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Using Technology to Understand Volunteering Trends

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One of the more interesting leisure pastimes is watching the Internet colossus Google release new tools and gadgets to supplement its basic search engine.  One of these we’ve been contemplating lately is www.google.com/trends.   One of the things about search engines like Google is that they provide an opportunity to see what people are interested in based on what search terms are utilized. 

For those of you who are wondering what any of this has to do with volunteerism, we’ll stop to make a point so obvious that many volunteer managers tend to forget it. 

Volunteering is a leisure activity that people fit into the rest of their lives, making the determination to allocate some of their discretionary time to volunteering based on how much time they have available and how interesting or important volunteering seems compared to other activities in which they might engage.  In one sense, volunteering is a competitive sport, but the major competition is not other volunteer activities as much as it is other activities, period.

Google Trends allows you to see what people are searching for, and to see in which cities the term is search for most often.  And since you can’t have a “trend” without a timeline, you can see a graph plotting usage over the past years in which Google has collected data.  See what we learned by searches on volunteer, volunteering, and community service and what all this might mean to you.