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A Publication of WTVP

Volunteerism is one of our nation's easiest and most effective ways of contributing to society. Democracy comes from the spirit of volunteerism and a commitment to possibilities and achievements.

Just as the business marketplace forecasts the latest trends, there also are new trends in volunteering. Corporate volunteerism, increased recruitment of 50-plus volunteers, family volunteering, and virtual volunteering are a few of the new ways nonprofit organizations are benefiting from volunteers.

Corporate volunteerism can be highly effective at building employee morale and generating community goodwill towards the company. Not just a buzzword, corporate volunteerism efforts are here to stay, with many business leaders creating environments that encourage their employees to become involved. Effective programs coordinate with company goals, include employee interests, and work with community leaders who know what help is needed. Corporate volunteerism isn't just for large companies; many smaller, growing companies also reap the benefits of employee volunteer programs because it generates publicity.

Baby boomers and older adults have the time, skills, and experience to become active volunteers and advocates for community service. This is a group of volunteers who want to learn new things, make new friends, and put career skills to use. For many organizations seeking volunteers, there's vast potential in this 50-plus group, as well as challenges. Two of the main challenges are to provide an experience that's rewarding and finding ways to recruit volunteers that are no longer in the workforce.

Families that have two working parents have an increased interest in volunteer opportunities that involve the entire family. With too few hours in the day, volunteering together assures quality time and creates a common bond because they know they're helping others and learning more about each other. Volunteer projects can be done with the whole family, with just the siblings, as a parent-child team, or with extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Technology and the Internet also are affecting the way individuals volunteer. Through virtual volunteering, organizations are expanding their volunteer programs, allowing more volunteers to participate, and utilizing volunteers in new capacities. The concept is popular with many individuals looking for ways to volunteer but, because of time, distance, or even physical disabilities, aren't able to participate in traditional volunteer programs. Virtual volunteering allows anyone to contribute-often from the comfort of home-and can include conducting online research, professional consulting, online advocacy, translation work, multimedia expertise, desktop publishing, writing, staffing support lines, and much more.

During National Volunteer Week April 17 to 23, look for opportunities to maximize the power of volunteerism. The good one individual can do for another is rarely underestimated, but the good many can do for an entire community is what makes volunteerism so valuable-for both the volunteer and those benefiting from the assistance. IBI

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