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Developing Agency Capacity to Promote and Support Family Volunteerism

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In the late 1990s, the Volunteer Center of Battle Creek (Michigan) worked closely with the Points of Light Foundation (POLF) and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to adopt and implement the POLF Family Matters program. The goal of the POLF Family Matters program was to “make family volunteering the norm in the U.S.” In support of this goal a goal that we share with the POLF we knew that implementation of a single program, no matter how well intended or implemented, would not be sufficient to move us to a community where family volunteerism was a norm. To reach this goal, we needed to develop the capacity of our own organization and the capacity of the organizations we serve, to work with a new kind of volunteerism family volunteerism.

This article reports on some of the strategic decisions we made to develop our capacity and that of participating organizations to work with family volunteers. A focal point of this article and our own learning was a study of family volunteers that explored the barriers and incentives to family volunteerism.