Nonprofit Volunteerism:

Everything needs a well-oiled engine to keep it running at optimum power!  And, nonprofit organizations are no exception. The engine of nonprofit organizations is the invaluable support of its volunteers. No matter what type of nonprofit organization, human services, faith-based, schools, political, or advocacy, they all rely strongly on their core of enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers.

Most volunteers focus their time, energy, talent and passion solely to one group, while many will be involved with several.  According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, August 7, 2008,  35.7% are involved with religious causes; 26.7 education; 13.3% social services; 8% health; 6% civic; 3.5% sports; and rounding it out with 6.8% involved in other causes.  

As for exactly what they do when they volunteer, Chronicle states 27.9% fund raise, 24.5% collect/distribute food, 21.4% general labor, and 20.5% tutor/teach.  And, when people give of their time, 34% of those volunteers donated more than 100 hours, which was the highest proportion since 2002.  Another interesting misconception is that people are more likely to volunteer when they have more leisure time.  It is the other way around.  Just goes to prove the old saying “ask a busy person to do something, and it will get done”.

Why do people volunteer? Yes, altruism (willingness of people to work on behalf of others without being motivated by financial gain) is the most prevalent reason, but many do so to enhance their social networking, family values, belief in community service, and even to learn new skills!  Most people know how their organizations benefit from their service. However, most volunteers feel that they receive more than they are giving in terms of the ‘feel-good’ they get from providing their time and talents to worthy causes.

As a volunteer it is extremely important, when considering giving of your valuable time and energies, that you check out whether the organization you are about to commit to provides: 
•    Leadership giving clear direction;
•    Functional volunteer job descriptions, including job responsibilities;
•    Training;
•    Team coordination;
•    Mutual agreement of expectations and time commitments;
Without these elements in place, volunteers are often blind-sighted with their enthusiasm stifled, and their continued commitment is short-lived, much to the detriment of the organization.

Here’s just a few great volunteer opportunities right here in our own backyard:
Habitat for Humanity Rogue Valley and its ReStore,,
Hearts With A Mission (homeless youth shelter under construction in Medford),, WinterSpring Center for Transforming Loss & Grief, Also, check out volunteering organizations and websites via:;;

So, if volunteering is something new or you’ve been giving of yourself for years, the world will be, or certainly is, a better place because of your efforts!

Carpe Diem, Joy & Larry

Joy & Larry Marshall are managing directors of Marshall Fundraising Management, (541-488-3121)

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