National Volunteer Week is pretty exciting for us here at VolunteerMatch. While throughout the year we provide resources and training to help nonprofits like yours recruit, recognize and retain volunteers for your work, having a dedicated week all about volunteering allows us to identify the most valuable way to help you make the most of National Volunteer Week.
There’s something particularly special about this year’s event, though, occurring April 21-27. It’s as if we are at a unique moment in time, that all previous National Volunteer Weeks were just preparing us for this year, when we have an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen our relationships with existing volunteers and build connections to new ones.
What Makes This Year So Special?
1. Independent Sector recently released its annual estimation of the value of a volunteer’s hour – and at $22.14, it’s at its highest in at least 32 years. Of course, this is just an average – skilled volunteering, for example, has a much higher value for most organizations. While it’s difficult to truly quantify the impact volunteers have on an organization, it’s clear that their importance for nonprofits is continuing to rise.
2. Additionally, more than ever before, there are outstanding resources out there for those of us who dedicate our time and talent to managing volunteers. The CVA credential has become a respected standard for volunteer engagement professionals, while resources like the VolunteerMatch Learning Center and the Volunteering Resource Library on the IdeaEncore Network provide important informal training and skill-building opportunities.
3. As the nonprofit sector faces (and fights) a looming limitation on charitable deductions, we may start to see more people volunteering their time as an alternative to giving money. Over the course of the recession we saw companies shift their CSR focus more heavily to volunteering, and there’s no reason individuals wouldn’t use this strategy, as well. It’s important for nonprofit organizations to recognize the opportunity to help people find alternative ways to give back when giving money doesn’t work as well.
4. Finally, by now you’ve probably seen Dan Palotta’s TED talk that has been making some serious waves. In it Dan presents the social and fiscal elements that are keeping the nonprofit sector down, so to speak. What’s important to recognize, however, is that for all of those difficulties, volunteers are the force that keeps these nonprofits “up,” by allowing them to do their work and create impact despite a financial system that seems inherently stacked against them. There has never been a more important time to recognize the contribution of volunteers.
What Should We Do About It?
Now that we know why this year’s National Volunteer Week is special for us, how can we make sure it’s extra-special for our volunteers, too? Below are just a few ideas:
- Hand-written notes – They just never get old. Everyone loves to get a personal note thanking them for their specific contribution.
- Party! Invite other members of the community and their friends and family to make your volunteers really feel like do-good celebrities.
- More responsibility – Award their dedication by giving them the opportunity to play a bigger role in your organization’s work. This is a great way to say thanks and deepen their involvement at the same time.
- Tell their story – Write up a profile of each of your volunteers for your blog, newsletter or website. Share what makes them tick and the impact they’ve made in the community, so everyone else can appreciate them as much as you do.
- Let them tell your story – Give your volunteers a voice to talk about why they do what they do for you, whether in writing, in pictures or in a video. Not only is this great marketing, but it makes them feel as important as they are.
How will you make this National Volunteer Week extra-special for your volunteers? Tell us about it in the comments!
Graphic by adihrespati on Flickr.