Putting aside volunteerism for whatever motivation or non-profit perception, the latest Stanford Social Innovation Review highlights the “New Volunteer Workforce” in this article. One thing I want to emphasize is that volunteering is deeply rewarding and not for the faint of heart. While paid non-profit professionals have justifiable issues with the outside perception of the non-profit world in the context of professionalism and the fact that it is “real” work just in another sector, this should not in any way devalue or detract from the work that the nation’s volunteers do everyday. This is something that the newly unemployed should consider as they ponder whether volunteer work is right for them or not.
A recent BLS report revealed that in Sept 2007-Sept 2008, 61.8 million people volunteered or 26.4% of the U.S. population volunteered for an organization. A lot of work that non-profits do, couldn’t be done without volunteers. For example, CAP has one of the largest VITA sites in the nation and has a core of more than 100 deeply committed volunteers that range from engineers to accountants. Many of us that work for CAP also volunteer outside of work in the broader community. Micahvolunteers with the Red Cross, I volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and Monica volunteers with Iron Gate. The Corporation for National and Community Service has terrific research on their website on the benefits and trends of volunteering. I would encourage anyone employed or unemployed to become a volunteer.