professionals in any career track are people that plan now for the future.
This makes them futurists, individuals who track trends.
So, why do the do it?
have an early warning system. Making note of changes
in the environment provides opportunities to be ready for new programs
or plans to deal with crises.
ready others for change. Most people dislike change, but life
requires it. Tracking trends helps the manager prepare administrators
and volunteers for changes to the program.
aid in planning. Balancing current goals with future needs is
a juggling act. Knowledge about future trends helps make that balancing
act more realistic.
be well-informed about ones chosen profession. Leaders in
any profession are those who look to the future, with some sense of
where things are going and how they might get there.
have an edge. People have choices of where they would like to
volunteers. Having a cutting edge program based on current
needs and future trends is more likely to attract new people.
personal and professional confidence. Looking ahead provides a
view that others do not have and provides a level of confidence that
those with shorter views do not have.
track trends in other fields helps in planning for your own. Knowing
about trends in demographics, education, the economy and the like
aids in planning for tomorrows volunteer program. It can also
make the manager of volunteers invaluable to the administration of
their organization. For he/she is the person who knows what needs
to be done now to prepare for the future.
prepare for the days ahead. Episodic, or short-term, volunteering
continues to rise. The trend tracking manager of volunteers is readying
the organization for the day when the majority of volunteers do it
are some methods or techniques to track trends.
a group of managers of volunteers together and do a futuring exercise.
"What will volunteering look like in 2025?" Two heads
are better than one and the ideas generated are likely to produce
more than one opinion about the future. This is why belonging
to a professional association is important. Regional, state or
provincial conferences are an excellent place to discover new
ideas. National and international conferences also provide new
perspectives on the future in a chosen field. Build it into the
can be done inside an organization. A small group of knowledgeable
people, staff and volunteers gather to think creatively about
the future. Exercises are set up to have people build on one anothers
ideas; idea mapping, impact analysis, or identification of variables.
is about prediction. Usually this begins with a review of history,
analysis of the current situation, and then visions of the hoped
for future. It moves from the general to a description of specific
ways to move in that direction. For example, if the organization
wants to engage episodic volunteers in more meaningful ways it
might set that as a vision, but the specifics are likely to begin
with a jobs assessment process for all volunteer positions.
the most common form of trend tracking is scanning. It is a regular
and systematic assessment of the world beyond the organization.
It is most often based on survey reading of newspapers, magazines,
and journals. Other media can also provide such information, but
print media is still the best sources for trends.
this form of trend tracking, a scenario is imagined and a group
of individuals might discuss what would happen good and bad in
that eventuality. A trend of the future is high cost and less
availability of oil as an energy source. What does this mean for
the organization and most specifically the volunteer program?
The analysis would provide the basis to redesign positions for
volunteers and ways to serve clients or members.
in more information? Check out our online
bookstore for: Building Better Relationships with Volunteers by
Nan Hawthorne and Volunteer Recruiting & Retention, A Marketing
Approach, by author and managing editor Nancy Macduff. For more information,
check out these books and more at our online
Interested in assessing volunteer and
staff relations in your program?
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, call 202-729-8000.
1-800-VOLUNTEER 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.