BOOKS AND RESOURCES
A WORD OF CAUTION
Editorial Opinion from Nancy Macduff
In my search for the most recent resource material for readers I stumbled on a Web page that provided general information on volunteer administration. I was attracted by a list of statistics (with some quotes) indicting charitable organizations for not being sensitive to the needs of families who want to volunteer together, or not providing volunteer positions for short term service, and the depressing list went on as to what volunteer programs were lacking. The source of the information, according to the author of the page, was a reputable newspaper in a large Canadian city. According to the author the information came from a Canadian research project. The link to the newspaper did not take you to the specific article, but rather to that day’s online version of the newspaper.
I commenced a back track through the papers archives and could find no article remotely resembling the “facts” as reported on a web site with lots of advice on volunteering. So, I went bigger in my search to Imagine Canada, a vibrant organization that promoted volunteering. Last up-date to its Web site was in 2009. Did it fall to the budget ax so common in almost all countries around the globe.
I then went to Statistics Canada and found heartening statistics on the volume of volunteering across Canada by province. It was an optimistic report on how people are giving service. Canadians are ahead of the US in the percentage of people volunteering and donating. There was no mention of the reportedly factual data on the many complaints of those not volunteering that was quoted on a “how-to” site for managers of volunteers.
In the race to get help from the wonderful resource of the Internet (and I do love my own finger tip library!) it is easy to over look things like sources, dates of the information, and who is posting and for what purpose. It occurred to me that many times I rush the process of scouting information for my daily Twitter (http://twitter.com/nlmacduff) for managers of volunteers and my readers at Volunteer Today. I too might be guilty of sharing something that is questionable in its relevancy (might be really old data), usefulness (out dated suggestions), or accuracy. Seemed like this was a wake-up call for me to be sure to review carefully where my information on the Web comes from. Have I gotten too complacent? Have you?
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