Can Nonprofits Use Volunteerism to Achieve a Sustained Increase in Capacity?

Last week, we asked readers if volunteerism could play a factor in growing an organization’s capacity. Respondents offered a mixed assessment to the level at which volunteerism can make an impact, but agreed that volunteers play valuable rolls, particularly in times of tight budgets. See selected reader comments at the jump. Also, check out Susan Naimark’s piece in Shelterforce that examines volunteerism in community development.

You said:

Yes. Both in meeting long-term and more immediate goals. long-term organizational capacity. Getting the right volunteer that matches my orginization’s mission, and has an appropriate skill set has proven to be very beneficial.” — Brian

Yes. Volunteerism helps build long-term organizational capacity. Volunteers are indeed the lifeblood of an organization. Even if you are not a direct service organization, the governance and policy setting functions are critical to the direction, growth and sustainability of nonprofit organizations.” — Michele

Maybe, but it depends on the organization and on seasonal demands. It’s really dependent on the kind of work that’s being done and the kind of community you’re reaching out to. Getting volunteers to serve on a committee/provide advice or work a specific event can be easy(ish) but sustaining long-term and steady volunteer activity can be quite difficult. Also, volunteers can be unreliable as “real life” often gets in the way. In most cases, volunteers can’t replace paid staff.” — Rebecca

Yes. Volunteerism helps build long-term organizational capacity. It depends on how volunteers are used and the tasks they are assigned and it also depends on the effectiveness of the organization in choosing the right volunteeers and in building a collaborative relationship.” — Corky

Now, take this week’s survey, Does the current reliance on credit scores keep otherwise deserving applicants away from homeownership? and let’s hear your take!

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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