Often, I forget about National Volunteer Week. I never mean to, but it nevertheless sneaks up on me year after year… but not this year. In January, AmeriCorps and the U.S. Census Bureau released a report that illustrated a smaller share of the American population is volunteering now than it did two decades ago. Additionally, we are devoting fewer hours to these activities. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to check it out by clicking here.
Talking to NAWA members. I’ve heard many stories about pandemic-related volunteer declines with very slow recovery. Meanwhile, volunteers talk about never being asked, not wanting to volunteer, and facing time restrictions because of family obligations, work, or health reasons.
It’s easy to take volunteers for granted even when they serve as the lifeblood of an organization. According to a study from Independent Sector, the current estimated national value of each volunteer hour is $29.95. They are essential for getting important work done in shelters, hospitals, museums, food banks, schools… the list just goes on. But they also make our society better. We should never forget that an engaged citizenry serves as a demonstration of our democracy, and a vital element of strong communities.
In Democracy in America (1835), Alexis de Tocqueville observed that during his travels in America, he was astonished at how readily Americans were willing to form organizations, thus engaging in the “art of association.” It’s this culture of creating civic and private associations, which has turned private individuals into citizens for hundreds of years.
So, take a moment this month to ask yourself, how am I prioritizing my volunteers? Is it time to spring-clean your volunteer program and refresh the way you present your organization to volunteers? When did you last collect testimonials? When did you last say thank you?
Stuck on how to get started? NAWA has resources to support your team as you learn how to develop, grow, and scale your volunteer program so you can continue to make an impact and meet the needs of your community. Just click on the links below to start your journey.