Volunteer Engagement 2.0 Author Spotlight: Mark Surman, Mozilla Foundation

Volunteer Engagement 2.0 Author Spotlight: Mark Surman, Mozilla Foundation

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How has the internet changed #VolunteerEngagement? @msurman says by a lot! Read more: http://bit.ly/1GmCoZ2 #35Experts @VolunteerMatch

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 1:00pm

VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, features chapters from 35 experts in the field of volunteer engagement. In this series of blog posts, get to know these #35experts and their areas of expertise.

Today’s expert: Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla Foundation.

First of all, what is your chapter about?
“A New Engagement Model for the Internet Era” explains how the web so drastically transformed the way nonprofits operate. The web is an unprecedented tool for organizing, able to unite like-minded volunteers across the globe. The web also grants volunteers great power — they can play a real role in making change.

Because of this, it’s critical for nonprofits to demonstrate why they’re the best place for volunteers to get involved. How? By having a clear goal, a compelling call to action and the ability to make volunteers’ contributions really count.

Why is this topic important?
It’s critical for nonprofits to understand how the web changed — and continues to change — engagement. If volunteers weren’t the most important part of social change before the Internet, they most definitely are now. We need to stop asking, “How can volunteers make nonprofits successful?” and instead ask, “How can nonprofits best empower volunteers?”

Explain your background on this topic. (In other words, what makes you a “volunteer engagement expert?”)
I’ve always been in the business of connecting things — especially people. At Mozilla, we work with a community of more than 10,000 Mozillians around the world. Our success depends on engaging these volunteers and ensuring their contributions — whether code, ideas, art or opinions — make a difference.

What did you learn and/ or struggle with when writing your chapter?
Trying to define ‘the Mozilla model’ of volunteering in a simple and singular way. So much has changed in the last 10 years since we’ve started. Some of the things we trailblazed in 2004 aren’t revolutionary — or even the right approach — anymore. We’re constantly having to reinvent how we relate to volunteers as we go. So, writing about it is hard, as it’s always in motion.

What is the one piece of advice you would give volunteer managers to take with them to the future?
Often, your volunteers are smarter than you — embrace it. At Mozilla, we’re bringing web literacy to the next billion people who come online. This means working with volunteers in countries and cities far from Mozilla’s offices and staff, in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia and Kenya. These contributors bring a local knowledge and know-how that’s crucial to our mission, and it’s important to let them guide us. Without their expertise, we’d be lost.

To read Mark’s full chapter, A New Engagement Model for the Internet Era, order your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.

About Mark:
It’s Mark Surman’s job to protect the open web. He is Executive Director of Mozilla — the global community that keeps the web open and free — and a loud proponent of universal web literacy. Mark launched Maker Party and Mozilla Learning Networks, major initiatives that help people teach and learn the web. He is also a prolific blogger, writer and speaker, as well as an advisor to several nonprofits. Prior to joining Mozilla, Mark was a Shuttleworth Foundation fellow, led telecentre.org and co-founded the Commons Group. He holds a BA in the History of Community Media from the University of Toronto.