In recent years, volunteerism across the United States has experienced a steady decline, posing challenges for numerous organizations reliant on volunteer support. Despite a slight resurgence in Green Valley and Sahuarita, local groups are grappling with sustaining volunteer numbers in the aftermath of the pandemic.
National Volunteer Decline
Based on U.S. Census data, formal volunteer participation in the country plummeted by 7% between 2019 and 2021, marking the most substantial decrease since 2002, the inception of tracking volunteer rates. This decline in volunteering poses a critical issue for nonprofit organizations reliant on these dedicated individuals for operational support and community outreach.
Challenges in Green Valley and Sahuarita
Although several nonprofits in Green Valley and Sahuarita have managed to recuperate volunteer numbers post-pandemic, staffing these organizations with volunteers remains a significant challenge. Joyce Finkelstein, the program manager for the Green Valley Sahuarita Volunteer Clearinghouse, highlighted the considerable demand for volunteers by stating that they currently have a surplus of five pages of volunteer opportunities.
Shifting Volunteer Dynamics
Finkelstein emphasized a shift in the volunteering landscape, noting a decline in consistent, long-term volunteers. This trend poses challenges for organizations like White Elephant, reliant on a consistent presence for their daily operations. However, there has been a rise in episodic or event volunteers, individuals more inclined to engage in time-bound projects with specific start and end dates.
Importance of Flexibility and Adaptability
To combat the decline in consistent volunteers, Finkelstein stressed the need for flexibility in volunteer opportunities. Organizations must tailor volunteer roles to accommodate varying time commitments and diverse skill sets, thereby attracting individuals willing to offer their time periodically or regularly based on their availability.
Innovative Strategies by Local Organizations
In response to the evolving volunteering landscape, local entities such as The Salvation Army in Green Valley have adapted by emphasizing flexible scheduling and project-specific volunteering needs. Holly Faris, the organization’s manager, highlighted the success achieved through event-oriented volunteering, ensuring volunteers engage based on project requirements rather than rigid daily or weekly schedules.
Impact on Donations and Charitable Giving
Finkelstein underscored the correlation between volunteer engagement and financial support for organizations. With fewer volunteers to serve as ambassadors, the outreach for donations has also declined, mirroring a national trend outlined by the National Council of Nonprofits, which reported a significant drop in charitable giving by both individuals and corporations.
Individual Organization Challenges and Needs
Local nonprofits, including Friends in Deed and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona’s Green Valley Resource Center, have experienced fluctuations in volunteer numbers. While Friends in Deed saw a 20% increase in volunteers, they continue to face challenges in recruiting drivers and administrative support. Similarly, the Green Valley Resource Center requires more gleaners to meet community needs.
Rethinking Volunteer Strategies
Acknowledging the ongoing challenges, Finkelstein suggested that organizations must reassess their volunteer strategies to align with the evolving preferences and commitments of potential volunteers. This adaptability involves restructuring volunteer roles and promoting opportunities through various channels, as demonstrated by the installation of an electronic sign by Friends in Deed.
In conclusion, the decline in volunteerism poses multifaceted challenges for nonprofits, requiring innovative approaches to attract and retain volunteers. Flexibility, adaptability, and a reimagining of volunteer engagement strategies are crucial to ensure continued support for these vital organizations serving the community’s needs.
For those interested in volunteering opportunities in the Green Valley and Sahuarita area, further information is available at gvsvolunteering.org.