Just as organizations began to explore reopening models after months of pandemic-induced closures or adaptations to services, millions of people have been coming together (virtually and physically) in demonstrations, discussions, and reflections on racial justice and equity. in support of black lives and communities. As individuals take to the streets and the airwaves, many organizations are taking a stand, committing to action, and working to build a sector that prioritizes and nurtures diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Volunteers are a powerful path to such change. The events of the last few weeks and the history of our nation are a testament to that power. We at VQ Volunteer Strategies commit to learning, sharing, taking action, and partnering with others to address inequities in our organizations and our communities.
As leaders of engagement, you, too, can make a difference, starting with considering and reflecting on our own organizational practices. The Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (Al!ve) shared these questions in a statement from the Board which we encourage you to ponder and address:
- Have we made our volunteer opportunities accessible? Do we have unintended barriers, including our own biases and privilege, that keep people of color from volunteering?
- What can we do to eliminate these barriers (e.g., cost to participate, transportation issues, policy issues, days and times of volunteer opportunities) from our work so our volunteers better reflect the communities we serve?
- Are we listening to our community? Are our volunteer departments’ objectives meeting their needs? Are we amplifying all stakeholder voices so they are being heard, understood, and involved in the process?
- What happens if we do nothing? What are the consequences of not addressing the questions above? Will taking a neutral stance be doing more harm than good?
Addressing these questions is only the beginning, but an important one. Developing a plan and implementing it is equally vital. Many resources exist to guide that work and we will continue to share such strategies and partner with others to develop more.
Alone, we cannot address all the challenges, but together, we can make a bigger change and leverage the power and passion of volunteers – all volunteers – to increase impact and build a more just future.