Wise Giving Wednesday: Celebrating Volunteers

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calendar icon Apr 17, 2024

Celebrating Volunteers

April 21 – 27 is National Volunteer Week. This provides recognition to all the individuals who help charities through their generous donations of time. In recent years, AmeriCorps has estimated that over 60 million people volunteer annually representing over 4 billion hours. While many are motivated to volunteer, we sometimes hit roadblocks or challenges to achieve this objective. Chiefly among them is finding the “extra” time to donate. Well, that problem is certainly understandable, but it can be overcome by considering the following tips when making a volunteer choice.

Choose Your Cause 

If you volunteer for an organization that is addressing a cause that you really care about, that can add incentive to help. Your passion can be a strong motivator for volunteer success.

Start With a Test Run

You might begin with devoting just a couple hours per month or an hour a week. Something that you can manage without disrupting your other personal and/or work time. Volunteering does not have to involve the effort of a part-time job. Think of it as testing the waters a bit before you decide to take a swim.

Experience is Valued

If your profession and/or work experience provides special skills, consider offering them in a volunteer capacity. An accountant might help a small charity with its books, a plumber might be needed to construct homes for those in need, or a health care worker could lend a hand in a charity clinic. The possibilities are varied. Don’t assume it’s all about ladling soup at the homeless shelter.  

Be Cautious About Independent Volunteer Efforts

Sometimes people have the right motivation to volunteer but choose the wrong way to use it. For example, after a natural disaster strikes, some may feel like loading up a pick-up truck with water and supplies and head out to help. If you are not doing this in collaboration with an experienced disaster relief charity, you might actually result in getting in the way of planned efforts that already have systems in place to coordinate emergency assistance. Many disaster relief charities welcome and rely on volunteers during such times of need, reach out and let them know you want to assist them.

Look Before You Leap

As always, we urge volunteers, just as we do with donors that contribute funds, to check out charities before you offer your assistance. Visit Give.org to verify if they meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.  You may also want to see if the charity is registered with the appropriate state government agency in your state (usually a division of the Attorney General’s office or the Secretary of State). About 40 of the 50 states have such a requirement. You also can verify an organization’s charitable tax exempt status at this IRS link. In Canada, check with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Heart of Giving Podcast

This week’s Heart of Giving Podcast features Rita Soronen, President & CEO, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (a BBB Accredited Charity) who shares her passion for advocating for abused and neglected children and fining them permanent homes.  

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

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