Presenting the iSPIRT Volunteer Model

Last few years have been very instrumental in making iSPIRT what it is today. A lot of thought had gone into creation of this movement.  We thought it is a good idea to retrace the movement to its origins and codify the model with which we operate on.  The whitepaper at the end of this blog post details the model.

This whitepaper describes the foundational principles, operating practices and culture of this network. This is the volunteer model that underpins the network and (through it) all actions of it. The whitepaper is for public consumption and will be available in public space for other organizations to emulate if they see the merit in these models.

There are two foundational principles. The first one is that this volunteer network is pulled by passion and pushed by program management. Both are essential for success. The passion signifies a strong sense of mission and cause. Program management converts that energy into feasible actions and tangible results. Sustainability of the network comes from its ability to get things done. The second principle puts the “challenges” at the center of network. We expect the volunteers to become part of the network not for glory, but for being part of addressing a shared challenge. The bond generated out of working on something bigger than oneself is what binds this network together.

Operating practices describe how to define a challenge, select volunteers, onboard them, and manage the project. They also describe the assessment of projects, the overall work program, volunteers and the network.

Finally, there is a strong culture within the network. While no document can completely capture any organizational culture, key behaviors that have shaped the network are described here.  The culture holds the volunteers together and creates a strong bond needed to deal with challenges.

Hope this paper will be useful for people creating similar structures across the various communities.