Archive for the ‘Volunteer Trends’ Category

New Study Says Volunteers are More Likely to Land a Job

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkEven though the economy is on the mend, it’s still a tough job market out there. But a recent report contains news that might make your volunteers feel better about their prospects—and help you recruit more talented volunteers, too.

The report was published by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and it provides evidence of an association between volunteering and employment. In fact, it states that unemployed individuals who volunteer over the next year have a 27% higher chance of being employed at the end of the year than non-volunteers.

Interestingly, factors such as age, gender, geographical location, ethnicity and job market conditions did not change the odds.

The CNCS used over 10 years of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and analyzed more than 70,000 people aged 16 and over. Their volunteering and employment records were studied over two years. The 27% increase in employment odds was stable over each year of the study, despite varying employment rates.

The research suggests that volunteering may provide a job-hunting advantage, regardless of the hiring conditions at the time.

Individuals without a high school diploma and those who live in rural areas saw even higher increases in the odds of landing jobs (51% and 55%, respectively). This suggests that those with limited skills or networking opportunities gain even more advantage when they volunteer.

Volunteering has long been seen as a way to enhance social connections, professional contacts, skills and experience. It can also be a route into a paying position with the nonprofit organization. Even the Department of Labor issued guidelines last year that volunteering can help unemployed people enhance their resumes and develop new skills. The agency encouraged state workforce offices to promote volunteering by those receiving unemployment benefits.

If you’re looking for quality volunteers, encourage those who are unemployed to apply with your organization. You may both benefit!

Can you trust every person who volunteers for your agency? Conduct background checks on all volunteers. Rely on for your volunteer screening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.

The Reasons For Volunteering Are Changing

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

People used to volunteer out of a sense of moral obligation; however, that seems to have changed over the years. Some volunteers are repaying a kindness done to them or a family member; others remember a positive experience from childhood and strive to make that same difference to another child. Still others want to improve their professional skills, meet people or just fill their spare time.

And with time is so limited, these days, volunteers are looking for more meaning in their volunteer experience. People are more distant from each other; they connect in online social networks, but don’t always have trusted relationships or a sense of belonging to a community.

Volunteering is a way to form those real relationships. And volunteer managers need to recognize this new reality, promote their organization’s ability to bring people together and let volunteers shape their own experience that will work for them.

How to you draw in people who are looking for solid relationships? By establishing a little one-on-one time. Ask potential volunteers for a cup of coffee. Or ask small groups of two or three for their help in brainstorming ways for new volunteers to get involved with your organization.

Attract volunteers who want connection by providing it. Tap into the passions people have for a good cause. Share your mission and ask for their involvement.

Volunteering Trending Up in the United States

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

volunteer screening volunteer credit checkAccording to a new report by The Federal Agency for Service and Volunteering, indicates a trend toward more volunteers and more hours volunteered in the U.S. In 2011, 64.3 million Americans volunteered for a formal organization. That’s an increase of 1.5 million over 2010, for the highest level in five years.

Collectively, 7.85 billion hours were volunteered, with an economic value of $171 billion. All told, 26.8% of Americans volunteered in 2011.

Overwhelmingly, Americans volunteered in schools or with other youth organizations. Parents with children under 18 years of age volunteer in larger numbers, by fundraising, collecting and distributing food, mentoring youth, and tutoring or teaching.

The top states for the percentage of residents volunteering are:

  1. Utah (40.9%)
  2. Idaho (38.8%)
  3. Iowa (38.4%)
  4. Minnesota (38%)
  5. South Dakota (36.8%)

It looks like the good people of the Midwest are more active in volunteering than the rest of the nation. To find out how your state ranked, go here.

Another report out this week from the Peace Corps lists the top 10 home states of Peace Corps volunteers:

  1. California (1,084)
  2. New York (448)
  3. Texas (381)
  4. Washington (378)
  5. Illinois (352)
  6. Florida (351)
  7. Pennsylvania (330)
  8. Michigan (316)
  9. Virginia (303)
  10. Ohio (291)

However, in terms of per-capita volunteers, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Oregon, Washington, New Hampshire, Colorado, Montana, Maine, Minnesota and Idaho are the top 10 states.

If you’re in charge of volunteers who work with children, the elderly, at-risk populations or the public, be sure to conduct volunteer screening. Find out who your volunteers really are, whether they are sex offenders, have criminal backgrounds or are a risk to your organization and clients.

More Volunteers Assist the Aged

Friday, July 6th, 2012, volunteer background checkAs the elderly population increases in the U.S. and around the world, services to assist seniors continue to grow in demand. Senior citizens who wish to remain in their own homes can get help with meal preparation or transportation to doctor’s appointments. They can get rides to the grocery store or have their yard work and housecleaning taken care of. Or, they may just have face-to-face or telephone check ins to make sure they’re managing okay.

Often, these services are lifelines for seniors, and make the difference between the ability to remain at home and going into assisted living. Many of these services are provided by federal, state and local agencies. Private for-profit companies provide other services. And increasingly, senior services are provided by nonprofit organizations with volunteer labor.

One couple, both in their 70s, were unable to drive to their frequent medical appointments. With no relatives living nearby, they faced a difficult choice—until a local community outreach organization sent volunteers to pick them up, take them to the doctor and then deliver them back home. Another needs help with keeping their home clean. Volunteers who come to clean can also check up on the elderly and report on any concerns for follow-up by appropriate agencies.

Matching volunteers with seniors is an important aspect of the service. Orientation and training sessions for new volunteers are vital to help them learn about the aging process. Volunteers must also be carefully screened, undergoing background checks before having any contact with vulnerable populations.

Many senior service organizations are experiencing an aging of their volunteers, as well. Recruiting new volunteers is an ongoing challenge. Fortunately, the growing number of retiring baby boomers looking for meaningful volunteer work should help to boost the numbers of willing volunteers.

A growing population of elderly people who need help will continue to provide volunteer opportunities long into the future—for people of all ages.

Facebook Aims to Increase Organ Donations

Friday, May 11th, 2012

volunteer screening, pre-screening volunteersOrgan donation centers across the country have seen a big spike in their numbers of volunteers lately. Why? Because Facebook made it easy.

Recently, Facebook partnered with the nonprofit group Donate Life America to start a new initiative that allows users to add their organ donor status to their profiles. And it goes one step further, by connecting interested parties to local registries to sign up online.

With 900 million members, this has the potential to be one of the largest volunteer organ donation campaigns ever. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, said he was inspired by natural disasters like the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, as well as by the social network’s ability to connect people.

He also credited his girlfriend, who is studying to become a pediatrician. Her experiences with sick children, many saved by organ donations, moved Zuckerberg to work with Donate Life America, a national organization for local groups that are working to increase the number of registered donors.

The organization says that nearly 114,000 people currently need lifesaving organ transplants. According to the U.S. Department of Health, more than 7,000 people die each year, awaiting them. In addition, thousands more need corneal transplants to restore their sight and help them live normal lives.

Only 43% of U.S. adults have signed up to be organ donors. People often think it’s a good idea, but never quite get around to taking the next step. But every day, millions of Facebook users log in and update their status. Updating their organ donation status has become just as easy. Plus, it opens people to the conversation about organ donation. And as any non-profit organization knows, awareness is half the battle when you’re looking for donors.

Nonprofits Tapping Baby Boomers’ Talents

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

volunteerscreeningblogNonprofit organizations across the country are looking to a huge resource to fill their needs and better serve their communities: retiring baby boomers. Numbering around 77 million, the baby boomer generation is well educated and talented, and many are looking for ways to contribute their skills and experience to help local schools, service organizations and soup kitchens.

Baby boomers are in better shape than any previous generation of retirees, too. Tapping into this healthy resource of human capital could change the face of charities from coast to coast.

So what do volunteer managers need to do to attract the talents of baby boomers?

  • Offer flexibility, such as nontraditional hours or projects that can be done at home.
  • Offer a variety of opportunities that leverage the unique skills and talents of this age group. Rather than having a baby boomer volunteer sit at a reception desk, ask them to edit a newsletter or update the organization’s website.

What types of work do baby boomers typically volunteer for?

  • Helping at food banks: logistics, packing, serving, database management.
  • Helping low-income people and elderly prepare and file tax returns.
  • Coordinating services for veterans and their families.
  • Tutoring, teaching ESL classes and literacy work.

The percentage of baby boomers volunteering their time is declining slightly. While about 33.5% of this age group volunteered in 2003, only 28.8% did so in 2010. The decrease could be because boomers are getting older. Others are working longer, as a result of the economic downturn. Delaying retirement cuts into volunteer time.

Think about how your organization could benefit from a few good baby boomers—and start recruiting new volunteers!

Budget-Crunching Leads Cities to Count on Volunteers

Friday, April 27th, 2012

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkIn Chicago-area suburbs, volunteers are now filling positions that used to be held by municipal employees. From painting buildings to installing computers, and even taking fingerprints at the police station, non-paid workers are helping out in ways that would have been unimaginable before the economic downturn.

In Jacksonville, Fla., more than 500 volunteers work in a variety of city government offices, while in Hampton, Va., staff positions are being filled by student volunteers. Across the country, communities are turning to volunteers to help make ends meet.

The solution offers benefits to the volunteers, too. They gain real-world experience, new skills, and work references to add to their resumes. And municipalities are able to continue providing much-needed services to their communities that would otherwise have been cut.

Volunteer workers are free, but that doesn’t mean they are fully qualified for the jobs they do. And they’re not always as committed to the job as paid workers are. There are no penalties for not performing, and little incentive to go the extra mile. A city clerk said that a volunteer, who worked nine to 12 hours a week answering the phone and filing records, was a huge asset, but didn’t want to stay long. “She got bored and went home,” he said.

A representative of a local public worker labor union warned that evidence doesn’t support volunteers as long-term solutions, saying they won’t likely maintain essential services over time. “It is very difficult to screen volunteers for competence and integrity, and even harder to ensure accountability,” he said. The labor union is also opposed to laying off workers and eliminating middle-class jobs.

Others find that volunteers often lack proper training, professionalism and reliability, which could lead to errors—and make cities and towns more vulnerable to lawsuits. To avoid that problem, some municipalities place volunteers only in non-sensitive roles, while fully screening volunteers for criminal records and credit history.

Still, volunteers working in libraries, police departments, mayors’ offices and other city and town service providers are a reflection of a new reality. Budget crunches have forced municipalities to cut workers, and citizens still need services.

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

New App + Social Media = Spreading the Word About Volunteerism

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkA new iPhone app is not only helping spread the word about volunteerism, but also helping reward volunteers for their service. Developed in Vermont by Cabot Co-op and its partners, the app, called Reward Volunteers, encourages volunteers to tell others about their volunteer experiences on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

Volunteers can log their time in service, to earn rewards for themselves and money for the organizations they care about. The more hours logged, plus the more “likes” and comments collected on social networks, the better the chance to win cash and prizes, including a cruise.

This app is an example of how one non-profit thought a little differently, and created a fun, easy and effective way to engage with its volunteers. Since people post about everything in their lives on Facebook, why not leverage that activity to promote volunteerism and your organization’s mission?

It’s true that some volunteers are not motivated by what they might see as bragging about their volunteer activities. But when spreading the word about volunteerism, and sharing the causes they are passionate about can increase participation and support, it may be time to be less modest and more boastful.

How can you use this idea in your organization? Perhaps you have digital media companies in your area that would be willing to donate their time to develop a similar app for your volunteers. Partner with other non-profits and local businesses to encourage participation, increase awareness and volunteerism, and reward these hard-working people with nice prizes. With some initiative and outreach efforts, you’re sure to gain more volunteers and raise awareness for everyone.

Five Ways to Gear Up for Make a Difference Day

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Volunteer screening blog, volunteer background checkIs your non-profit organization ready for Make a Difference Day? It’s coming up soon—next Saturday, October 22. Here are five ways you can recruit volunteers and develop projects so that your community is ready to Make a Difference!

  1. Go to and download the Volunteer Leader toolkit. It’s full of great advice about assessing needs, and creating and managing community projects, from inception to completion.
  2. If you haven’t done so already, register your organization at It’s a powerful online service that can help you recruit volunteers online, manage their time and schedules, and contact volunteers quickly and easily through emails and reminders. Signing up takes just minutes—and it’s free! Then, when prospective volunteers are looking for opportunities (as many will do in the next week as word of Make a Difference Day spreads), your organization and projects will be featured, and volunteers can sign up to help.
  3. You might need to hurry on this one, but make an inquiry about possibility of writing a guest editorial for your local newspaper. If there is not enough time for an editorial, be sure to write a letter to the editor immediately.
  4. Turn to social media to spread the word. Update your organization’s Facebook page with volunteer opportunities. Or, create a volunteer event and invite all of your page supporters to participate. It only takes a few minutes and could really help you spread the word about Make a Difference Day! Be sure to post something new every day to stay in front of your support base. And boost your efforts through Twitter posts as well. Refer people to your Facebook page so they can sign up and get all the information they need to volunteer for your organization.
  5. Reach out to churches, schools, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, youth organizations, hospice care organizations, social service organizations and elder care homes to see what the needs are and to partner with potential groups of volunteers. Some worthy causes may have been overlooked, and would welcome your help. You may have more volunteers than you know what to do with next Saturday, so be sure to find something for them to do!

Millions of volunteers around the U.S. will be taking action on Saturday, October 22 for Make a Difference Day. Every project and every new volunteer can make a huge difference in a community, so get busy and make this a successful event for your organization!

Don’t skip the volunteer screening check when recruiting for Make a Difference Day. You can quickly and easily protect your clients and your organization by verifying the identity, checking the criminal history and reviewing the background of each volunteer applicant.

Remote Volunteers Can Help Fill the Gaps

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

background screening, volunteer background checkJust because a potential volunteer doesn’t have time to commute to your location doesn’t mean you should pass them by. Remote and web commuting can help your organization boost volunteer contributions without adding to greenhouse gases.

How does remote volunteering work? Just like remote working. According to Forrester research, about 62% of the information technology workforce works from multiple locations in the workweek, from home, the office, on the road, or other locations. Like these workers, when volunteers have all the tools needed to access documents, email, and calendars, they can help your organization, regardless of where they happen to be.

Of course, if your organization is a food bank and you need help unloading a truck, you’ll need on-the-ground volunteers. But there are dozens of other volunteer duties that don’t require physical presence:
• Entering supporter information into a database
• Soliciting donations for a fundraiser
• Accounting duties
• Paying bills
• Maintaining or updating the website
• Writing blog posts
• Creating a newsletter
• Updating Facebook and Twitter accounts
• Researching possible events
• Outreach to new supporters

Especially for sensitive functions, such as accounting and banking, your volunteer will need to be fully vetted, with a thorough background check and credit check. Most organizations would only trust a long-time volunteer or board officer with these types of duties. Just make sure they have secure access to online banking. It’s a good idea to supply a paper shredder and training in proper security. And, thorough screening is still necessary!

Giving volunteers the option to work remotely will enhance your ability to attract top talent and retain devoted volunteers who are experts in their fields.