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A Publication of WTVP

Volunteerism is essential to providing quality social services to the community, as agencies are evaluated on how effectively they utilize volunteers in their daily operations. Successful volunteer programs demonstrate a non-profit organization’s ability to operate more efficiently. These volunteers also create a core group of individuals who serve as “goodwill ambassadors” for the organization. By promoting a positive image in the community, volunteers ultimately provide increased visibility and credibility.

The Heart of Illinois United Way evaluates our member agencies’ utilization of volunteers as part of their requests for funding. Effective volunteer integration is evaluated by three main criteria: first, are volunteers utilized in the agency’s direct services, fundraising efforts, and administration; second, what impact are these volunteers making for the agency’s programs and services, the agency’s clients, and the community; and lastly, how many volunteers are engaged by the agency.

With National Volunteer Week April 23 to 29, it’s time to celebrate the enormous impact volunteers make in our community and to look at new ways of tapping into this valuable human resource. Just as the business marketplace forecasts the latest trends, there are also new trends in volunteering including growth in corporate volunteerism, increased recruitment of 50-plus volunteers, expanded family volunteering, and the latest in virtual volunteering through technology.

Corporate volunteerism can be highly effective at building employee morale and skills as they generate community goodwill towards the company. It’s just one way companies of all sizes are demonstrating their commitment to social issues.

For many organizations seeking volunteers, there’s vast potential in this 50-plus age group of Baby Boomers and older adults who have the time, skills, and experience to become active volunteers and advocates for community service.

Many families have an increased interest in volunteer opportunities that involve the entire family. Volunteering together assures quality time and creates a special bond because they’re helping others and learning more about each other.

Through virtual volunteering, organizations are utilizing volunteers in new capacities through the use of new technologies and the Internet. 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, and much more.

The good one individual can do for another is rarely underestimated, but it’s the good many can do for an entire community that makes volunteerism such a valuable practice and an essential tool in evaluating the impact we’re making on the future. IBI

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