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Is Finding a Comparison a Sign of Achievement?

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In this Points of View, authors Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis debate an issue that every volunteer manager must confront: Should you compare and contrast your volunteer engagement to that of other organizations? Is finding a comparison a sign of achievement, or is it compromised by the limits of benchmarking? And given the diversity of settings in which volunteers serve, is comparison even possible?

“We certainly have our reservations,” the authors note, as they explore the limits imposed by benchmarking, numbers crunching, retention and turnover rates, and the ubiquitous Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. This article, which is a follow-up to last quarter’s Points of View on the problems of sharing template documents, will challenge everyone to reconsider how they measure volunteer involvement, mindful that they should resist comparing elephants to acorns.