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Race Equity in Volunteerism

About MAVA's Work on Inclusion and Racial Equity in Volunteerism

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Many nonprofit and government organizations struggle to engage volunteers who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the communities they serve. In response to this issue, in 2017 MAVA launched our Inclusive Volunteerism Initiative, a program focused on researching, identifying and dismantling the systemic inequities faced by BIPOC individuals when volunteering on a formal basis with a nonprofit or government organization.

Ongoing activities of this initiative, ways you can get involved, and research products/findings are outlined below. If you have questions please contact
Lisa Joyslin, Inclusive Volunteerism Program Manager, at

Thank you to the St. Paul Foundation, The F. R. Bigelow Foundation, and the Minneapolis Foundation for funding this initiative. 

Scroll down to find information on current initiatives and events, information on training and consulting, and resources created from our research on racial equity in volunteerism.

Participants Needed for Listening Sessions on Helping Other People!

Do you help people in your community? Maybe you help people cook, take care of family, organize celebrations, drive friends to work and more.  Are you a Black, indigenous or person of color? The Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) would love to hear from you about your experiences, and we will pay you with a $75 gift card for your time, energy and ideas.

For our January listening sessions we are looking for participants who are 1) BIPOC men, 2) Hmong, Indigenous/Native or Latinx (of any gender identity) and 3) BIPOC young adults between the ages of 18-25.

More Information

Join MAVA for 1.5 hour listening sessions about volunteering and helping others in your community. Listening sessions will take place virtually in October 2020. You will have multiple times and dates to choose from. You can only join one time.

We will not share your name or personal information. Only your words and ideas will be used in a report we will create. You will receive a $75 gift card (Cub, Target or Walmart) after the session by mail or email.


If you would like to join, please register for one of our listening sessions below or email Lisa Joyslin at to sign up for a session.

Listening Session Registration
Please register below for only one session. Contact Lisa Joyslin at if you have any issues with registration.
Wednesday, March 3 from 4-5:30pm: REGISTER HERE
Wednesday, March 3 from 6-7:30pm: REGISTER HERE

We hosted 6 listening sessions in late 2020 and are appreciative of all the valuable information participants were willing to offer. We have chose the above demographics for our 2021 sessions because we felt these voices were missing during our first 6 sessions.

About this Project

MAVA is conducting research on racial equity in volunteerism. We have identified areas of systemic racism in traditional volunteer structures, and would like to 1) identify additional barriers to participation and 2) learn about alternative volunteerism structures that are created by and for Black, indigenous and people of color.


We will use the information we gain to create an initial report and training on building racially equitable systems for volunteerism. Ideas shared by listening session participants will be cited in the report, but will be anonymous. MAVA is happy to provide all listening session attendees with copies of our report so you can see the research to which you are contributing. MAVA would like to thank the Minneapolis Foundation for funding this initiative.

Upcoming Events

ANTIRACISM 101 WEBINAR - February 24, 10:00am-12:00pm - Register here

Join us for a virtual presentation and conversation* on antiracism. During this webinar, presenters and participants will define and discuss important terms, including racism, white supremacy, white privilege and white fragility. We will also practice responding to instances of racism that may show up in volunteer programs using various practice scenarios. Participants will leave with resources to address and dismantle racism. This webinar welcomes those who are newer to conversations on race and those who would like to share their knowledge and experiences with others.

*We believe that dismantling racism requires conversation. Therefore, this webinar will be highly interactive and will require you to be able to view the PowerPoint slides, use your audio to listen and microphone speak to others. Please plan to join us from a setting that allows you to engage and participate fully.

Are you interested in providing racial equity training at your organization? MAVA can customize and provide this training for your staff and volunteers. Contact us for more information!

DO BETTER TOGETHER SERIES - Dates coming soon!
We are excited to continue our Do Better Together Series in 2021. Do Better Together is a series of free, discussion-based workshops about racial equity in volunteer engagement. We will post more information on our 2021 series here soon!

SAVE THE DATE - MAVA's Next Equity in Volunteerism Conference will be December 9, 2021
Learn more about our November 2020 Conference, Redefining Volunteerism: Dismantling Inequities here. You can also read a summary of participant's takeaways and next steps here: Conference Wrap Up: What's Next?

Training and Consulting

MAVA provides training workshops and consulting services to nonprofits working to advance racial equity in volunteerism. If your organization could use assistance with assessing your volunteer program from a DEI lens, training staff and volunteers on racial equity, or building equitable volunteer engagement systems, please contact us to learn more about how MAVA can help.

We have multiple workshops available, including:
 - 8 Strategies for Creating a More Inclusive Volunteer Program
 - Crafting Inclusive Language Volunteer Recruitment Messages
 - No "One Right Way": Imagining New Systems for Volunteer Engagement
 - How White Supremacy Culture Shows up in Volunteer Engagement
 - Antiracism 101 (this workshop can be customized for staff or volunteers)
 - Additional customized workshops according to your organization's needs

Contact Lisa Joyslin at for more information, including pricing and scheduling.

Research and Resources

Recognizing Racism in Volunteer Engagement
- Published 6/19/2020
Volunteerism Best Practices: Not Best for Everyone - Published 10/28/2020


MAVA developed a set of 8 strategies for creating a more inclusive volunteer program at your organization. These strategies serve as a starting point for volunteer engagement leaders who are seeking concrete next steps for better engaging volunteers from communities of color.

Executive Summary - Engaging Volunteers from Diverse and Immigrant Communities
Click here to download the full report (free for MAVA members)

MAVA assembled a curated list of articles, books, podcasts, consultants and more to support volunteer engagement leaders in their professional development around racial equity.

Click here to download the document: Racial Equity Resources for Volunteer Engagement Leaders

July 2019 - Do Better Together: Addressing Racial Bias with Volunteers - Notes
September 2019 - Do Better Together: Crafting Inclusive Volunteer Recruitment Messages - Volunteer Recruitment Message - Before and After - MN Literacy Council