December 7, 2022

Voluntourism Gains Popularity

Voluntourism Gains Popularity - Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard

School is almost over and if you’re like me, you are starting to count the days before summer vacation. What constitutes the perfect vacation is as varied as the individuals planning it, but most folks agree that it’s a time devoted to rest, relaxation, recreation, and travel.

Right now my 50-something sister is headed to a motorcycle rally in bright Texas sunshine and 90+ degree heat. Nothing in my wildest dreams would describe three days of limited air conditioning during a national holiday on the back of a motorcycle as a vacation!

So, what’s your definition of a vacation? In the early 90’s, a cause-marketing team thought it would be a good idea to combine service with tourism and invented a new term–voluntourism. This new kind of vacation which includes volunteering for a charitable cause has gained popularity in recent years and a number of websites have sprung up which make it easy for you to find something worthwhile to do during your time off.

GVI offers you once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to combine adventure, culture and the chance to make a lasting difference on long-term projects in over 20 different countries.

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Why Volunteers Stop Serving

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard 114
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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How The Recession Is Affecting US Volunteering

Hard Times for Charitable Organizations - Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard 018
Unemployed people are spending large amounts of their time volunteering. Recent evidence of this includes:

  • NYC Service had 30% more visitors in February 2009 than in February 2008.
  • The Philadelphia Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters had a 25% increase in inquires about mentoring from February 2008.
  • The Taproot Foundation, a San Francisco-based organization that places skilled professionals in volunteer positions, had more people sign up on one day earlier this year than in an entire month a year ago.

Benefits of volunteering:

  • Volunteering gives people something to do while job hunting that allows them to feel good about themselves.
  • Volunteering is a way to stay active and stay in touch.
  • Volunteering fills a gap in one’s job history and answers the questions, “What have you been doing?”
  • Volunteering can lead to new job opportunities.
  • Hard economic times give people a renewed sense of compassion and a better understanding of how others are struggling.
  • Volunteering relieves stress from constantly thinking about economic matters.
  • Because of the current economic climate, teens have become more aware of the needs of others and are volunteering.

The impact of increased number of volunteers on nonprofit organizations

  • Smaller organizations without volunteer coordinators are struggling to absorb the influx of volunteers many of whom are highly skilled.
  • Funding cuts can make nonprofits less able to take advantage of volunteer support.

Courtesy of Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

Adapted from:

“From Ranks of Jobless, a Flood of Volunteers,” by Julie Bosman, in the New York Times, March 16, 2009

“Some US jobless find hope and solace as volunteers” by Andrew Stern in RUETERS, February 24, 2009.

Related links:

“How Will the Economic Crisis Affect Volunteering”   by Susan Ellis, energizeinc.com, November 2008.

“Turning Down Volunteers”  by MBA Publishing, volunteertoday.com, May 2009.

 

Older Adult Volunteers Bring New Expertise and New Life to Nonprofits

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(ARA) -When Margaret Ross retired from a career in nursing, she had no idea that her new life as a volunteer would lead her right back into healthcare. Neither did Mike Chesnut, whose work building retail partnerships looks a lot like his volunteer service for a group of Denver nonprofits that are fighting homelessness. The same is true for retiree Berlin Hall. Since leaving his accounting executive career, Hall’s desire to help at-risk families led him to volunteer to manage the books for a family services agency.

As they move into roles in service and volunteering, older adults like these are discovering that what they know is just as important as how much time they can give. Their help couldn’t have come at a better time. With demand for nonprofit services skyrocketing, fundraising and revenues are way down. Some experts predict as many as 100,000 nonprofit organizations could run out of money for their programs completely.

The recession has spurred more interest in volunteering among older adults, particularly among boomers, says Jill Friedman Fixler, a nonprofit consultant and co-author of “Boomer Volunteer Engagement.”

“This is a group with abundant skills and profound circles of influence and they believe they can have an impact in their community right now,” she says.

That was the idea for Chesnut. After leaving his job as a retail sales executive with Procter & Gamble, Chesnut, 64, spent several years as a counselor for small business owners. When he moved to Denver a few years ago, he decided to focus on helping nonprofits. As he explored his options, Chesnut was struck by Denver’s homeless problem. Millions of dollars were being spent pulling families out of shelters, but programs that were trying to keep families out of them to begin with were underfunded. After organizing a coalition of local nonprofits, Chesnut began a research project that eventually led to a successful $600,000 grant.

“Coming from the corporate world and working with large retailers, you learn to look for common interest,” he says. “What I did was put numbers to the problem.”

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Speed Up the Board Recruitment Process!

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard

Imagine getting excited about volunteering for something, and then waiting six or seven months before you actually get to do it. Can we accelerate the process by “pre-qualifying” candidates?

One of the most frustrating parts of board recruitment is the length of time — often months — between talking with a prospect and then bringing him onto the board . . . months during which the candidate usually becomes less interested. For instance, a person might be tentatively asked in January, discussed by the governance/nominating committee in February, have her name brought to the board for discussion in March, officially interviewed/asked in April, elected by the board in May, and her first board meeting is in July! Some boards invite potential recruits to observe a board meeting before deciding whether to join, which adds even more time.

To accelerate this process, some boards invite candidates to the board meeting at which they will be voted on. The hitch, of course, is that it makes it very difficult for a board NOT to approve someone who is already in attendance (albeit asked to sit in the hall for a few minutes).

Instead, think about “pre-approving” some candidates. Often a few names arise of people who are already known well by several other people on the board: perhaps a community leader, a mayor, a long-term activist, and so forth. In such cases, the board can have a preliminary discussion about the candidate and provisionally approve him or her as a board member. The full board then cedes to the governance committee the power to make a final decision on the candidate based on the outcome of the governance committee’s discussion with him or her. The committee members will interview the candidate, then quickly discuss among themselves how the interview went. If the committee members agree, the person can be immediately notified of his or her acceptance, and can attend the next board meeting.

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