MLK Jr. Day of Service 2023 is right around the corner, with all its potential and promise. Yet, are you stuck trying to recreate a model of service from 2019 or earlier? If so, I encourage you to rethink and reimagine.

In a January, 2021 VQ blog post, I shared shared the following perspectives on Days of Service:

  • Days of Service are a double-edged sword. On the positive side, they are an effective device to raise the profile of volunteering in our communities. Because national days of service such as MLK Jr. Day and 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance garner great media attention, organizations can leverage this spotlight on volunteerism to broadcast their mission and volunteer opportunities more widely, … reach new volunteers … and, for … projects that actually require large numbers of people to accomplish them, … a day of service can be an effective way to attract the workforce needed to get the work done quickly. But, let’s be honest, such large-scale projects that are meaningful are the exception rather than the rule. Which leads to the other half of this double-edged sword. Days of service are often – I’ll come out and just say it – a burden to nonprofit leaders. 

Little did I know how the effects of this post would ripple out for years to come. I had hoped it would fuel some conversations, which it most certainly did, but it launched conversations not only about service days, rather about many things. Conversations that began with colleague (and future co-editor) Craig Young, quickly led our book, Transforming Disruption to Impact: Rethinking Volunteer Engagement for Rapidly Changing World, which is, in essence, a series of conversations with leaders across the sector about how disruption can inspire us all of us to rethink engagement strategies — like service days — to better meet our changing communities and drive impact.

Now, as we once again approach a major day of service, let’s continue this conversation. Join two of my co-editors, Doug Bolton and Jerome Tennille, and me for a conversation about service days — the benefits and challenges — and hear their advice to rethinking these approaches to volunteering and community impact.

For more information, visit our Disruption to Impact website.

Interested in continuing the conversation with your own community? Check out our new Transforming Disruption to Impact Book Group Facilitation Guide!