What Does Volunteerism Look Like Around the World?

If you’re like me, you know how easy it is to get wrapped up in your individual, day-to-day life. With so many pressing and immediate tasks to take care of at our nonprofits, it’s hard to step away from our micro-worlds and see things on a global, interconnected scale – at least for some of us.

State of VolunteerismYet, that’s exactly what the United Nations’ report Transforming Governance: 2015 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report does.

Hear how volunteers in Bangladesh, Chile and more are organizing and gaining momentum, correcting injustices and changing their communities for the better. Watch a video of volunteers in action around the world.

And if you have time – at just shy of 100 pages, you will need time -, check out the full report on global volunteerism today. Here’s just an overview of what you’ll learn:

  • How volunteerism empowers marginalized groups in local communities.
  • The ways in which technology is improving volunteerism, on a global scale.
  • How volunteers are working side by side with national governments.

Have you read, or skimmed, the report? What’s the one piece of knowledge you’d like to share? Let us know by tweeting to @VolunteerMatch or commenting below.

Expert Snapshots for June

Expert Snapshots

At VolunteerMatch, we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and nonprofit management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. 

Here’s just a snapshot to get your June going:


Challenging What’s Possible with Pro Bono Service
Pro bono = unlimited potential. In this post, Points of Light CEO Tracy Hoover discusses her recent visit to the White House for a “change-making expo,” where she brought attention to the current breakthroughs and future possibilities of pro bono volunteerism. Drawing on case studies, such as IBM employee’s role in fighting Ebola, she shows that there’s many ways to think outside the box when it comes to using specialized skills for social good.

How to Manage Virtual Pro Bono
Speaking of pro bono potential, what about virtual pro bono volunteering? In this post, Taproot Foundation discusses tools to help you take pro bono online. While written for a corporate audience, the concrete tips Taproot offers spans sectors. Is your nonprofit engaging virtual pro bono volunteers? Share your experience in the comments below.

Websites for Better Volunteer Recruitment
When someone considers volunteering for your organization, what is likely the first thing they do? They check out your website. In this post from Volunteer Engagement expert Tobi Johnson, learn how to make sure your website is telling the right story to potential volunteers.

Tapping Experience for Impact: Engaging Older Volunteers
Older Americans Month just ended. But that doesn’t mean we should forget the potential older volunteers have to move our missions forward. In this post on United Way’s blog, you’ll see examples of how United Way successfully engages older volunteers. Have a volunteer opportunity that would be great for seniors? Don’t forget to mark the 55+ box when posting your opportunity on VolunteerMatch!

Follow us on Twitter for volunteer engagement news and trends throughout the month: @VolunteerMatch.

Expert Snapshots for May

Expert SnapshotsAt VolunteerMatch, we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and nonprofit management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. 

Here’s just a snapshot to keep your May going strong:


Better Board Engagement Starts With Better Board Recruitment
Let’s face it. Even your best board members aren’t going to stick around forever. So what can you do? Start planning now. This article from Nonprofit Hub Magazine offers suggestions and concrete tips for better board recruitment, including long-term strategy. My favorite piece of advice? Start by looking to your existing volunteer pool.

The Future of Virtual Volunteering? Deeper Relationships, Higher Impact
Jayne Cravens of Coyote Communications proclaims that microvolunteering is NOT the future of virtual volunteering. While it’s great for some, many volunteers are looking for more. In this blog post, she summarizes her chapter in the upcoming book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, and explains why you shouldn’t dismiss virtual volunteers who are looking for more than a “quickie volunteering experience.”

Technology and Today’s Volunteers
Is your online communication with volunteers one way? In other words, do you have one primary communication channel, or email blasts without encouraging feedback? According to volunteer engagement expert Tobi Johnson, it’s time to get up to speed. Check out this post from her blog, where she discusses why the landscape is changing, and what you can do to keep up.

Crowdfunded Campaigns for Nepal are Huge. Is That a Good Way to Give?
Crowdfunding has many forms. After the recent earthquake in Nepal, many individuals reached out to their friends, family and acquaintances to raise money for disaster-relief charities. This NPR article interviews NTEN’s Amy Sample Ward and Charity Navigator’s Sandra Miniutti (among others) about why crowdfunding campaigns reached a new high after this recent disaster, and whether or not it’s a good method for getting involved.

Expert Snapshots for April: Prospective, Online, and Pro Bono Volunteers

Expert SnapshotsAt VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and management, and we want to help you stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends. 

Here’s a snapshot to get your April going:

Waiting but Not Idle: How to Keep Potential Volunteers Engaged in Your Organization
One of the worst things you can say when a potential volunteer contacts you is… nothing. While it sounds easy enough to respond to each volunteer request, there are some real challenges that come with engaging prospective volunteers. This article from Charity Village explores those issues and offers actionable suggestions.

Online Volunteers: Don’t Ever Call Them Virtual
By calling volunteers who don’t come into your office “virtual,” are you inadvertently making them feeling less important than “real” volunteers? Virtual volunteering is on the rise, and for some nonprofits and volunteers, it’s becoming a norm. This article from The NonProfit Times delves deep into the world of virtual volunteering, and politely reminds us that we shouldn’t call these volunteers “virtual.”

Pro Bono Can Help Fill Nonprofit Resource Gaps
Nonprofits put a lot of emphasis on fundraising. But what about “resource raising?” This is the question posed by Elizabeth Hamburg, President and CEO of Taproot Foundation. Pro bono volunteers can “fill in the resource gaps”. In other words, these highly skilled volunteers can complete projects that nonprofits would otherwise have to pay a lot of money for. Read this article for more about how your nonprofit can benefit from engaging pro bono volunteers… and how the volunteers benefit as well!

Volunteer Onboarding [Free Webinar]
Volunteer engagement expert Tobi Johnson is hosting a free webinar on April 16, 2015 all about volunteer onboarding. She’ll cover the 5 Things to Remember When Welcoming New Volunteers. And bring your questions! After the webinar, stick around for an informal Q&A discussion.

Follow us on Twitter for news and trends throughout the month: @VolunteerMatch.

How Nonprofits Can Turn 25% into 62%

boy holding butterfly in his hand

Getty Images by Dina Marie

If you haven’t spent time exploring the latest “Volunteering and Civic Life in America” report, released by the Corporation for National and Community Service and National Conference on Citizenship, you should – it’s pretty fun.

You can see statistics about volunteering rates in 2013 based on geography, demographics, and even cause area. How does your state or city rank vs. some of the most active volunteering areas in the country? How is the new “Generation Z” starting to emerge when it comes to volunteering? There are even pretty graphs and charts to help ease your way through all that data.

Some of the statistics might not seem so fun, though. For example, it’s great that 62.6 million Americans reported volunteering in 2013, but when you do the math…that’s only about 25%. Not necessarily encouraging for us as nonprofits, who always seem to be looking for more folks to help out, right?

VolunteerMatch president Greg Baldwin recently took a deep dive into this stat, so we won’t spend a ton of time worrying about it. Instead, let’s take a look at another one: more than 138 million Americans engaged in what the report calls “informal volunteering” in 2013.

Huh? What is this…informal volunteering? The report explains that it includes helping neighbors with such tasks as watching each other’s children, helping with shopping, or house sitting. Basically, these folks spent at least a bit of time, every once in a while, doing something for someone else.

Well, we can work with that!

You see, this number is proof, for those nay-sayers who might be wringing their hands and lamenting the low volunteering rate, that people WANT to help out. They help each other all the time! So why aren’t they turning those altruistic urges into volunteer time for your nonprofit?

What we’ve realized at VolunteerMatch, from our many, many years working in the volunteering field, is that the limiting factor in the volunteer rate is NOT the amount of people willing to help out. It’s the ability of nonprofits to engage those folks effectively. (That’s why, in the rippling wake of this past recession, we’re now seeing a drop in volunteer rate. Nonprofits are feeling the squeeze, and it has impacted their ability to build strong volunteer programs.)

If you’re frustrated by an inability to engage volunteers as efficiently (and as often) as you wish, start with these two important steps:

1. Ask them. A lot of them.

People are busy, and the world is a noisy place these days. You have to cast your net pretty wide and shout pretty loudly to be noticed. Websites like VolunteerMatch can help you reach many more potential volunteers with your opportunities, so go ahead and spend 5 minutes posting a listing right now.

2. Learn what to do with them.

Chances are, you didn’t go to school for volunteer management – and that’s just fine! There are a number of great resources to help you learn on the job, so your program can be stronger at attracting, managing and keeping great volunteers. Check out the free webinars in the VolunteerMatch Learning Center.

Don’t be discouraged by some of the data you’re seeing about volunteering. Instead, be inspired! And know that whatever the numbers say, you can count on VolunteerMatch to be there to help you engage the volunteers you really need for your nonprofit.

How does your organization encourage your community members to move from “informal” to “formal” volunteering?