We have worked with volunteers, and in the field of volunteer leadership for years. So we have huge belief in the concept, and agree volunteering is part of being Canadian. Like the Governor General, we see the way people want to be engaged in their communities is changing – and a new definition of volunteering is required. How wonderful to see a public figure insist on this so passionately.
Sure, it is still about neighbour helping neighbour (if you live in a location long enough to get to know them!) and traditional kinds of “hands” roles in soup kitchens and hospital auxiliaries. Many community organizations were built on the generosity and abundance of those kinds of volunteers. But today we are witnessing the rise of a different kind of volunteer – one that wants to contribute their “head” – who we call the “knowledge philanthropist.”
As Peter Drucker stated, "The most important, and indeed the truly unique, contribution of management in the 20th Century was the fifty-fold increase in the productivity of the manual worker in manufacturing. The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st Century is similarly to increase the productivity of the knowledge worker."
This is an important trend for community organizations to be aware of and leverage effectively. Many are still only looking for people to fill “last-century” roles. As the Governor General urges, “take a look within the non-profit sector, and see what steps you can take to tackle our social issues in new and innovative ways”. At Vantage Point, we are answering that call to innovate by inventing a new kind of organizational sustainability – one which fully leverages the expertise and talent of passionate community members. Each day, we encourage the organizations we work with to focus on leveraging human, rather than financial, capital.
Kudos to the Governor General for urging us to examine the structures we currently have to engage people in Canada. Community organizations must think past the professionalization of the sector to arrive at a place of really engaging community members in delivering their mission. Let’s answer the Governor General’s call by recognizing – and find ways of engaging – the untapped human capital potential that exists in our communities. As knowledge philanthropists.