Friends, we are behind the times. Way behind. You can feel movement like cool air that flows down a mountain. Can we define it?
Businesses are rapidly changing because they feel it and see it. They are moving out of a B2C (business to consumer) model. You know, the “hey, Target has a sale, I’ll see if they have a shirt I can wear during zoom meetings.”
But there’s nothing I want at Target. So I look at a marketplace like Etsy for something unique. (Etsy is a C2C-consumer to consumer model). I purchase a fun shirt I love directly from a designer.
What is our current nonprofit volunteer model?
Organization to Volunteer or Volunteer to Organization?
Let’s say I’m a volunteer looking to join an organization. My first experience with an organization is reading an ad, or looking at a website. What catches my eye?
From an actual current volunteer ad:
Have you ever wanted to do something AMAZING to change the world but didn’t know where to start? Here is an opportunity to help underprivileged children, to help under-served children, to help ALL children displaced from school due to COVID-19, and even to help many adults.
I then look at this organization’s website and find no volunteer information. No volunteer prompt. No volunteer pictures or information on how volunteering will enhance my life. Just Crickets. But donations are welcomed.
Above is an example of an O2V (organization to volunteer) concept. It goes like this: “We, the organization, want XYZ from you, the volunteer.” Or, more simply, “buy our product (volunteering). We designed it and you’re going to have to buy it because that’s all you have to choose from.”
But wait, there are volunteer choices now.
People are bypassing formal volunteering and exploring solutions through social media on their own. Why choose a volunteer job that is cumbersome and just ok when you can find real satisfaction from joining a group on social media?
There’s a monumental shift afoot from O2V to V2V (volunteer to volunteer)
We see this all the time. My last podcast highlighted two amazing young women who started their own organization while in high school. They are now in the process of procuring donations, creating corporate partnerships and recruiting volunteers.
The nonprofit veil has lifted.
We see this every time a disaster strikes. Volunteers find one another on social media and they band together and act. They bypass formal organizations and change their communities by forming their own grass-roots groups. Nonprofits no longer have the monopoly on solving issues.
Next time: Businesses are moving from B2C to C2C to C2B. What would V2O look like?
I’ll be interested to see where these DIY social media gatherings are in, say, six months or a year. The Volunteer reddit is filled with eager high school students who recruited volunteers, set up an amazing web platform, maybe even developed an app, but then, shock, they can’t find senior centers, schools, youth groups, etc. to partner with?!?!? And why won’t the hospital just let us come on in and “help” the patients?!?
I get it, I do: nonprofits do a lousy job of responding to people that want to volunteer. It’s the number one complaint of users of EVERY volunteer matching platform: “I’ve applied over and over to programs saying they need volunteers, and they never respond!” That has GOT to get better. Nonprofits themselves, claiming to need volunteers, are prompting the creation of all these DIY efforts. But so many of these DIY efforts focus on promoting themselves – but not that whole actual service delivery thing…
Completely agree Jayne, it’s like a hamster wheel of dysfunction. Nonprofits “want” volunteers but don’t follow through. Organizations (using the term loosely) pop up organically, but service centers don’t trust them (are the volunteers background checked?) so we spin around endlessly. People want to help but they want to be engaged and see impact. You are so correct, we have to do better.