July 25, 2024

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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Too Many Volunteers?

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by Fonda Kendrick, VolunteerHub.com

It’s a perfect storm when it comes to volunteerism in America right now, based on several factors that we’ve blogged about in the past. The baby boomers are retiring, the unemployed are looking for activities to hone their skills for resumes and simply to fill their free time, and President Obama has issued a massive call to action on the volunteer front. Based on these three streams of supply, nonprofits are currently seeing an unprecedented demand for volunteer opportunities.

In an ironic twist, many organizations that have seen a rise in their volunteer numbers have also seen a downturn in resources. Lindsay Firestone of Taproot comments, “It’s like a Greek tragedy. We’re thrilled to have all of these volunteers. But now organizations are stuck not being able to take advantage of it because they don’t have adequate funding.”

Just a few months ago, The New York Times reported a huge surge of volunteers in areas all across the country. (One hundred thousand in New York City alone!) Suddenly, many nonprofits nationwide are saying something they never thought possible: we have too many volunteers! In fact, the Times quoted one anonymous nonprofit exec as saying, “Can you make them stop calling? Everybody’s inspired by Obama,” he noted. Then he tacked on, “They also don’t have jobs.”

Others echo the executive’s sentiment. Bertina Ceccarelli of United Way in New York, states: “It’s sad but true, but the irony is that sometimes it’s almost more work to find something for a volunteer to do than to just turn them away.”

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United We Serve

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On June 17th, President Obama announced a new initiative to encourage service in America, United We Serve, and asked Americans of all ages to volunteer over the summer.

“I’m calling on all of you to make volunteerism and community service part of your daily life and the life of this nation,” said President Obama in a video release. “And when I say ‘all,’ I mean everyone young and old, from every background, all across this country. We need individuals, community organizations, corporations, foundations, and our government to be part of this effort.”

Click here for the entire announcement:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/United-We-Serve

Click here for Michelle Obama announcement:  http://www.allforgood.org/

Related links:

Online resource for service:  http://www.serve.gov/

Notes from 2009 National Conference on Volunteering and Service:  http://philanthropy.com/news/conference/

Conference blog:  http://www.casefoundation.org/blog/united-we-serve-new-rally-cry

Related article:

Jobless Professionals Yearn to Do Good, Kyle Stock, The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2009

Giving Is Good For Your Health

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard

During times of economic downturn, you may have to dig a bit deeper into your pockets to make charitable contributions. However, you can still end up better off. In addition to the tax breaks giving can bring, as it turns out, giving is also good for your health.

“Several studies over the years have found links between altruistic behavior and improved physical and psychological health,” says Dr. Ann Vincent, an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic who researches the mind-body connection. “In general, I think altruism makes people feel better about themselves, which often translates into improved physical health. Other benefits that have been attributed to positive emotions include: enhanced creativity and ability to cope with stress and broadened cognition. In essence, thinking positively about ourselves is good for our physical and mental health.”

But the benefits of giving, whether in the form of volunteerism or making a donation, aren’t just a one-time deal. The more you give, the better you may feel, and that means finding ways to give back throughout the year. Generosity is also a wonderful survival skill to help you get through difficult times in your life.

“Recent studies have examined individuals who have survived trauma, natural disasters and being prisoners of war,” says Dr. Edward T. Creagan, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic. According to Creagan, people who seem to thrive in adversity have many characteristics in common, but especially a few:

  • A sense of connectedness. The recognition that family and community are crucial to survival.
  • A sense of altruism, somehow sharing of themselves to make the lives of others a little bit better.
  • An optimistic attitude and sense of humor.

If you have trouble motivating yourself to give time, money or goods, focus on how giving back can benefit you. “There is a ‘helper’s high’ that people sometimes say they feel in connection with altruism/philanthropy,” says Vincent. “But that initial euphoria is also sometimes followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being.”

Philanthropy can also have positive effects that help people maintain or improve their physical and mental health. It often creates broader social networks, which can help people cope with stress and anxiety, and it can provide a sense of purpose and empowerment.

The emotional and physical benefits of philanthropy may be even more significant right now. Nonprofit organizations everywhere are increasingly looking for charitable individuals to partner with them in their goals for the future. Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit organization, is one of the world’s premier medical treatment and research facilities and is currently conducting a campaign to transform patient care, research and education. The gifts Mayo Clinic receives now will help people today, as well as benefit future generations of patients and medical professionals.

For more information on how giving can make a life-changing impact, visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/campaign.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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