Cultural diversity is a phrase that could be used to describe an increasing swath of our world. Here in the U.S., the melting pot is constantly growing, as immigrants move here and have children, establishing communities across the country. Despite the immigration reformers in government, America has always been a place where people of all sorts can live side by side. This is one of the things I love the most about this country. But, while living surrounded by people of many different cultures is wonderful, it is no substitute for traveling to foreign countries, to experience other cultures in the places where they originated. We all become Americanized living here—we adapt, learn to cater to our environments, and, of necessity, leave a little bit of ourselves behind. We have an incredibly high standard of living in America. Even the poorest among us have access to goods and services that would be completely unavailable in much of the rest of the world. To truly learn about other cultures—to embrace the uniqueness, the authenticity—requires travel. It requires time spent in far off places meeting new people. It requires immersion without access to the comforts of home.
I was shopping at my neighborhood co-op yesterday when I noticed a flyer pinned to the bulletin board. I don’t usually stop to read the apartment listings, tutor wanted signs, and ads for used kitchen items, but this flyer was different. It was bright yellow and it featured a picture of the cutest lion cub the world has ever seen being fed from a baby bottle. I was so taken with the cub’s expression (he was almost smiling!) it took me a minute to notice what the flyer was advertising. When I did (it was a flyer for Amanzi Travel, a wildlife and community improvement-based voluntour company) I had something of an epiphany. Why aren’t more volunteer companies using local community meeting places to advertise their programs?
As we’ve explored here before, attracting volunteers to your organization can be a challenge. It seems like new organizations emerge every day, and so many of them have solid, responsible infrastructures that support worthy causes. There are a lot of volunteers out there, and chances are, if your organization is sound, some of them will find you. But how do you cultivate a volunteer base? What is the best way to draw volunteers to your organization, like bee pollinators, ready to spread your message and nurture your cause?