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Towards a More Cohesive Volunteerism Public Affairs Strategy: A Story, Steps and Lessons from Minnesota

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Paula J. Beugen, an active leader in the field of volunteerism and volunteer resources management for more than three decades, has observed legislation passed in her home state of Minnesota from the 1980s to the present. In this e-Volunteerism feature, Beugen asks why the needs of community volunteer programs and volunteers seem to be the lowest or last-to-get priority in policy conversations – and what the field of volunteer resources management can do about it.  

Beugen begins with the story of how she worked to raise the allowable volunteer mileage tax deduction rate, including her testimony at a Congressional hearing on volunteerism in 1980.  She then details public policy strategy carried out first by the former Minnesota Office on Volunteer Services and more recently by the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration. Finally, she discusses 2009 legislative advocacy efforts around both the resurfaced mileage deduction issue and the Serve America Act. Throughout her important story, Beugen elaborates on lessons learned through this timeline and history, asking readers to think about their own  volunteerism public policy experiences. She urges more advocacy to strengthen the infrastructure and capacity of volunteer programs and volunteers, stating, “We can and must come together.”  She poses some provocative and timely challenges to the field – both inside and outside the United States.