Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

March 9, 2007

Nonprofits can do better with volunteers

With all the challenges they face meeting social needs and running their shops, nonprofits cannot afford to waste resources.

But many nonprofits are failing to tap the full potential of one of their most precious assets -- volunteers.

Three new reports underscore the need for nonprofits to strengthen their efforts to engage volunteers and match their interests with the needs of the organization.

PJ reports on a new study by the U.S. Department of Labor that finds both the number and percentage of Americans volunteering their time fell last year, with the share of Americans volunteering falling to its lowest level since the department started tracking that metric in 2002.

PJ also reports on a new study by the Corporation for National and Community Service that says Baby Boomers are volunteering at higher rates than the two preceding generations, with more than one in three volunteering, but that one in three Boomers who volunteer one year do not volunteer the next year.

And a survey by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans says that while nearly two in three American adults performed some type of volunteer service last year, 86 percent said they would be willing to volunteer – leaving a volunteer gap of 22 percentage points that nonprofits are failing to tap.

Past research has shown that people who volunteer their time are more likely to donate their money, and that people who start volunteering when they are young tend to keep volunteering.

The study by the Corporation for National and Community Service reinforces other research that shows Boomers have different volunteer interests than past generations and need to be engaged in different ways.

Generation X and Generation Y, and the generation that preceded the Boomers, all represent even different interests, and all are looking for volunteer opportunities.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of nonprofits.

So nonprofits need to invest a lot more time and effort to understand the needs and interests of these different groups of potential volunteers, and to engage them and truly integrate them into the life of their organizations.


Post a Comment

<< Home