“The most common reason for not volunteering is lack of free time (about half of Americans cite this as the main reason), and another common reason is that the volunteer schedules and commitments are too inflexible.”
Research has shown that while over 90% of us want to volunteer, only 1 out of 4 Americans actually do. Did you know there is a relationship between volunteering and improved physical health and cognitive function? Research also shows that volunteers report elevated mood and less depression, and that volunteers report increased social interactions and social support, better relationship quality, and decreased loneliness. So, if most of us want to volunteer, and we believe it is good for us, why aren’t all of us volunteering?
“I don’t have enough time and volunteer schedules are too inflexible”
The most common reason for not volunteering is lack of free time (about half of Americans cite this as the main reason), and another common reason is that the volunteer schedules and commitments are too inflexible. Which is interesting because retirees (who presumably have enough time) do not volunteer at higher rates than employees, and people ages 35 to 44 (those most likely to have young children at home and be employed) volunteer at slightly higher rates.
One solution is to understand about “volunteering inertia”, which is basically the habit we create by volunteering or not volunteering. Research shows people who volunteer before retirement are more likely to volunteer in retirement (75%). In contrast, only about a third of retirees who did not volunteer while working begin to volunteer in retirement. This suggests there is a “sweet spot” for volunteer recruitment in the years prior to retirement.
Another possible solution is to make volunteering more accessible and automatic. If working parents are volunteering, is most likely at their kids’ schools, which is a location they are already frequenting daily. Employers could encourage volunteerism on-site or in a proximate location. Organizations could be more flexible in the way they use volunteer work, including work that could be done at home, or during evening or weekend hours.
“No one asked me to”
One out of 4 people say they don’t volunteer because no one asked them to; so, let’s ask! Research shows the organizations that are most successful at recruiting and retaining volunteers have a designated volunteer coordinator. KFB does! Alison Anderson, BOD and Volunteer Coordinator, can answer any of your questions about volunteer opportunities. firstname.lastname@example.org Volunteers want to feel included in the goals of the organization, and that their work (even if unpaid) is valued and appreciated. Employers and schools can help with asking as well. High schools and colleges are already requiring volunteer service, and many employers are offering paid time off to volunteer or including it as a part of their wellness plans. KFB has incentive programs in place, just ask us.
Keep Florence Beautiful has many volunteer opportunities; here are some:
Great American Cleanup (Spring)
River Sweep (Fall)
Monthly Cleanups (Annual)
Working our booth at the City Centers Farmers Market (Annual)
Installing bat boxes (Fall)
Creating Green Spaces (Annual)
Adventure Race (September)
Keep Florence Beautiful is always looking for NEW opportunities, please let us know how we can help the community.
Source: Stanford Center on Longevity Amy Yotopoulos