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VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

~ July 2003 ~Topics

NEW at our online bookstore: ONE MINUTE ANSWER TO VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT QUESTIONS: A PRACTICAL APPROACH by Mary Kay Hood. Written especially for the beginner, this book provides a quick reference for the practical aspects of managing a volunteer program.Recruiting & Retention book Image

Volunteer Projects for Small Businesses

Large employers around the world have Employee Volunteer Programs. From Thailand to Tupelo employees of IBM can engage in civic activities with the blessing and encouragement of their employer. Some businesses even provide paid time per month for volunteers. It can be anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, and the business usually provides incentives in the form of hats, t-shirts, and other memorabilia.

Screen Bean Planting ImageWhat about the small business of less than a dozen employees, many of who work part time, who want to volunteer? A volunteer program manager needs to thing creatively to help the owners of those small businesses see the benefit of volunteering on morale and practical ways it can be done without reducing the company’s business effectiveness.

One excellent idea is for the group to engage in a project which benefits the community, but requires the time of only one person to deliver the “goods.” For example, if each person who had a home vegetable garden planted an extra row in their garden, the excess produce could be donated to a local food bank. Food banks and religious organization that provide food to the poor in cities around the world are being strained by the down turn in economies and the move of the poor to large urban area. What better way to help out?!

The business could designate two people to team up to coordinate donations from the individuals in the workplace. They would work with the food bank and arrange for delivery of perishable products. This is an easy and practical way for the small business to have its own employee volunteer program.

Volunteering In the USA

More women volunteer than men (31% to 23%). The volunteer rate of college graduates is four times that of high school dropouts. Volunteers spend about 52 hours a year volunteering. Employed people are more likely to volunteer than the unemployed or those not in the labor force. Who says so?

The United State Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported on a study by the Current Population Survey between September 2001 to September 2002. This is a survey of 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment for those over age 16.

Here are some facts they uncovered:

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59 million or 27.6% of the population over 16 reported volunteering through or for organizations in the time period. This number is significantly lower than that reported by the Giving and Volunteering Research of Independent Sector.
Square Bullet Image 35-54 year olds were the most likely to volunteer.
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Volunteer rates were lowest among those over age 65.
Square Bullet Image The second lowest rate of volunteering by age was among those in their early twenties.
Square Bullet Image Parents with children under 18 were more likely to volunteer than persons with no children, but in the same age range.
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Volunteer rates are higher among married people (32%) than single (21%).
Square Bullet Image Among all age groups, people over 65 devoted more time to volunteering, with a median 96 hours per year.
Square Bullet Image Most people provided service to one organization (61%).
Square Bullet Image Religious organization continue to garner the largest portion of volunteers overall (33%).
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The second most volunteered for organizations were educational/youth groups (27%).
Square Bullet Image Older volunteers, over 65, volunteered more for religious organization than their younger counterparts (42%). 25-34 year olds volunteered at 28% for religious organizations.
Square Bullet Image Parents with children are more likely to volunteer for schools and youth organizations, while people in the same age with no children are more likely to volunteer for social or community service organization, like homeless shelters.
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What did volunteers do for their organization?
  • Teaching/coaching 24%
  • Canvassing, campaigning, fundraising 22%
  • Collecting, making, serving, delivering goods 22%
  • Serving on a board, committee, neighborhood association 16%
Square Bullet Image Two in five volunteers became involved in their organization by taking the initiative and approaching the organization.
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Another two in five were asked to become a volunteer by someone in the organization.

For more details and full statistics visit http://www.bls.gov/cps/home.htm. The survey is the first listing under the "Other" category.

"It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis."
Margaret Bonnano

Value of Volunteer Hour

The value of a volunteer hour is $16.54, according to Independent Sector. This hourly value is updated annually and is based on the average hourly earnings of all non-agricultural workers, as determined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

High Tech and High Touch

The increase in technology makes us all more efficient, but can create barriers between people. How can you use technology to enhance the communication level between people? Here are some tips.

Use technology to send good news. Have volunteers and staff on an email list to share good news. Positive email from clients, vendors, or those outside the organization should be beamed along to everyone as soon as they are received. Share the goodies.

Know the limits of technology. Sensitive or complex issues should rarely be discussed via email. Stop and think of the pros and cons of using technology instead of a face-to-face meeting to solve problems. Use the right form of communication at the right time and for the right reason.Satellite Image

Technology can be used to build relations. If you spend time in the car driving home, you can call voice mail boxes at work or volunteers at home to thank people for something. Short phone calls to say something positive; this is not the time to hold a committee meeting. Numbers should be on speed dial and always use earphones.

Take time to build relationships. Trust and respect come over time and with good face-to-face contact. Make an appointment with yourself to visit volunteer work areas or invite a staff member for coffee. Take the time to get to know people and the payoff will be worth it!

Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Recruiting and Retention: A Marketing Approach, by Nancy Macduff. Recruiting & Retention book Image

Interested in assessing volunteer and staff relations in your program?

Looking for help from an expert?

Get help with one of the Volunteer Program Evaluation Series.


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, call 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.

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