In the current socio-economic climate of the nation, which has been influenced heavily by the pandemic, many businesses and organizations have faced difficulty in filling their employee positions. Nonprofits are no different; in recent years, nonprofit organizations have not had a substantial number of volunteers to perform all of their necessary service responsibilities. In order to maintain a strong community, it is imperative that we, as potential volunteers, find a way to break this vicious cycle of understaffing.
According to the National Council of Nonprofits, there are a variety of reasons why nonprofit organizations have had an increase in vacant volunteer positions lately. Almost eighty percent of nonprofits identified salary competition as the critical factor that impeded satisfactory employment rates within their organizations. Additionally, twenty-three percent of nonprofits announced that the reason why they were struggling with recruitment was because potential volunteers were unable to find child care; therefore, they were unable to find an opportunity to serve. Another nineteen percent of nonprofit organizations claimed that vaccination policies had diminished their volunteer staffing, and organizations stated a variety of other affecting factors, such as “burnout,” government workplace policies, and the appeal of remote working.
The detrimental effects of these factors are present in the statistics of volunteer vacancies of nonprofits nationwide. Overall, sixteen percent of nonprofits have observed that thirty percent or more of their positions remain vacant, and another twenty-six percent stated that they have observed job vacancies between twenty and twenty-nine percent. With so few volunteers, nonprofits begin to slip into what is known as the “Nonprofit Starvation Cycle.” Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) determines that this cycle is produced when a nonprofit is subject to too high expectations while simultaneously spending too little on overhead and infrastructure. In this volunteer recession, nonprofit organizations are spending ever less on overhead, placing the nonprofit in financial jeopardy. This makes it much more difficult for them to fulfill their mission and help their community, which undermines the very nature of the nonprofit.
There are solutions that nonprofits and volunteers alike can take to aid this troubling situation. The National Council of Nonprofits suggests that nonprofit organizations engage directly with funders in order to “embrace the need for a cultural and systemic shift in attitudes about the values of the services charitable nonprofits provide.” They also recommend that nonprofits listen to marginalized communities in order to best determine how to utilize their resources to benefit the community, even when they are in a volunteer shortage. Lastly, nonprofit organizations are urged to restore the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) to extend and improve the employee incentive in 2022. In terms of volunteers, the best way to help out is simple: volunteer. If you are able and willing to serve your community, search for a volunteer opportunity that suits your interests.
At Triangle Cares, we provide dozens of nonprofit opportunities in the Triangle area that are always in need of new volunteers. On our website, you can browse these options in order to find an organization whose mission you personally connect with.
The volunteering landscape is a dynamic entity; it shifts and changes with time, current affairs, and the culture of the community. These developments affect how volunteers interact with nonprofit organizations, as well as how they view volunteering as a whole, and it is critical to understand and navigate the changes in the volunteering landscape. That way, organizations can map volunteer engagement in service opportunities, and volunteers can find the opportunities that best suit their livelihoods.
Currently, there are a multitude of factors that are shifting the volunteering landscape in America: the increasing elderly population, the understanding of the correlation between volunteering and skill building, social media, and most apparent, the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, the population of older individuals in America is increasing due to the sizable amount of “Baby Boomers” reaching their senior years. As Baby Boomers grow older, they have a greater need for healthcare and the services of the younger generation. These services come in the form of volunteering and caretaking. Furthermore, many of those Baby Boomers, once they retire, will also turn to volunteering in their free time, leading to a rapid increase in volunteer engagement.
Second, there has been a recent emphasis on volunteering for skill-building in the nation; in other words, volunteers have begun to realize that community service teaches valuable practical skills that can be applied in the workplace. The potential to gain resume-building skills and expertise has drawn many in the working class to volunteer as well. Overall, these effects have caused an escalation in volunteer engagement over multiple generations.
While many people believe that the primary focus of volunteering is the actual work put into service, the real focus of volunteering is social interaction. Volunteering brings you closer to your community and gives you the ability to connect with new people in an altruistic environment. Many people have noticed this benefit to volunteering, and, through social media, have expressed its importance. Social media, which has only grown in popularity in recent years, has been a cardinal agent in increasing volunteer engagement. It helps to underscore the values of volunteering, and it also has made it easier for people to find service opportunities to participate in. Observing the trends in social media in terms of volunteering, a prediction can be made that volunteering in groups will become heavily popular in the volunteering landscape.
Of course, the biggest effect on the volunteering landscape has been the pandemic; the spread of Covid-19 has been detrimental on all organizations, especially nonprofits, who rely on in-person volunteers to keep their organizations functioning. According to trends analyzed by VolunteerMatch, many volunteers were afraid to participate in volunteer opportunities due to a fear of exposure to the virus, as well as a fear of exposing others. For the first time in years, volunteer engagement faltered due to the disruption of the pandemic. However, the volunteer landscape adapts. Nonprofit organizations began to implement virtual opportunities to reinvigorate volunteer engagement, and the amount of virtual opportunities offered by nonprofits increased by 159% between March 2020 to October 2020. Encouraged by the safety and easy access of virtual opportunities, volunteers became even more engaged in service.
What can be gained from this information? It is useful to understand the volunteering landscape if you are interested in community service. This knowledge can help you recognize the current trends in volunteering and plan your volunteering efforts accordingly. If you want some guidance on some interesting opportunities, visit Triangle Cares’ website for a variety of easily accessible service options.
The start of the new year symbolizes change and new beginnings. For many people, this means that it is time to decide on a New Year’s resolution so that they can start 2022 off on the right foot. There are popular resolutions to which many people adhere: eating healthier, working out more, getting more sleep. For a majority of people, resolutions are a self-interested ordeal; it’s a habit or routine that only concerns themselves. However, 2022 is the perfect year to start forming resolutions that impact or influence other people. After spending almost two years dealing with Covid-19, 2022 is the year to help build your community into a stronger, more loving place. What’s the best way to do this? Volunteering! Here are some reasons why volunteering can be a beneficial resolution for this year:
Want to make this year memorable? Start by getting involved in your community today! At Triangle Cares, we update our calendar on our website to provide prospective volunteers with current service opportunities in the Triangle area. Check out our “Events” page or “Nonprofit” pages to find the best volunteer opportunity for you!
Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin