Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Be the Change

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Some highlights from the full report include:
  • Women volunteered at a higher rate than did men across all age groups, educational levels, and other major demographic characteristics.
  • 35- to 44-year olds and 45- to 54-year olds were the most likely to volunteer. Volunteer rates were lowest among persons in their early twenties and those age 65 and over.
  • Whites continued to volunteer at a higher rate than did blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.
  • Volunteer rates were higher among married persons than those who had never married and those with other marital statuses. Parents with children under age 18 were substantially more likely to volunteer than were persons without children under 18 years of age,
  • Individuals with higher levels of educational attainment were more likely to volunteer than were those with less education. Among persons age 25 and over, 42.8 percent of college graduates volunteered,
  • Most volunteers were involved with either one or two organizations. Individuals with higher educational attainment were more likely to volunteer for multiple organizations than were those with less education.
  • The main activity volunteers performed for their main organization was most frequently fundraising, followed by collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food.
  • Most volunteers became involved with their main organization after being asked to volunteer, most often by someone in the organization. A slightly smaller proportion became involved on their own initiative; that is, they approached the organization.
Volunteers are a special breed of person. And organizations that know this to their core, enjoy greater impact and sustainability. Volunteer management (and donor relations) is not always easy, but it is primary to our work in non-profit organizations. I believe strongly (and it is my experience) that we manage and use our volunteers consistent with what we believe about volunteerism. Think about this. There is a qualitative difference between volunteers who are treated as "free labor" and those who are enrolled by organizations to be citizen partners in the organization's mission. What do you think?

What is your guiding philosophy about volunteers and their service to your organization (this question is not as simple as it seems)? What do you know about your organization's volunteers and why they volunteer for you? Who are they and how did they come to find you? When you recruit new volunteers, what is your strategy? What kind of accountability do you hold your volunteers to and how do they know?

Go volunteer today...or hug one in your midst!