Jan 25, 2011
The following is a reprint of a post first published on March 23, 2010.
‘Volunteers Give More.’
If you’re like me, you saw this simple heading in the January 14, 2010 Chronicle of Philanthropy and thought ‘No big surprise here.’ The single paragraph that followed, however, packed a mean punch.
You see, the paragraph mentions just one key finding from a recent study on volunteering conducted by Harris Interactive for the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund: Americans who volunteer their time and talent to nonprofit organizations donate 10 times more on average – yes, 10 times more! – than those who don’t volunteer.
This nugget left me wanting more so I did a quick internet search which led me to the complete findings of the study. Here’s what really got my attention (and maybe you?):
‘The study found that the average amount of money donated to non-profits by Americans who have volunteered in the past 12 months is $2,593 annually, more than 10 times the average $230 donated by Americans who have never had a volunteering experience.’
Other findings from the study caught my attention – and surfaced some related questions you may want to consider if you are involved in any way with growing and sustaining a nonprofit organization:
Seven in 10 (72%) say supporting a cause they care about is among their top reasons to volunteer
Are you communicating the cause and/or vision of your ministry in a simple, inspiring way such that your champions – and those who know nothing about you or your work – want to learn more?
Two-thirds (67%) of Americans who have volunteered in the past 12 months say they generally make their financial donations to the same organizations where they volunteer
Are you coaching and challenging your volunteers to give of their treasure – in addition to their time? Hint: If your organization separates ‘donors’ and ‘volunteers’ into two distinct groups for purposes of communication, you have identified a problem to address.
Two-thirds (66%) believe "true philanthropy" includes the giving of both time and money
Do you have a variety of meaningful opportunities for transformation in different areas – such as serving, learning, spreading, or mentoring - which represent different levels of involvement to offer your champions? If you’re a follower of transformational giving, there’s no time for delay in the creation of your organizational PEO grid!
Almost one-third (31%) of the respondents say they are more likely to volunteer time given the recent economic downturn
Do you have a Signature Participation Project in place? This is a ‘come and see’ project for newcomers that, ideally, is unique to your ministry. It is intentionally designed with specific characteristics to leave them wanting to learn more about your cause. Could you invite several champions to spearhead the planning for such a project?
Almost half (47%) of those surveyed say volunteers today are more motivated by what they get from the experience than by what they can do for others
Have you taken the time to get to know your volunteers on a personal level? What are their passions? Their skills? What do they want to learn or experience by volunteering? Get to know something about the person before you assume s/he can – or wants - to tackle the 3 or 4 critical things on your To-Do list. It could make the difference between a long-term volunteer or a one-shot wonder.
What about you? Are there other key findings in this study that catch your attention? Do they surface any relevant questions about how your ministry – and other ministries – might engage its champions?
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