Value Added for Literacy Agencies

Recognizing that the value of volunteer work extends beyond the obvious economic benefits, CLO included a Social Value section in their 2005 survey. They asked both agencies and volunteers to identify some of the non-economic benefits literacy volunteers bring to their agencies. Responses from the agencies included the following:

Literacy volunteers bring….

  • Diversity of skills and knowledge
  • Dedication/loyalty
  • Bonding/relationship with students
  • Increased agency profile in the community
  • Enthusiasm
  • A personal approach
  • Diversity of opinions and views
  • Community ownership and involvement
  • Shared workload
  • Community linkages and support
  • Community credibility and trust
  • Wider access to resources

A closer look at these responses reveals three broad categories that describe the values contributed by literacy volunteers: community connections, valued relationships and diversity.

Community Connections:
Literacy agencies clearly expressed their appreciation for the way volunteers connect them to their local community. Volunteers provide valuable links, credibility and trust, and increase support by raising the profile of the agency. Volunteers are clear evidence of community ownership of the agencies’ efforts.

Valued Relationships
Volunteers build personal connections to the learners they work with – they build relationships with people. Along with teaching literacy skills they also build confidence, self esteem and self respect.

Diversity
Volunteers add diversity to literacy agencies. Diverse in skills, life experience, personal backgrounds, opinions and viewpoints, volunteers enrich the agency in every aspect of their operations.  

When volunteers were asked to identify special values they brought to their agencies the same three broad categories emerge. The volunteers tended to emphasize the relational aspect of their work, but as the list of responses below demonstrates, volunteers also understand the value of their diverse experiences, skills and community connections.

When volunteers were asked, “What special value do you feel you bring to your literacy agency?” their responses included:

  • A strong commitment to learners
  • Empathy, patience and understanding
  • Education, experience and enthusiasm
  • Teaching skills
  • An eagerness to help
  • Community knowledge and contacts
  • A willingness to contribute positively to the community
  • Business and marketing experience
  • Management and leadership skills
  • Fundraising and special events experience
  • Finance and accounting skills
  • A love of reading