The focus of this blog post is not how to engage volunteers, but how they are able to positively affect nonprofits. MAVA has an excellent toolkit about how to recruit and support job-seeking volunteers. Now that we got that out of the way, let us continue on.
Nonprofits have had to find new and inventive ways to meet the obligations of their surrounding community with the budget deficit hanging like a black cloud over people’s heads. Financial support may be part of a successful nonprofit, but people physically helping at nonprofit is the other half of the puzzle. With all industries laying off workers and non-profits looking for ways to maximize their budgets, this situation creates a collaborative environment that can benefit each other and all people involved. Professionals who have been laid off are turning into one of the most helpful assets to nonprofits during this turbulent time.
Close to half of nonprofits ran a deficit in the 2009 operating year, 48% of Minnesotan nonprofits, according to Minnesota Nonprofit Economy Report from the Minnesota Council on Nonprofits. Yet, they were employing one out of every nine working professionals that same year. Concurrently, some ofMinnesota’s largest companies like Delta, BAE systems and Snyder Stores have laid off over 2,500 employees just in the 2010 fiscal year. With the nonprofit sector’s increasing need for assistance and the economy’s downsizing, these two variables can work together in ensuring that out of work professionals keep up their skills and expand their knowledge into a new field.
I am a research and numbers kind of girl: quantifiable results, reasonable calculations and measurable information from reputable sources put a smile on my face and a spring in my step, especially positive figures. Kat Southard mentioned before on this blog the statistics from the Volunteering inAmericawebsite, and I would like to expand upon this topic. Minnesotan volunteers have contributed $3.7 billion dollars of volunteer time from 2008 to 2010. To put this number into perspective, Twitter was worth $3.7 billion at the end of 2010, so the volunteering population ofMinnesotacontributed the amount of money to run a worldwide social networking service. On a small-scale, the average amount of money each volunteer hour is worth in Minnesota is $21.36 per hour (Independent Sector), and the annual amount of time a person volunteers in the Twin Cities is 40.8 hours or one week’s worth of work (Volunteering in America). Hypothetically:
$21.36 per hour x 40.8 hours per year = $871.488 per year
While the Volunteering inAmericasurvey is comprehensive, it does not have statistics particular to any type of volunteer. I would like to note that ANY nonprofit would be happy to have $871.49 put back into their organization.
Besides the cost factor, volunteering in local communities keeps talent in Minnesota. The government shut down this past summer was a wakeup call for the public sector and forced people to reevaluate their occupation. Some of the 22,000 people affected have spoken of moving to other areas outside of Minnesota for a more secure environment in order to avoid another government shut down(Click here to read the article). Minnesota has been proud of its numerous accomplishments in technology, business, environment and living standards, but this trend may discontinue if its valuable workforce flees to other states for jobs. A brain drain, an exodus of highly skilled workers, would not only hurt Minnesota’s economy but a lost investment in talent. By offering highly skilled volunteering positions, nonprofits challenge and engage this key group of individuals that strengthen their ties to the local community. Therefore, this action ensures that there is a greater possibility that these people will stay in the area. Volunteering, with or without a job, keeps an individual involved with social activities, local concerns and their fellow neighborhood members.
The most important aspect of this entire situation is that volunteering gives nonprofits the means to demonstrate their work to people who may not understand our love of community service. The best way to have a person outside the sector see the culture of nonprofits is to work alongside the nonprofit people. However, retaining talent inMinnesota, utilizing an idle workforce and supporting the community are nice bonuses too.
Community Initiatives Coordinator
United Way of Olmsted County