It can be said that people are only able to offer three things: time, talent, and treasure. “Treasure” is critically important and often elusive for nonprofit organizations. However, the time that people donate has its own immeasurable worth.
For organizations similar in size to Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, volunteers are a necessity. In the last year Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware relied on more than 1,400 volunteers that served over 19,000 hours. Volunteers did everything from coaching basketball to pulling weeds; helping with homework to answering phones; implementing technology services to strategic planning and supervising moon bounces to selling Christmas trees. Not to mention the volunteers that help ease financial pressures by helping to raise funds. Volunteers are effective fundraisers because their personal commitment to an organizations mission makes them convincing advocates for the cause. For Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware volunteers are an invaluable resource.
Most not for profits are continually being asked to do more with less. With new waves of retiring baby boomers and energetic young people, volunteers are helping to fill the gaps (Stanford Social Innovation Review). Volunteers help complete vital tasks often on staff ‘To Do Lists’ but never seem to get crossed off. In an ideal world all Club’s would have weedless gardens and every child would have as much undivided one-on-one attention as they need. The reality is in the face of ever-growing community needs and persistent economic strains volunteerism is a necessity.
It’s not just the organizations that benefit from volunteer contributions. According to Mark Horoszowski’s article “5 Surprising Benefits of Volunteering”, the power of volunteering has been documented for the last 2,500+ years. Science now proves: “One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” - Gordon Hinckle. Most people volunteer because they want to feel like they are doing something useful with their time and giving back to the greater good. When a volunteer leaves the Club, they may feel like what they did was small- helping a child with their homework for example. While that might seem like a small act to the volunteer, to the child it’s an investment of an adults time and what that does to develop a child’s sense of worth and sense of self is a very big deal. The impact of meaningful interactions like these can’t be measured or even fully realized until often years later.
Volunteers make it easier for Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware to engage and positively impact more than 35,000 young people each year. Volunteers help Club staff feel supported. They help parents see that their children are a part of a quality program. Most importantly they show the kids they are important. Whether a volunteer is a youth mentor connecting with a mentee once a week, a volunteer group running an on-going Club activity, or an individual helping to complete Club maintenance; volunteers someone show Club members they are of value, and that there are people in the world who want them to succeed. That is a contribution that can’t be measured in dollars or hours, it’s a contribution that is priceless.
Mary Kate Benson is the Director of Volunteer Services with Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware. She is a graduate of West Virginia University and a two-time alum of Public Allies Delaware, an AmeriCorps program.