Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Corporate Volunteerism P.2

What Skills-Based Volunteering Means for the Food Pantry

According to VolunteerMatch.org, the benefits of an employee volunteer program for the company are an “increase in retention, growth of brand awareness, strength to customer loyalty, and improvement in productivity.” The benefits to the community are that the employee volunteer program “provides skilled and talented volunteers, it creates a quantifiable social impact, helps bring the community needs into focus, and offers direct cost savings in recruiting and labor costs.”

This list, particularly the “benefits to the community,” is based on the assumption that the community organization can easily utilize professional workers in a valuable way. This isn’t always the case.

In fact, as more and more volunteers request opportunities that allow them to build job skills, gain work experience, and use their professional knowledge, nonprofit organizations are having a hard time getting people to do the grunt work. Monotonously make sandwiches at a homeless shelter for a never-ending line of hungry clients? No way! Not when I can write, edit, design, and publish an organizational newsletter for an up-and-coming charity.

Of course, I must add that many volunteers are more than willing to help wherever is needed, and I have yet to meet a volunteer who doesn’t have his or her heart in the right place, but I’ve been reading a lot about how volunteer motivations, especially for the educated set, are becoming more about, “what you can do for me,” rather than, “what I can do for my country.”

I’m not saying that volunteering can’t be a 50/50 beneficial relationship. All I’m saying is that certain organizations, namely, those with grunt work-based opportunities, may see a shortage of applicants to fulfill the monotonous, low-skilled jobs.

But that’s just one girl’s opinion.

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