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Volunteering on the rise in the down economy

April 1, 2009

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle points out that many professionals who are laid off or otherwise in between jobs are seeking volunteer opportunities to give back, keep their skills sharp, and stay engaged in their communities.   The Taproot Foundation, HandsOn Bay Area, VolunteerMatch and other volunteer agencies are having to turn people away because there are so many individuals seeking volunteer opportunities in the new economy.

My favorite quote points out a challenge in finding things for all these amazing volunteers to do.  It requires real infrastructure on the part of nonprofits to process volunteers and make sure that their contributions actually help fulfill the mission of the charities in an efficient way (rather than taking up paid staff time just to find stuff for people to do).  Donations of time and talent can be an incredible boon to many nonprofits, if they are leveraged in a way that makes the greatest impact – just like donations of money:

“There needs to be some level of investment on the philanthropic and government side so nonprofits can leverage all this surplus of human capital,” [Taproot Founder Aaron Hurst] said.

In a quick search, I found some South Asian volunteer opportunities:

  • SAALT has ongoing needs for volunteers and interns in legal aid, communications, and fundraising.
  • The South Asian Network in Southern California has some volunteer matching opportunities for health outreach, legal assistance and other projects.
  • Indicorps and InSPIRE have opportunities for volunteering in India.
  • always has volunteer opportunities here and abroad, in South Asia and elsewhere.
  • Many of the other nonprofits listed on our Organizations page have needs for volunteers as well – check them out and make contact to find out if there is a way you can help!

What about you?  Are you finding yourself volunteering more?  Does volunteer time impact your cash donations?  Are there any other South Asian nonprofit leaders out there looking for volunteers for your organizations?  Please add to the comments!

(Hat tip on this one to JDSnub Blog – a fun site for non-practicing lawyers like myself.)

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