Episode #033: New Research on Volunteer Funding with Dana Litwin

Tobi: Welcome to the Volunteer Nation Podcast, bringing you practical tips and big ideas on how to build, grow, and scale volunteer talent. I’m your host, Tobi Johnson. And if you rely on volunteers to fuel your charity, cause, membership, or movement, I made this podcast just for you.   

Welcome everybody to another episode of the Volunteer Nation podcast. I am super pumped to welcome my friend Dana Litwin. We’ve been friends for a long time. Dana is awesome.  

Dana: A long. long, long time! 

Tobi: A long, long time! And we’re gonna have a great conversation.  

But before we get started, I just wanna remind everybody that our VisionWeek five-day sprint to develop your strategic plan for volunteer engagement for 2023 is coming. 

It’s gonna be the week of December 5th. If you want more information, go to volpro.net/vision, and you can get that thing done and dusted in five days and have a lot of fun doing it.  

We’ll be leading you through the process. We’ll be doing some training, little bit of training every day, short trainings.Then you’re gonna be doing some implementation.  

I will have some of my leadership tidbits popping in. You’ll be invited into a community. It’s just gonna be a lot of fun. So I welcome you to check us out. We’d love to see you in that event. So again, Volpro.net/vision. So join us!  

So let’s get onto today’s talk, Dana! Let me introduce Dana a little bit, and then I’m gonna ask you to tell us a little bit more, because I’m sure that your bio doesn’t share the whole story. So, Dana Litwin CVA. Hey fellow CVA!  

Dana: Hey, girl, hey! 

Tobi: Dana is a globally recognized strategic advisor, speaker and advocate for civic service. Since 2002, she has guided organizations in California, Silicon Valley, and nationwide to produce breakthrough volunteer and community engagement programs.  

Dana’s the creator of the YouTube channel “Priceless Advice for Leaders of Volunteers.” Go, Dana! You know, I’m telling you, not very many people do YouTube, so we gotta give her big props!  

She is also served as President of the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement. You might know them as Al!ve and is the founder and facilitator of the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement, which we’re here to talk about some of their research today. So Dana, welcome to the pod! 

Dana: Thanks Tobi for having me on, and I’m excited. I’m excited to see the growth of media and podcasts and channels in our sector in the last few years. 

And thank you for everything that you’re doing with this podcast, Volunteer Nation, and all of your other projects, including with our other redheaded friend, Jennifer Bennett.  

Tobi: Yes, we are having fun! So Dana, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m not sure everybody in our audience knows who you are. So, how’d you get into non-profit work? Why does volunteerism specifically mean so much to you?  

Dana: I got into this, as many leaders of volunteers do, by kind of accidentally taking the next job I could take that seemed interesting to me. So in the early 2000’s, I got an entry level position with Project Open Hand in San Francisco as a volunteer coordinator. 

And prior to that – you know, we’re talking about having a CVA, my degree is in jazz studies. And I sing and I play a number of instruments, and I’m still a musician here and there for fun.  

And, you know, a music degree and $5 gets you a cup of coffee somewhere. If that! These days it may or may not be pumpkin spice latte, but it gets you a cup of coffee. 

I became a volunteer coordinator with Project Open Hand, and I think that gave me a wonderful foundation because Project Open Hand works closely with Shanti, and I had from the get-go incredible resources, workshops on volunteer engagement.  

I just felt like I had people who also loved the profession as leaders and mentors. My director at the time was Artrese Morrison, who is fantastic person. I think that strong start got me really passionate about why I love it.  

I’m a people person and I love systems and organizing. So all that fits together perfectly for volunteer engagement and that strong start. And the phrase that I learned from Shanti, which I still say as much as possible, is “Every interaction with a volunteer is an invitation to stay or an invitation to go.” 

So 20-something years ago, starting with that agency and being with them for about five or six years was, I think that’s what kept me really passionate about this. Making this a real career, not just a job that I have while I do other things, which had been my twenties.  

It’s like, I’m a musician and I have some other jobs, but this is like, wow, this really feels like it resonates with my soul. And so, you know, flash forward all these years later. I worked for Project Open Hand, and my lifelong passion has actually been conservation, animal welfare, climate change, ecology.  

I did a lot of that activism even as a kid and a teenager, and what I love about being a leader of volunteers and this aspect of our sector is you can do this work with any other community of practice or interest level that you have. 

So I happen to have started with food security and meal delivery to chronically ill people, and then I was able to work for zoos and open space and land trusts, and really hone into that along with neighborhood centers.  

And that’s really helped me in my consultancy the last few years. I started to consult full-time again in 2019. I had done it part-time while working for other agencies for a couple of decades there.  

And having that variety of agencies that I’d worked for helps now with clients, and now that I’ve also in 2020 started the YouTube channel, which is really an excuse to talk to my friends, like you and Rob and Martin and Chris in Australia and Jennifer Bennett. 

So I was like, I wanna talk to my friends more often, why don’t I record it? Because that’ll be fun. And it has been! It has been super fun and useful. People tell me that it’s quite useful.  

So if you go to YouTube, the  handle’s @DanasPricelessAdvice on YouTube, that’s pretty easy to find me on social media, and now consulting and working with so many clients from so many other sectors. I still love conservation and I work with other zoos, other than the one I work for myself and other land trust and conservation agencies and climate change work.  

And I think this is the career where you can really center on what resonates with your values and your heart and where you’re drawn for a cause, and that you can always be a leader of volunteers in whatever sector and area of interest you want. 

And I love that flexibility to our sector and our profession. And a big part of my career has also been advocating for more decision-making power and better pay conditions, which your research reveals every year that we’re still undervalued and underpaid and under-resourced in general in this profession.  

So that’s also been where I volunteer my time with Al!ve. And since 2017, when the spark of the idea of the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement came to be at at a MAVA National Summit in 2019 in St. Paul, that’s been another big place where I put my volunteering for the profession.  

Advocacy is, how can we raise the awareness of how important volunteers are? And especially strategic volunteer engagement for organizations, governments, nonprofits, that this has to be something that’s a foundational pillar of your strategy for your mission, has to do with volunteer activities, volunteer engagement, community engagement. 

And again and again, research is showing that not enough executive directors or even funders understand that connection. So that’s been a big part of my work the last few years pro bono.  

Tobi: So that’s really the work of the Alliance. Tell us a little bit more about that before we start talking about the research the Alliance has done recently.  

Tell us a little bit more about its goals. You talked a little bit about the national summit back in, was it really 2017?  

Dana: That was in summer 2017. Blows my mind. 

Tobi: I cannot believe this. Blows my mind too.  

So tell us a little bit about that and then we’ll get talking about, first of all, what kind of organization is this and why are these, you talked a little bit about why the advocacy is needed.  

Is there anything else we need to know about why these organizations are helpful? 

Dana: Absolutely. So the idea of the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement. It’s a loose umbrella alliance, and if you go to All4 – the number four – All4Engagement.org, you can read all about it.  

But the mission, as we were started to be formed in 2017 and really coalesced about a year later, is we wanna inspire and equip philanthropic organizational and community leaders to prioritize, advocate for, and invest in strategic volunteer engagement. 

And we’ve worked with a lot of other partners, including Al!ve and VolunteerMatch and The Lady Foundation and Fidelity Charitable Trust. So it’s really been about understanding why there has not yet been significant conversation or research on a national level of, why is there this disconnect? 

Where if you were to survey CEOs – and actually MAVA did some research in 2018, 2019, more conversational and qualitative, and Carme Boman led that effort with MAVA – CEOs think, oh, we’re just going to have volunteers appear and it’ll be fine.  

And it’s nice to have, and volunteers are free. And that’s not the case. Anyone who’s in this profession knows that not the case. So we wanted to really dig into and spark these alliances and conversations and collaboration and cooperation, and really break down the silos that can exist in this sector, not just between other national organizations, but between funders and CEOs. 

And like, why is this disconnect happening where funders don’t seem to understand how important it is to earmark for, these go into volunteer resources, or these are grants that are specific to that.  

And there’s really only been a handful of philanthropic entities and funders, including the ones the Alliance is working with to put out the survey this year, that have been doing that work.  

So we are really hoping to expand the conversation and help organizations and funders find a common language and understand the importance of strategic volunteer engagement, and what that really means for resources and practitioners and mission impact strategy.  

So to that effect, this past summer, the National Alliance in coordination with the Do Good Institute, which is out of the University of Maryland, we put out two national surveys over the summer. 

They launched in June, July, August, and we’re just starting to, just later today literally, I’m talking to Dr. Sue Carter Kahl about some of her results with focus groups and interviews.  

But we’re focusing on the state of strategic volunteer engagement in the social sector and aiming to launch that conversation about embracing strategic volunteer engagement to help fulfill nonprofit missions. 

We’re really gonna start publishing the results and promoting the ideas that we’ve learned from this data and the surveys into early 2023. So probably January through the spring of 2023, we’ll have messages and promotions and other partners involved in, how do we get this conversation aligned so that people understand? 

Because what we found is that there’s just a huge disconnect and CEOs and executive directors are assuming that, well I’m not allowed to ask for grant funds for strategic volunteer engagement because none of that’s ever listed in a grant application from these foundations or these other partners. 

And then the funding philanthropy partners are like, well, we assume we’re funding strategic volunteer engagement because we fund capacity building, or we’ll fund a specific program around it.  

So there’s a lot of things that are programmatic funding when there should be overhead/general capacity building/general funds dedicated to, these go to volunteer services and volunteer resources and paying, having more dedicated staff who are CVAs or otherwise qualified doing this work.  

And we really have to give a shout-out to the survey partners, both for funding and just participation and helping to share the survey within their spheres of influence. Really include The Lady Foundation, the LodeStar Foundation.  

VolunteerMatch has been a great partner, UJA Federation of New York, and then the Alliance, we had some funding from our startup funding that we contributed to this as well. 

And we’re working with a fantastic women-owned, women-led campaign firm called Mission Partners, and we started to have some really great conversations with Mission Partners. 

And as we get some of this preliminary research results, we’re excited to have that really roll out in these larger conversations in probably January or so and really culminating in, hopefully by the end of 2023, we’re watching lights light up in conversations and in conferences. 

And we’re seeing tracks about this and workshops about this, and that there is an agreement and awareness of the importance of engaging volunteers in your core mission.  

Tobi: Let’s talk for a minute about that funding piece. The missing link of that investment in volunteer funding.  

In your experience, both as a leader of volunteers, and also as a consultant, what do you think are the key areas where funding and investment is really missing, both for technology and other types of needs within strategic volunteer engagement?  

Dana: Well, I think the big thing is that for technology, very few organizations even know that something like volunteer management software exists.  

So I think there’s a big digital divide to solve, and it gets back to what are the CEOs or executive directors understanding of priorities for funding? And what do they just not understand from the leaders of volunteers and the volunteer services? And how they’re running within their organization. 

But the funding disconnect that we expected as a result of the surveys so far has turned out to be true. And we’re spending the next couple months digging deeper into why did we get this result. And what was that sample size?  

And we’re looking into that a little bit more right now. But it becomes a disconnect when the resourcing, the paying of leaders of volunteers, the pay scale…all of that has just been really taken for granted.  

And so, a lack of technology, a lack of resourcing is the first problem. And then that compounds the problem. If you don’t even have volunteer management software or a CRM database or an email database, or all of your technology is from a different company and it doesn’t talk to each other. 

Like, the donor software is completely different and siloed from the volunteer. That’s its own problem that can be addressed with more money towards technology upgrades and integration.  

And there is that basic disconnect where a CEO might think that, oh well, I talk to the volunteers once a year at their party, and therefore I am engaged with them. And it’s much deeper than that. 

Tobi: So there’s the people side. There’s the people side and the tech side. I also think sometimes folks think because they have the tech, “build it and they will come.”  

And folks need expertise. Like yeah, you can have a Facebook group and not even spend any money on it, but if you don’t know how to be effective at running and engaging people in a Facebook group, it’s not gonna be effective.  

And I think too, just thinking about software and how it can save time so that the volunteer manager can redeploy their expertise where it needs to be redeployed, which is advising the organization on a grander basis, on a larger basis, about the volunteer strategy itself.   

But also, helping everybody engage with volunteers more effectively and helping build those relationships. The most effective work is really about relationship building.  

So even technology should be serving that, either by making it more efficient, making the type, setting it, allowing for more time for face to face or online interaction. 

But also, it can build relationships while you sleep. You said you talked about a CRM. An email autoresponder can build relationships with prescheduled emails that go out to people. That can feel very fun to people, you know? So yeah, I totally agree. Those are some areas we really need resources.  

Dana: Yeah. Yes-and to all of that. I think that trust and relationship building, that’s our currency in economy as leaders of volunteers. We need more money, everywhere, everything, all at once. We need more money. 

And having the Alliance’s survey results, and all these partner agencies involved with our aligned and shared goals to amplify this conversation, amplify the importance of leaders of volunteers, as a profession, as experts, as people who do need resources to do their job well. 

Helping to bridge that communication gap. I think that’s what’s really gonna move the needle and turn things around because as you are also hearing, I know – and we’ll see your survey results, I’m curious for those – leaders of volunteers, we’re in a crisis point for the sector in general, for general labor shortages of paid staff, shortages of volunteers, and there’s been this kind of panicked, shortsighted response since 2020 of laying people off or cutting budgets. 

And really the opposite was what gets people and organizations through a crisis, is more resources to volunteer services, stronger community connections, building trust instead of breaking it by laying people off really quickly or shutting down volunteer programs really quickly. 

So I’m noticing a trend and maybe you are too, Tobi, in your work, that this last year and going forward into 2023 is gonna be about rebuilding that trust with the community where it was broken.  

And I’m getting a ton of calls and emails from organizations about, we fired all of our volunteer services staff two years ago, and some assistant from Development is really running all that but it’s not working. Can you help us out? Like, well, you know you dug yourself a really big hole .  

Tobi: It’s expertise y’all! It’s actually a profession. Like you would never do that with your development director.  

You would never say, Nope, you know what? We’re lacking funds. Sorry, fundraising is at a low, we’re gonna lay off our development director. 

I mean, and there’s a little bit of a difference here because there’s also safety concerns because of lockdowns. Right? But yes, people are getting ready to build back.  

I’m getting a lot of calls from folks who want to develop. You know, get back in, lean into their recruitment. And rebuilding from the ground up. And it’s fantastic. I love it.  

People are, and we’ve been teaching inside the – in fact, I’m gonna teach this afternoon a seminar workshop with the VolunteerPro membership about building an advocacy campaign where you build a coalition of organizations in your community, volunteer driven organizations, where you can get the word out and you’re advocating for volunteerism in general.  

You know, rising water lifts all boats. So that also requires some type of volunteer funding. But let’s take a break for a really quick minute.  

We’re having this conversation with Dana Litwin about the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement’s efforts to better understand the volunteer funding landscape.  

Don’t go anywhere. We will be right back.  

If you enjoyed this week’s episode of Volunteer Nation, we invite you to check out the VolunteerPro Premium Membership. This community is the most comprehensive resource for attracting, engaging, and supporting dedicated high impact volunteer talent for your good cause. 

VolunteerPro Premium Membership helps you build or renovate an effective what’s-working-now volunteer program with less stress and more joy, so that you can ditch the overwhelm and confidently carry your vision forward.  

It is the only implementation of its kind that helps your organization build maturity across five phases of our proprietary system, the Volunteer Strategy Success Path. If you’re interested in learning more, visit volpro.net/join.  

Okay, we’re back with our discussion with Dana Litwin on the state of volunteer funding. Dana, let’s get into the research itself and maybe some top line things you’re learning.  

How was the research conducted? Let’s sort of do an FAQs about it. How was the research conducted and who was involved?  

Dana: So the Do Good Institute out of the University of Maryland. The National Alliance, we took a look around and the Do Good Institute had been doing some excellent research already and some work with Generosity Commission and other people under our loose umbrella of the Alliance and lots of other organizations in the sector that we had been working with. 

And we decided that The Do Good Institute and the members who are volunteering their time for the National Alliance on the leadership team and in our different working groups. 

And reaching through VolunteerMatch, Lady Foundation, Lodestar, that we would create a list of organizations that would be emailed the survey so it wasn’t everyone out to the public.  

There was a list that was very carefully curated. Put together to be, and a survey constructed to be shared by these other partner agencies and their reach was…you know, I think Volunteer Match sent it to almost 14,000 of their members or something like that.  

And we got a pretty good response rate. And we got so many good results from the research, and we’re still pouring through what does that mean, and how do we parse that.  

So the Do Good Institute did the really quantitative survey of funders and of CEOs, executive directors through these email lists. And yes-and, Dr. Sue Carter Kahl, who we both know is absolutely fantastic person in this profession, an incredible researcher.  

She has very recently conducted focus groups and interviews with selected members of these same leaders of organizations and funders. And I actually get to hear those results later today. 

So again, the bigger news of these results and what they mean and how we can understand and message out the goal of everybody agreeing that strategic volunteer engagement is important for organizations and their mission impact.  

That’s kind of what we’re learning through the end of the year, and it’s been..I’m real excited to listen to Dr. Sue’s research and the focus group impressions this afternoon. 

And we’re really being very intentional and mindful and taking enough time to really digest the results, and then find a way with mission partners to get that campaign rolling and really inform the public of the results. 

Inform people in the sectors of the results, rolling into, like I said, January through spring of 2023. Should be like, Ooh, this is when we get the really great juicy answers, cuz we’re still kind of sorting through the results right now. 

But it was a good result. And one of the interesting trends that we predicted would occur is that organizational leaders think they’re doing okay with this, and that also they’re not allowed to ask for funds specifically for volunteers.  

Not a lot of them. You probably count on one hand the organizations that are already really, really deep into strategic volunteer engagement and understand it. 

And then there’s that disconnect with funders saying, well, they never ask us to earmark funds for volunteers, so why should we put out grant requests that say it out loud?  

So there’s this assumption on both sides that’s ending up with the sector being under-resourced, and that’s what we’re going.  

Tobi: So it’s a vicious cycle. 

Dana: It has been! And what’s really interesting and unique about these survey results is this is the only research that’s been done on this during the pandemic with the impacts of covid, with the labor shortages, with, you know, breaking of trust with shutdowns and stopping and pausing and layoffs and all the economic impacts that have occurred. 

And there again, MAVA had done some initial kind of conversational qualitative work and realized there’s this huge communication disconnect. And people can’t even agree from between funders and CEOs. Like, how do you even define strategic volunteer engagement?  

So we had some before-times research that had given us similar results of, there’s just a disconnect. But now we’re at a point where we know there’s disconnect, and here’s how we solve it.  

So some of the tools that we wanna share with people are just useful things and not just, “Oh, this is an interesting read.” As we roll out into 2023, that these are case studies and how you talk about this inside your organization. How you talk about it at conferences. 

How you teach webinars or workshops about it, if you’re doing things like you and I are, doing webinars all the time. This is how we bridge that assumption, that gap in definition of strategic volunteer engagement or SVE.  

And here are the real tools in the toolbox for everyone from agency leader, to a funder, to a practitioner. To make the case and start to shift awareness and change the conversation for the better, and help that light bulb go off for the people that are making these money decisions. That’s really the goal.  

Tobi: So, the folks who were surveyed were funders and CEOs of non-profits?   

Dana: Yeah. Yep.  

Tobi And then Sue Carter Kahl – shout out to Sue, she’s fabulous!  

Dana: Whoohoo, Dr. Sue! 

Tob: She did some focus groups and interviews to dive a little bit deeper into the data.  

And by the way, if you don’t know the research that we do that Dana’s talking about or referenced, it’s the Volunteer Management Progress Report.  

Actually, the survey’s live right now and is live until the day before Thanksgiving, November 22nd. I think it is, or the two days before Thanksgiving.  

And we’ll be releasing that research in January. And in that research this year, we are asking about salaries. W’re all also trying to get at that volunteer manager churn. 

So the question we asked this year was, how long have you been in your current job? So just it, it’s so hard to figure out, volunteer manager churn. I’ve tried to do it in multiple ways throughout the last seven years of surveying.  

But we will have some info about that. And we’re also asking about impact metrics, what types of impact metrics people are counting, and then what they’re getting in as results.  

We’ll see how that comes out. I have not even peeked at the data, so we won’t know anything still.  

But Dana, what other are some preliminary? I know you all are still in data crunching mode. You’re still looking at some of the qualitative responses, et cetera, which I get it. 

You know, we ask one question in the Volunteer Management Progress Report and it’s “what’s your number one biggest challenge?” We’ve asked it for, this is our eighth year asking it, and we usually get anywhere from 1200 to 1600 responses.  

And we code these by hand, so I totally get it’s hard!  But tell us, what are some preliminary key takeaways?  

Obviously, you’ve mentioned that organizations aren’t asking for volunteer funding and therefore, our funders aren’t including that in RFPs or our grant announcements. What, what other things have you learned?  

Dana: I think one of the interesting data points is that most of the respondents from non-profits and CEOs are from pretty small organizations, are from 10 or less paid employees.  

And, you know, being statisticians, there was different weights and balances assigned to the different results. But I just found that really interesting that we think of the smaller organizations as being the most busy or wearing, everyone wears too many hats and that kind of thing.  

But they’re the ones who really took the time to go 20 minutes or so to go through this survey and it was very detailed. And those were also the CEOs who said that they felt the most connected to volunteer services, or they felt like they had a good understanding of it. 

But they also shared that we’re not being given the chance by grants or funders to even mention volunteer engagement. And there’s a lack of awareness that general overhead and staff salaries should be paid more.  

So one of the pain points where we’re digging deeper into that. It’s like, huh! So why do these smaller organizations respond? And we had, I think maybe 70-something percent of the results were from these smaller organizations.  

But how do we dig deeper into engaging the conversation with really bigger orgs? Big gigantic players in the sector.  

And part of the great work that I think Mission Partners is gonna bring to the campaign in a few phases as we roll out throughout the year, is, okay, we’ve heard from this really important and a lot of non-profits are that size. 

Like, that’s the, a lot, most of the non-profits that are functioning in North America right now are pretty small and sometimes they’re entirely volunteer run, with a part-time paid Executive Director.  

So that’s a really relevant response to boots-on-the-ground, and practitioners doing the day-to-day work. A 

nd we’re interested in, how do we continue to expand the conversation and change hearts and minds and educate people on strategic volunteer engagement in these larger organizations where there’s a lot more infrastructure to break into connecting a CEO with the boots-on-the-ground of the volunteer services? 

So I’m excited to dig into that and again, have these tools in the toolbox and these case studies and ways to message this that are effective to each audience. That are effective to funders and that are effective to nonprofit leaders, whatever the size of their organization.  

And that’s what I’m excited about and that’s what hasn’t really happened before in research. There’s been lots of academic research, but not to the point to change the conversation and improve brand awareness for leaders of volunteers.  

Tobi: Yeah, I mean our listeners are practitioners for the most part. Some leaders, and I know they’re probably wondering, so what are some key takeaways I could start working on right now?  

What are the implications of what you’ve learned so far? Maybe like three things people could do right now to strengthen, either strengthen themselves for the next funding appeal, or think differently about how they fund volunteers. What do you think?  

Dana: Yeah, Tobi, I think for your audience as practitioners, and you and I, we’re practitioners too, is it’s really part of our job – that maybe not enough leaders of volunteers realize – it’s part of our job to manage up and to educate about the value of our programs. 

And one of the tools to do that is there’s a great calculator that does the return on investment for volunteer services. This is unrelated to the research by the Alliance, but the trends that are coming out of that preliminary research match the fact that we need to advocate for ourselves more within our organizations and within the community. 

So what we can do as day-to-day practitioners in volunteer services is make it really clear what is the mission, impact and value of volunteers and put that up our own hierarchies and food chains in our own organizations.  

And then on a national strategic level, this research and the campaign is getting to the leadership. So like you were talking about Tobi, of grassroots and trying to raise all boats.  

Those of us who are doing the work day-to-day as practitioners, we can amplify that message of we are valuable, we need more resources. Why not start to ask our regular partners and funders and corporate funders and foundations, why not start to ask for specific volunteer services resourcing to add staff, to raise salaries? 

So I think just having the spark of that conversation and then using the tools and the case studies that we’ll be rolling out in 2023 as a result of this research with Do Good Institute. That’s gonna be, now you’ve got the tools in your toolbox to have these conversations.  

But I think personally, wearing my consultant hat, I tell clients every day, this is what you need to understand: is the foundation of any strategy or mission impact is gonna.. 

One of the huge, important strong pillars is your volunteer team, is how you’re engaging with the community, and how you’re building those relationships and trust in the community to have other advocates join your mission.  

So, I like to think of it as we’re having grassroots, from the ground up, pressure and awareness in building the importance of volunteer engagement. 

And starting to change the national conversation and bring awareness from that place, so that hopefully in the next couple of years, those meet in the middle and in 2024 you and I are at conferences and it’s absolutely, oh, there’s a whole track on strategic volunteer engagement! 

That’s the hot topic of conversation, is what I wanna see happen in the next year or so because of this research and because of the individual work that you and I are doing to advocate for the profession, as well as Jennifer Bennett and many others as well.  

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Often, I don’t know why I said that. 

Dana: It’s often awesome! 

Tobi: Well, this has been a fantastic conversation, Dana. I’m looking forward to seeing more and hearing more, and maybe next year when the communications plan gets rolled out, we can have you back on. 

Or have some folks, other folks back on to talk about how folks can use these within their own organization, use the tools and research results in their own communities. 

So it’s been a fantastic appetizer for what’s to come.  

Dana: It’s a little aperitif. It’s a little teaser, a little amuse-bouche.  

Tobi: That’s right. Teaser. There you go!  

So before we wrap up though, I wanna ask you one last question. What are you most excited about in the year ahead?  

Dana: In the year ahead? In general, I am most excited about expanding this conversation and just getting this awareness, because whenever we’ve had conversations about increasing awareness for strategic volunteer engagement with even our internal partners, there’s excitement and there’s passion, and people are eager for this information. 

I’m also looking forward to 2023 in technology advancements. There’s a couple of things. We touched on it a little bit, but I’m also gonna be talking about care circles and technology and apps connecting informal volunteering even more.  

And not even any specific product, just how do we get apps that have anything to do with volunteering to talk to each other more? And I’m also interested in how technology as a learning network is going to grow.  

And another little teaser: Craig Young in Ohio’s doing some amazing work around having that kind of tech platform roll out pretty soon. So I think that we’re at a really magical point in our sector where there’s awareness, there’s enthusiasm. 

We’re learning how to deal with the challenges of the past couple years, and now getting into the next year. So we’re starting to really put these fantastic, innovative solutions into place, and I’m excited for that. I’m just excited for it, and I’m always excited to talk to you, Tobi. It’s good to call.  

Tobi: Ah. I know! We gotta get together and have a beer. Karaoke! A little beer and karaoke. So, one last thing. How can people get, where can they find you? How can they get in touch with you if they want to learn more about what you do?  

Dana: You can always go to my website, danalitwinconsulting.com and my YouTube channel, Dana’s Priceless Advice for Leaders of Volunteers. 

You can find me on LinkedIn, Dana Litwin, CVA. Dana Cory Litwin. You know, Twitter’s imploding, so I might not recommend that at the moment.  

No idea. Like two days from now, that could be a completely different place. But, typically I’m Dana Litwin CVA. Instagram and Facebook and all that good stuff. So I think I’m pretty easy to find. 

And I also wanna put a shout-out to your audience members. I love to feature on my Tuesday tips weekly segments, people who are doing this work every day.  

So yes, I talk to people who are fairly well known around the world in our sector, but I really love getting Tuesday tips from all of you who are doing this work every moment of the day. 

And I encourage you to get in touch with me if you have ideas about tips or advice that you wanna share. I absolutely wanna feature a huge variety of voices on the channel, like you Tobi feature fantastic voices on your home channel.  

Tobi: Ah, so gang, reach out! Ping Dana on LinkedIn, let her know you’re ready to be interviewed and what you wanna talk about. 

So Dana, this has been fantastic. I wanna thank all our listeners. We appreciate you so much for joining us today.  

And just remember, we’re here every week, so make sure you share this with anyone you think might need a little inspiration.  

And we’ll be back next week on The Volunteer Nation. Same time, same place. Take care everybody.  

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Volunteer Nation podcast. If you enjoyed it, please be sure to subscribe, rate, and review so we can reach people like you who want to improve the impact of their good cause.  

For more tips and notes from the show, check us out at TobiJohnson.com. We’ll see you next week for another installment of Volunteer Nation.