For nonprofit organizations, few resources provide more value than volunteers. Many nonprofits would not be able to survive—let alone thrive—without the work of volunteers. But are nonprofits doing their best to recruit and leverage volunteers? Are they providing innovative opportunities and making it easier than ever for people to participate in the face of increasing competition for volunteer hours?
The report “Volunteering and Civic Life in America 2012” from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) provides key findings on volunteer participation across the nation. The data from this report offers nonprofit organizations key insights into volunteers—who they are, how often they participate, and what causes they support. In today’s blog, we look at a few key pieces of data from the report and provide some tips on how nonprofits can better reach and recruit volunteers.
Key Stats About the State of Volunteering
The results from the aforementioned report reveal both positives and negatives on the volunteer front. Here are some significant stats and facts about the state of volunteering in 2011—the most recent year for which data is available.
More Americans volunteered in 2011 than any year since 2005
64.3 million Americans volunteered at charities in 2011
Volunteers provided 7.9 billion hours of service
$171 billion was the total value of volunteer hours in 2011
1.5 million more people volunteered in 2011 than 2010
The volunteering rate increased nationwide by 0.5% to 26.8%
The average number of hours Americans volunteered dropped to 32.7 in 2011 (from 33.9 in 2010)
As a result of the drop, the total value dipped by $2 billion
Volunteer rates were higher in rural areas (27.7%) and suburban areas (27.5%) than urban areas (23.4%)
Religion, education and social services attracted a bigger share of volunteers than other causes
The 4 most popular volunteer service activities were:
#1 Fundraising or selling items to raise money (26.2%)
#2 Collecting, preparing, distributing or serving food (23.6%)
#3 Engaging in general labor or transportation (20.3%)
#4 Tutoring or teaching (18.2%)
Nearly 1 in 2 parents (46%) in their late 40s volunteered in 2011
Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) working mothers volunteered
The top 5 states for volunteering:
#1 Utah 40.9%
#2 Idaho 38.8%
#3 Iowa 38.4%
#4 Minnesota 38.0%
#5 South Dakota 36.8%
What the Data on Volunteering Can Teach Us
The first thing we can take away from these numbers is that Americans are ready and willing to volunteer. When they find a good cause that compels them—especially within their communities or following a major disaster—people will take action. With different organizations, it’s also important to identify individuals who are most apt to volunteer by demographic, geographic and other telling data points. By focusing on individuals more likely to (1) be compelled by your cause and (2) participate in volunteer activities, you can better build a bigger, better and more loyal volunteer force.
How to Attract and Recruit More Volunteers
With so many nonprofits, charities and philanthropies, the competition to recruit volunteers has heated up. People have more volunteer opportunities available to them than ever before. In order for organizations to maintain and retain their volunteer recruitment numbers, it’s important to continually develop new and innovative ways to reach and utilize volunteers. Here are three tips for reaching more volunteers:
Leverage Personal Connections
The best way to bring in new volunteers is through word of mouth. Empower and encourage your existing volunteers to reach out to friends and family and bring them on board. Perhaps even provide them a fun and easy way to do so.
Make Volunteering Easier
People want to volunteer to help, but they don’t necessarily want to go too far out their way to do it. Make it easy for people to volunteer. Give them volunteer opportunities that are as simple and convenient as possible to maximize participation.
Give People an Online Option
Don’t just focus on physical volunteering—incorporate digital volunteering. Providing individuals a way to volunteer online can help you get more people and new audiences involved (especially younger audiences). It’s also a great way to spread the word about your organization and increase brand awareness.
Looking for a better way to engage and activate volunteers? Learn how eleventy’s ONCORE system can help your nonprofit build stronger volunteer relationships and expand your donor base.