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Taking Sides in the Volunteerism Debate

By Virginia Brown
Follow me on Twitter: @3manypuppies

There’s a debate happening in the world of volunteerism. My previous job put me right in the middle of it.

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MCN Leadership Conference Reflections: Putting up speed bumps in the giving back drive-thru

Last week I had the honor—along with a group of former and current participants of Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) Leadership Institute—of meeting Jan Masaoka, Editor-In-Chief of Blue Avocado and self-proclaimed “contrarian.” The discussion was lengthy around what Jan critiques as “drive-by volunteering” –the quick, one time opportunities that can result in a supervisorial nightmare, and in the end often don’t contribute the high-level skills the organization could really use.

The next day I attended the Redefining Philanthropy session at the MCN’s Leadership Conference, which featured various groups in town attempting to make giving of time, money, and expertise accessible to all.  (I admit that you’ll probably see me at their next “party with a purpose.”) But with my mind still on drive-by volunteering, I couldn’t help but wonder whether drive-by philanthropy is helping or harming the nonprofit sector?

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