Center for Nonprofit

With all the jobless individuals out there, many have turned to volunteerism to fill their time, to sharpen their skills and to network with people.  Many nonprofit organizations are scrambling to manage the overflow of applicants with waiting lists and some are struggling with funding.

In light of the challenges nonprofits are facing, the symbiotic relationship being met by the volunteer and the charity is truly inspiring.  Julie Bosman with The New York Times reports on just how pumped up and enthusiastic the volunteers are:

“Right now, I could volunteer about five times a week,” said Emily Jimenez, 29, who lives on Staten Island and was laid off last month from the Milford Plaza hotel in Midtown. “If they’d want me to.”

Katherine Howie, an out-of-work lawyer, wrote “N/A currently” under employment information on the orientation forms. “I don’t mind making a commitment,” she said. “I’m happy to work with children, or sports, or recreation. I just want something to fill my time.”

Nini Duh, 29, was laid off from Lehman Brothers in September and now volunteers at any number of places — an elementary school, a finance workshop in Chinatown — nearly every day. It is a welcome change from her 100-hour weeks before her investment bank went bankrupt.

So while the nonprofit organizations are managing this wave of eager volunteers, the volunteers are taking away experiences that will last a lifetime.  Breaking away from the day to day grind, having the satisfaction of helping others and hopefully becoming inspired with the new experiences they have.


Students volunteering their time at hospitals provides an educational experience and helps them explore a career in the medical field.  There are a variety of volunteer positions available from nursing units, information desks, the ER or at the gift shop.   Yolanda Altamirano from the Yakima Herald writes:

No matter what their age, volunteers help save money. Last year, volunteers at Memorial helped save the hospital $996,000, according to Trammell.  “They are extremely helpful,” Trammell says. “The amount they save for the hospital is priceless.”

Volunteering provides services to the hospital but is also a great way for students to learn more about the industry, explore a career in healthcare, learn new skills and have fun while helping others.

To learn more about student volunteering, contact your local hospital and inquire about volunteer services.

Finding a volunteer job can be challenging if you don’t do your homework.  The more research you do in trying to understand the volunteer industry, the more likely you are to find an opportunity you are looking for.  Alina Tugend from the New York Times reports:

Problems may arise for a number of reasons. Nonprofit groups, already stretched thin, may not have the staff to adequately train and manage volunteers, or even to respond to volunteer requests.  And sometimes, the organization or the position just doesn’t turn out to be what you expected.

Here are some resources that provide information that can help you along your volunteer path:

  • Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics:  Here you can find quick answers about the nonprofit sector, information about how many organizations there are in the U.S., statistics and profiles.
  • Foundation Center:  This site provides knowledge on philanthropy, training courses, information about funding, events and more.
  • GuideStar:  They consolidate data from nonprofits and additional sources to inform you about the legitimacy and financial health of the organization.
  • Look for a local city program or organization where you can find opportunities where you can impact the pressing needs of your community

I Red Cross New York

March 10, 2009

I Red Cross New York

I Red Cross New York

As seen in the New York Times, the famous logo for “I ♥ NY” is being replaced in the recent public service campaign to “I (Red Cross) NY” in hopes of getting New Yorkers to volunteer for the Red Cross Reserves in the event of a disaster.

There are currently 6,200 members of the Reserves, the New York Red Cross says, who qualify to help in the event of large-scale mishaps, man-made or natural, by taking a six-hour training session.

The goal of the campaign is to increase the ranks of the reserve force by more than half, to 10,000.

In addition to individuals volunteering, there are many media organizations who are pledging ad space or commercial time in support of the campaign.

Among the media outlets that are promising to donate ad space and commercial time for the campaign are;;;; New York magazine and its Web site,; Thomson Reuters, which will run ads on the giant digital signs on its building in Times Square; and U.S. News & World Report magazine.

Volunteer for Earth Day

March 10, 2009

Earth Day

Earth Day is a world wide celebration where volunteers gather together to promote a healthy, sustainable environment. This year we have added excitement as President Obama’s call to service encourages additional volunteers.

Earth Day organizers are hoping an army of volunteers will heed President Barack Obama’s call to service and turn out for the annual celebration next month to make lasting improvements to the nation’s parks, schools and beaches.

Earth Day was first founded in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson and continues to be celebrated worldwide on April 22.

Volunteers are needed and there are many ways in which you can do your part and get involved.  We found lots of helpful information at earthdaynetwork:

  • Join the Earth Day Network
  • Donate by making a financial contribution
  • Register events, find events or participate in the forum
  • Shop at the EDN e-Store
  • Volunteer your time

Dan Shapley the news editor from the The Daily, brings up a very interesting idea of making volunteerism synonymous with unemployment.

A volunteer-for-benefits program for unemployed workers would:
1. inject money into the economy;
2. invest directly in local communities;
3. support nonprofit organizations;
4. increase community service; and,
5. cost taxpayers little beyond what Congress has already committed to spend.

I think there is a sixth point that should be added.  Volunteering opens up a potential vast network of leads.  Volunteering is a great way to meet people and make connections in an industry or company where you want to work.  You can also get an idea if that industry is right for you.  In addition, there are skills you can learn that can help make you more valuable for that job opportunity that becomes available.  Don’t underestimate the power of networking through volunteerism.

See also: Volunteer, and help your career.

Volunteers Helping the City

February 13, 2009

The San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders is looking to volunteers to help the city through these difficult times according to Helen Gao, a Union-Tribune Staff Writer.

Sanders is spreading that message as the city faces budget shortfalls that could exceed $100 million in coming years. In his State of the City address last month, he announced a goal to double the ranks of volunteers to offset cutbacks in city services.

 Turning to volunteers during difficult times

Turning to volunteers during difficult times

There are thousands giving their time or money in San Diego but there are many challenges faced when trying to figure out where volunteers can serve when some jobs require special skills or training.  The result of the hard work that goes into organizing the volunteer programs and the volunteer work is very rewarding to the community.

  • Friends of the San Diego Public Library raised more than $254,000 in fiscal year 2007-08 to benefit the system. The money has paid for books, rugs for children’s reading areas and supplies for craft workshops.
  • The Police Department also depends heavily on free labor to supplement its operations. Volunteers take minor-crime reports over the phone, direct traffic at accident scenes and comfort victims.
  • The department’s Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol, highlighted by the mayor in his State of the City speech, averages 450 to 500 members.  Retirees in uniforms make welfare checks on shut-ins, patrol around schools and issue citations to those who park illegally in disabled stalls, among other duties.

Volunteers who give their time or money provide the much needed support to our libraries, parks, police and fire departments.  We need to continue doing our part for our communities especially through these tough times.