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~ February 2003 ~ Topics

Myths and Facts About Diversity

"Diversity" is a term much bandied about in the world of volunteerism (and everywhere else, for that matter). Population statistics shine a light on this politically correct American theme. But the degree and type of diversity in the US differ widely from region to region.

Diversity today refers to differences in such things as religion, race, sexual preference, age, culture, and working styles. Here are some facts about the population diversity, or that lack of it.

  • States that are currently quite diverse continue to speed toward even more diversity. For example:
    • California’s non-Hispanic white population went from 57% to 48% from 1990 to 2000.
    • By 2025 the figure will be 34%
    • In contrast, the state of Maine is 98% white and in 2025 will be 97% Caucasian.
  • There is a more than ten year difference in the average age of the population in the state with the lowest average than that with the highest.
    • Utah’s average age is 27.1,
    • while West Virginia’s is 38.9.
  • Other states with youthful population averages are:
    • Texas (32.3),
    • Alaska (32.4),
    • Idaho (33.2),
    • California (33.3).
  • Those states with the highest average age are:
    • Florida (38.7),
    • Maine (38.6),
    • Pennsylvania (38),
    • Vermont (37.7).
  • 1965 brought revisions to immigration laws that allowed for people from traditionally non-Christian countries to come to the US.
    • Immigration from places such as India, Pakistan and the Middle East saw big increases in Hindus and Muslims to move to the US.
    • These groups, however, did not fan out over the American landscape, rather they settled primarily in California, and major Northeastern and Midwestern cities.
    • For example, the number of Muslims in New York City grew from 600,000 to 1 million from 1990 to 2000.

The bottom line of all this is that while some parts of the US are more diverse than ever, it is not true in other locations. These facts impact such things as patterns of volunteering, methods of recruiting, and opportunities for partnering.

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Evaluating the Volunteer Program: Why an Online Resource?

MBA Publishing launched a new Volunteer Evaluation Series (online) in November 2002. The online evaluation, with options for expert consultations by phone, has four different evaluations currently available and will eventually have more than twenty. Each evaluation focuses on one aspect of managing a healthy volunteer program. The authors of the first four evaluations responded to a series of questions from the editor of VT about why evaluation is an important part of the vibrant volunteer program. The January issue of Volunteer Today carried the first of a two-part interview with the authors about evaluating volunteer programs and why this cost-effective online system can help individual programs.

The experts are: Jeanne Bradner, Georgean Johnson-Coffey, Nancy Macduff, and Mary Merrill. For information on these training consultants and others involved in the Volunteer Evaluation series visit the Web site: http://www.volunteertoday.com/vpeshome.html

In the second part of this series, the authors of evaluations on recruitment, risk management, volunteer and staff relations, and organizational readiness were asked about the online and phone consultation format for evaluating volunteer programs.

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Why is the Volunteer Program Evaluation Series (VPES) something in which
a volunteer program administrator or manager should invest, both time and resources?

Bradner- "To paraphrase a significant quote (Santayana): Those who don’t learn the lessons of history are likely to keep making the same mistakes."

Macduff - "Resources, time and money, are woeful short for many volunteer programs, but the needs are greater than ever for more effective and efficient operations. VPES gives the volunteer manager the opportunity to assess what exists and build a plan for the future for a tiny outlay of time and cash. The evaluation process is also designed to involve people in the process who can help in making systemic changes."

Johnson-Coffey - "The individual assessments are a user-friendly, practical instrument to assess an organization in a variety of different areas - volunteer and staff relations being only one."

Merrill - "Evaluation tools are a great way to begin the conversation! Many times program managers know what the internal problems/issues are. But it is often difficult to get others in the organization involved. Asking people to fill out an evaluation begins to raise questions. Once the discussion begins on a topic, say risk management, it creates energy, excitement, and buy-in for solutions or new approaches.


Every volunteer manager I know wants to have a good program. Sometimes they are not clear of what to look for or how to go about making change. The questions and statements in the evaluations serve as guides for where a program should be headed. And best of all, it allows each program to find its own unique solutions and approaches. It is a road map to get you where you want to be.

Your work takes you to organizations big and small around the world. What do you hope to gain by working with local volunteer programs through the phone consultation available in the VPES program?

Merrill - "I hope to learn more about the issues local programs are continuing to deal with. For me this is a cost-effective way to share some expertise and knowledge with a local program that cannot afford to fly me in for an extended consultation."

Bradner - "I personally hope to help volunteer programs understand the significance of renewal. The "same old, same old," may have worked yesterday, but we need to question constantly "Is it right for tomorrow?? That is the only way to be sure that programs are mission focused and relevant to the needs of our communities."

Macduff - "For every volunteer program manager of 10 years there are 30 who just started in a job they are not sure how to do. This program gives the local program manager a quick evaluation process that is inexpensive, involves others, and lays out a map, a Mary Merrill suggested, to improve. If talking to me on the phone can help a local program grow and refine its operation, I would be very happy.

Johnson-Coffey – "The purpose of VPES is to help volunteer services managers develop and move their programs forward, further meeting the needs of volunteers, their organizations/agencies, and clients. What a privilege it is for me to be a part of this!"

See samples and much more at http://www.volunteertoday.com/vpeshome.html


The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future.

The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, contact Crystal Hill at 202-729-8000.


By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center.

This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

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