Volunteers’ skills wasted

By Todd Cohen

Volunteers are the lifeblood of nonprofits, yet nonprofits are not tapping their volunteers’ full potential.

In the 12 months ended last September, 65.4 million Americans, or 28.8 percent of the population, volunteered at least once, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

A volunteer hour in 2005 was worth $18.04, with the total value of volunteered time worth $280 billion, according to Independent Sector estimates.

And a new index to measure volunteering shows a 12 percent rise in volunteer commitment since 2002.

Volunteers clearly have a huge impact.

But in a fiercely competitive charitable marketplace, their impact should be even greater.

According to a new study by Deloitte & Touche USA LLP and the Points of Light Foundation, more than three of four nonprofit leaders surveyed believe skilled volunteers could give a big boost to their business practices, but only 12 percent actually give those volunteers assignments in sync with their skills.

By not matching volunteers’ skills to critical tasks they are qualified to take on, nonprofits are wasting their resources.

To be more effective in their operations, service delivery and fundraising, nonprofits must be a lot smarter and more strategic in putting their volunteers to work.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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