01 July 2010

National Conference on Volunteering and Service: A Reflection

I spent the past three days at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS) held in New York City.  I was fortunate enough to catch some really interesting sessions and events which included people like the new CNCS CEO Patrick Corvington, Arianna Huffington, Sec of Edu Arne Duncan, NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Scott Heifermann from MeetUp, and Charles Best from Donors Choose (amongst many more).  There are some really interesting things going in on the service world and I wanted to share some of my reactions and reflections from the event.  There is no real order to this and each point will be varied.

  • Arne Duncan is out to kick some serious ass.  He made it clear that he will do anything (close schools, extend days, extend school year, etc.) in order to turn around the American school system.  He is of the mind that it is better to try something out full tilt than to implement incremental change.  His remarks were exciting and terrifying.  There is no doubt a need to radically change public schools, it is just a matter of how he plans on doing it.
  • Results matter! And they have to be measured.  This is what EVERYONE was talking about at the conference. Duncan wants measurable results, Klein does, and Duncan most of all.  Fortunately, it was heartening to hear that Duncan acknowledged that data must be broad and still can only show a small part of the picture.  Being a person who is not a fan of testing, I found the comments disappointing to say the least.  Hopefully the drive for data will not turn reform into NCLB 2.0.
  • Volunteerism is on the up and up!  Here is a list of a few of the major sponsors: Target, JP Morgan Chase, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Motorola GE, Bank of America and it keeps going.  We heard from people from the first four listed and they all said they are looking to increase volunteerism within their organizations.  Corvington said in no uncertain terms that there is a need to increase volunteering within and out of the United States.  The 250,000 volunteers that are mandated in the Serve America Act do not seem to be a random number.
  • Do not forget international volunteering!  Service World is trying to get to the goals set by Sergeant Shriver in getting Peace Corps to 100,000 volunteers.  The initiative is signed by numerous corporations and service groups to increase the exchanged of volunteers around the world.  So, anybody who has problems and concerns with international volunteering, it is only going to get worse.
  • Great thought coming from TechSoup: ‘Do not fall to the tyranny of the urgent’
  • Boomers represent the majority of new Facebook users and LOVE YouTube.
  • PS 22 ROCKS! http://ps22chorus.blogspot.com/2010/06/hq-version-of-ill-stand-by-you-from.html
  • Bloomberg is serious about this Cities of Service coalition –> more volunteering
  • Mustaches for Kids by donors choose might be the most brilliant way to get guys who are my age to raise money and take part in non-for-profit projects
  • Ryan Scott from Causecast is a willing listener and wants to form the best section possible with the Impact section of the Huffington Post.
  • Scott Heifermann, co-founder of MeetUp, loves his organization and has a crazy passion for the potential of meet ups that can take place based on common interest and lead to an understanding across political, social and economic lines.  He sees his org as a way for voices to be heard and not stifled.  A source of some sort of elicitor of truth.  Yes, grand, but was also inspiring.
  • Steven Colbert is on the board of Donors Choose…..I am jealous.
  • “There is no ROI without investment”
  • Sonal Shah – The government is looking to scale good ideas/solutions
  • Data shows that NPs which fro to over $1 million see a decline in HR quality
  • NPs with more volunteers tend to have smaller budgets
  • 4 fundamentals from the Reimagining Service Initiative (which is HEAVILY influencing CNCS):
    • Make volunteering fundamental not an add on
    • volunteering changes the core economics of organizations
    • Don’t let supply dictate your volunteer programs
    • In order to get a return, you have to invest
  • Which speaker do you think said this at least three times in his remarks “The road to hell is paved by good intentions.” Hint: His org was mentioned previously.
  • I do not remember who said this, but I like it “If I expected to hire people for my company the same way organizations are expected to take volunteers we would go out of business”


I will add anything else I can remember.  Anyone else go?