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"The New Volunteer Workforce" - Report

15 December 2008 at 2:42 pm
Staff Reporter
Not for Profits rely heavily on volunteers but most CEO's do a poor job of managing them accord to US experts.

Staff Reporter | 15 December 2008 at 2:42 pm


"The New Volunteer Workforce" - Report
15 December 2008 at 2:42 pm

Not for Profits rely heavily on volunteers but most CEO’s do a poor job of managing them accord to US experts.

And as a result more than one-third of those who volunteer in one year do note donate their time the next year – to any Not for Profit .

The claim comes in a newly published report in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

The researchers say that to remedy this situation, NFP leaders must develop a more strategic approach to managing this overlooked and underdeveloped talent pool.

They say there is some good news in all this – there is a wave of retiring baby boomers and energetic young people ready to fill the gap.

The report says most Not for Profits are losing staggering numbers of volunteers every year. Of the 61.2 million American people who volunteered in 2006, 21.7 million—more than one-third—did not donate any time to a charitable cause the following year.

Why are volunteers leaving?

Failing to Recognize Volunteers’ Contributions. NFPs need to recognise volunteers both through an organisational culture that values them and through specific appreciation ceremonies and events. In their annual reports, most NFPs list all individual donors categorised by the amount of money they have donated.

Very few, however, do the same for people who donate their time. Naming individual volunteers with the number of hours they have contributed (and perhaps the dollar value) is one way to demonstrate a culture that values volunteers.

Not Measuring the Value of Volunteers. Most NFPs do not measure the dollar value that volunteers provide to their organisation. This reflects the lack of seriousness with which many organisations view volunteers and tends to compound the problem. If NFP leaders had hard data demonstrating the value of volunteers
they would be more likely to invest more time and money in developing volunteer talent.

Failing to Train and Invest in Volunteers and Staff. Volunteers need training to understand the organisations with which they are working, and employees need to be trained to work with volunteers. NFPs rarely invest substantial amounts of time or money in volunteer recruiters and managers.

Failing to Provide Strong Leadership. Most NFP leaders are simply not taking the time to develop or support volunteer talent adequately—resulting in a poor or bland experience that leads to an unmotivated volunteer who has little reason to return. Most leaders do not place a high value on volunteer talent. If they did, they would dedicate more resources to the task—not assign it to a receptionist.

The Report says the good news is that there is a surge in professional people interested in putting their skills to good use creates a tremendous opportunity for Not for Profits.

However it says the sector can’t squander that opportunity by assigning these volunteers to nice, but non-mission-critical work. Social entrepreneurs, NFP executives, and other public service leaders need to modernise their understanding of the value of unpaid work and embrace volunteer talent of all ages as an important way to fulfil their mission.

A new wave of volunteer talent is building. Some NFP leaders will take advantage of this opportunity and exponentially grow their impact; the rest will be left behind trying to make do the old way.

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