Biennial Changes within Community Mediation [ 2009 - 2011 ]
These are dynamic times for community mediation. To better understand
the specific changes confronting the field, the 2011 Survey asked
respondents to indicate whether and to what extent their programs
experienced changes over the past two years to their staff size,
volunteer roster, organizational budget, and case volume. The results
indicate over half of all programs did experience notable changes in
each of these categories. The following graphs and corresponding text
outline these reported changes.
Changes in Program Staff Size
Since 2009, the field experienced an overall estimated
reduction of approximately 100 full-time equivalent staff positions.
Nearly 45 percent of community mediation programs, however, have been
able to retain consistent staffing levels. Impressively, nineteen
percent of programs were actually able to grow their staffs, three
percent of which – smaller programs – were able to double their staff
size. Unfortunately, 35 percent of programs were forced to decrease
their staff size during this same time period. Nearly half of these
latter programs experienced reductions between one and 20 percent, while
nine percent saw reductions ranging from 61 to 80 percent.
Change in Number of Volunteer Mediators
Over the past two years community mediation programs have been able to
add nearly 100 additional volunteers to the national volunteer mediator
roster. These volunteers serve an important role in helping to
compensate for the difficult losses in program staff and meet the
increasing demand for services during the same time. While nearly half
of programs reported no change in the size of their volunteer rosters,
reported increases were able to edge out reported losses. Twenty percent
of programs reported an aggregated loss of 730 volunteers, while nearly
thirty percent reported an aggregated addition of 830 new volunteers.
Change in Program Budget
It’s not surprising that program budgets would vary from year to year.
In fact it’s notable that during a period of heightened financial
insecurity over a quarter of community mediation programs reported their
annual budgets were left unchanged. Of even greater accomplishment is
the 30 percent of programs which reported an increase in their annual
budgets during this time. While most of these increases were nominal –
one to 20 percent – a few programs did achieve substantial growth in
Unfortunately, these increases were not as widespread as reported
decreases in programs’ annual budgets. Forty-two percent of programs
reported budgetary reductions from 2009 to 2011. Of some consolation,
however, is that the concentration of these reductions were within the
one to 40 percent categories.
Though largely moderated, even nominal budgetary reductions often
require immediate operational recalibrations to community mediation
programs’ tenuously balanced budgets. This reality is what caused the
staffing reductions experienced throughout the field over the past two
years. It’s also what threatens to further cut into programs’ capacity
and jeopardize some programs’ ultimate survivability should these
Change in Case Volume
As economic stressors bled into interpersonal relations, community
mediation programs were called upon to address a greater number and
variety of conflicts. Overall, the field experienced a seven percent
increase in case referrals from 2009 to 2011. Complicating the field’s
capacity to address this biennial increase in referrals were the
concurrent decreases in fieldwide financial and staffing resources.
While 20 percent of programs reported steady case referral volumes,
large segments of the field experienced either nominal – one to 20
percent – increases or decreases, 27 and 33 percent respectively. A few
smaller programs reported large increases – 81 to 100 percent – in case
volume. In total, 44 percent of programs reported an aggregated increase
of over 40,000 case referrals during the previous two year period.
Conversely, 35 percent reported an aggregated decrease of over 16,000
case referrals during the same time.
The fieldwide increase in case volume represents communities’ increased
reliance on mediation programs to address recurring and emerging
conflicts. For programs to sustainably meet this heightened demand,
local support from ADR practitioners, referral entities, and funders
must keep a better pace than has been recently experienced.
| Discussion Prompt:|
What changes has your