Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Two in three Americans volunteer - Good news or bad?

According to a new survey by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, 64% of American adults had "performed some type of volunteer activity in 2006". So, is this good news and bad? How about both...

It's great news! A sizable majority of your community members, constituents, potential supporters, and neighbors are actively involved in helping nonprofit organizations achieve their missions.

This means that if you have volunteer needs in your organization (and if not, why not?), then you should have an eager army of people ready and willing to perform for you.

It's awful news! As impressive as 64% volunteering sounds, it's actually significantly less the number who wanted to volunteer! The Thrivent survey found that 86% would have volunteered, if the opportunities had been available.

This means that we, as a sector, are doing a rotten job of either providing the right opportunities, or of promoting and recruiting for those opportunities, or both.

Does every mailing and newsletter that goes out from your nonprofit include a phone number and name of the person to contact for volunteer opportunities?

Does the front page of your web site include information on volunteer opportunities, and a one-click means of finding out how to take part?

Or are you afraid of over-promoting these, because you prefer to promote giving opportunities? Well, consider this old axiom: money follows involvement. 90% of volunteers are potential donors. If you get them volunteering, the donation ask actually gets easier!

And that is good news all around

(Thanks to Dave Rustad for the link!)

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