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We Must Be Active Participants in Our Democracy

Jim Scheibel | Published on 2/2/2022
“Democracy isn’t something to be studied.  Democracy is something to do.  Democracy is a collective call to action”, Danielle Allen, scholar at Harvard declared this past June.  As practitioners and advocates for volunteerism, working for policies that support and encourage volunteerism is something we must do in 2022.

When I was Director of AmeriCorps VISTA and the Senior Corps, I met with several members of Congress to secure federal funding for those programs. Consistently, I would hear praise for volunteers and hear how valuable they are.  But, and often there was “but”, there followed the question, why do we need money for volunteers?

As leaders in volunteerism, we need to educate others and present our case for funding and support from elected officials, funders, and other decision makers in our communities.  We understand that it takes resources to recruit, manage, train, thank, and support volunteers.  Many leaders in volunteerism do an outstanding job of making the case as to why volunteers are a wise investment. We need to and can do better getting our message out. We need to continue to educate, articulate the impact of volunteers, and advocate for policies that support our work. We have inspiring stories to tell. Advocacy should be part of our job descriptions.

There are currently two bills, one federal and one state, that deserve our support and advocacy. 

MAVA has a bill that would appropriate a $1,000,000 grant to administer needs-based volunteerism subgrants, which would target under-resourced nonprofit organizations in greater Minnesota to support ongoing efforts to address and minimize disparities in access to human services through increased volunteerism.

At the federal level, Congresswoman Betty McCollum is introducing a bill that strengthens the relationship between nonprofits and the federal government. It establishes a White House Office on Nonprofits and an Interagency Council on Nonprofit Partnerships.

The core of our work is democratic work. Advocacy for good policies must be on our agenda in 2022.