Do It! Study and Weigh-in
on Timely Service-Related Policy Proposals
By Paula J. Beugen
ServiceNation’s Strategies for Becoming a Nation of Service report, “ServiceNation
– a growing coalition of more than 110 national organizations that reach 100
million Americans – has developed an ambitious and powerful policy agenda for bringing
service to scale.” And, the Serve America Act is “A bill to amend the National and
Community Service Act of 1990 to expand and improve opportunities for service, and
for other purposes”, indicates the Bill’s Title in the Status and Summary file
for theServe America Act, found at the Library of Congress website.
Do it! Read Strategies
for Becoming a Nation of Service, released at the ServiceNation Summit, held in
New York City, September 11-12, 2008. Go to: http://s3.amazonaws.com/btcreal/856/SERVICENATION_POLICY_BOOK.pdf
to find the report. Also study the proposed Serve America Act, introduced on September
12, 2008. (Find it at the Library of Congress website. Search the word THOMAS
and then search for the Serve America Act.) A summary of this Act can be found
on the Corporation for National and Community Service website at: http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/08_0912_serveamericaact.pdf.
Why? Just about every
aspect of our work in the field of volunteerism and volunteer resources
management could be impacted in some way through the many proposals that have
been put forth. Ensuing public discussion will help identify details that need
to be analyzed and where advocacy or changes may be required from the viewpoint
of the volunteer resources management community. In the coming months, our
individual and collective voices need to be an integral part of the
deliberations that have the potential to shape our field for years to come. It
is up to us to be proactive and bring our vast experience and expertise to the
To help build your own
appetite to “study up” and lead, here are a few of the many questions that have
surfaced, on a preliminary basis, as needing further analysis by grassroots,
front-line volunteer resources leaders:
- What has been the level of involvement by a
spectrum of local volunteer program leaders, from diverse sectors, in the
development and evaluation of proposed concepts?
- Will the capacity and
resources of volunteer programs be sufficient to absorb and support each
volunteer for mutuality and service-results? Given that many volunteer programs
are now “stretched”, will new funding for effective volunteer program
implementation be proportionate to expanded responsibilities?
- How extensive are
reporting, fundraising and other expectations of volunteer programs in order to
maintain eligibility to be a part of specific initiatives? Will experienced
volunteer resources managers help to design the content and process for these
requirements to help achieve relevance and cost-benefit of the work involved?
- What steps can be taken
to assure recognition, reinforcement and sustainability of the wide range of
volunteers already providing essential volunteer services, as the spotlight is
placed on new initiatives and types of volunteer populations?
- What plans are there to
meet the needs of existing and newly leveraged volunteers to help retain them
for longer periods of time? For example, with higher costs of fuel, is it a
priority to raise the tax deduction for volunteer mileage to match the allowable
business mileage deduction rate?
- Will AmeriCorps members
be placed in volunteer coordination roles where they are supported and trained
by experienced volunteer resources managers? Will they augment the work of
directors of volunteer programs / ongoing volunteer resources managers within
organizations? Will the programs, and the efforts of volunteers within them,
continue with quality as full-time service participants conclude their terms of
service? What do we need to do to assure this?
There are many more
questions to be addressed. What are your priorities for further exploration?
Enormous and historic
attention has been focused on the idea of expanding the scale of involvement
and ways in which people can contribute to our communities, country and world.
It is very exciting to see this heightened emphasis in the broad public sphere
and to envision its full potential. Yet, much work needs to be done. The
Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) mission is “inspiring
excellence in the leadership of volunteers to impact communities”. Now is the
time to work especially hard to advance this mission.
Paula J. Beugen is an
active MAVA Member, former MAVA Board Member and former MAVA Public Affairs
Chair. Recently, she has been serving as MAVA’s representative to the Minnesota
Posted November 2008
Note: MAVA has not yet taken formal positions on the
proposals referenced in this editorial. Currently, MAVA’s Public Affairs
Platform is providing guidance for MAVA’s public education and advocacy
efforts. Please click here to view MAVA’s
Public Affair’s Platform.