May 9, 2011

Evaluating Volunteer Contributions

John Hopkins University has published a manual aimed at better estimating the value of volunteer work.As the press release says:

Previous work by the Johns Hopkins center has shown that, even conservatively estimated, the value of volunteer work in countries throughout the world is roughly double the value of contributions of cash or other valuables by individuals, corporations, and foundations together.

The press release is here and the manual can be found here.

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April 30, 2011

A Comprehensive Review of the Field of Microvolunteering (via Sparked Blog)

A Comprehensive Review of the Field of Microvolunteering Mike Bright of Help from Home just published a great overview of the emerging field of microvolunteering – profiled by Robert Rosenthal over at Volunteer Match. Check it out here. The handbook dives into all the various forms of microvolunteering and how nonprofits can get started. Bright does a nice job of outlining this emerging space, being careful to note that we don't all agree on how exactly microvolunteering should be defined. Bright takes … Read More

via Sparked Blog

April 21, 2011

Volunteer Motivations: The Good Samaritan

Expanding the series on volunteer motivations; here is the first in a selection of interviews with famous volunteers. There is much academic literature exploring the reasons why people choose to give up their precious free time in order to volunteer. As previously mentioned on this blog it is never just a case of pure ‘altruism’ (whatever that actually is). Researchers such as Gil Clary and Mark Snyder have come up with more quantitative ways of exploring volunteer motivations. However for the research for this blog I have decided to use a qualitative approach. Not only did both Lei Fang and Princess Di have trouble understanding the quantative indexing system, qualitative data provides a far greater and richer level of detail in a small sample such as this.

Below is the original, unabridged transcript of my interview with The Good Samaritan:

Interviewer: Good morning The Good Samaritan

TGS: Mimma

Interviewer: Could we speak in English please?

TGS: Ok, sorry. I’ve had a rough night

Interviewer: So, my first question is; How often do you volunteer?

TGS:  Well, whilst I am best known for my informal roadside volunteering I also formally volunteer down at the temple. Often every day, except Saturdays when I play Ultimate Frisbee

Interviewer: And how did you come to be involved in the organisation?

TGS: Well its religion innit

Interviewer: So you volunteer out of religious duty?

TGS: Well, I guess that’s part of it. Keeping on the right side of im’ up there [points upwards] ain’t a bad thing. I guess I also started volunteering cos my mum told me to. Don’t want to get on the wrong side of her either! [laughs]

Interviewer: .. and how well do you know your colleagues?

TGS: Oh yeah that’s another thing; my mate Collin also works down the temple. If it wasn’t for ‘im I would have stopped years ago. Apart from Coll, who I knew before, I also got friendly with a few other lads .We often go to the Johns Head to ‘ave a few after we finish.

 Interviewer: How do your parents and friends view your volunteering?

TGS: Well, my mum is very encouraging; If I don’t volunteer she hits me with a palm leaf

 Interviewer: Do you think volunteers across the globe have something similar?

TGS: What is the globe?

 Interviewer: I mean, for example, do you think that me and you, a westerner and a Sumerian have something in common?

TGS: Isnt the West all full of them savages?

Interviewer: Ok, we’ll move on from that question. Nearly at the end now. Next question is: would you consider volunteering if your life became harder?

TGS: I mean yeah, probably. I mean if I lost my job then probably I’d have more time to volunteer. Although….when I lost my job the last time because of those pesky Phoenicians I did just sit at home eating dates…..hmmm Im not sure.

Interviewer: So that completes the interview, thanks very much for your time.

TGS: Cheers geez, I’ll be off then. Got a trip to Jericho now and you know what that roads like…

For a translation of the Sumerian phrases used by The Good Samaritan see here.

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April 20, 2011

Raspberry’s Flawless Volunteering

Looking through the extremely useful google news archive, I came across this 1997 article by the excellently named Washington Post columnist William Raspberry. The article discusses the push by the Clinton administration to encourage a volunteering drive, concluding with:

In short – though it may be bad journalistic form to say such a thing – I see nothing but good coming from this extraordinary undertaking

That certainly is bad journalistic form but nevertheless it is always interesting to compare and contrast previous volunteer initiatives, and their reception by the public, with contemporary ones. The article can be found here.

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April 11, 2011

Major Brand (Orange) Launches Mobile Microvolunteering App (via Sparked Blog)

Major Brand (Orange) Launches Mobile Microvolunteering App We're happy to see the concept of microvolunteering spreading. At Sparked, we know that microvolunteering is one of the best things you can do to put a shine on your brand… because it's the kind of shine that's backed by real social impact. We're glad to see that Orange Mobile agrees. They've recently launched a new website and mobile app called "Do Some Good"  – and it's like they've taken a page right out of our playbook! Tagline: Got 5 minut … Read More

via Sparked Blog

April 10, 2011

I am Atlanta

The Atlanta Mayor has launched a community rejuvenation plan focused around volunteers. As a news report says:

The city’s plan will focus on mobilizing volunteerism in three key areas — developing youth, neighborhood revitalization and building a philanthropic base of supporters.

The move follows that of Detroit (as reported by this blog here) and is supported by the Cities of Service grant-giving coalition which aims to find:

new and innovative ways to harness the power of volunteers to help solve pressing local challenges

Apparently the website for the campaign will be although if its anything like the equivalent Detroit campaign it may be a long time coming. Thankfully the Detroit website is now looking pretty good.

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April 10, 2011

Im Back

After an enforced absence the ATF blog is back and preparing to alter course in an oil-tanker-encountering-Somali-pirates kind of way. This, I assure you, will make for a better blog. Get ready for widespread improvements….

March 16, 2011

Citizen Scientists


Researchers from Oxford university will recognise the important role played by volunteer scientists in a presentation given at the Earthwatch annual lecture. They will argue that volunteers play a crucial role in broadening the sample of data-collected which is vital for long-term monitoring projects such as those associated with global-warming. Whilst they will draw attention to the obvious shortfalls attached to employing Bob-from-down-the-road to collect data crucial to the long-term survival of the human species, they will nevertheless conclude that overall; citizen scientists play a very important role.

The full BBC article is here.

The Society for Amateur Scientists is here.

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March 9, 2011

Failures of Rationality Über Alles 1: Altruism (via WhizDumb)

Nice discussion of Altruism. Be sure to check out the comments below.

LessWrong begins its Altruism page with the standard definition "Actions undertaken for the benefit of other people."  Unfortunately, it then immediately banishes it to the realm of the self-defeating and nonsensical by continuing "If you do something to feel good about helping people, or even to be a better person in some spiritual sense, it isn't truly altruism." Any person with sufficient understanding of the current state of affairs on Planet … Read More

via WhizDumb

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