National Volunteer Week (April 21-27) is over this year, but there's no deadline for getting involved to help others. Get inspired by learning about the three Vs of volunteering. First off, volunteering is valuable.
Talk about good timing. Just a couple of weeks before this year's National Volunteer Week, Independent Sector raised the estimated value of volunteer time to $22.14 an hour — an increase of more than $2.60 from the valuation just five years ago. That figure represents the amount an employer would have to pay an employee to get the same work done.
It should come as no surprise that nonprofit organizations around the country, including AARP Foundation, feel that no figure is high enough to reflect the value of the work their volunteers do, and they’d be right. In light of the economic downturn of recent years, volunteering has taken on a new meaning at many organizations. It’s not just about the work that volunteers do; it's about the fact that this work wouldn’t get done at all without the efforts of the millions of Americans who donate their time and effort to help others.
For most nonprofits and government agencies, funding for more staff has dried up as states, localities and individuals have collectively tightened their belts. These agencies just don’t have the financial resources to hire more people to handle their communities' growing needs. Not only do volunteers allow these organizations to keep providing quality service in the face of diminishing budgets, but in many cases they also make the difference between staying open and shutting down.
According to Ethel Percy Andrus, the founder of AARP, volunteerism is as American as apple pie. "In early days volunteer fire departments sprang up. 'Barn raisings' recall the neighborly help that was always ready for a call. 'Good works' became a status symbol of social standing, and the 'Lady Bountiful' was depended upon for comfort in the aid of the sick and the distressed," she wrote.
Today, 27 percent of Americans — 64.5 million individuals — report they volunteered at least once between September 2011 and September 2012. If you know one or more of them, be sure to thank them for their service during National Volunteer Week. Even better, join them.