Oscar Wilde said, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” Millions of people volunteer to help others every day. Muhammad Ali said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” One unknown author said that volunteering is a kind of voting. It’s about choosing the kind of community you want to live in.
April is National Volunteer Month. President George H. W. Bush began the celebration in 1991, but President Richard Nixon started National Volunteer Week in 1974. Bush recognized a “thousand points of lights” in his inaugural address in 1989 as the community organizations that were doing good.
Although the phrase has been mocked, Bush believed in the power of volunteerism. Just last year, his son included the reference in the older Bush’s eulogy. “(George H. W. Bush) recognized that serving others enriched the giver’s soul. To us, his was the brightest of a thousand points of light.”
Surprising Statistics About Volunteering
VolunteerHub, a company that provides volunteer management software, offers these insights into volunteering:
- Volunteers are more likely to give money to a charity than people who don’t volunteer.
- Volunteering increases the opportunity of gaining employment by 27 percent.
- Volunteering is an asset, according to 60 percent of hiring managers.
- 6 percent of volunteers are under the age of 24.
- There are over 1.8 million nonprofits in the United States.
- Women are more likely to volunteer than men (by 6 percent).
Although people between the ages of 35 and 54 are the most likely to volunteer, college students, children and seniors also volunteer. Children learn many skills by volunteering that will help them get a job when they’re old enough. Seniors stay active by volunteering when they don’t want the full responsibilities of working.
Volunteers get benefits for themselves, including improved well-being, self-esteem and empowerment. Volunteering improves leadership skills, which can benefit a career. The impact of volunteering goes much deeper than one individual. Communities benefit by supporting the underserved and vulnerable. Clients of the organizations benefit by the availability of services they may need. Volunteering has a snowball effect that touches way more lives than anyone could count.
Take Time to Recognize People Who Volunteer
Volunteerism is regularly promoted by the ULC. We believe that volunteers are necessary to the community. The Independent Sector estimates that Americans volunteer about 8 billion hours annually. This equates to almost $200 billion to the nation. The average value of a volunteer is about $24.00 per hour.
Volunteering is rewarding. Most people volunteer to be part of something bigger than themselves, not because they want thanks. Volunteering increases self-esteem and helps you gain confidence in skills. When you volunteer, you feel valued and part of a team. You help others who are less fortunate or who don’t have a voice. Volunteering brings its own benefits.
None of that means that you shouldn’t thank the volunteers in your organization. Take some time to do something special for those who give their time to keep things going. Here are seven ideas:
- Send a handwritten note.
- Provide lunch when they work.
- Sit down and tell them how much you appreciate their work. Talk to them.
- Feature a volunteer on your social media or blog.
- Give awards.
- Give a token of gratitude. Choose something you know each person would like. Don’t give corporate gifts.
- Give your volunteers information about your organization. Share your goals with them.
Appreciate Those Who Make Your Job Easier
It doesn’t take a lot to make someone feel appreciated. Even if you don’t have a large budget, you can still do things that let your volunteers know they aren’t taken for granted. Donald Trump’s 2018 National Volunteer Week Proclamation included these words: “Volunteers leave their mark on every facet of our neighborhoods and communities.” Make sure they know their work is valued.