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Working with Diverse Volunteers – Deriving Advantage from Difference

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  1. Working with Diverse Volunteers – Deriving Advantage from Difference Regional Extension Conferences February 2004

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Always Be Respectful • Different groups and different cultures just do things differently and have different priorities. • Be sensitive to those differences and priorities.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. Possible Barriers to Recruiting Hispanic Volunteers (cont.) • Cultural differences • Feeling intimidated beyond their linked parameters • Expenses incurred in being a volunteer • Timing versus availability

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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…

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. References • Odyssey Conference In-service Training November 2001 Diana L. Smith, Extension Agent for 4-H 1303 17th St., Palmetto, FL 34211 dlsmith@mail.ifas 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 • Pathway to Diversity, Strategic Plan for the Cooperative Extension System’s Emphasis on Diversity

  32. 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