What Do Politics and Volunteerism Have in Common?

What Do Politics and Volunteerism Have in Common?

Guest post by Erin Spink

What do politics and volunteerism have in common? Or, what does the political landscape have to do with volunteering, for that matter?

In the past several months, we’ve seen unparalleled levels of civic engagement, often directed to specific nonprofits and causes in the form of donations, marches, and social media engagement in response to political ideas — both during the U.S. presidential campaign trail and after. Even VolunteerMatch’s website traffic hit an all-time high four days following the inauguration.

This got me wondering whether the increased support in some areas (e.g. fundraising, advocacy) was also impacting another pillar of civic engagement: volunteerism.

As a volunteer engagement professional, I’m breaking the politics taboo to conduct research on this topic, and want to hear from peers and other nonprofit leaders across North America about their recent experiences with volunteers.

To provide a well-rounded perspective, the survey is split into two audiences and will ask volunteers — along with volunteer managers — directly about their recent patterns of involvement.

The survey asks people — both those who volunteer and those who don’t currently volunteer — whether the political landscape motivates, has motivated, or will motivate any changes in how they volunteer.

My goal is to see, both presently and over time, if there are any:

  • new or changing patterns of volunteer involvement,
  • widespread or focused changes, and
  • whether any changes are sustained.

My hope is that this survey will help volunteer engagement professionals respond and adapt to any changes, as well as to create a foundation to better understand the interconnections between the political landscape and corresponding volunteer behavior. The survey is now open — please take a few moments to share your recent experiences and share with your network!


Author Bio: Erin Spink is the founder of spinktank and recently launched the Centre for Advanced Research in Volunteer Engagement (CARVE). By day she’s the National Manager, Volunteer Engagement for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.