Volunteering & Complexity & Story


August 20th, 2007

Over the last couple of years I’ve been working with Victorian local and State Governments on the future of volunteering – so this project on the Future of Volunteering looks interesting. Not the least because it’s using narrative research processes, tools and proprietary software Sensemaker TM developed by Cognitive Edge to explore an issue of critical public policy.

What are they exploring?
Is volunteering a doomed activity? Where will the volunteers of the future come from? What will motivate them? What might volunteering look like in the future? What forms might volunteering take (eg corporate volunteering, time-limited or project-based etc)?

The key objectives of the project are to develop an understanding of policy issues and implications given the changes in demographics and patterns of volunteering, as well as guidance for those organisations funding and managing volunteers. The initial focus is New South Wales; however there is already interest from other states and countries to replicate the project.

Any organisation or individual with experience in volunteering or managing volunteers is encouraged to participate in this programme. The more stories we are able to collect, the greater the pool of stories that can be used to identify themes and patterns around volunteering.

Visit the survey website for more info or to take part.

Project scope
This is the first government funded project using Cognitive Edge approaches to address a social issue, where the information collected will be available in the public arena. While there is significant interest from other states, countries and sectors, the initial focus will be

• The community care sector – volunteers, their managing organisations, funders and policy makers
• In NSW

The project will capture thousands of stories about volunteering from volunteers, managers of volunteers and policy makers. The new SenseMaker software will enable researchers and policy makers to access these stories directly in large numbers and examine themes and patterns.

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