The news is out, and it’s good!

What news?  Volunteerism news, of course.  For those of you who know me, that’s not much of a surprise. My favorite news days of the year are all about giving back:

…and sometime in April or May, during National Volunteer Week, when Independent Sector often issues its updated data on the value of a volunteer hour.

So here’s the good news. According to the experts at Independent Sector, every hour of volunteerism is now worth $23.56 This is an increase of 2% from last year and is up $1 from 2013.  Bottom line, the trend line is moving in a positive direction!

If you’re a philanthropy geek like me who loves to monitor what data tell us about engagement and investment in what I consider a part of our collective moral fabric, you’ll be even more thrilled to hear that some states in the US are even surpassing $23.56 (kudos to Massachusetts, California and New York for setting the pace we all need to run).  What’s even cooler is how the value jumps higher when volunteers give their professional skills in law, finance, marketing, operations, you name it.

Each time this report comes out I feel compelled to shout from the rooftops that, if you aren’t volunteering or you could be investing more brain power in the kind of work you’re doing, it’s time to make a change.

Here are 3 reasons why it’s time to volunteer:

  1. Your investment of professional skill can make a lasting impact on a nonprofit’s sustainability.  By investing time helping do what I’d call infrastructure work (developing policies, advising on legal or brand, building talent recruiting and retention programs, and so on) you’re helping an organization not just function day to day, but also to scale.  In my experience, volunteers offering their professional skills can make an impact almost immediately, an impact that lasts.  And that’s what it’s all about, right?
  2. You will gain immeasurable satisfaction from doing meaningful work.  Volunteerism is about helping other people, giving of one’s self.  But everyone who does it knows that it’s also a huge endorphin rush, a positive jolt to the system that helps us truly feel like citizens active in making our world what we want it to be.  Although all volunteerism is rewarding, offering insights and help that you’re uniquely able to provide is a much bigger boost.  And who doesn’t want that?
  3. You will grow, learn and become a more capable professional in the process.  And here’s the one that’s kind of ironic.  Giving your skills makes you better.  It teaches you about other organizations, the contexts within which others live and work, about challenges you might not face every day, about people who have needs and circumstances that vary widely from your own.  It gives you perspective that helps you be more human, more aware, more experienced…and a better world citizen.  When you give, you gain expertise that equips you to do everything at a different level.

So why not jump in with your skills first?  Why not think about what you have to offer that’s unique and valuable and work with your company, your professional contacts, your friends to identify where your needs are a match?

Make it a personal mission to not just give $23.56 an hour in value. Make it something much, much bigger..


Rachel Hutchisson is the vice president of corporate citizenship and philanthropy at Blackbaud, headquartered in Charleston, SC.  She is responsible for the company’s global corporate citizenship efforts, a role that allows her to leverage her 20+ years of experience of working with nonprofit partners.  She is a member of the board of directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International, the Giving Institute (producers of Giving USA), and the Coastal Community Foundation.  She is also a Past President of the AFP SC Lowcountry chapter. Rachel is a graduate of Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, and received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.  A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she is a Renaissance Weekend participant and was the recipient of the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Influential Women in Business Rising Star Award.  Rachel is an avid soccer fan and spends far too much time driving to remote parts of the state to watch her children play.  Connect with Rachel on Twitter at @RachelHutchssn or on LinkedIn.

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