I recently attended a volunteer orientation for a fairly recognizable non-profit. It felt like a good turnout, 19 people in attendance, all eager to get started. During introductions, I noticed the age range…from juniors in high school to middle-aged folks, to retirees! This was a win from what I could tell. Many seemed to have significant volunteer experience while a few others appeared to just be dipping their toes into community service, mostly through school. Either way, there was a new flock of interested, engaged people, excited to learn more about the organization and the role they would play in supporting its mission.

I also noticed the ethnic diversity in the room. It seemed to represent many of the major cultures you’d expect to find in a major city like Indianapolis. Cultural diversity is especially important for an organization like this one that is focused on children in need because in many cases, the kids they serve aren’t exposed to the world outside of their immediate environment. Another win!

So you probably know what’s coming by now. Gender. 17 women. 2 men. Now, maybe this was an anomaly and this is a VERY small sample size. I surely wouldn’t make any generalized statements about the state of volunteerism in Indy based on this. It did impact me though. Where are all of the guys? Is this typical? Is it really this bad? What do the numbers look like, REALLY? Not just the list of volunteer names but the engaged male volunteers. How do you define engaged? I NEED ANSWERS!

Deploy was started on this premise, of course, to put more men in rooms like this. But I never really stopped to ask anyone what they meant when they said, “We need more men to get involved.” I’ve now heard it from four separate organizations and my bet is that it goes much deeper than that. I get to meet with a volunteer coordinator in the coming days and hope to meet with more in the near future but for now, please share your thoughts!

Comment below, email us, or find us on Twitter. I’m anxious to hear from you.

- Justin Clifford

"Kinda took offense to that..."

My wife, Natalie, and I moved to Indianapolis in late April this year. We often talked about how much we were looking to volunteer in our new city and were pretty excited about getting involved. During the first weekend living in our new temporary neighborhood, I came across a Twitter post to help plant a memorial garden along the Monon Trail. Three days in and we were getting our hands dirty and meeting some new neighbors. Then Natalie took to it quickly. Immediately, she jumped in and became active with Indy Reads, going through training for multiple opportunities. I was just the opposite...