Online “Jams” as a Tool for Professional Development and Community Engagement
This paper describes a teaching project that involved graduate students in nonprofit studies at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in a community engagement “crowdsourcing” effort focused on the topic of short-term volunteering. Students were responsible for organizing a one-day online brainstorming session, called a “jam,” in which geographically dispersed participants contributed to a 12-hour online discussion related to the topic with input from experts in the field. Based on a model developed by IBM, jams are sponsored by a variety of organizations around the world to engage virtual communities in online conversations on topics as diverse as global security and video game design. Major goals of the project were to have students explore this topic in volunteerism in depth and to provide experience for future nonprofit professionals in the design and management of community engagement events. Potential applications for similar events are discussed in the context of extending professional development and networking options for nonprofit capacity building and collaboration.
Challenges in Volunteer Resource Management
Challenges in Volunteer Resource Management, an article by the RGK Center’s Margaret Moore and Dr. Sarah Jane Rehnborg, was published in the December 2013 issue of the International Journal of Volunteer Administration. The paper presents findings of a study to identify top challenges in volunteer resource management based on surveys of stakeholders at diverse nonprofit organizations. Identifying meaningful volunteer roles, recruiting a sufficient number of volunteers, and recruiting volunteers with particular skill sets were reported as the three top challenges. Some differences between larger and smaller organizations in terms of both recruitment and management challenges were indicated. In addition, identified challenges varied based on the organizational role of the respondent.
Under contract with United Jewish Communities, the RGK Center is examining the impact of short and long term service programs on the development of Jewish identity among Jewish young people.