February might be when we officially celebrate Valentine’s Day, but April is when we send special love to a group of people who help make nonprofit missions possible: Volunteers!
April is National Volunteer Month, and this year National Volunteer Week is April 17th – 23rd.
Of course, we and the organizations we partner with know volunteers are worth celebrating every day, week and month – but we want to join the chorus of voices singing their praises in April.
The positive impact volunteers make by giving that most precious of resources – their time – is, in the end, truly immeasurable. But there are some metrics to help frame how much that time means in dollars and cents.
AmeriCorps took a state-by-state look at volunteering, and found that here in New Jersey:
- 1,863,865 volunteers contribute 162.7 million hours of service
- 26.1% of residents volunteer
- Volunteer service is worth an estimated $3.9 billion
- 25.2% of residents participate in local groups or organizations
- 55.8% of residents donate $25 or more to charity
Overall, the Independent Sector reported last April that the current estimated national value of each volunteer hour is $28.54, noting “volunteers in the United States hold up the foundation of civil society. They help their neighbors, serve their communities, and provide their expertise. No matter what kind of volunteer work they do, they are contributing in invaluable ways.”
We wholeheartedly agree, and note that over and over, studies show that volunteering is good for…the volunteers! AmeriCorps finds people who volunteer more than 100 hours a year are among the healthiest people in the country. The Mayo Clinic says research has shown that volunteering offers many health benefits, especially for older adults, including:
- Improving physical and mental health
- Providing a sense of purpose and teaching valuable skills
- Nurturing new and existing relationships
Volunteering is also closely tied to financial generosity, with volunteers almost twice as likely to donate to charity as those that don’t volunteer.
So, as we celebrate volunteers, there’s only one question left. What’s stopping you?!
Jersey Cares and Points of Light are a couple of great places to start looking for volunteer opportunities near you, and we invite you to see what kinds of ways you can help and support the nonprofit organizations and sectors we serve.
YOU can create positive change – for yourself and others – with the gift of volunteering.
Audrey Hepburn, a legend as a humanitarian as well as an actress, volunteered countless hours, especially to UNICEF, focusing on children in some of the poorest parts of the world. Her legacy includes the enduring quote:
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
And right here, one of New Jersey’s heroes is used to rolling up his sleeves. Jon Bon Jovi and his JBJ Soul Foundation are dedicated to giving back with the help of volunteers. He can often be found in the kitchen, volunteering to wash the dishes!
So we can all take a cue from that. Everyone – even a world-famous rock star – can find the time to pitch in to make our world a better place.