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~ August 2002 ~ Topics
  • A Question from Ask Connie
  • A New Birth Dearth
  • CARE Act Passes the Senate
  • Some Facts on Boomers
  • What is Your Attrition Rate?
  • Factoid: Growing Income Gap

A Question from Ask Connie

Dear Readers:

The subject of volunteers and fundraising has many layers and variations. The one that many volunteer program managers struggle with is whether or not to solicit financial contributions from their direct-service volunteers (not volunteer board members or trustees). I'd like to hear from you!

Are the volunteers in your organization solicited for financial contributions? If so, how? If not, why? Please send your responses to me, and I'll share the results of this informal poll in my September column.

Thanks for your help and Happy Summer!


A New Birth Dearth

Childlessness is the new norm among American women.

  • 43% of women in the childbearing age are not having children.
  • Families without children bypassed those with children by 1.5% in 1985 and the difference in 1999 was 6.7%.
  • This fact is especially true of those who are now 40 - 44 years of age.

This childless trend is not unique to America. Many countries have fertility rates well below population replacement levels. They include France, Ireland, Norway, China, and Australia. Conversely Third World countries are experiencing dramatic population growth.

Why is this important to a volunteer program manager? This is the future of available volunteers. Designing and organizing programs needs to take into account available resources, including the human ones!

CARE Act Passes the Senate

The Charity Aid, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act of 2002 passed the Senate Finance Committee in June. This bill will provide incentives to all taxpayers to contribute to charities by setting up deductions for non-itemisers and removing the tax barriers for charitable gifts from IRA accounts.

The upside of this change is the new availability of charitable deductions for American's with hefty incomes and IRA accounts. This gain, however, is off set by the fact that after two years the legislation would end a tax deduction designed to encourage giving by taxpayers who do not itemize, especially the low and moderate-income folks.

There is also language in the bill to clarify the distinction between grassroots and direct lobbying. Stay tuned, it has not hit President Bush's desk yet!

Some Facts on Boomers

The Washington Post recently ran an article with information on marketing to the Baby-Boom Generation, those born between 1946 -1964. Here are some facts from that article. What are you doing to actively recruit volunteers from this generational cohort?

  • There are 80 million people in the "boomer" generation.
  • A "boomer" turns 50 every 7 seconds in the US
  • Individuals in their 50's hold 77% of all personal assets and represent 66% of all U.S. stockholders, even though they make up only 27% of the population.
  • Many "boomers" seem to have an interest in nostalgia. This translates into a desire to have things be the way they used to be when the person was younger.

What is Your Attrition Rate?
(See related article on Training Page)

Attrition is turnover! What is your turnover rate of volunteers? Be sure to only count those volunteers who sign up for those long-term jobs.

  1. Set a start and stop date; Calendar year, fiscal year, school year, whatever works best with your normal organizational functioning.
  2. Count all the volunteers as of that date.
  3. Track on a monthly basis the ebb and flow of volunteers in and out of the program.
  4. 12 months later you will know if you are losing 20% of your volunteers on an annual basis or 50% or gaining 12% annually.
  5. You can set recruiting goals accordingly.
The attrition rate should be recorded each and every year. This information can show the incremental changes in a program that are often not available when looking from month to month. It is also helpful information for a successor.
In addition to the statistics on attrition or turnover, you should be conducting exit interviews to determine why people are leaving. This can best be done by trained volunteers. It might be hard for a departing volunteer to criticize the program or a staff member, if that is the reason they are leaving, to a member of the volunteer office staff. Trained volunteers, can identify themselves as such, and get more candid answers to two or three questions. This information is also valuable in planning recruiting and educating staff and volunteer leaders.

Growing Income Gap


Lowest Fifth

Highest Fifth (pct. Difference)

Top 5% (pct. Difference)




$ 272,349













The table shows the mean income received by lowest and highest fifths and the top 5% of US families of all races in 2000. The gap between the wealthiest and the poorest segments of US families has increased steadily during the past three decades.

(Source US Census Bureau 2002 Current Population Survey.


The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future.The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, contact Crystal Hill at 202-729-8000.


By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center. This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.