Volunteer day: Recognizing work that keeps ID communities thriving
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Today is International Volunteer Day, a celebration of the work people offer to support the causes they care for. Nonprofits across the country rely on volunteers to fulfill their mission.
Kevin Bailey, CEO of the Idaho Nonprofit Center, said people's sense of wanting to give back is what drives volunteerism.
"People understand the need that's there and the need to step up for their communities. If they want vibrant and thriving communities, there's a real need to give back through nonprofits and through volunteerism specifically," he explained.
A study by AmeriCorps found the volunteer rate in Idaho was nearly 38%, ranking tenth in the nation.
In Idaho, three-quarters of nonprofits have less than $500,000 in annual revenue. Bailey said that means they likely have between one and five paid staff members, which creates a need for more volunteers. But that can strain what little staff resources they have.
"So, there's this kind of a double-edged sword to it," he continued. "The need is really great. The ability to manage volunteers at scale is somewhat difficult."
Bailey added one underrated aspect of volunteerism is that it gets people involved civically in their communities.
"We see a real challenge in our country and in our state, especially with younger generations, making sure that citizens are civically engaged," he noted. "Oftentimes, volunteerism is that first taste, or that first entree, into civic engagement, which leads to a lifetime of civic engagement."
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