Convergence report from La Piana Consulting, networking and volunteerism trends – part 3

Previous post mentioned the first two emerging trends identified by La Piana Consulting in their report called Convergence- How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector.  Will discuss two more trends in this post.

As mentioned before, I will be quoting from their report.  Notice lots of quotation marks.

Networks enable work to be organized in new ways” – Different ways to do collaborative work and joint ventures will expand the opportunity to accomplish change.  This will take new forms.  Here’s a new phrase for you, introduced by The Monitor Institute – how does the phrase “working wikily” fit for networking to accomplish change?  Their phrase covers a lot of ground.

An example cited in the report is a museum that set up a collaborative space in Second World (an online outfit that provides a virtual playground to construct things – stores, homes, etc) to allow anyone to develop a design for an exhibit in the museum.  Winning designs were converted into an actual display in the museum.  The museum allowed outsiders to develop new exhibits.  Not only did this dramatically reduce cost, it brought in a lot of talent that otherwise would not have volunteered, let alone participated in the design.

Interest in civic engagement and volunteerism is rising” – The authors see increasing interest in volunteerism and civic involvement.  This is where there’s convergence with the technology changes.  The report says “options for volunteering are increasing along with the development of new technologies and online platforms for connecting interested individuals with causes, actions and communities of like-minded activists.”

Technology allows drawing in people with skill sets who might not have participated before.  This allows people to participate beyond just writing a check or stuffing envelopes.  In addition, volunteer’s involvement can be for a very short project instead of a long-term effort.  Volunteers will bring their skills with them and won’t require training before they can contribute.

Don’t just imagine what this might look like.  Let me describe three things I have read of recently.  First, volunteers can log on to a website and catalog photographs of stars, thus helping to map the sky. 

Another example – In the November 2010 elections, people from across the country could volunteer in hotly contested races to make campaign calls while sitting in their living rooms half-way across the country, without ever setting foot in the district.  Only available for a couple of hours on a one time basis?  Great.  Available a few hours every day for the entire last two weeks of the campaign?  Fantastic.  Whatever you want to do is fine by the campaigns.

Final example – A friend, Mark M., pointed me to a web site that uses volunteers to provide internet-based evangelism.  They have a variety of websites running that draw traffic and provide opportunity to ask questions.  When people reply to a website with a question or desire for discussion, one of their volunteers will reply with an email discussion.  Through the followup email conversation, the organization can evangelize.  How’s that for a great way to use technology to have volunteers evangelize across borders at minimal cost?

Here again the convergence factor enters in – combining increase volunteerism with new technology. 

The authors also suggest being attentive to differences in motivation and interest as you draw people of different generations and cultures.

Next post discusses blurring of sector boundaries.

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