The Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) Report: The Status of Minnesota’s Volunteer Programs In a Shifting Environment
According to a recent MAVA report, some nonprofit organizations in Minnesota are currently finding themselves in a challenging, almost paradoxical predicament. They have more volunteer inquiries than ever before because of higher unemployment. However, their decreased resources and staff capacity due to the downturn have made it a challenge for some to make use of these potential volunteers.
Eight-six percent of organizations polled in a recent survey conducted by MAVA reported that their organization is under fiscal stress. As budgets for paid work are cut at some of these organizations, unemployed workers are simultaneously volunteering at higher rates. Forty-four percent surveyed reported an increase in volunteer inquiries, and 50 percent reported an increase in volunteer hours at their organization.
Despite this surge in volunteers, relatively few nonprofits reported an increase in the administrative resources used to manage and train these volunteers. Only 12 percent of organizations reported an increase in the budget for their volunteer programs.
Regardless of the challenges of managing this windfall, many organizations surveyed disclosed that they are are enlisting novel strategies to both attract and retain these new volunteers, among them:
- Involving volunteers in new capacities
- Allowing volunteers to serve in leadership positions
- Designing volunteer opportunities to offer more robust work skill development
- Creating new streamlined and standardized intake, screening and placement practices
Both nonprofits and unemployed workers looking to keep their skills sharp stand to benefit mutually from this increase in volunteerism. Will this uptick in volunteerism be the bridge that helps nonprofits overcome these troubled times? Having a larger, more highly skilled pool of volunteers will undoubtedly help those who are able to tap into it. However, as noted in the conclusion, MAVA challenges the assumption that organizations have the capacity to effectively channel this force for good without additional resources.
To read more and download the full report from MAVA, visit mavanetwork.org.