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There is a common thread in what makes great companies and great communities: people!  Both are at the heart of strengthening goals and outcomes in tangible ways. For companies, community involvement can help align employees around a common cause that helps to strengthen a brand, build customer and employee loyalty, and has the power to ultimately attract new hires and new customers. Individuals can learn new skills, expand their network and, according to multiple studies, improve their happiness and health.

We’re blessed to live in a country where people love to volunteer. Over a quarter of Americans volunteer, helping to build nonprofit capacity, positively impacting communities, building skills and strengthening relationships.  In our 2019 report “The Volunteer Perspective – Industry Insights 2019,” in which over 7,000 volunteers responded—over 65% of the respondents said they volunteer to improve their communities. And, our research also indicates that volunteers want to make a difference across multiple organizations.  Over 75% of survey participants volunteer for more than one organization. If you are a nonprofit, imagine harnessing the value of those volunteers. If you are a business, imaging harnessing that passion to help build your brand and improve employee loyalty!  Talk about a win-win!

Most nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers to fulfill their mission. In fact, in our 2018 Volunteer Trends and Best Practices Annual Research report, 56% of responding nonprofit organizations indicated that unpaid volunteers make up 75% or more of their staff! So, the need for volunteers is great and the impact can be even greater!

Aligning the mission of the volunteer and organization is important for both the nonprofit and individual. Individuals want to volunteer for a cause they care about and where they can make an impact.  Organizations ideally want to build a long-term relationship with volunteers.  

Finding the right cause to share your talents can seem daunting but with today’s tools, it is quite easy. There are plenty of websites that highlight volunteer opportunities and match opportunities to skills and interests of the volunteer. VolunteerMatch, the HandsOn Network, Points of Light’s All for Good, and other Verified Volunteers partners list needs for millions of volunteers that could be fulfilled corporately or individually.   

With so many opportunities, the key for nonprofits, corporations and individuals is to find a good fit.  Like dating, this may take a little time to find that perfect match. A local volunteer center through the United Way or the HandsOn Network may be able to provide more personalized matching.  If your time is limited, starting as an event volunteer is a great way to learn about an organization and make a positive impact in a short amount of time. Catchafire lists thousands of opportunities for skill-based volunteers, many of which can be done remotely! Take some time to list out your passions and interests and then dive in!

I believe that volunteering is a significant economic driver for our nation. But there is so much more! When people volunteer together, they build social connections based on shared values which ultimately lead to a stronger, more connected community—whether a true geographical community or a workplace community.

Katie Zwetzig, Verified Volunteers Executive Director

Katie is excited to be leading the revolutionary change Verified Volunteers, the dedicated service sector unit of Sterling—the world’s leader in background and identity services—is bringing to the nonprofit and volunteer industry. Katie holds an MA in Marketing from Colorado State University and a BA in Finance and Marketing from The University of Colorado. Katie feels strongly that nonprofits and volunteerism are at the heart of a strong community.

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