Last night I was sitting in a PTA meeting with at least 25 other adults. We all gave 90 minutes of our life to sit in a meeting to talk about and think about how to improve the school. Even at just $15/hour (and I am sure several of the adults were worth more than that), $562.50 of people time was spent on that meeting.
I have been described as a serial volunteer. My mom worked closely with our school and church so I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t part of volunteer projects. I can remember being 6 and sorting food at Christmas time for food baskets. I remember organizing, painting and doing all kinds of odd jobs as a kid.
My first self-chosen volunteer job was to work at the LandTrust. I have also always been an introvert so I spent many hours walking the local trails so it made sense to volunteer to help clean them up. Which I did, but I spent more time helping in the office with fundraising mailers and calls.
So thinking about last night and then thinking about my experience, I wondered how many people volunteer. I found this article Stats reveal how many Americans volunteer @CNN. Bonus! 25% of survey respondents volunteer which correlates to some serious volunteer hours. Another 2016 article from Huffpost America Does Not Have Enough Volunteers, gives some great statistics on just what this means: 62 million volunteers and $184 billion in service hours.
Sadly, 75% choose not to volunteer. I get it. I have had periods where I volunteered to my heart’s content and others where I could barely give an hour a week. Life happens.
So what do we need to do to attract more volunteers? I believe a key for young professionals is making the tasks relevant to their career path. A key for mid-career is providing opportunities that let them use experience and providing it in bite size portions that can fit into a busy schedule.