Monday, September 13, 2010

Walking the Talk of Collaboration

When we ask nonprofits to contribute their research to IssueLab we talk a lot about the importance of knowledge sharing and the necessity of collaboration. We remind them (you) that in order to avoid recreating the wheel we simply have to share what we know with our colleagues in the field. Given the importance of our work and the scarcity of resources we can't financially or ethically afford to duplicate efforts. In essence by sharing our knowledge we build our capacity as individual organizations and as a sector.

But knowledge sharing requires more than just nonprofits sharing research with information hubs like IssueLab. It also requires that in turn IssueLab shares those resources and that research with other hubs, platforms, and online communities -- getting it into as many relevant online places and spaces as possible. In other words, walking the talk of collaboration.

One of the areas where nonprofits are constantly developing new strategies and looking for more efficient and effective approaches is in the area of volunteering. How can I best recruit volunteers? Do I need to manage online volunteers differently? How can I tap into the number of retiring baby boomers who are looking for meaningful volunteer opportunities? How can I best measure the value of volunteer contributions? Well matched and well managed volunteers directly contribute to an organization's capacity to deliver its services. And by extension when we share case studies, white papers, evaluations, and operational templates about volunteering we also build our capacity as a sector.

So forgive the long lead up -- but all of this explains why we are so excited to be collaborating with VolunteerMatch and IdeaEncore on making these resources more readily accessible to nonprofit practitioners. In partnership with IdeaEncore we are now sharing all research that addresses the topic of volunteering through the new Volunteering Resource Library. This library is directly available to the more than 73,000 nonprofits who use VolunteerMatch and are already looking to improve the way they recruit and manage volunteers.

There is a lot of talk about collaboration in the sector, from merging back office operations to developing joint programming but not a lot of this talk focuses on one of the most simple yet critical acts of collaboration -- knowledge sharing. The Volunteering Resource Library is a simple example of how much more we can do when we do it together.

Valuable nonprofit knowledge + a willingness to share = increased capacity.

If you know something about volunteering or you are looking for information about how to improve your volunteer program, plug yourself into this simple equation. We did!

Image: CC licensed: Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

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