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Inclusive Volunteerism

About MAVA's Inclusive Volunteerism InitDBT photoiative

Many nonprofit and government organizations struggle to engage volunteers who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the communities they serve. In response to this issue, in 2017 MAVA launched our Inclusive Volunteerism Initiative, a program focused on researching, identifying and dismantling the systemic inequities faced by people of color when volunteering on a formal basis with a nonprofit or government organization.

Ongoing activities of this initiative, ways you can get involved, and research products/findings are outlined below. If you have questions please contact Lisa Joyslin, Inclusive Volunteerism Program Manager, at

Thank you to the St. Paul Foundation, The F. R. Bigelow Foundation, and the Minneapolis Foundation for funding this initiative.

New Opportunity: Inclusive Volunteerism Cohort

MAVA is pleased to announce a new opportunity in 2020 for organizations pursuing racial equity in their volunteer programs. Nonprofit and government organizations are invited to apply to participate in a MAVA-led cohort of 5-7 volunteer engagement leaders and their teams and/or organizational leadership. This cohort will consist of organizations working to make significant and sustainable changes to their approach to volunteerism in an effort to prioritize racial equity.

Organizations participating in the 2020 MAVA Inclusive Volunteerism Cohort will be selected through a competitive application process and will participate in the program free of charge thanks to a grant from the F. R. Bigelow Foundation.

Applications are due by Wednesday, February 12 at 5pm.
Learn more about the benefits of this cohort experience, sign up for an informational webinar, and access the application here: 2020 MAVA Inclusive Volunteerism Cohort Info and Application.


DO BETTER TOGETHER - Next Session on January 23, 2020 in St. Paul
MAVA is continuing our Do Better Together event series in 2020! Do Better Together is a series of 3 FREE events in which MAVA facilitates conversations about important topics around racial equity in volunteerism. Our January event is focused on Connecting Community Outreach with Volunteer Engagement and our presenting partner is the Animal Humane Society. Learn more and register here: Do Better Together: Connecting Community Outreach with Volunteer Engagement - 1/23/2020. Additional 2020 Do Better Together Events will take place in May and September; details will be announced soon!

Donte Curtis of Catch Your Dreams Consulting is offering this interactive workshop focused on racial equity solutions on a personal level. You will be challenged to go deeper in your action and create more inclusive and equitable organizations, systems and communities. Donte brought "Part 1" of this series to MAVA last fall; he will do a review of that workshop so those who could not attend are very much encouraged to join us for this "Part 2" training. Register here: Breaking the Cycle of White Supremacy Culture: From Philosophy to Practice - 2/26/2020

Research and Resources


Executive Summary - Engaging Volunteers from Diverse and Immigrant Communities
Click here to download the full report (free for MAVA members)

MAVA developed a set of 8 strategies for creating a more inclusive volunteer program at your organization. These strategies serve as a starting point for volunteer engagement leaders who are seeking concrete next steps for better engaging volunteers from communities of color.

Click here to download the document: Racial Equity Resources for Volunteer Engagement Leaders

MAVA assembled a curated list of articles, books, podcasts, consultants and more to support volunteer engagement leaders in their professional development around racial equity.

July 2019 - Do Better Together: Addressing Racial Bias with Volunteers - Notes
September 2019 - Do Better Together: Crafting Inclusive Volunteer Recruitment Messages - Volunteer Recruitment Message - Before and After - MN Literacy Council

About Our Research

MAVA has convened an Inclusive Volunteerism Task Force to explore barriers to volunteer engagement within communities of color and successful strategies for overcoming these barriers. The Task Force is made up of community representatives from culturally-specific organizations, volunteer managers for programs serving the East Metro, and community volunteers. If you're interested in learning more about the Task Force and receiving information about joining, please contact Lisa Joyslin at

MAVA is also conducting ongoing research in the form of interviews and case studies. If your organization is interested in meeting with MAVA to share your experiences with engaging volunteers from racially and ethnically diverse communities, please contact Lisa Joyslin at and she will be in touch to schedule a time to connect.

Training and Consulting

MAVA created a training curriculum around the 8 Strategies for Creating a More Inclusive Volunteer Program. This training has been presented to over 500 individuals in the last two years, and is available on a contract basis either in-person or via webinar.

MAVA is also available for consulting work around inclusive volunteerism. If your organization or government is seeking guidance in recruiting volunteers from diverse communities or creating a more inclusive volunteer program, please reach out and we will be happy to discuss our consulting opportunities and how they may fit with your needs.

For more information please contact Lisa Joyslin, Inclusive Volunteerism Program Manager, at