Archive for December, 2009

Volunteer Activity: Top U.S. Cities and States

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

volunteer_shirtThe top ten rated U.S. cites for volunteering are: Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; Seattle, WA; Kansas City, MO; Columbus, OH; Oklahoma City, OK; Hartford, CT; Denver, CO; and Washington, DC.

Numbers range from 38.4% of all residents volunteering in Minneapolis-St. Paul (908,900 volunteers) to 30.9% of residents (1.3 million volunteers) in Washington.

The top ten rated US states for volunteering are: Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Alaska, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Vermont, and North Dakota.

Here’s how the state numbers break down: from Utah, with an average annual volunteer rate of 43.5% and 817,200 volunteers to North Dakota, with an average volunteer rate of 35% and 174,800 volunteers.

The top activities performed by volunteers were fundraising, collecting and distributing food, general labor, tutoring and teaching, mentoring youth, and management.

The bottom five states? Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Nevada, and New York. Their numbers range from 20.9% to 18.7% of their residents volunteering.

National trends show 60.8 million volunteers, for a rate of 26.2%. The total number of hours volunteered is estimated at 8.1 billion. The places with the highest number of volunteers are religious organizations (35.7%) and educational or youth service organizations (26.7%).

As the economy continues its climb out of recession, volunteers will continue to serve a vital role in the work and success of U.S. non profit organizations.

Source: Volunteering In America

Volunteering Keeps One Younger

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

older-volunteersVolunteering appears to prove the saying, “’tis better to give than to receive.” While most volunteers’ intentions are solely to help others, researchers say that the benefits to the volunteers are also numerous.

Studies indicate a high correlation between health and volunteering. Volunteers have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of late-life depression than individuals who do not volunteer.

Older volunteers seem to receive the most benefit, likely because they are more likely to suffer health problems in the first place. Volunteering provides physical and social activity, as well as a sense of purpose. This is imperative to seniors, because those aspects of their lives tend to wane as we age. And the more one volunteers, the higher the level of benefit!

This is important to non profit managers and volunteer recruiters because the Baby Boomer generation is now reaching retirement age. This group is all about staying healthy and living a full life. So, advertising the fact that volunteering has numerous benefits could help in recruiting volunteers—especially in the Baby Boomer group.

The study even showed that chronic pain sufferers experienced lower levels of pain and depression when they began to serve as peer volunteers for other chronic pain sufferers.

Better health leads to higher rates of volunteerism; volunteering leads to better health. The cycle continues and sustains itself—good news for non profit organizations that need volunteers!

The study also indicates that the benefits of volunteering do not start to kick in until a threshold of one to two hours per week is reached. So, tout the health benefits of volunteering in your outreach efforts—and be ready for your phone to start ringing!

Ideas for Younger Volunteers

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

kids who volunteerTap into a group you might not have considered for volunteers: kids! Many parents and guardians are encouraging their children to volunteer during their downtime. More and more high schools require volunteer projects to graduate. Community giving days and National Volunteer Week focus attention on nonprofits. Is yours ready to take advantage of the increase in younger volunteers?

Nearly any charity can use the skills and time of young people. Certainly, if your nonprofit’s mission is driving seniors to appointments or delivering furniture to the needy, you won’t naturally think of using kids to perform your routine tasks. But thinking outside the box can spur ideas to involve kids. And the more ways you find to teach kids to give of themselves, the more ways your nonprofit can benefit.

What are some ways younger people can help? Basic tasks are best for the smallest children. Older kids can take on more responsibility. Here are a few ideas:

Sorting: most kids can handle sorting at an early age. Do you have donations from a clothing or coat drive sitting in piles? Ask kids to group them in whatever way you need: size, season, gender. Look around your offices and warehouse areas to see what needs organizaing, and have a kid sort it out for you.

Boxing: Kids can handle boxing up food from a food drive, supplies for the homeless shelter, or even stacks of paperwork for year-end storage.

Light cleaning: Put a broom in a child’s hand and let him or her go to it. Have a youngster clean the glass door to your facility. Hand a kid a dust cloth and ask them to wipe down the common areas of your office. Keep things safe: no lifting, ladders, or use of chemical cleaners. Kids might not do as thorough a job as you would like—but the idea is to encourage them to give of their time and use up some energy.

Serving clients: kids can bring smiles to your clientele and other volunteers, just by offering to help. Older kids can help serve meals; baking cookies is a great way to involve the little ones.

Reading: if your charity serves youth, perhaps you can arrange for older kids to read to groups of your kids. Conversely, older folks enjoy visits and reading from kids, too.

Everyone benefits when young people catch the volunteer bug. And just knowing they’ve helped out can be a huge boost to a kid’s confidence. You never know how many lives you can change by reaching out to younger volunteers!

Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with background checks.

How to Find More Volunteers

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

hands-in-the-air on volunteer screening blogGot volunteers? Great! Need volunteers? Here’s where to find them:

Word-of-mouth: the oldest way to communicate a need is still viable. Let your friends and family know that you need volunteers. Ask them to spread the word. You never know whom they will see in a day, so your perfect volunteer might just be waiting to hear that they are needed.

Social media: SM is the new word-of-mouth. Word spreads online much faster, to larger groups, than ever before. People are plugged in, online, and receiving information almost 24 hours a day. Why not take advantage of this accessible audience? Here are two ways to get on the SM bandwagon—and remember, it’s not a fad, and it’s not going away!

1. Facebook: If your nonprofit has not set up a Facebook page yet, put that on your to-do list. Facebook has 350 million users—in fact, if Facebook were a country, it would be the 4th largest in the world! You are missing out on a great deal of free exposure for your charity if it has no Facebook presence. Go here and get started!

2. Twitter: More and more nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are on twitter. Why? Because it is one of the easiest ways to keep in touch with your supporters, the community, and potential volunteers. Twitter can also help you connect to resources, other NPOs and tons of current, useful information—about politics, the economy, fundraising, management, and scores of more topics. Start a twitter account for your charity, search for people who have similar interests, find the twitter lists that your community members are on, and you’ll soon have a nice network of followers and resources delivered to your desktop all day, every day!

Craigslist: Craigslist is free. Craigslist is visited by hundreds or thousands of people in your community every day. A simple “volunteers needed” ad is all you need to reach out to potential volunteers. And if you’re conducting background screening on your volunteers, you won’t need to worry about the type of person who answers an online ad.

If your NPO needs new volunteers, these quick, easy and FREE tips just might be the best way to find them!

Remember to screen volunteers properly to protect your staff, other volunteers, and clients.

Featured Corporate Volunteer Program: Honda

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

honda-logo on volunteer screening blogHonda’s commitment to its communities is reflected in the large numbers of employees (associates) who volunteer to serve their fellow citizens. The company says it “believes that volunteering shows the power of the human spirit and proves that by working together, we can build a better world.”

Honda’s Community Action Team (CAT) serves as the face of American Honda to the community. Every November, Southern California families in need receive a box with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal through Honda’s Corporate Community Relations Department and CAT’s Thanksgiving in a Box project. Honda associates personally collect the food and assemble the boxes, which are distributed to families from several youth and family services nonprofit organizations.

southern-ca-sp-olympicaThe Special Olympics of Southern California and the Madrona Marsh Preserve also benefit from CAT activities. Honda associates volunteer and assist at the Special Olympics gymnastics event—which has been sponsored by American Honda for years. And American Honda volunteers help with restoration work at the Preserve – home to rare plants and animals in Torrance, CA. Each year associates assist with planting, weeding, and picking up trash on Habitat Restoration Day.

Honda Heroes rewards associates, spouses and retirees who support nonprofits in their communities. Volunteer hours are rewarded with “Dollars for Doers” grants. More than 198,000 hours volunteered by Honda associates has resulted in grants totaling more than $400,000 since 1995!

National programs sponsored by Honda America include Nation Youth Project Using Minibikes (NYPUM), Ride for Kids for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, and Little League Baseball. The NYPUM helps disadvantaged kids from 10 to 18 by engaging them in fun and challenging activities with positive adult role models. The Ride for Kids helps children with brain tumors by linking motorcycle enthusiasts with fundraising events—and more than $34 million has been raised since 1984.

2008_llb_logo on volunteer screening blogFinally, kids all across America benefit from Honda’s dedication to Little League Baseball. Honda is the official sponsor of Little League Baseball and supplies the vehicles, creates an interactive display and gives out collectible pins at the LL World Series. Honda also contributes $100,000 annually to help create or renew baseball leagues in urban areas by helping find and build baseball diamonds and teaching parents how to run a league in their community.