Keep the Home Fires Burning for the Healthy Communities: A

Keep the Home Fires Burning for the Healthy Communities: A Critical Survey
Voluntarism is one of the essential elements for a civic society; it's paramount to
empower and give the opportunities to the citizen to get participate in and make
voluntary commitment as an integral part of their lives. We have conducted a study
and identified the factors that will keep the enthusiasm of the volunteer's commitment,
or, that will "keep the fires burning" by investigating the subject matters at three
levels: individual, organizational, and the societal environment as a whole. Our
purposes are: characterizing a profile for the status quo of voluntarism in Taiwan,
analyzing the enabling factors at the individual, organizational and the societal levels;
proposing mechanism and strategies for a sustainable voluntary society. From
hundreds of all the healthy communities, we, based on "outcome of the performance
evaluation" and "categories of the organizations", randomly drew 16 communities and
conducted in depth interviews on the leadership echelon and the rank and file of the
voluntary organizations. The qualitative data were then analyzed with the procedures
in line of the method referred to as "interpretative phenomenological analysis". Major
findings are: the voluntary organizations can be categorized into three prototypes:
professional-dominated, volunteer-led, and the mixed models. It is crucial to
transform the professional-dominated into the volunteer-led, if the commitment of the
volunteers is to be sustainable. The financial support from the government was
helpful at the nascent stage of the organizations, but the dollars must be gradually cut
off in order to have the organization "stand on its own feet". The policy should be
flexible enough to accommodate the ingenious ideas by the local volunteers; and the
volunteers must be encouraged to go beyond personal network, and make the
community, instead of the leadership, as the target of commitment.
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