Working with Diverse Volunteers – Deriving Advantage from Difference Regional Extension Conferences February 2004
Definition of Terms for a Common Understanding • Diversity Differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practice and other human differences. Diversity=Variety. • Affirmative Action Systematic way to insure non-discrimination. Actions taken to provide equal opportunity.
Legally Driven Government Initiated Prevention Focused Assumes Assimilation Reactive/Proactive Effectiveness Driven Extension/Self Initiated Opportunity Focused Assumes Pluralism Proactive AA/EEO vs. Emphasis of Diversity
Definition of Terms for a Common Understanding • Pluralism An organizational culture that incorporates mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork, and productivity among people who are diverse. • Assimilation Adapting cultural patterns to those of the majority group.
Definition of Terms for a Common Understanding (cont.) • Culture A set of traditions and values that shape the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of a group of people. • Ethnocentricity An attitude that one’s own culture or ethnic group is superior.
Definition of Terms for a Common Understanding (cont.) • Ethnicity The designation of a population or subgroup having common cultural heritage as distinguished by customs, characteristics, language, and common history. • Race A socially defined population that is derived from distinguishable physical characteristics that are genetically transmitted.
Definition of Terms for a Common Understanding (cont.) • Underserved or Underrepresented Group An audience or group of people that are not being reached by Extension programs.
Three things all organizations essentially perform They all: • Develop products and/or services • Market these products and/or services • Deal with issues of customer/client satisfaction
Why is EVERYBODY on this bandwagon — even business? • “Lifelines” – “Who Wants to be A Millionaire?” • “Advantage” – something to be gained • “Value Added” – getting the most you can from your efforts
The critical questions to ask in the context of “diversity” are: • How does difference, or absence of difference, affect how we design products or services, market them, and deal with customer/client satisfaction? • Do all cultures, for example, provide volunteer services the same way? • Do you market to all cultures the same way? • How do you please a customer/client if you don’t know what he or she values?
Recruiting Diverse Volunteers • In the current political and economic climate of accountability for everything Extension does, we are asked to reach the audiences we have not reached in the past. • There is advantage to be gained from difference.
Know Your Audience • If you want to target a certain segment of the population or a certain culture – spend some time understanding that group. • Hispanic – Family is the hallmark of comfort and commitment. • African American – Community is a high prized value. • Study what that culture values, their family structure, and their priorities.
Build Relationships • Recruiting volunteers in an underserved area is not instant. • Once you have learned about the culture, learn about the community and the individuals within the community. • Meet the “elders” or leaders of the community. • Go to community events.
Involve Others • Carefully choose other individuals who are already elated with and are accepted by the community members and whose personal and professional goals support the Extension mission.
Always Be Respectful • Different groups and different cultures just do things differently and have different priorities. • Be sensitive to those differences and priorities.
Be Patient • Recruiting groups who are not currently a part of the Extension family will not happen overnight. Building the relationships and learning the community are very important steps before ever asking for the first volunteer.
Strategies for Recruitment • Personally extend invitations through visits and phone calls. • Supplement personal invitations and in another language, if necessary. • Utilize radio, newspaper, and community bulletin boards.
Strategies for Recruitment (cont.) • Offer food, door prizes, and possible music as part of the meeting. • Take into consideration daily schedules of potential volunteers when setting meeting times. • Accommodate language preferences. • Explain how Extension will benefit their families. • Specifically describe how volunteering will benefit their families and their communities.
Strategies for Recruitment (cont.) • Emphasize your long term commitment to the community. • Initially recruit for short term assignment. • Don’t get discouraged by limited response – keep trying.
Possible Barriers to Recruiting Hispanic Volunteers • Language • Transportation • Limited Skills • Lack of knowledge about becoming a volunteer • Low literacy levels • Not understanding the system and becoming intimidated
Possible Barriers to Recruiting Hispanic Volunteers (cont.) • Cultural differences • Feeling intimidated beyond their linked parameters • Expenses incurred in being a volunteer • Timing versus availability
Possible Barriers to Recruiting African American Volunteers • May volunteer but not under the title “volunteer.” • May volunteer where they know people and are known. • Many organizations have a culture foreign to experiences of potential volunteers. • Goals of the organization and community presence must be known and identified.
Ways to Support Diverse Volunteers • Review organizational structure, policies, and practices to identify any that may inhibit the participation of minority volunteers. • Be sure meeting and work spaces visually reflect a diversity of cultures. • Greet volunteers individually when they arrive and thank them when they leave.
Ways to Support Diverse Volunteers (cont.) • When possible, have food available – a cup of tea or coffee will do – to demonstrate hospitality. • Assist with child care and transportation. • Avoid out-of-pocket expenses. • Simplify paperwork and give clear expectations. • Treat volunteers as coworkers, valuable members of the team. • Provide suitable working conditions and a choice of assignments.
Ways to Support Diverse Volunteers (cont.) • Provide quality training and support. • Empower volunteers – involve them in planning as well as delivering services. • Do not overwork volunteers – balance work with informal opportunities to socialize. • Recognize volunteers appropriately.
Ways to Recognize • Invite volunteers and their families to a small celebration within their community and present certificates of appreciation. • If volunteers have worked with youth, have youth present the awards. • Sponsor a weekend camping trip or other leisure activity for volunteers and their families.
Ways to Recognize (cont.) • Provide on-going recognition to individuals – many thank-you’s and praise. • Provide an opportunity for additional training. • Advance the volunteer to a position with greater responsibility.
Summary Ask yourself: • Is recruiting minorities going to be priority? • Am I willing to learn about another culture and different belief system? • Why will minorities want to participate in the Extension program? • If you have affirmative answers, then…
Summary (cont.) • Create an asset map of the community – their leaders, churches, and associations. • Do two on two’s – go to their home turf and dress appropriately. • Start a community advisory committee – organize a meeting around this group. • Have food, an agenda, discuss the assets and where Extension is weak, and how the assets help strengthen Extension. • Make sure the meeting does not last more than 1 ½ hours, select a date for the next meeting, and let the group select the chair. • Do a recap with the attendees during the next few weeks, meet with the convener, and plan the next meeting.
Summary (cont.) • Learn the culture and build TRUST BRIDGES. • Reach out to the population. • If you are afraid, admit it and take someone along, but do not overwhelm.
References • Odyssey Conference In-service Training November 2001 Diana L. Smith, Extension Agent for 4-H 1303 17th St., Palmetto, FL 34211 email@example.com Robert Drakeford, Ed.D Extension Specialist 2006 Duncan Hall, Auburn University Auburn, AL 36849-5620 Harvey Gordon, M.S. 4-H Specialty MSU Box 9641, Starkville, MS firstname.lastname@example.org • Pathway to Diversity, Strategic Plan for the Cooperative Extension System’s Emphasis on Diversity
Working with Diverse Volunteers – Deriving Advantage from Difference Agent surveys conducted by, Ralph C. Prince, Martha W. Thompson, and Dr. Lionel Williamson Presentation designed for February 2004 Extension Regional Conferences