286: The Great U.S. Volunteer Shortage & CEO Transition at VolunteerMatch

Greg Baldwin CEO and President talks about the current needs for volunteers across the VolunteerMatch network. What are the macro factors causing the return to normal volunteering behaviors and what can nonprofits do?

Greg also discusses the CEO transition and how the organization is approaching finding his replacement.

VolunteerMatch is the most effective way to recruit highly qualified volunteers for your nonprofit. We match you with people who are passionate about and committed to your cause, and who can help when and where you need them.

And because volunteers are often donors as well, we make it easy for them to contribute their time and money.

The Topline numbers from VolunteerMatch

  • 8.5 Million were needed pre-COVID
  • 4.35 Million were needed in 2021 Jan
  • The number is now 10.5 Million open opportunities starting 2022

Open jobs at VolunteerMatch.

Interested in the CEO role: contact Russell Reynolds.

About Greg Baldwin

Greg Baldwin is the CEO at VolunteerMatch. He joined what is now VolunteerMatch in the spring of 1998 as its Chief Imagination Officer to finish hot-wiring the Internet to help everybody find a great place to volunteer. Today, VolunteerMatch is the web’s largest volunteer engagement network strengthening communities and organizations across the country by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. Greg completed his undergraduate studies at Brown University in 1990 with a degree in Public Policy. He is a life-long volunteer and currently lives in the Bay Area with his wife Kathryn and kids Ellie and Matt.


George Weiner (00:03):
Welcome to the using the whole whale podcast, where we learn from leaders about new ideas and digital strategies, making a difference in the social impact world. This podcast is a proud production of whole whale, a B Corp digital. Thank you for joining us now. Let’s go learn something

George Weiner (00:25):
Today on the whole whale podcast. We have an old friend guest, regular almost I’d say Greg Baldwin, the CEO president of volunteer match. How’s going, Greg?

Greg Baldwin (00:38):
Hello! Good to be back.

George Weiner (00:40):
Yeah. Well after, after your last appearance the ratings spiked. So we had to have you back, even though the news was maybe not that happy, but the annual state of what the heck is going on in volunteering in America. I can’t actually imagine a better guest to, to tell us about what’s going on.

Greg Baldwin (01:02):
Well I’m glad I did not get kicked off the show after my,,irst couple of appearances. So I’m glad to be back even when I’m sharing, not the greatest news, t I will, I will, ,f your listeners at home, there are a lot of bright spots and a lot of important things that are happening right now that bode well for the future of volunteering

George Weiner (01:19):
On a macro level. I’ll just say, you know, we keep an eye on trends and, and stories through the news and through our partners. And frankly, what we have seen is that in short, there is a volunteer shortage and maybe that’s a confluence of factors working together with ongoing effects of COVID of work from home and being maybe more remote. And it’s all still coming together, but ultimately, you know, even labor markets could be, could be pinching this. So it’s hard to sus out what’s going on. So like right to the source of data, like what have you seen in your backyard for this?

Greg Baldwin (01:57):
So 100% the, you know, the COVID pandemic, the lingering, you know, go from pandemic, make into a chronic situation that continues to require vigilance on the part of both nonprofits and volunteers. When it comes to getting together in groups, the face to face volunteer programs that nonprofits have relied on forever have remain devastated by the effects COVID 19 and it’s social distancing and it’s ongoing fear and it’s just cautious behavior, all are conspiring to get in the way of what have been, you know, the volunteering experiences for lots and lots of Americans over the years think walkathons, you know, beach day cleanups habitat for humanity builds. All of those types of activities have been negatively impacted, not just because volunteers are afraid to show up, but in many cases, because nonprofits are just not running those events anymore. So it’s both a supply and demand have been impacted.

Greg Baldwin (02:59):
It’s a lot like the restaurant business in many ways where you’ve just got nonprofits that are not gonna do their annual walkathon or ride or fundraising event that brings together big groups of volunteers. And you’ve got volunteers that are, you know, looking for opportunities that don’t open them up to having to interact with a whole bunch of people at a, you know, at a food bank. For instance, it’s another great area where the food banks more than many organizations have really been on the front lines of the impact of having their volunteers no longer available. And that is still, we are not in full recovery phase this year. We did see you some bright spots. We saw some recovery depending on where you live, but if you’re living in a place like San Francisco with, you know, continuing very strict restrictions on, you know, masking up and being together, you’re still seeing a lot of volunteers on the sidelines.

George Weiner (03:56):
Can you give us some high level numbers of, of what you saw 2021, 2020?

Greg Baldwin (04:02):
Yeah. So, you know, here’s kind of, here’s the good news underneath all of the, kind of the macro, it’s still a really tough time. At the beginning of this year, we had 4 million open positions on volunteer match beginning of 2020. So this is in a January one, 20 T 24.35 million volunteers needed. So that’s kind of a measure of the demand for volunteers in the network pre COVID. That number was 8.5 million. So, you know, you, half of the inventory, half of the demand was you know, half of the demand was eliminated as a result of the pandemic as of the end, as of just now this morning. Uif you go on to volunteer match, we now have rebounded where there’s actually a need for 10 million volunteers. So from 4 million to 10 million, and that number is that from the beginning of the year, beginning of the year to, you know, to, as of this morning, that’s the timeframe you’re looking at.

Greg Baldwin (05:07):
The 10.5 million volunteers needed, you can see on volunteer matches home base. That’s kind of one of our primary metrics that we’re always keeping track of. The reason for that change is nonprofits are coming back online. We do some big consumers of volunteers that are kind rebooting their programs, and some of them are rebooting in the virtual space. So that, which is great news. So it’s many organizations have now found ways to translate their volunteering programs into virtual experiences. And that’s been great. So that’s news where it’s not quite as good news, is that in the total number of volunteers that are actually using the system, kind of the number of visitors to the system this year is down, you know, remains down from where it was in past year or so number of people seeking opportunities. So this is unique users to the system. As of last year, the end of last year we had in 2020, we had a total of set 7.8 million visitors in 2020 in 2021, total number of unique visitors only grew to 9 million, 300,000. So still an increase moving in the right direction. But pre COVID, we were at 13, 14, 15 million unique users a year. So those numbers are definitely not back to where they were. So your macro narrative. Yeah. There’s definitely a volunteer shortage.

George Weiner (06:46):
Yeah. I’m kind of curious in coming back to that you said 10 million current open roughly.

Greg Baldwin (06:52):

George Weiner (06:52):
What percent is virtual of that?

Greg Baldwin (06:56):
About 25%. And that’s up from what had been, you know, more like five, 10%, the, the, the number of virtual opportunities. And I could go back and actually look specifically about how much of that growth has been virtual, but what we’re also seeing a return to in, in some states, you’ve got a very D you know, kind of framework for return to work. And I will say in places like Texas, where we’ve got a real strong footprint volunteering has been less restricted by local regulations than it is in other places. And as you know, you know, in San Francisco, it’s still, you know, the food bank is still really, really struggling. Uyou can go in with the masks on, but people are just being cautious. Some, you know, some demographics and some cities are more cautious about a return to kind of normalcy than other places.

George Weiner (07:51):
Yeah. And you

Greg Baldwin (07:52):
See not to get into the politics of it all, but those are real, you know, those are, those are real, real constraints to volunteering.

George Weiner (08:00):
I mean, huge, huge, and the overall volunteering search in, in terms of looking at Google trends, you, I mean, you see it, it drops by a third roughly depending on one year over year minimum on the other side, virtual volunteering, you know, spikes like four X, it goes from like, what is this to like, oh, let’s go find this.

Greg Baldwin (08:17):
Yeah. It was a niche play for years. Voer match had been supporting virtual volunteering since we began in 2000, you know, 1999, we had a virtual checkbox and it was things you can do from virtually anywhere using your computer and your, you know, your phone and telecommunications. But now that, that, that, that segment of the market has been transformed because it’s no longer, you know, just using your computer and being a, you know, a technologist, you can do mentoring programs using in zoom, right? Big brothers and big sisters. That’s a whole different way of thinking about what the future of anywhere, where you’re building relationships as part of your volunteer experience, just like this is a completely changed world. And all of our meetings are on zoom. There’s a whole world of new volunteer opportunities that have been virtualized, which is great.

George Weiner (09:09):
Yes. However, 75% of this overwhelming demand still requires boots on the ground. Go get it done.

Greg Baldwin (09:16):
There’s a whole hybrid world. Now that is you know, we don’t even have the tools right now to track. So this is more anecdotal. But one of the things that we learned in the pandemic is we used to think that virtual volunteering is, you know, someone lives in Wisconsin and they wanna volunteer for a mentoring pro or, you know, they crisis text line, right. And they could do it from anywhere. Doesn’t matter where you live. And you can be a part of a, of a program where you can give your time and talent back virtually. And it feels great. What we learned during the pandemic though, is given the choice, people would prefer to volunteer remotely for a local organization. So if I wanna be in, if I wanna give back to big brothers and big sisters, and there’s a big brothers and big sisters in every city in America, I would prefer to be a remote volunteer for big brothers and big sisters in Berkeley, where I live versus Los Angeles versus New York.

Greg Baldwin (10:15):
That’s a whole new CA category that we weren’t optimized for prior to the pandemic that in and in part of our work with the gates foundation over the pandemic, we realized that the way we had been thinking about virtual, where geography didn’t matter, isn’t the way it works in real life. In many there’s kind of a continuum. Some people just wanna involve volunteer for a cause that they care about, and they don’t care where it is, but there’s a whole hybrid area, which is not true virtual volunteering, because you might interact with someone on a, you know, at, at the local office at some level. But you could do more of your volunteering mentoring or whatever it may be using, you know, zoom or something like, like that. We’re not tracking that. Well, we don’t have the systems to track that hybrid volunteering, but it’s definitely a new piece of the puzzle where, you know, there’s traditional face to face a big outdoor event, think, you know, habitat for humanity build. And now there’s a whole bunch of folks that are volunteering really remotely with a local organization, you know, using zoom. But it matters that they’re still part of a local organization that is doing work in a local community. And it’s not as if geography doesn’t matter, which is kind of what we thought virtual volunteering was pre pandemic.

George Weiner (11:32):
So how much of the volunteer shortage is also the fact that older generations are frankly, potentially higher at risk and are not, you know, picking up the shovel,,ecause I know that was a, a large part of a volunteering base that, you know, fueled an amazing size of a volunteer economy in the United States to the tune of, to some reports, you know, nearly 300 billion a year. If you’re looking back 20 18, 20 19, when the engine was running for Americans that just did work needed to be done and like generated value.

Greg Baldwin (12:06):
So this is gonna make your skin crawl as a data guy, but all of us who care about volunteering at a national level and attracting national trends to answer questions like, okay, what’s the, you know, how many young people are really volunteering versus older generation boomers et cetera, et cetera, greatest generation, the most recent data available that we can chew on to assess this trend is from 2017.

George Weiner (12:35):

Greg Baldwin (12:36):
Yeah. So we can have this conversation all day long, and I’m happy to wax philosophical about my own attitudes and opinions, but there is no good national data on old versus young anecdotally. In 2017 you had seen, well, actually the trends at that time were very much pointing to the older generations, were volunteering more time, much higher rates of volunteering and that the, you know, the drop off the shortage in volunteering that was looming as of 2017, I think is still out there with a pandemic thrown in the middle is that younger people are not volunteer hearing the way older generations. The, the older you are, the more likely volunteering is to be important to you and that you make the time for it and younger generations, which include all of the millennials. And all those folks are spending a, a smaller and smaller percentage of those folks are volunteering as a

George Weiner (13:33):
Pull the Thread. Why?

Greg Baldwin (13:35):
Why? My thesis is macro thesis. I think culturally, the role that volunteering plays in communities for younger people. So much of that has been so many of the institutions that really anger, anchor, volunteering have become weaker and weaker over the last 20 years. And I think it, you know, it’s a, it’s a symptom of the sector’s overall strength and influenced in local communities. And, you know, if there’s an upside there, there’s a, you know, an opportunity for civil society and the nonprofit sector to be, to modernize itself become more relevant and engaged. But the, you know, the, the quick thesis was look, nobody wants to go volunteer anymore for an organization where you’re gonna be a docent for the next 30 years and locked into, you know, some science volunteer position that sure might have been great for folks that were in the, you know, the greatest generation, young people wanna be able to, you know, volunteer, you know, on demand when it fits into their schedule.

Greg Baldwin (14:43):
And there are very few nonprofit organizations that have been able to keep up with that demographic shift and create opportunities that cater to that, you know, that new audience, that’s not looking to make a long term commitment and you get all that kind of tension of the slacktivism and, you know, micro volunteering where that that’s been a big narrative over the last decade that really just hasn’t panned into panned out into anything really that’s turned into genuine long term social impact. You know, the, the thesis that you could be at the bus stop or whatever, and, you know, contribute 10, 15 minutes to volunteering and be a part of changing the world. The, the capacity to really turn that into a, a force for good has been spotty at best disconnect in the marketplace between the demand available demand from volunteers and what people wanna do. Those, those marketplaces, you know, volunteer match has been at that intersection, but there’s a lot of other distractions right now that are taking young people’s eye off the, the, you know, the opportunities to give back. It feels like if you go online and you give someone a thumbs up, you and you know, that can feel like enough.

George Weiner (15:55):
Well, yes and no. Has it maybe changed what it manifests as when you look at, you know, what happened last summer during black lives matter and the social organizing that happened? You know, I don’t know if those folks are considered volunteers anymore, but it does

Greg Baldwin (16:13):
Certainly point

George Weiner (16:14):
Check a generations saying this is how I’m contributing with, you know, my feet and my voice and me.

Greg Baldwin (16:21):
Yeah. 100%. Yeah. If I could wave my magic wand, we’d have current, you know, 20, 21 data that we could like bump these competing pieces up against. Yeah. And see, you know, what the data, unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of that, but I w I agree that what we have been measuring would no longer capture a lot of activity. That feels an awful lot, like a different expression of a very similar idea. Black lives matter, a great point. People are organized. They’re, they’re giving back, they’re not getting paid. They’re doing something which looks at an awful lot, like volunteering. What’s different is they’re not doing it for the United way. They’re not doing it for big brothers and big sisters. They have self-organized that would 100% probably not get counted, given the methodologies that have been used in the past to count,,ro-social volunteering behaviors. So, yeah, we got a lot of problems. Not only do we have crappy data, but even if we have the data that we used to rely on, it should be better and calibrate it against new norms and expectations of what it means to give back. Do we not have enough to do already come on?

George Weiner (17:31):
What are the bits of advice? And maybe we can pick it out from our current conversation that you have for an organization that is effectively competing capital C competing yeah. For the attention necessary to get the volunteers needed, to do the work that they have promised. Yeah. And essentially their, their entire models are built on. And like, we’re, we’re dangerously close to saying that, you know, is this a macro trend, unfortunately, of the reshaping of how the rising generation will give of their time without the structure of classic profits?

Greg Baldwin (18:10):
One of the most reassuring things that’s come out of spending 20 years in this space is despite its dysfunction and bad ideas. And you know, all of the things that you can criticize about, you know, the field and the nonprofit sector, what has endured in my view is that despite the hiccups and the ups and downs, we have not managed to eliminate the natural disposition for people to want to be collaborative and cooperative and given back and give back, given those opportunities. Like we, we haven’t ruined human nature over the last 20 years. Human nature is good and bad, but there’s still something inside people that we wants yearns for opportunities to be a part of something larger, have a sense of purpose and make meaningful contributions to their communities and to those outside their immediate family. That is great. We haven’t killed that off so we can, we can hang on to that.

Greg Baldwin (19:04):
Moving forward. The advice I give to nonprofits all the time over and over is don’t underestimate make. People’s willingness to be generous if you give them a purpose and an opportunity to give back in a way that feels meaningful. Most Mo the biggest problem with most volunteer programs in my view is that they underestimate people’s willingness to be generous and give back rather than overestimate it. And when you underestimate, it’s like, we can’t like, I mean, we don’t, these people are doing it for free, so don’t, let’s not make it too taxing. Let’s just let ’em, you know, shuffle papers do something like the task itself is calibrated to low expectations rather than high expectations. The programs that have been most successful in my view are programs that have big, bold, old opportunities for people to contribute and give back and have a sense of purpose that is aligned with the vision and the strategy for the nonprofit organization.

Greg Baldwin (20:04):
And if you do that and you give people an opportunity to feel like they’re a part of something larger and important, they’ll do almost anything for you. I mean, look at the food bank, you go over the food bank. If you didn’t believe that you were a part of helping to solve the hunger crisis, and they didn’t tell you before you started volunteering that 25% of people in the bay area go to bed hungry, or kids in the bay area go to bed hungry, would you pack baloney for four hours? No, you would not. You pack Bo for four hours at the food bank because you see the bigger picture that it’s contributing to something that’s worthwhile and important. And we need everybody’s help. That is, you know, alive and well. And some organizations, there are high performers in that category. Food banks are among I think, the best at doing it. But all of the core programs have a sense of purpose and meaning that draws people in. And if you, if you capture that and then you create real opportunities to engage, that’s the recipe for success all across the sector that

George Weiner (21:06):
We, the ingredients yeah. Ingredients there, pun intended urgency. Yeah. And impact immediately demonstrated. U

Greg Baldwin (21:17):
Yes. Just overlaid with a sense of purpose, which is, you know, just transcends beyond you’re just in this to get ahead. No, that’s not, that’s not how volunteering works volunteering. When, when you’re invited to be a part of, you know, the future of some, somebody in your community’s ability to go to school, get a job, mentoring programs, cleaning up your community, cleaning up your environment, you know, protecting the wilderness, finding new opportunities for creative expression for your community. Like those purpose, it’s all built around purpose. And then the urgency. And then what is my work? How does my work contribute to that? Yeah. Those are the things that you gotta get lined up. And when you do, people will be extraordinarily generous with their time. And if you don’t get it lined up, no amount of making it easier and less taxing will ever fill the purpose void. And you’ll always have a shortage of people willing to help you out.

George Weiner (22:19):
Well, Greg, that’s a dangerous, hot take people, still good – Greg Baldwin. So A bright spot, a bright spot that you were mentioning around CSR companies doing better. What have you seen with regard to a corporate response to this volunteer need?

Greg Baldwin (22:40):
2021 was one of the best years volunteer match has ever had in building new partnerships with companies who are using the volunteer match network and the information, the opportunities as a foundation for their employee volunteer program. As we all know, the knock on employee volunteer programs has always been that it caters more to, you know, what can be done in four hours. The kind of done in a day experiences, not calibrated sufficiently to the actual needs and opportunities of nonprofits in their local community. So you end up with the classic stories of companies going to paint a gymnasium, or, you know, the paint, the the rec room at the boys and girls club, you know, a different color than it was last year. Not because the key kids, you know, it’s not really helpful, but it’s what you could do with 150 people for four hours.

Greg Baldwin (23:37):
You paint the rec room again, that I think the, the fact that last year we had 27 new what we call API subscribers. These are companies that are subscribing to the volunteer match network using one of the big CSR technology programs that the, you know, the big dogs right now are Benevity, who’s a, you know, now a billion dollar CSR workplace giving company black bod, they have the, the, your cause platform that has become a real player in the CSR ESG. Again, workplace giving space, cyber grants is another big player in the space recently just

George Weiner (24:20):
Purchased as I

Greg Baldwin (24:20):
Remember. Yep. Just purchased network for good. So there’s real competition and that’s great. And we’re seeing that competition producing a, an environment where more and more companies are interested in making sure their employees have access, not to just a, you know, one beach day cleanup or one playground build, but access to a wide variety of volunteer opportunities and the real needs of the local nonprofits in their community. So employees have the op more possibilities to put their time and talent to good use for an organization that really needs it and less of the we’ll volunteer Thursday afternoon, and it’ll feel good and will paint the record room again, whether that’s needed, or that for me, is a very hopeful trajectory for the future of corporate engagement, being defined by the capacity for companies to really put their talent and skills to good use in the community at scale in ways that it wasn’t being done a decade ago

George Weiner (25:30):
With the rise of ESG type companies, where you have this sort of, you know, extra bottom line of environmental and social responsibilities and governance making their way in. How much of that, just to be honest, is, is branding from where you sit,,nd how much of it is an actual shift of frankly, an industry whose bottom line is the bottom line.

Greg Baldwin (25:55):
Great question. I have come to believe that the real trajectory underneath all of that is that we have not made companies more altruistic, which some people believe is what’s happening. I believe that what’s happening is that it has become harder and harder to be profitable. If you’re only objective is to take advantage of other people that are not you in order to increase your quarterly shareholder value and that strategic, it is smarter for companies to have an active, an active strategy for contributing to the community in ways that are aligned with their business than to ignore it. So we haven’t made companies more nice. We’ve just made them more strategic and extracting value from local communities is no longer a viable strategy for a big company. You can no longer be. We’re an oil company, and we’re just gonna squeeze every last drop of oil out of the world and leave devastation in our path.

Greg Baldwin (27:16):
And that’s it and good on us. You just can’t get away with that anymore. I think it’s a, it’s a smarter marketplace that require smarter strategies that are incorporating, you know, what do they got shareholder their capitalism. I really believe that that’s changed the framework now, is it gonna solve all of the world’s problems? Absolutely not. Can they be a more viable contributor to solutions moving forward? The corporate space? I think they, they are in and they will be moving forward and that’s not gonna go away. And as long as you don’t mistake it for them being more altruistic and nice that it needs to be aligned with their core strategies. Then I think there’s a lot of positive upside there. It’s not a silver bullet by any means. It’s not the elixir to the world’s ills. And oh, by the way, you’ll still need an active government and a healthy civil society to make any of that stuff work. That’s the other, the other Phantom. And I think misguided assumption is that we only need one sector in the future and that government and civil society, the nonprofit sector will ultimately yield to one giant corporate space. That is also not gonna happen in my view. This one, man.

George Weiner (28:26):
Yeah. Well, it’s, it’s clear that companies and many companies subscribing and adopting ESG standards, by the way. There’s no, as far as I can find validating body that is going directly through and saying, you did it, I mean, this is speaking as a B Corp. So we’re on other sides of the fence here. I’m over here selling purpose. Good. But let’s be clear. I’m an LLC at Delaware. Yep. So there is

Greg Baldwin (28:51):
A aligned corresponding to this opportunity to, to align business strategy with the social. Good is also a, a, a new and very real challenge that our, our, this sector will face and our communities are gonna face is it’s also never been easier to fake that you care about anything other than making a boatload of money. And that is, you know, teasing that out will require, you know, new frameworks for evaluation and independent standards. And that happens in every sector. And I do think that’s, I know some, some folks that are working in that space now, one of our, our former program officer at fidelity, Sarah gel fan is a part of a, a startup that’s actually trying to be an independent ESG rating. Mm. Which is awesome. And I think that’s a, that’s a space that’s gonna get a lot of interest in action over the next decade, for sure. Cause you can’t, if everyone’s just, like I said, we were great.

George Weiner (29:53):
Look at there board minutes, you said the words ESG 17 and a half times,

Greg Baldwin (29:57):
Look at that, look and look at this slick really, really slick, you know, pamphlet that has so many good looking people doing good in the world

George Weiner (30:05):
And the 37 minute trailer. What, what we’re good.

Greg Baldwin (30:08):
And the, and the soundtrack is fantastic.

George Weiner (30:11):
I’ve heard they got Sting (the artist).

Greg Baldwin (30:12):
They got for that. Exactly. So, yeah, you’re on top of that. We, we definitely pull

George Weiner (30:18):
A thread. I wanna pull this thread a little bit. Are there just and to see where it goes in that sense that I’m, let’s say, I’m gonna tell you a story about somebody who’s in their twenties currently working at a very ESG positive, but let’s just be honest, consumer goods, go get it done in the market type of place where every day I’m reminded of how good that this new bottle of fill in the blank is helping the world,,lleviate all ills, p to bottom, essentially in some senses selling and fulfilling my own personal need for purpose that maybe this purpose that maybe, ,t volunteer sector and volunteer opportunities used to check the box of. Is that a weird thought?

Greg Baldwin (31:03):
No. I think that thought all the time, have we replaced a corporate version of altruism, philanthropy, volunteering, giving, giving back for a truer higher, more virtuous form of that? Yeah, I think about that all the time. My reconciliation of that look at also, you know, that tension, there is my belief that what volunteering is at its core and what honestly with the nonprofit sector is at its core is not as what many people ascribe it. It’s like here are market problems that can’t be solved. So civil society and the nonprofits sector, these are market failures that can only be solved by the nonprofit sector. I don’t believe that’s what at its core, the value of civil society and the nonprofit sector is really all about what I believe civil society and the nonprofit sector is all about is that people want to live out and express the values that are most important to them in a community of other people.

Greg Baldwin (32:09):
The nonprofit sector is a place where you are free from the market expectations, somewhat not entirely free, but you are liberated from the very, very clear market expectations for a for-profit company as very clear objectives and fiduciary responsibilities. So you’re free from the constraints that are associated with having to, you know, come up with an idea. That’s gonna have a hundred X return on Silicon valley to your investors. And it’s also free of the bureaucracy and the majority rules construct of government. And that what you end up with is a space that historically was really much more about religion than it was about boys and girls clubs. And the reason it’s so important to a healthy democracy is not because it’s gonna solve all of the world’s problems that, you know, are all of the, the damage done by, you know, corporate thinking. No, it’s really just the place where people are free to organize themselves and live according to their values, whatever those values may or may not be.

Greg Baldwin (33:13):
And I think that is what has, you know, when you go back to the Tocqueville interpretation of civil society, it’s really more about association as a strategy for people to live their values and have the freedom to do that where you’re not gonna be measured by, well, how much money did you make living those values? Now that’s not the equation. The, the freedom to do is fundamental to a healthy democracy and it’s still alive and well. And I think when you see it through that lens, corporate volunteering is really more about, there is some social capital that is in a building that where there are lots of opportunities for corporations to get aligned around things, values that they also believe are important, and that their employees, they have that shared kind of shared value overlapping,,enn diagram that can be enormously positive, but it will never, ever, ever, ever replace the ability for me and you to decide that we wanna go, you know, we wanna start a, you know, a trail association to protect the, you know, the Berkeley Hills, that that is what civil society and the nonprofit sector is really all about that freedom to associate, to live our values in ways that, mre not economically motivated and not restricted by the constraints of government with, unless you can get a majority of people to agree with you, you can’t really start your club, right?

Greg Baldwin (34:47):
That’s a very longwinded answer. It might be the reason I never get invited back on the show, but there’s some there’s something in there that I think has been lost in the current narrative about what nonprofit sector is supposed to be about. And there’s a lot of people that see the nonprofit sector. And I ask this question, a lot of, of people, you, what’s the difference between a library and a Barnes and noble bookstore, explain it to me. And I think for a lot of

George Weiner (35:16):
Well, ones at a business, well, one’s an actual nonprofit now.

Greg Baldwin (35:20):
Well, and I think, you know, we, we can all fall back on the structure, but a lot of people have come to believe that, well, maybe a library is just a barns and noble with a bad business model. And I think that that’s, it’s that thinking that really gets in the way of understanding the library as a place that originally was, Hey, we can all share the books in this community and we just get together and do that. No one can stop us from sharing the books instead of requiring someone to purchase them. Because think of the, you know, think of what that will mean for future generations of knowledge and kids who have access to all of this information. And it won’t be an economic straight on that in other countries, you could prevent that from happen in our democracy, we got together. And if you agreed that you wanted to, you know, start a new hospital or a club for, you know, to, to, to research autism outside the boundaries of, you know, the constraints of the marketplace or government, you’re still free to do that.

Greg Baldwin (36:19):
That’s the magic, that’s the secret sauce. It’s the liberation from the constraints of the other sectors that make civil society special? Not that we’re supposed to be cleaning up, you know, the corporate sector’s mess. No that’s, and that’s, for me, why it will be that that’s its future in our country will be more of that, that freedom to associate and do things that you’re never gonna have this satisfaction. And will the, the economics will never pan out nor will, you know, nor would we ever wanna have a society where, you know, people, you get 20 people together and they wanna something. And we wanted to start a, you know, a, a water polo club for, you know, Berkeley high school. Like they gave us a, you know, great get after it. We raised some money, go, go, go for it. Don’t wait around for that to be, you know, for the school system to have to decide to do that, or for government to decide, or, or God forbid to try to make it profitable. Like that would’ve meant no water polo club, that’s the magic. So corporate volunteering can, you know, it’s gonna be great and we can, as long as it becomes a compliment to those ideas, there’s, there’s nothing but upside it’s only when it becomes, you know, an either or that it would become a problem.

George Weiner (37:39):
So in of the monologue there, Greg Baldwin, it’s in addition to not, instead of

Greg Baldwin (37:45):
Yes, companies, better marketing person, that’s the bumper sticker. You got it.

George Weiner (37:52):
I like it. Random question person walking down the street, you’re a, you’re a nonprofit, a little bit of a vision. You’re got a footprint, whatever it is, you could ask that person for four hours of work or a hundred dollars. What do you do?

Greg Baldwin (38:06):
Four hours of work. Absolutely. Absolutely. No question. All the data show all the data show that you’re not only gonna get that person engaged, but the likelihood that they’ll give you far more than a hundred bucks goes way, way, way, way off. So cake, you eat too. Absolutely create an opportunity. Give time first treasure second.

George Weiner (38:29):
Yep. Ask for advice. Get paid twice Baldwin. Got

Greg Baldwin (38:32):

George Weiner (38:35):
All righty. I came across some other news that volunteer match is looking for, and this is awkward. Your job, another CEO, what is going on

Greg Baldwin (38:48):
Volunteer match? I am pleased to announce will be is already in the position of offering this extraordinary opportunity to someone other than me moving forward. And the board has begun a national search, actually, an international search for volunteer matches. Next CEO. I am staying on don’t panic yet. If you’re at home and I will be here until we make a,,uccessful hand off to the new CEO, but I have never been more bullish on the future of the organization. We got that big gift last year from Mackenzie Scott. Our strategy is humming along, and it’s a great opportunity right now for me to, you know, be a part of finding a successor. , Ey can take volunteer maps to, ,y know, a whole nother level over the next decade, cuz there’s a lot of work left to be done. And it’s a great time to be making that handoff.

Greg Baldwin (39:42):
And too often in the nonprofit sector, you know, handoffs are made either as a result of stress, anxiety or failure, not as a, you know, a moment of strength where you can make a clean handoff to get more, that much more horsepower and leadership for what the organiz is gonna need for the next decade. So if you’re out there and you want the job, you better get after it, cuz send, send,,our information to Russell Reynolds. You can look online for it. Ume’ve already got some extraordinary candidates in the pipeline and , ‘re moving through the interview process with the board and I’m really, really looking for it’s a, it’s the greatest job I’ve ever had and one of the greatest jobs in the world and I, ,t next person’s gonna, the next person who has this opportunity is gonna be super lucky.

George Weiner (40:27):
Yeah. I mean the role of a CEO is, is incredibly varied and I’ll just be honest that a lot of non-for-profits, you’re the, you’re the chief fundraising officer with, with a GRE title. It feels like what is the, the selling proposition and what is the role expectation for the, the new CEO?

Greg Baldwin (40:46):
Well, volunteer match, you know, has always been a bit of a hybrid social enterprise, much more than what I think often is thought of as a traditional nonprofit where we, you know, just raise money for you know, for, for some cause that we’re passionate about volunteer match has always been an organization that has generated a lot of earned revenue associated with our, our core activities. And I expect that the future CEO of volunteer match will need to be a thought leader will need to be, you know, interfacing with and finding op opportunities to partner with philanthropy and the gates foundation, the RAs foundation and the McKenzie Scotts of the world to continue to align the, continue to create new possibilities for future of the future of volunteering in a digital world. But there more so than most organizations, the board is expecting that the next leader will have a technology and a product and a management background so that the future of the organization will be driven by our capacity to our earned revenue opportunities, as well as philanthropy, but not one or the other.

Greg Baldwin (41:58):
And it’s definitely less so than most jobs. I think, I think we need a leader and a manager first and then philanthropy can be the thing that, you know, we can continue to build those relationships, but for at least the next couple of years, we will not be dependent on, you know, having to land a five, 10 million philanthropy, you know, nut in order for the organization to continue to operate a decade ago, volunteer match had, you know, covered 100% of our expenses through earned revenue and our current earned revenue strategies, you know, promise that the organization could be in a position to pay the bulk of its annual operating expenses through earned revenue and, and be able to partner with philanthropy on expansion and bold new ideas, not just to keep the lights on.

George Weiner (42:50):
Yeah, yeah.

Greg Baldwin (42:51):
There’s a very different, that’s, that’s a, that’s a luxury the field for sure.

George Weiner (42:56):
And a model that you’ve held up as a possibility of both doing well and also not needing to beg for every check. But rather rather earn it while providing a service. I’m curious because I’m starting to see this a bit more in the circles that we work in, in the nonprofit sector of this, this transition, this a general sort of it’s it’s time. I’m wondering there’s somebody listening right now who maybe at, you know, toward the end of their current desire to work in the career, to be a CEO to hand off, what is the, what is the smoke before fire, if that makes sense of, you know, what, it, it might be time to be planning in earnestness the succession plan. Cause obviously we all have, if I get hit by a bus yeah. All of my good works and hire somebody. Here’s the plan. It’s two sentences.

Greg Baldwin (43:48):
Yeah. Well, all I can answer is for us that the gift McKenzie Scott’s gift create a moment where I was no longer anxious about having the capital required for volunteer match, to continue to execute against the strategy that I thought was, you know, the only possible way to move the organization forward, super ambitious. And I think smart and very much aligned with how do we, how do we deliver on our mission, very bridge Spani in and how do we continue to deliver our mission in a way that generates ongoing repeatable operating revenues. So you’re not in this yo yoing of having to raise money in order to keep the lights on as we were talking about. And I think for me, you know, the, the smoke before the fire of is it time to transition somewhat ironically is came because that money gave me a sense of confidence that I wouldn’t have had, that we could make the transition without that, without that pool of resources that I would’ve hung on to the job as it were for much, much longer without that gift.

Greg Baldwin (45:02):
Not because it made sense, but because I would’ve been too afraid to hand over a strategy that was as complicated as ours is and, you know, be like, I, we, I think it’s great, but good luck if you don’t, you know, if you don’t land a miracle of, you know, two and a half million in philanthropy by the end of next year, then, you know, you might clip the top of the mountain, you know, cash flow wise in terms of got new earned revenue. So I think for me, I feel like I got lucky, we got lucky. And then I I’m in a place where I’ve never been more bullish about the future or confident that there’s enough gas in the tank, so that the next leader doesn’t have to, you know, immediately be in, you know, emergency, you know, philanthropy, fundraising mode, that they have a real runway to continue to execute against the existing strategy. And in doing so, you know, really plan for a 10 year planning horizon, not a, oh my God, we might run outta money, you know, next summer, which is like the worst possible place to be as a leader, I think, or at least in my experience, that’s just stressful.

George Weiner (46:09):
So don’t buy high and sell low, have, have a bit in the tank. And that speaks to the clearly the type of leader you were, where you wanted to leave on that high note. And then that in that place where it is ready to succeed, positioned yeah. To, to move forward rather than like, oh man, this, this car’s outta gas. Good luck everybody. And you’re like, I looked good, but just until the door shuts.

Greg Baldwin (46:33):
Yeah. I think, you know, that that’s, it’s, you know, from what is it, it’s the scarcity mentality of hanging on because it can’t survive without me to being in a place now where I feel like the organization is extraordinarily well positioned for the future. And you’re not just, you know, good luck, hope you get hope, you make it sort of handoff. And I think that doesn’t happen that often in the nonprofit sector, you know, regrettably and, and a lot of it just comes from access to capital. Again, you know, the, the, the, the capacity to have the resources to do this type of planning, you know, is sadly a luxury in the, this space too often. And only, you know, only a few organizations are, you know, in a position to do it as successfully as it needs to be done for organizations to really have a true succession plan and not just, oh, you know, we ran outta time and money, so we need somebody new.

George Weiner (47:35):
What do you got? Tell me, throw me somebody.

Greg Baldwin (47:37):

George Weiner (47:40):
All right. Well, one more time. You’re looking for a CEO. The doors are open Russell Reynolds. You can find the links in our show notes, any other you should take this job because notes for people listening.

Greg Baldwin (47:54):
Yeah, I think for me, this job gave creates an opportunity for the, for the right leader to operate at the intersection of the corporate space, the government space and the nonprofit sector, and, and see technology as an infrastructure play that will have an enduring the possibility to just leave a lasting and enduring benefit on our communities and our kids and on the corporate space. And I can’t think of another job, honestly, that affords you, that we’ll afford a new leader, that opportunity to operate at the intersection of so many interesting and significant ideas. And and in evolving trends in, in what the future of our communities and our democracy and our society is gonna look like can’t get it on the corporate space alone. I don’t and see those opportunities in government and volunteer match is just uniquely positioned at that intersection. And for the right leader, it’s gonna be a ticket to have conversations with anybody and, you know, in any sector, in any leaders that I think has been one of the things that has been most exciting for me, and most enjoyable to be able to talk with, you know, Google and to talk with the gates foundation, to be able to talk with, you know, the state of California, that’s all part of the day to day at volunteer match.

Greg Baldwin (49:18):
And there are not many jobs where you can operate across those intersections. So, you know, so seamlessly and, and, and, and fundamentally, and it’s so necessary that, that, that work getting the sectors lined up around volunteering is gonna be, you know, it’s part of future, cuz volunteering has never been just you know, stuck in the nonprofit sector. It cuts across government and the corporate sectors in such profound ways that you have to be operating at that intersection. So maybe the, the, the call is if that’s intriguing this a great job, if that’s terrifying, then I’m sure there’s other great jobs available on link 10 today.

George Weiner (49:55):
In summary, if you care about the future of civil democracy and our ability to volunteer and give to each other this job, maybe this job for you, Greg, thank you so much and possibly amazing what has been built and thank you for spending generously of your time with us today.

Greg Baldwin (50:12):
Always a pleasure, glad to do it. And thanks for the opportunity inviting me back. And hopefully you’ll have me back when I have my next new job.

George Weiner (50:19):
Absolutely not.

Greg Baldwin (50:22):
Or you’ll just bring in the next guest will be more succinct and much better at using the available time. Thanks again. Bye.

George Weiner (50:32):
This has been using the whole whale podcast. If you wanna keep learning more about these topics and others head on over to whole whale.com/university to keep learning with us. Thanks as always to Greg Thomas music.org, his tunes that underwrite our tracks. They’re fantastic. Hope you’re doing well, Greg. And just a reminder subscribes really help us on any platform that you listen to us on. Please give a thought to click and subscribe and maybe even a comment because we like hearing from you.