Leighty Foundation Announces Funding Partnership to Advance Strategic Volunteer Engagement

February 9, 2022

Leighty Foundation Announces Funding Partnership to Advance Strategic Volunteer Engagement


Jane Leighty Justis, President of The Leighty Foundation, is pleased to announce the formation of a funding partnership between the Leighty Foundation, the Lodestar Foundation, VolunteerMatch, the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement and the UJA Federation of New York. This dynamic collaboration will be launching two national surveys to determine the current state of Strategic Volunteer Engagement in the social sector. The partnership has engaged a research team from the Do Good Institute (DGI) housed at the University of Maryland and its School of Public Policy. The Institute is well known and respected for their cutting-edge research on trends in volunteering, giving, and social capital.

The DGI team will conduct two concurrent national surveys – one for funders and one for nonprofit CEOs. The objective of the surveys is to collect baseline data on how nonprofits support the infrastructure of volunteer engagement and about the practices of funders that support these organizations. Data collection begins in early 2022, and the full report is expected to be released by mid-year.

Past research in the field shows that deploying volunteer energy strategically enables nonprofits to increase mission fulfillment and often at lower cost. But, Jane Justis observes, “we as funders often view Strategic Volunteer Engagement as a program in competition with other focus areas instead of a critical strategy which can strengthen our grantees and increase the return on our investments.”

The surveys will generate baseline data to describe the gaps and disconnects which hinder the funding and implementation of Strategic Volunteer Engagement in the social sector. The funders partnership will use the survey results to launch a national conversation later this year with two objectives:

  1. to inform the philanthropic sector and increase support for nonprofit capacity building in Strategic Volunteer Engagement,
  2. to raise awareness of successful practices in the social sector which maximize volunteer energy in meeting community needs.

These surveys will also look at the ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic. What shifts and trends have occurred in volunteer engagement and efforts to repair our communities?

The Leighty Foundation and several of its partners have also utilized recent conferences with funders and nonprofits alike to convey the value and impact of Strategic Volunteer Engagement:

  • This short video was shown at Exponent Philanthropy’s 2021 National Conference. It captures excerpts from a conversation Jane Justis had with Marcus Walton, CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), about the intersection of Strategic Volunteer Engagement, systems change and equity.
  • Over 100 participants tuned in to watch this dynamic panel at the Iowa 2021 Nonprofit Summit. The funder/nonprofit partners shared their stories about the “why” and “how” of using Strategic Volunteer Engagement for greater impact and mission fulfillment.

Please contact The Leighty Foundation’s co-initiative managers for more information about the surveys or the funding partnership – Betsy McFarland, betsy@theleightyfoundation.org, or Jeff Glebocki, jeff@strategyplusaction.com.