Last column we talked about how important volunteerism is to people, people-centered solutions and the building of vibrant communities. We also talked about how companies, government entities and nonprofits alike struggle through systemic inequities by not always attracting volunteers that actually reflect the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the communities they serve. A lack of diversity and inclusivity can perpetuate the impacts of supremacist culture. 

Volunteers can both complement and enhance the work of staff. And volunteering allows residents to take more ownership in the places where they work and live. As the economy continues to shift, figuring out how to give tangible support to all volunteers will be invaluable. 

Taking an honest look at your organization’s “volunteer best practices” — and determining whether they are really best for everyone — is a place to start. Additionally, being intentional about how you attract and invite volunteers can make a real difference in dismantling structural inequities. Part of this dismantling includes having a volunteer pool with a wide range of expertise and lived-experience in order to build diversity of thought and strong representation that influences the trajectory of such work. 

I want to take the pulse of volunteer diversity in the Pikes Peak region and share ideas on best practices in future columns. Please take a few minutes to complete the following anonymous survey online at tinyurl.com/divcity.

• What is the work of your organization? 

• How do you utilize volunteers? 

• How does your organization think about diversity and inclusiveness in your volunteer programs?  

• Do you consider language as a tool in attracting diverse volunteers? Why or why not?

• Outside of your volunteer base, how does your organization build relationships with the diverse communities you work with?  

• Do you consider the socioeconomic status of your volunteers? How does your organization support diverse statuses?

• Do you provide skill-based opportunities in your volunteer programs? What do those look like?

• Are youths represented in your volunteer pool? Why or why not? 

• Does your organization offer accommodations that allow those with disabilities or are differently abled to volunteer? 

• What barriers might diverse members of the community face in trying to participate as volunteers in your programs? 

• How do you celebrate, appreciate and/or compensate your volunteers for their unpaid work?

• Does racism or implicit bias show up in your volunteer engagement? How so?

• Does your organization embrace an inclusive structure? How so?