Meets pressing community needs by mobilizing caring New Yorkers in volunteer service.

The Value of Volunteers

by Gary Bagley 

Last month, in partnership with our friends at NYC Service, New York Cares co-hosted an event at the UJA-Federation of New York, which drew more than 130 Executive Directors, CEO’s and Founders of nonprofits. Participants came from a wide variety of organizations--from volunteer-led “startups” to large institutions. It was especially heartening to see the broad spectrum of issue areas being addressed in the room by these 130 organizations – helping people with disabilities, supporting immigrant communities, educating youth – to name only a few.  What drew such a disparate group together?  Their interest in understanding how to make the limited resources they have go farther through the strategic use of volunteers.

Those of you who have met me know me to be a diehard optimist.  Well, when we sent out the invitations, I admit that I doubted whether more than a handful of Executive Directors and CEO’s would devote a whole morning to discussing the value of volunteers.  At New York Cares, we eat, sleep and breathe volunteers and understand well how volunteer-led programs can help nonprofits, but would others?  A planning committee came together who did care and cared enough to encourage the numerous nonprofits they support to be there that morning.

What really drew them?  They know how difficult it is to manage volunteers effectively so that their contributions are meaningful and measurable. 

The audience responded to eye-opening research, based on TCC Group’s CCAT Assessment that indicates that less than 17% of nonprofits can claim they are effective at volunteer management.

Back to my optimism. Rather than focus on the dearth of nonprofits excelling in volunteer management, we focused on the parts of the research, which show the exponential value of investing in volunteers.  

  • Organizations that engage volunteers effectively not only lead and mange better, they are significantly more adaptable, sustainable and capable of going to scale.
  • These same organizations are equally as effective as their peers without volunteers, but at almost half the median budget.

Volunteers are part of an effective nonprofit strategy. We believe this so deeply at New York Cares that we dedicate a team of professionals to training nonprofits in the best practices of volunteer management.

If you lead a nonprofit and wish to make more of your limited resources by leveraging the power of volunteers, we invite you to check out the trainings we offer, including our Volunteer Impact Program (VIP), a comprehensive eight week course providing a wealth of tools and best practices related to successful volunteering management.  Or feel free to contact us at training@newyorkcares.org to learn how New York Cares might help your team make volunteers a core strategy to achieving your mission.

-Gary Bagley is the Executive Director of New York Cares.

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