Milestones Timeline

This Milestones Timeline is based on the documents available in our database (Susan J. Ellis' original library plus some additional sources). The Timeline reflects only a portion of the chronological progression of pivotal events and trends that influenced the work of volunteer engagement professionals during the 20th century. Feel free to share with us additional documents that reflect this history and which you feel should be included in the Database and/or Timeline.

1992

Tools for volunteer recognition keep growing.  The President's Youth Service Awards program is created, providing a prestigious way to honor young volunteers.  Prudential establishes its Spirit of Community Awards program and local Volunteer Centers create many innovative ways to celebrate National Volunteer Week.

Targeted volunteer recruitment is front and center during this decade.  As immigration and birth rates steadily change population demographics, organizations strive for more culturally diverse volunteers.   (See related documents about attracting very specific groups as potential volunteers -- members of the black community, males, families, those suited to difficult or long-term assignments, people with disabilities, the unemployed, Baby Boomers, and even the hip-hop generation!)

The complexity of managing legal liability and insurance for corporate volunteer programs receives special attention.

The first annual Make A Difference Day involves 68,000 Americans in local service projects, an example of the growing trend toward episodic volunteering..

Administrators of Volunteer Services:  Their Needs for Training and Research reports on a national study of the field by Jeffrey Brudney.

Volunteerism and related management practices continues as a growing topic in a number of countries around the world as the first European Workshop on Volunteer Action is held in Netherlands.  (See related documents about service learning in Russia, a New Zealand study on the effects of shrinking government on volunteers, and United Kingdom research on volunteers in rural areas.)

1993

President Clinton's plan for a "domestic Peace Corps" is passed by Congress, thus creating the national service AmeriCorps program

Once again the spotlight shines on mobilizing church volunteers.  In a few years, one survey reports that over 50% of congregations are engaged in social service activities in response to welfare reform.

While the benefits of service learning continue to be stressed by educators, Pennsylvania parents and students file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the community service requirement for graduation.

1994

A comprehensive study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters volunteer recruitment and screening practices provides valuable data to inform the management of youth mentoring programs.

1995

A revised and expanded Statement of Professional Ethics is published by the Association for Volunteer Administration. Based on the Josephson Institute's universal core values, this innovative Statement is intended as a practical decision-making tool for practitioners.  A companion Training Kit equips AVA members to train their local colleagues.

A general shift toward increased accountability creates pressure for volunteer administrators to learn more about outcome-based evaluation methods to show volunteer impact.

1997

The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 is finally signed into law to provide limited protection for volunteers service nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies.  Leaders of volunteers scramble to understand exactly what it means for their organizations.

The challenge continues to convince nonprofit executives that volunteers are not free.

Professionals in the field are shocked and dismayed at the U.S. News & World Report cover story which screams, "Is Volunteering a WASTE of Time?"

Philadelphia hosts the Presidents' Summit for America's Future -- a weekend featuring 4 Presidents, a major community clean-up project, speeches and workshops -- intended to show that voluntarism and community service is not only fun, but vitally important.  Reaction from nonprofits and volunteer administrators is mixed, as some organizations fear they will be overwhelmed by the response.

As part of a multi-year national campaign to mobilize all sectors in support of the nation's young people, Colin Powell appears on the cover of Newsweek magazine asking Americans to volunteer.

Children continue to be encouraged to volunteer with materials such as the Canadian booklet, "Helping Out is Cool".

The Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement sets new national standards for the field.

1998

The United nations adopts a resolution declaring 2001 as International Year of Volunteers.

As the internet expands, a new Web site is launched to help individuals with good intentions connect with organizations who need their help.  This is the beginning of VolunteerMatch which grows to become a huge global marketplace for volunteer opportunities and nonprofit capacity-building.

1999

Successful intergenerational programs require unique management practices, as addressed in a Leaders Guide for the GRANDfriends Project.

Thanks to the efforts of a passionate group of professionals, December 5 is designated as the first International Volunteer Program Managers Appreciation Day.

As the century draws to a close, Steve McCurley offers some thoughts on trends which will affect volunteer involvement in the new millennium.

The Association for Volunteer Administration continues advocating for the field with the publication of Positioning the Profession:  Communicating the Power of Results for Volunteer Leadership Professionals.

2000

While volunteering remains in the national spotlight as a solution to government cutbacks, some vocal voices talk about why volunteerism doesn't work.

2001

Practitioners master skills to use the internet for training volunteers and for their own professional development.

A Universal Declaration on the Profession of Leading and Managing Volunteers is published as an international tool for enhancing the visibility and credibility of the profession by articulating common elements and values.  It is the result of the International Working Group on the Profession, a collaborative of representatives from 12 nations convened in Toronto, Canada by the Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) in partnership with the International Association of Volunteer Effort (IAVE)..

Several leading consultants and trainers collaborate to offer a multi-day institute for advanced volunteer management.

The growing popularity of virtual volunteering poses challenges for nonprofits and volunteer managers.

The International Year of Volunteers spawns widespread focus on volunteer management practices and related research in dozens of nations.   Leaders and practitioners gather at two global conferences to network, learn and celebrate together. The profession enters a new age of international solidarity.   (See related documents: a new voluntary service law in Taiwan: Singapore's survey on volunteerism; new approaches to volunteer engagement in Canada; risk management tools in Australia.)

2002

President Bush launches the USA Freedom Corps initiative -- a challenge to all Americans to devote 2 years of their lives to service through a variety of programs.  While well-intentioned, many in the field reacted with skepticism as to whether organizations were equipped to benefit from such a flood of national service participants.

On September 11, 2001, spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers generate an outpouring of desire to help which overwhelms the system's capacity to use them effectively.  This begins several years of focused attention on how volunteer management structures and process need to be adapted in times of large-scale disasters.

2002?

A Guide to Investing in Volunteer Resources Management is one of the first efforts to encourage business and philanthropy to fund volunteer management capacity building in their nonprofit partners.

2003

Vacation time is becoming volunteer time for more and more Americans, fueled by new organizations offering a wide range of international opportunities.

Associations and other membership groups become increasingly interested in learning about volunteer management practices as they struggle to attract and retain members.

The Grantmaker Forum on Community and National Service examines the real cost of a volunteer and the value of investing in this aspect of U.S. society.

Organizations in the U.S. and Canada continue to improve ways to involve families as volunteers.

2004

The Urban Institute conducts the first national study on volunteer management capacity in charities and congregations.  This landmark research generates significant and exciting data about the correlation between investment in volunteer management practices and benefits to the organization.   (See companion research report on volunteer management practices and retention of volunteers.)

The field recognizes that rural volunteering and neighboring presents unique challenges -- and opportunities for innovation.

2005

The Boomers' Guide to Good Works responds to this generation's desire to volunteer in ways that tap into their expertise and experience.  Volunteer management professionals must learn how to adapt their recruitment messages and create more challenging roles for these talented and motivated individuals.