Inside Philanthropy

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

October 22, 2007

Inspiring workers to volunteer a challenge

Volunteers are the lifeblood of nonprofits, and nonprofits and companies need to work harder to keep the pool of volunteers flowing.

According to a new study by researchers at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, workers paid by the hour are less likely to volunteer than are salaried workers because the way they are paid conditions them to think about their time in terms of money.

Workers in the U.S. who are paid by the hour volunteered 36 percent less time than workers on salary.

And even salaried workers were less willing to volunteer after calculating their hourly pay.

So the way employers pay their staff can influence employees’ activities outside the workplace, the study says.

The implications for nonprofits and companies are equally challenging.

As many of them already do with their bigger donors, nonprofits need to pay more careful attention to the needs of all their givers, including volunteers and smaller donors.

That means engaging and cultivating their givers, understanding their interests and matching them with the needs of the organization, keeping them involved in the life of the organization and informed about its progress, and thanking them in personal and meaningful ways.

And companies that care about being socially responsible need to find creative ways to move beyond treating wage-earners as replaceable parts and create a corporate culture that celebrates and encourages the value employees add to the company and the community by giving back.


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