OT Political thread-what happened? [WeirdDave] | Main | Open Thread
May 17, 2014

Volunteerism [Y-not]

The other threads are getting a bit gamey, so for a palate-changer I thought we could talk a bit about volunteer work.

According to the Government, 1 in 4 Americans volunteer. (You can follow this link to an OFA-styled -- and therefore nauseating -- infographic that purports to provide facts about American volunteerism. I don't have the patience to fact-check that site. BTW, what is The Corporation for National and Community Service and why in heck is it at a dot gov URL?)

In any event, I recently adopted a kitteh and in so doing visited quite a few Utah animal shelters. The one where we ultimately adopted our new friend was really head and shoulders above the others in terms of how it was run and how they interfaced with us. They even sent a follow-up survey asking us to comment on our visit which included a "soft ask" to their donations page. *golf clap*

The shelter in question is an entirely privately-run charitable group, whereas the others seem to be in some way connected to local governments. That may explain part of the difference. The other factor could be location -- the best-run place is in fancy-schmancy Park City. But I think it's also just a well-run organization.

So I'm toying with volunteering there, but having had a bad experience trying to volunteer at a local art museum (a couple of years ago), I am doing due diligence. In my case this involves the following:

1. Checking their web site, reading not just the FAQs for volunteers page, but also their news pages, "who we are" pages, etc.
In that process I discovered that one of the gifts they received was used to bring out an animal behaviorist who conducted a multi-day workshop for their staff and provided new owners with educational materials. Well done. I like to see more than "keep the lights running" uses for gifts.

2. Reading their Mission Statement.
All well-run non-profits should have one. Hell, all well-run organizations should have one.

3. Checking their Guide Star entry and their 990s.
They are a highly rated charity.

Now I'm going to make a small donation. I'm going to send it, by check/snail mail, and see how their gift acknowledgement process works. If they blow it, I'm not going to volunteer there.

After that, we'll see if they can use an animal-loving hard-worker who also knows development.

Where do you volunteer? How did you decide where to invest your time? Any horror stories out there? Any inspirational ones?

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posted by Open Blogger at 12:59 PM

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