Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    December 14, 2008

    The Value of A Volunteer

    Recently, my mother and I spent a morning volunteering a very small local nonprofit. With us that morning, were half a dozen high school girls, fulfilling their mandatory volunteering requirements. When I was in high school, I was required to volunteer for 60 hours during my four years in order to receive my diploma. These girls, at a private all girls school, have to do 30 hours in their senior year alone.

    Not all high school programs require volunteering, and Google "High School Mandatory Volunteering" and turns out there is quite the debate on the Internet about it. Should young people be "forced" to do good? Does it build character or resentment? Is it even constitutional?

    Regardless of whether one is for or against, the truth is that by the time many of younger people graduate high school, they have experienced giving their time for free in some way. If it's not mandatory requirements, then perhaps it is drives for their sports teams, cookie sales for various organization and who knows what else.

    In a recent post I wrote that young people's willingness and ability to give their time to an organization may be an underutilized asset, one that may come in very handy in these difficult economic times.

    In a comment to that post, someone asked a great point about volunteers: it can take so much time to get them trained and organized, mightn't it be easier to just higher someone who has experience to get the job done? What about the fickleness of volunteers? You spend all this time getting them trained, and then they don't come back?

    These are all valid questions that organizations ask themselves. Now, I have to admit that volunteers are not my area of expertise, so here are just a few thoughts from personal experience about why I think recruiting volunteers, even with the extra effort and headaches, is always worth it:
    1. Relationship building. The time spent developing volunteers, training them, introducing them to your organization builds a relationship. It's true, that right now, I might only be able to give you my time, but make me feel like that is as important to your organization as my wallet, and when I have money, you'll be at the front of the line for my giving.
    2. Word-of-Mouth: What am I doing this Saturday? Why I am volunteering at XYZ. And I don't feel like doing it by myself. So why don't I recruit my boyfriend, mother, friend, co-worker to go with me. It's free marketing.
    3. Reach: Look at what Obama's army was able to do for him. Your paid staff can only be in some many places at once. They can only have so many great ideas. The more the merrier. Nough Said.

    No comments: