The Number One Reason Volunteerism is on the Decline
Posted Thursday, October 16th, 2014 by Sterling Volunteers Staff
Here’s a troubling fact: volunteerism in America is on a steady decline. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2003 the estimated volunteer rate across the country was nearly 29%, meaning 29% of Americans volunteered at some point during the year in question. This number included those who volunteered their time to help serve food in shelters, provide tutoring to underprivileged kids, or assist an elderly neighbor in getting to an appointment on time. But last year, the volunteer rate dropped to 25.4% – the lowest it’s been in more than a decade.
While there are many factors that contribute to this loss of volunteer hours, one of them is particularly worth noting – that of financial stress.
Many families throughout the country struggle to make ends meet. In single income homes, parents often struggle to earn enough with one income to support their entire family. And two-parent families don’t always fare much better. They often require dual incomes in order to lead a comfortable life. Newsweek‘s recent article, which addresses the falling rates of volunteerism, identifies the pressing need for increased household earnings as a major contributor to the decline in volunteer hours. That’s because there aren’t many hours left in the day to volunteer or to find new volunteer programs to participate in, nor is there extra cash to cover transportation costs or background checks.
Streamlining the recruiting and onboarding process for volunteers is one way to tackle this time and cost issue. Screening volunteers is a must, and making the volunteer screening process quick, painless, and affordable means that more single and dual income households can find time to engage in their communities and support those around them.
If you’ve volunteered before, you’ve likely had to complete a background check. What did the volunteer screening process look like? How much did it cost you in terms of dollars – and in terms of time commitment? If you volunteer with several organizations, do they have different volunteer screening processes? Sterling Volunteers’ Fast-Pass is designed for volunteers like you. The platform offers one simple process and one payment that can be covered by an organization or a volunteer – or shared between them. Best of all, background check results are portable and transferrable. What does this mean? A volunteer can easily find volunteer programs of interest on the Sterling Volunteers platform and quickly choose to share their background check with any of them. In sum – a fast and easy way to find volunteer programs to spend time with, and a less costly and quicker way to get onboard.
As a community, if we want to stop the decline in volunteerism, we need to remove the barriers that make donating time so difficult – the cost and inconvenience factors. A streamlined volunteer screening process makes recruiting volunteers easier and volunteer retention stronger.
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