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On this page are ideas to help you work more efficiently with volunteers. There are tips on recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and managing the work of volunteers.

~ December 2011 ~


A new report on charitable giving offers practical ideas on how to improve giving.  “Growing Philanthropy in the United States,” is free.  Here are some of the ideas.

  • Fund raisers need to talk about what the money will accomplish.  They need to avoid discussing annual funds, capital campaigns, and endowment drives.
  • Educate donors about the real cost of fund raising.  Donors often are ignorant of the cost to raise money.  If they “bump” up against the reality it can the donors trust can be damaged.  Be open about it from the beginning.
  • Encourage non-cash gifts.  Most people have their assets in other than cash; stocks, bonds, real estate, or valuable property. 

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Volunteers have historically come to nonprofit social service programs from the middle class.  The middle class is dwindling.  Many are unemployed or holding multiple jobs.  There is no time for volunteer service, or membership dues. The middle class is in trouble.  Finding people to volunteer or donate is growing increasingly challenging.  And what types of jobs are available to those seeing the problems of the economy in a personal way.

The median annual income for a male full-time worker, adjusted for inflation, is virtually the same as it was in 1973. It is the first time since the Great Depression that median income has failed to rise over such a long time. The median income of working-age people is lower than it was before the recession started.

big family photo 1925

Yet not all Americans are suffering. The share of after-tax income going to the top 1 percent hit its highest levels in the past 30 years while the portion going to the very middle of the income spectrum fell to its lowest level in that period. And with growing economic inequality, the top 5 percent now hold over 60 percent of all private wealth.

More Americans are falling into poverty than at any other time in the past half century, and those already there are getting poorer.  Existing organizations need to provide expanded services and economic opportunities.  There is a capacity to offer volunteer tasks to tackle the most serious issues faced in a failing economy.

Most Americans understand that is was the failure of structural systems that precipitated the crisis we are in. The egregious and deregulated abuses of Wall Street and other financial institutions brought the US to the brink of a second Great Depression, where the US continues to teeter. 75% of Americans recognize that the country’s economic structure is out of balance in favor of the wealthy.

If structural change is to prevent the decline of the middle class and the growth of poverty are to be reversed, it most likely will happen by nonprofit pressure on lawmakers.  Does your volunteer program recruit people to advocate on behalf of clients?  Do you have a program to attract and train people to do this work on behalf of the organization? Might establishing such a program attract volunteers not currently volunteering? Might middle class volunteers return if the work done would help his/her personal circumstance? 

Chronicle of Philanthropy


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Online College Classes--Begins January 9, 2012

Recruiting Volunteers

Training Volunteers

Portland State University


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The World Futurist magazine tracks trends into 2020.  The November/December issue provides trends with the potential to impact nonprofits and volunteer programs.  Here are a few.

diamond shapePeople will treat free time as a social asset.  Surplus of free time will be used for creativity, insight and knowledge that is harnessed for communal projects. 

diamond shapeThe acceleration of change may accelerate the resistance to change.   Changes in things like technology and social structure can provoke people to retreat into rigid belief systems and/or aggressive and dysfunctional behavior.  Apathy about the future is also a potential outcome.

diamond shapeInternet access and how it is controlled is the most important free speech issue of our time. 

diamond shapeThe US rich—poor gap is a disaster, likely peaking around 2020.  At the end of this decade, if wealth is in the hands of too few Americans and out of control debt rsign on trends of futureemains, the political upheaval could be quite dramatic.

diamond shapeSoftware that measures stress in voices can aid crisis centers and the military.

diamond shapeRobots are being developed to play soccer.  If the engineers are successful the application could have practical use in search and rescue operations and in doing household type work.  Interesting that soccer was the sport chosen to get robots that are close to human movement!  Does the NFL know this?

diamond shapeWater shortages will become more problematic.  Water shortages are a problem now, but will get worse without drastic moves to increase efficiency.

diamond shapeCities will use cell phones and computer kiosks for citizens to provide data that could improve services.  The United Kingdom already has such a program.  The data is supplied to city planners and the public via Web sites.

diamond shapeLearning will become more social and game-based and might replace textbooks.

The Futurist
Pgs 2-9

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