November 23, 2017

Establishing Outcome Measures for Volunteer Involvement

Establishing Outcome Measures for Volunteer Involvement

Executives develop strategic plans with goals and objectives for all organizational programs, projects, and services and should expect volunteers to work toward those just as employees do. But it is helpful to consider exactly what you expect volunteer involvement to accomplish in any period. There is no reason to let abounding gratitude for donated volunteer time restrain an organization from setting standards of achievement. In fact, volunteers usually prefer to have some way to assess their service contribution.

In developing initial and then ongoing goals and objectives, bigger is not always better. Having “more” volunteers this year than last year does not self-evidently mean better service delivery or greater impact. Some organizations would actually be better off cutting their volunteer corps in half and holding those remaining to higher standards! The number of volunteers needed is a strategy determined by expectations of productivity….

Recognize, too, that the body count of how many people are in your volunteer corps does not translate into a standard number of hours contributed. Fifty volunteers each giving two hours a month provide the same output as five volunteers who can give twenty hours. The amount of effort necessary to recruit and support the larger number of volunteers is clearly much more intense, without the payback of more service. On the other hand, if your programmatic goal is community education, you may feel that getting fifty people to participate is more beneficial than just five. See? It depends.

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National Council on Citizenship Reports Civic Depression

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Although this study was released in August 2009, the information gleaned from this survey is as relevant as ever.

A study released in August 2009 by the National Council on Citizenship (NCOC) indicates that Americans began reducing their volunteer hours when the unemployment rate hit 9 to 10 percent.

According to David B. Smith, NCOC executive director, “Prior recessions have prompted an increase in volunteerism, but only to the point that the unemployment rate reaches a “threshold.”  Smith said, “People have moved from saying, ‘this is the time to rise up and help my community,’ to ‘times are really tough and I need to focus on making sure my family has what it needs to get through this hard time.'”

This study is  in contrast to information reported earlier in the year by the Corporation for National and Community Service which indicated a rise in volunteerism.

Smith said, “Growing need usually encourages more engagement. But when economic pressures on individuals and organization become too great, people turn inward.”

  • 72% of individuals surveyed said that they cut back on time spent volunteering.
  • 66% said that people are responding to the current economic downturn by looking out for themselves.
  • 19% said people around them are responding to the recession by helping each other more.

The economic crisis has triggered civic foreclosure,” said Michael Weiser, NCoC Chairman, “The good heart of Americans is still very evident, though, as they refocus on basic needs.” Even though they are disproportionately affected by the economic downturn, low-income Americans are still finding ways to give back. Thirty-nine percent of individuals with an income less than $50,000 reported helping others by providing food or shelter, compared to 27% of Americans with a higher income.
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Seventy-nine million boomers will change the world again

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Changing the world is not an easy assignment – but baby boomers did it once and they’ll do it again.

They tackled civil rights and women’s rights and ushered the country into the digital age of communication and entertainment media. They demanded better health care and more efficient automobiles. They worked alone and worked together to influence both their neighbors and their political leaders. Their list of achievements over the past 60-plus years is undeniably remarkable.

The boomer generation has “never just migrated through stages of life,” says Ken Dychtwald, a specialist on aging. “They always transformed them as they went . . . boomers are not going to grow old like any generations we’ve ever seen.”

And now this cohort of baby boomers – this largest of all generations, born between 1946 and 1964 inclusively – is redefining what retirement means and is on the verge of changing the world again through active volunteerism. Sometimes referred to as the “Senior Tsunami,” this 79 million-member group will begin turning 65 in 2011 and while many now must work longer than expected, large numbers are still likely to commence rolling in waves out of the work force. This powerful tsunami will continue through 2029 and beyond.

Not content to sit on their laurels
Thankfully, the boomer generation is a generation with heart, a generation that is already stepping up, recognizing that they can leave the world a better place for their children and grandchildren. It’s a strong and healthy group with a passion for helping others. Demographers predict the boomers will live longer lives and remain in better physical condition than any predecessor generation.

So, for many, knitting afghans and raising roses will not suffice. Volunteering will become the pathway of choice for many boomers. It will provide a way for them to maintain a social network with people who express their values in similar ways. Some volunteer experiences will also offer an element of adventure – something many boomers desire – without being unsafe or disorganized.
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Why Volunteers Stop Serving

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Introduction

In spite of the economic downturn, many individuals continue to serve in their communities–helping their neighbors and organizing service projects.

In  2008, 61.8 million adults donated approximately 8 billion hours of time, and yet, over one-third of these individuals (35.5%) stopped volunteering and did not serve with any organization the following year.  This high rate of volunteer turnover has forced nonprofits to focus on replacing volunteers instead of maximizing impact and building organizational capacity.

A July 2009 report titled Pathways to Service posted on Volunteering In America identified five barriers that may keep individuals from volunteering or returning to service.

Key Findings

1.  Personal invitations to serve are more appealing to prospective volunteers.

Many individuals said they had never volunteered because they had never been asked. These same non-volunteers also said that if they were asked, they would be open to volunteering.

Organizations need to address this misconception in order to effectively recruit new volunteers.  Having existing volunteers share their stories can help non-volunteers see that they are just like those who serve.
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