Volunteering – Flexibility Needed
There’s an interesting article on the Chronicle of Philanthropy website about the importance of volunteering. The post is by Shirley Sagawa is the author of The American Way to Change: How National Service and Volunteers Are Transforming America, which will be released in May. [http://philanthropy.com/article/It-s-Time-to-Involve/65079/] I agree with the points she makes but I think what’s missing from this particular discussion is how our society really has three components: government, businesses, and non-profits.
Note: (If anyone would like my diagram of the non-profit sector, highlighting the similarities and differences, please send me an e-mail at BillHuddleston1@gmail dot com with “NP diagram” in the subject line. The blogging/commenting software doesn’t allow for graphics.)
Within the non-profit sector, one of its unique features is the degree to which it depends upon volunteer labor. While some of the volunteer labor comes directly from the non-profit sector, most of it comes from the government and business sectors. The non-profit sector accounts for about 9% of the U.S. economy, so the remaining sectors account for the other 91%. What’s critical for the future success is flexibility from the government and business sector regarding volunteers. Granted, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities that take place on weekends, or after hours, and that’s great. However, many other needs occur in the middle of the day, e.g. Meals on Wheels volunteers need to deliver the meals to their clients during the day. Another example are students who need individualized help with their school work, and students are a lot easier to reach during the day at their school, than at any other location.
What we as members of the non-profit sector need to do is to take the time to encourage flexibility in all aspects of volunteering, both when the non-profit sector uses them, as well as encouraging the business and government sectors to value volunteering during the day (for a few hours per week or month ). Volunteering has multiple benefits : to the clients/participants; for the volunteers themselves (leadership development, personal development, etc.; and for both the organization (happier employees) plus to our society at large.
The CFC Coach
P.S. The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the world’s largest workplace giving campaign, having generated more than $1 billion of unrestricted dollars to thousands of local, national and international non-profits over the past five years. What many people don’t realize is that it’s also the single largest employee volunteer effort in the United States, with more than 400,000 volunteers each fall helping raise millions of dollars for the CFC charities, while at the same time developing their own leadership skills.