At the heart of every Non-Profit organization I have volunteered at, interned with, or worked for is one central core. There is one specific, essential piece to every Non-Profit that is needed to make it operate effectively. This entity is there day in and day out, performing necessary actions to make sure the organizations mission is lived out each and every day. They are a Non-Profit’s sole greatest valuable asset. Can you guess what this person is called?
No, not the CEO.
No, not the Board of Directors.
No, not the fellows. (Wouldn’t that be nice?)
While the above folks are essential to the successful operation of a nonprofit, (Maybe not the fellows, but I’d like to say we help) at the center of successful giving are VOLUNTEERS.
As I shadowed volunteer groups around LifeCare, encountered volunteer drivers, and experienced the Senior Farmers Market Coupon Distribution this past week, I pondered how an organization such as LifeCare Alliance could function without volunteers. I came to a conclusion: they could not.
The volunteers who deliver meals each day, the people packing groceries in the pantry, those assisting in Carrie’s, those helping pack meals, as well as packing dog and cat food, are essentially what make it all happen. Without volunteers, all of the hard work that the staff members administer and devote their time to, would be squandered.
In addition, I was able to attend the Giving USA results presentation on Thursday at the Columbus Foundation, which broadcasted the annual report of philanthropy for the year 2016. While these results included financial giving, there was also discussion about different kinds of gifts that donors present. This includes volunteers. It was stated that about 25% of Americans volunteer, showing that volunteering is a large part of American life. In addition, a correlation between volunteering and dollar giving was mentioned, proving another significant benefit to why volunteers are so imperative.
Recruiting and retaining volunteers can present other challenges. Appealing and motivating volunteers is yet another facet of Non-Profit work. It is important to engage volunteers with an organizations mission and encourage them in their volunteer work so that they can become passionate about this mission as well. This can lead to retention of volunteers, as well as possible donations. They should know just how valued they are at an organization and how significant their work is. This is why volunteer/donor luncheons, dinners and/or awards are also another important dynamic of a Non-Profit organization. This past week at LifeCare Alliance I also witnessed a donor/volunteer luncheon taking place which showed donors just how important their contributions are.
Throughout my life, I have always been surrounded by volunteering. My mom and grandma have set exceptionally high expectations as they have continued to volunteer on a regular basis at a number of different organizations. While I have volunteered since grade school, I am just now beginning to realize how essential and significant volunteers are, why they are so needed, and what a large role volunteers play within an organization. Not only does volunteering create life changing and learning experiences for volunteers, but it allows organizations like LifeCare Alliance to further their mission. Volunteers truly give life to Non-Profits.