“Volunteering just isn’t for me because (Your excuse here).” I’ve heard it so many times. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62.6 million Americans, or about 24.9 percent of those age 16 and up, volunteered their time for a good cause in fiscal year 2015. If you weren’t among them, you should be! Why? Because volunteering is for you! In this 3-part series of posts, I’ll show you why volunteering is important and how it can enrich your life (And the lives of others). Even if you feel you don’t have the time or expertise to contribute, or if you don’t know where to start! Let’s kick this off by looking at where it all goes down: not-for-profit organizations.
Not-for-profit organizations are where most people spend their time volunteering. Not-for-profit organizations’ goal is to use their extra revenue to fulfill a need in the community, rather than providing a good or service with the goal of simply earning a profit.
The Urban Institute states that in 2013, there were about 1.41 million not-for-profit organizations registered with the United States Internal Revenue Service.
While that seems like a lot, think about the incredibly wide range of services that not-for-profit organizations provide across the nation and locally. They fulfill an almost endless variety of societal needs which haven’t been successfully addressed by government agencies or for-profit companies.
Not-for-profit organizations are a vital component of our modern economy and society. So vital in fact, that in 2013, they contributed an estimated $905.9 billion (That’s $905,900,000,000.00, just so we’re clear) to the U.S. economy, according to The Urban Institute. That’s 5.4% of GDP. What does that boil down to? About one in twenty dollars’ worth of goods or services produced in the U.S. was produced by a not-for-profit organization.
Not-for-profits change lives
Almost everyone has been touched by a not-for-profit organization at some point in his or her life. Have you ever:
- Attended a religious service?
- Adopted a pet?
- Visited a museum?
- Received help or support during the serious illness of yourself or a loved one?
- Survived a fire or natural disaster?
- Purchased from a thrift store?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you have probably benefitted from the goods or services provided by a not-for-profit organization. From providing meals to the elderly, to helping veterans find jobs, to establishing gardens in urban cores, they change lives, in ways big and small.
Not-for-profits change lives, in ways big and small.
Not-for-profits provide hope to those they serve. They respond with compassion to the voices of struggle within their community. They teach new skills. Most of all, they give people the tools to make their lives better. That sounds like something I want to be a part of – how about you?
Volunteering: (Free) Help Wanted
Of course, all of that life-changing and need-fulfilling comes at a cost.
Not-for-profits require funding and labor to achieve their goals, just like any other business. For many not-for-profits, the key to achieving their goals is – you guessed it – volunteers.
First of all, Urban Institute states that about two-fifths of public charities rely on volunteers to help them meet their goals. Furthermore, Urban Institute says that in 2014, volunteers in the U.S. logged an estimated 8.7 BILLION volunteer hours. As a result, Urban Institute estimates that those volunteer hours were worth about $179.2 billion. That is a lot of volunteering!
Maybe you’re thinking, “Wow, that’s great! So that means my help isn’t needed, right?”
What I’m saying is…
Not-for-profits play a vital role in our economy. They provide billions of dollars in goods and services each year, with the intent of meeting a need in the community. While they have some great volunteers already, more help is needed. They need more hard-working, responsible people who share a passion for their cause and have a desire to contribute to the organization’s goals by giving of their time and energy. That’s where great people like you come in!
Wondering what’s in it for you?
I thought you’d never ask! In part 2 of this series, I’ll share with you some of the many benefits of volunteering. Stop by next week to read all about it!
Were you as shocked as I was by the statistics on volunteering? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!
Check out the other posts in this series:
You might also enjoy my post on finding your ideal volunteer opportunity!