Thanks to those who volunteer, Milwaukee now boasts the 3rd highest rate of volunteerism in the nation: 33.7% of residents serve as volunteers, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.
While the value in volunteerism has been viewed primarily in helping nonprofits carry out their missions, studies now reveal the impacts go far beyond that. It has profound positive impacts on the lives of the volunteers themselves and creates far-reaching impacts on their community’s economic health and resiliency.
New statistics bear this out:
- Volunteers have a 27% better chance of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers, possibly due to developing new skills and expanding their networks.
- Volunteers without a high school diploma have an even higher likelihood of finding employment (a staggering 51%) than non-volunteers.
- Census data shows a strong positive correlation between civic engagement (volunteering, working with neighbors, attending public meetings, and voter registration) and higher employment.
- Adults who volunteer are more likely to experience health benefits when it comes to longevity, mobility and mental health.
- Nationally, the monetary value of volunteer service is estimated at over $183 billion a year.
One of the major reasons Milwaukee’s volunteerism rate is so high is Volunteer Milwaukee, a program of the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee and our community’s primary engine for connecting volunteers with organizations who need them. By offering thousands of volunteer opportunities on its website, Volunteer Milwaukee also drives the community upward economically while giving individuals greater purpose, new skills and opportunities.
Volunteer Milwaukee connects thousands of potential volunteers each year to Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee member organizations like Aurora Health Care, which currently lists two dozen types of available volunteer positions. Aurora’s Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator Michelle Tisljar says that even in such a large company, volunteers are absolutely vital to their operation. Part of their success in attracting volunteers, she says, is the reliability of the process; volunteer inquiries arrive in her inbox instantly so she can quickly follow up with a volunteer application packet and enroll them in a training session.
On the other side of town, the Urban Ecology Center recently increased its volunteer referrals from 500 to 2,000. This includes hearty folks doing things like planting, erosion control, trail maintenance, and removal of invasive species. But it’s also about making new relationships.
“It’s allowed us to make nice connections with businesses throughout the area,” says Meghan Jones, Volunteer Program Manager. “And just getting our name out there helps a lot.”
Here’s one more statistic to ponder on the benefits of volunteers: Volunteers are nearly twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers. Nearly 80% of volunteers donate to charity, compared to 40 percent of non-volunteers. So while opportunities attract volunteers, volunteerism also seems to educate people in the need for financial support.
In Milwaukee, it’s now easier than ever to get connected to a volunteer opportunity, and we are all richer for it.