The Nationwide Volunteer Shortage
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.
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Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin