Oregon Outreach: Increasing the participation of Latino youth and families in the Oregon 4-H program.



Recruiting Volunteers



Building a relationship with the Latino community and establishing trust is the way entry is gained to the community. It is a step without which nothing else can be accomplished.

Recruiting and Supporting Latino Volunteers
How Latinos View “Volunteering”
Do Latinos Volunteer?
The Challenge for Organizations
Connecting with the Latino Community
Choosing Outreach Staff
Introducing the Organization
Identifying Potential Volunteers
Inviting Participation
Supporting Volunteers
Ways to Recognize Volunteers
Conclusion
Appendix
References

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Recruiting and Supporting Latino Volunteers

B. Hobbs, Extension specialist, 4-H youth development, Oregon State University.

Author’s note

The author acknowledges that as much as she has tried to write this publication from a non-biased perspective, her own Euro-American cultural background still influences her approach. She hopes that this work will stimulate ongoing dialogue between Latinos and Euro-Americans around the issues of volunteerism.

Recruiting and Supporting Latino Volunteers
How Latinos View “Volunteering”
Do Latinos Volunteer?
The Challenge for Organizations
Connecting with the Latino Community
Choosing Outreach Staff
Introducing the Organization
Identifying Potential Volunteers
Inviting Participation
Supporting Volunteers
Ways to Recognize Volunteers
Conclusion
Appendix
References

Print this entire report
Order the printed publication

Communities across the United States are becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse. Indeed, demographers predict that by 2030 most of America’s school-age children will be from a minority group and by 2050, so will most Americans (Hodgkinson 1996). This increasing diversity changes the nature of the population served by volunteer-based organizations, and likewise, also should change the makeup of the volunteer base. Capturing the volunteer potential of diverse community members will enrich organizations by expanding the number of volunteers, by helping to make services more culturally appropriate due to the similarities between volunteers and clients, and by bringing diverse viewpoints to inform practice (Chambre 1982). However, many volunteer-based organizations, accustomed to operating in more homogeneous environments, are finding it difficult to attract volunteers from diverse backgrounds. Their usual approaches to volunteer recruitment and support have not proven effective.

Latinos make up one minority group that many organizations would like to better recruit for volunteer roles. This publication was prepared to help volunteer recruiters better understand the characteristics of the Latino community that impact volunteering and to suggest strategies or steps to use in successfully recruiting and supporting Latino volunteers. The information is based on a study of Latinos and volunteerism conducted in Oregon in 1999 (see Appendix). The majority of data gathered was in reference to Latinos who are relative newcomers or second generation and of Mexican origin, characteristics shared by most of Oregon’s Latinos.

While the data offer important insights about Latinos and volunteerism, a word of caution is warranted. The term “Latinos” refers to a heterogeneous group of people who may differ on any number of characteristics including country of origin, race, class, level of education, and the time and circumstances of entry into the United States. Generalization of the findings should always be considered in light of the specific information known about an individual or group.

Capturing the volunteer potential of diverse community members will enrich organizations by expanding the number of volunteers, by helping to make services more culturally appropriate due to the similarities between volunteers and clients, and by bringing diverse viewpoints to inform practice.

How Latinos View “Volunteering”

In many Latin American countries, volunteering refers to activities carried out by the wealthy and well positioned on behalf of the poor. For many of the immigrants coming to the United States, volunteering is not part of their history. Once in the United States, Latinos associate volunteering with the broader community, involving mainstream organizations with which Latinos have little if any connection. Being a volunteer, then, isn’t within the realm of their experience.

Do Latinos Volunteer?

Latinos do indeed volunteer, but the extent of their contributions is not reflected in the various statistics gathered on volunteerism in the United States. The reason for the discrepancy is that Latinos do not volunteer in the traditional American pattern. Latino volunteerism occurs first in the context of family and secondarily in the neighborhood and church as opposed to mainstream community-based organizations. These efforts, though numerous, go undetected by the mainstream tracking processes.

Helping others is second nature to Latinos. It isn’t viewed as something you do at a particular time, for a particular group. Caring and helpfulness occur every day as needs arise. Whether it’s giving time, money, or other resources, Latinos willingly volunteer to help family, friends, and community members. Helping isn’t so much a thing to do as it is how things are done as a matter of course.

The Challenge for Organizations

Given that Latinos readily demonstrate helpfulness, the question becomes: How can mainstream organizations tap this potential volunteer resource? What must organizations do to connect with and involve the Latino community, encouraging Latino adults to extend their giving to programs and causes sponsored by organizations outside their immediate ethnic community, but ones which do or could benefit Latinos? To help answer this question, consider the following information and strategies to promote connections and facilitate the involvement of Latinos as volunteers.

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