February 1, 2018

Resident leadership and local capacity building: Volunteerism in disadvantaged communities

Funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), VCU’s Center on Society and Health and the Engaging Richmond team are studying how the personal characteristics and volunteer activities of neighborhood‐based and regional volunteers differ; whether there is synergy between the efforts of neighborhood‐based and regional volunteers and organizations; and how regional volunteers and organizations maximize collaboration with neighborhood‐ based volunteers, leaders, and organizations. The team is working to identify best practices for regional volunteers and organizations working in economically disadvantaged communities with a mixed‐methods study of 50 semi‐standardized, in‐depth interviews with volunteers living in Richmond’s East End and those living in other communities, volunteer coordinators, and local leaders on volunteerism. We will also conduct an online surveys with eligible volunteers (e.g., age 18 and over who have volunteered in the East End in the past 24 months) from organizations in the East End and regional organizations. The study partners will collaborate to disseminate findings, including presentations to community partners and other community stakeholders, national conferences, and publication in appropriate print/web outlets.

This study aims to contribute to knowledge about the processes and impact of volunteering by examining the characteristics of neighborhood‐based and regional volunteers and organizations in Richmond, Virginia’s East End neighborhood. The findings can provide important information for organizations recruiting volunteers to work either within their own neighborhoods or to work in other areas, making findings potentially informative for enhancing how we engage communities with volunteers.