trigger. If one is missing, the behavior cannot occur.Shawn Anchor has demonstrated that work productivity does not generate happiness. In fact, it is the other way around – happiness generates results in the workplace, and happiness can be actively cultivated by doing one of the following things on a daily basis:Jot down three things they were grateful for.Write a positive message to someone in his or her social support network.Meditate at their desk for two minutes.Exercise for 10 minutes.Take two minutes to describe in a journal the most meaningful experience of the past 24 hours.David Rock posits that minimizing danger and maximizing reward is a central organizing principle of the human brain. Approach (reward) and avoid (threat) are deeply ingrained survival instincts, and the more we perceive reward the more easily we can collaborate and influence others. Moreover, his SCARF Model identifies five domains that activate the brain’s circuitry to perceive reward or threat:Status is about relative importance to others.Certainty concerns being able to predict the future.Autonomy provides a sense of control over events.Relatedness is a sense of safety with others - of friend rather than foe.Fairness is a perception of fair exchanges between people.
  • Here are a few possible ways we might react to the current trends and adopt new strategies for success.
  • Have you used specific advances in brain science to inspire deeper volunteer engagement? YesNoNot Sure
  • If we better understand what motivates and inspires human performance, we will be better able to engage and cultivate volunteer-based human resources.The challenge is to design volunteer training, teambuilding, and leadership models that are inspiring, personally fulfilling, and make the most of volunteer skills and talents.New approaches to talent management, evidence-based training strategies, and research into workplace motivation in the business sector offer some new ideas in this arena.
  • SHRM defines Talent Management as “The implementation of integrated strategies or systems designed to improve processes for recruiting, developing, and retaining people with critical skills and aptitudes to meet current and future organizational needs.” Similar needs have been expressed by volunteer programs as they seek to cultivate a new generation of volunteer leaders.In addition, a number of research studies have shown that 50-80% of workplace learning happens informally, through self-study and social interactions; and yet, most organizations invest most of our time and energy in formal, instructor led training (both online and in-person) expecting it to do the job.Finally, behavior economist Dan Ariely argues that in today’s knowledge economy, efficiency is no longer more important than meaning in the workplace. His research has demonstrated specific factors that make us feel good about our work:Seeing the fruits of our labor may make us more productiveThe less appreciated we feel our work is, the more money we want to do itThe harder a project is, the prouder we feel of itKnowing that our work helps others may increase our unconscious motivationThe promise of helping others makes us more likely to follow rulesPositive reinforcement about our abilities may increase performanceImages that trigger positive emotions may actually help us focus
  • Here are more ways we might react to the current trends and adopt new strategies for success.
  • Have you updated your training practices to reflect new research in learning and development?YesNoNot Sure
  • Technological advances offer us a myriad of ways to reach and engage current and future volunteers.The challenge is keeping pace and aligning volunteer communication, training, and support media and methods with how the public most commonly gets and shares information in day-to-day life.
  • 63% of adult cell owners now use their phones to go online, double the number in 2009. 21% of these do most of their online browsing using their mobile phone. Some of the most popular activities for online cell phone users:81% send or receive text messages60% access the internet52% send or receive email21% participate in a video call or video chatThe growth of telecommuting (not including self-employed) increased 80% from 2005 to 2012, and federal employees have the highest rate of telecommuters. Furthermore, 56% of companies use social media to find prospective employees (up from 34% in 2008), but few (16%) use it to communicate with employees. Despite the technology, virtual teams experience what researcher Karen Sobel Lojeski calls a “connectivity paradox” – The more connected people are, the more isolated they feel. “Virtual Distance” is Lojeski’s conceptual framework that describes and measures these psychological effects. The following three factors affect Virtual Distance:Physical distance, which reflects different work schedules and status within organizations as well as geographical separation.Operational distance, which is caused by poor communication, multitasking and dissatisfaction with responses to problems. Feelings of isolation caused by concentrations and dispersions of staff also contribute to operational distance.Affinity distance, which reflects how positive or dysfunctional personal relationships among team members might be.This is by far the most critical.
  • Here are more ways we might react to the current trends and adopt new strategies for success.
  • Do you use mobile technology, such as smart phones and tablets, to attract new volunteers and communicate with current volunteers?YesNoNot Sure
  • Data proliferates everything we do and can provide evidence and support for volunteer program decision making and design.The challenge is how to harness and analyze data in manageable, affordable, and scalable ways, in order improve individual programs and the field of volunteerism as a whole.
  • Digital data collection is now part of virtually every business transaction as well as many social functions. This data has yet to be fully marshaled to improve processes and arrive at solutions for the greater good.“Big Data” is a common topic of discussion in corporate circles and refers to datasets that are so large they are beyond the ability of a typical database or software tools to capture, store, manage, and analyze. The term (and relative size of the dataset) varies by sector, depending on what is currently available in that specific industry. Concerted efforts have been made to aggregate meaningful measurements outcomes (The Center for What Works & Perform Well)and to share best practices in the nonprofit sector. 75% of charities measure some or all of their work, nearly three-quarters have invested more in measuring results in the past five years.In addition, Little Bets author Peter Simms’ explains that productive and creative thinkers practice small unconventional experiments such as failing quickly to learn fast, trying imperfect ideas, and engaging in highly immersed observation that allow them to make unexpected connections and gain invaluable insights. Finally, in an SSIR article Matthew Forti describes several recent improvements in performance management, such as:The move to evidence-based decision making The to collaborative data collection and analysisThe move from program evaluation to performance management
  • Here are more ways we might react to the current trends and adopt new strategies for success.
  • Have you added new performance measures, conducted a program assessment, or changed how you calculate impact or return on investment of your volunteer program ?YesNoNot Sure
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  • Hopefully, I’ve provides some interesting food for thought as we launch into 2014. Remember that volunteerism is much more than an act if assistance. Volunteerism is a higher calling for many. As such, future changes to volunteer programs should be viewed through this lens.And, it might be helpful to ask -- Will the change help facilitate a deeper sense of connectedness with others, the community, or the cause?
  • Given the themes you heard today, what resonated most with you? What trend did we miss that you think is significant?Do you have any plans to make changes to your program to reflect new trends? What questions are still in your mind about your next steps?
  • Nonprofit Insights: Future Forecast - Four Big Shifts That Will Change Volunteerism...for the Better

    1. 1. Future Forecast: Four Big Shifts that Will Change Volunteerism…for the Better #vmlearn
    2. 2. Meet Our Speaker Tobi Johnson Tobi Johnson & Associates @TobiJohnsonTJA #vmlearn 2
    3. 3. + 3 Happy New Year! What’s Your Mantra for 2014? Enter it in the chat box or tweet it. #vmlearn #vmlearn
    4. 4. + Future Forecast: Four Big Shifts that Will Change Volunteerism…for the Better Tobi Johnson, CVA VolunteerMatch Nonprofit Insights Series January 8, 2014
    5. 5. 5 + Tobi Johnson, CVA Tobi Johnson & Associates 206.799.9038 #vmlearn
    6. 6. + 6 Then and Now … #vmlearn
    7. 7. + 7 Volunteerism is More Sophisticated than Ever Maturing Profession  CVA & Other Volunteer Management Competencies Changing Society  Increasing Demand for Tailored Solutions Technological Advances  Social Media & Smart Phones Cross-disciplinary Thinking  Psychology of Giving #vmlearn
    8. 8. 8 #vmlearn
    9. 9. + Shift #1: Advances in Brain Science & Neuroleadership 9 #vmlearn
    10. 10. 10 • Utilizing volunteer The administration practices that work BIG with human nature not Challenge against it. #vmlearn
    11. 11. 11 #vmlearn
    12. 12. + 12 Shift to Using Brain Science Now  Focus on legacy volunteer program policies and procedures Future Focus on minimizing threat and maximizing reward in organizational cultures   Use of human motivational triggers to develop leaders    Team happiness cultivated through evidence-based practices and team traditions Reliance on charismatic (and rare) volunteer leaders to maintain team morale Traditional volunteer reward and recognition activities #vmlearn
    13. 13. + 13 Poll: Have you used brain science to deepen volunteer engagement? #vmlearn
    14. 14. + Trend #2: Discoveries in Human Performance & Talent Development 14 #vmlearn
    15. 15. 15 • Designing volunteer training, teambuilding, The and leadership models BIG that make the most of Challenge volunteer skills and talents. #vmlearn
    16. 16. 16 #vmlearn
    17. 17. + 17 Shift to Talent Development Now Future  Predominance of instructor-led volunteer training and orientation  Knowledge transfer fostered though informal volunteer-led learning networks  Continued turnover and churn of volunteer talent  Use of best practices in talent development, directly aligned with program goals  Extrinsic rewards used to recognize volunteer contributions  The deeper meaning of work reflected in volunteer recognition #vmlearn
    18. 18. + 18 Poll: Have you updated your volunteer training or talent management practices to include informal learning? #vmlearn
    19. 19. + Trend #3: Migration from Solely Virtual to Virtual and Mobile 19 #vmlearn
    20. 20. 20 • Aligning organization and volunteer and BIG communication media Challenge and methods. The #vmlearn
    21. 21. 21 #vmlearn
    22. 22. + 22 Shift to Mobile Now Future  Over-reliance on a single method of communication with volunteers  Volunteer communication strategies align with mobile lifestyles  One-way volunteer info blasts   Virtual volunteering discouraged or undervalued Two-way, social communication that fosters a greater sense of community  Deliberate strategies to reduce perceived virtual distance #vmlearn
    23. 23. + 23 Poll: Do you currently use mobile technology to connect with volunteers? #vmlearn
    24. 24. + Trend #4: The Increasing Importance of Data 24 #vmlearn
    25. 25. 25 • Analyzing data in order improve The individual volunteer BIG programs and the field Challenge of volunteerism as a whole. #vmlearn
    26. 26. 26 #vmlearn
    27. 27. + 27 Shift to Data Literacy Now Future  Minimal performance management of volunteer human resources management  Common performance indicators and benchmarks used for program accountability  Organizational data silos   Time and flexibility for experimentation, combined with reflection, unavailable Global collaborative data sharing to inform evidencebased practice  Experimentation and failure embraced for what it can teach us #vmlearn
    28. 28. + 28 Poll: Have you recently changed how you measure your program performance or impact? #vmlearn
    29. 29. + 29 Visit Us Today! #vmlearn
    30. 30. + Tending the Garden 30 Rather than solely the act of “helping out,” volunteerism is a kind of self actualization. It represents a profound and personal search for meaning. #vmlearn
    31. 31. + 31 Questions, Thoughts, Ideas? #vmlearn
    32. 32. Next Webinar: Volunteering & Employment: Benefits for Individuals, Nonprofits and Companies January 15, 2014 #vmlearn