Volunteer Management Advocate Susan J. Ellis Dies

March 8, 2019
February 25, 2019       NPT Staff

Susan J. Ellis, the globetrotting evangelist for volunteers and volunteer management, died Sunday. She had battled cancer for more than eight years.

Ellis, 70, was founder of Energize, Inc., the internationally known consultancy for volunteer management. Along with lecturing and teaching around the world, she authored or was involved with at least 23 books on the topic. Ellis also was a contributing editor to The NonProfit Times from 1990 to 2015. Her final of more than 100 columns ran in October 2015, a few years after her cancer was diagnosed.

“Susan just always made me smile,” said NPT Editor-in-Chief Paul Clolery. “She also took me to school on volunteer management. She was fearless, always challenging leaders at national organizations like Points of Light and the Corporation on National and Community Service on why they were missing trends that were occurring in volunteer management. She made them nuts, but of course, she was correct.”

Those opinions often became legend. “She had an opinion on everything, and would happily discuss it with anyone for any length of time. But as much as she loved to argue and loved debating vigorously on just about any subject, she was one of the few people who would totally reverse her opinion if you convinced her she was wrong,” said Steve McCurley, a friend and colleague of Ellis’ for more than 40 years. “As much as she loved arguing, she loved truth even more, and devoted her life to it. That’s the person I will miss the most.”

The only child of Holocaust survivors Ernst and Anne Ellis, she grew up in Irvington, N.J. She said she knew why fellow former Irvington resident Jerry Lewis started working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association but pledged to also keep the secret.

Ellis graduated Temple University in Philadelphia in 1969 with a bachelor of arts degree in English. She received a master’s degree in folklore and folk life in 1971 from the University of Pennsylvania. She was the former director of special services at Philadelphia Family Court and then founded the Philadelphia-based Energize, Inc., in 1977.

“One of the reasons volunteer management is even on the radar is because of trailblazers like Susan,” said Sheri Wilensky Burke, a Philadelphia-based volunteer management and training consultant who began working with Everyone Ready and Energize in 2015.

The firm developed clients in 48 states and five Canadian provinces, eight countries in Europe, three nations in Asia, Australia and nations in Latin America. From 1981 to 1987 she was editor-in-chief of The Journal of Volunteer Administration.

“My clients and I were instructed by and inspired by her for decades. She was the unquestioned number one nonprofit volunteer expert,” said Michael Wyland, nonprofit management consultant and partner in Sumption & Wyland in Sioux Falls, S.D. “The mere mention of her name was identified with her work. Just her name calls to mind passionate, knowledgeable, and indefatigable expertise. She left our sector a better, more informed, and enriched space.”

Ellis was the recipient of the Association for Volunteer Administration’s 1989 Harriet Naylor Distinguished Member Service Award and was an active volunteer in a variety of volunteerism associations and was treasurer of the board of the New Society Educational Foundation.

According to the staff at Energize, her last email to her support team was sent on January 24 at 8:16 p.m., which read: “One day at a time. Smiles as often as possible. Love to you all!!! XOXO Susan.”

She left a bequest to establish the Susan J. Ellis Foundation to “provide grants or support programs that will expand volunteer administration and support education and research activities in volunteerism.” Her idea was to “fund seed grants that will improve the position of director of volunteers; education projects to widen understanding of the history and foundations of volunteerism and research that supports volunteer management work.”

For those who would like to honor Ellis or support the foundation’s mission, donations can be made to the “Susan J. Ellis Foundation” and sent to Energize, Inc., 5450 Wissahickon Ave.,  #C-13, Philadelphia, Pa., 19144.

Private graveside services are planned for 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, February 26, at the Beth Israel Cemetery, U.S. Highway 1, North Woodbridge, N.J. Friends and colleagues are planning a private memorial service at the Ellis home at a later date.


Volunteer Virtually

January 7, 2019

Find the perfect fit, anywhere in the world

Volunteers today come in many forms. Most people imagine an in-person volunteer working in a community—whether cleaning up a park, holding a clothing drive or bringing a meal to a nursing home. But giving your time to a good cause can include more than being physically on site—and in an increasingly digital world, being “in person” isn’t required.

Don’t have a car or a ride to get to the volunteering site? Can’t snag a sitter for young ones at home? Create the Good’s got you covered, helping you help others and your community right from your own home.

Every day, volunteers across the country lend a hand virtually, from computers, tablets, phones and other mobile devices. All you need is Internet access—and sometimes, just a phone.

What’s your niche?

First, think about what it is that you can offer others. Can you provide that skill across the web? The way your talents translate virtually may surprise you.

For example, do you know how to build or update a website? Are you fluent in the language of computer coding or programming? Lend your skills to a nonprofit, effort or charity doing work you believe in. Organizations such as InterConnection.org can help you put your technology or computer skills to use for nonprofits and NGOs.

Are you a grammar whiz or love to write? Foundations and nonprofits are always trying to get the word out about their mission and their work. Offer to help with outreach to potential donors, fundraising or grant writing and editing. Or help the organization keep a blog or social media feeds updated.

The list goes on! Who are you?

  • A good listener? Offer you ear and emotional support by staffing a crisis hotline.
  • An attorney? Offer to give free legal advice to NGOs.
  • A teacher? Depending on your instructional area, teach education courses online, create curricula, mentor a young person via Skype or give free webinars.
  • Fluent in another language? There are many groups worldwide that could use help with translations—and individuals and staff who could benefit from language training.
  • An administrative guru? You can do many admin tasks from your own computer, like answering emails, for understaffed nonprofits.
  • A research savvy scholar? Help with analysis, data entry, research or database maintenance or construction.

Consider your passion

Once you have a good feel for what it is you can offer, ask yourself what you’re most passionate about—and then what organizations can benefit most from your skills. What’s convenient about being a virtual volunteer is every organization across the world is at your fingertips. No matter your abilities, you’re bound to find one with the mission—and needs—perfectly suited for you.

How do you find the perfect virtual fit? If you don’t have an organization already in mind, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities at https://volunteer.helplinecenter.org.

Full article found at: http://createthegood.org/articles/virtualvolunteering

9 Fantastic Reasons to Volunteer During the Holidays

December 3, 2018

When the holiday season rolls around, many of us cherish the time we get to spend with our loved ones. During this time, however, it’s also easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the season. Hectic travel schedules and frenzied last-minute shopping can make the holidays more stressful than they need to be. So instead of getting caught up in what gifts to buy, spend some time thinking about how you can give back to those who may be less fortunate. After all, giving back is the best way to spread holiday cheer.

There are countless opportunities to volunteer and lend a helping hand during the holidays, but part of volunteering is understanding why you should help others. Here are nine fantastic reasons to volunteer this holiday season.

Please keep in mind, however, that because the holidays are such a popular time to volunteer, many nonprofits already have shifts filled for the holidays. And nonprofits need just as much help throughout the year as they do at the end of the year. So even if you can’t find the perfect chance to give back during the holidays, there’s still plenty you can do to help out in the new year.

  1. You Have More Time

Most people are off work or home from school during the holidays, so this makes it even easier to find some time to help those in need during the holidays or in the new year. Throughout the year, we can easily get caught up in our day-to-day responsibilities, and it can be hard to carve out the time needed to volunteer.

You never know, if you enjoy your volunteering experience (and you most likely will), you’ll be more liable to seek out service opportunities down the road.

  1. You Can Give Someone (or a Family) a Warm Meal

Most of us overindulge during the holidays. We spend time cooking too much food, fill our plates with huge portions, go back for seconds and dessert, and end up feeling too full to move. Instead of spending your entire day preparing food (if you already have more than enough to go around), why not offer your time and service at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or donate food to those in need? You can do your part to ensure underprivileged members of your community get a nice, warm meal.

Think about the families you can help. When you see the smiles on their faces, you’ll know how much they appreciate your time. You’ll have a more fulfilling holiday, and you’ll still have a chance to go home and enjoy your family feast.

  1. Volunteering Spreads Holiday Cheer

Donating food, cooking, serving a meal aren’t the only ways to help those in need this holiday season. While many of us may get stressed out about family gatherings, think of the individuals who don’t have their family near to spend time with.

You can volunteer to help veterans in your community, get involved with a hospital that puts on a holiday celebration for patients, volunteer at a retirement home, and so much more.

  1. You Can Lead by Example

With so many family members around during the holidays, why not set a good example for the little ones (or even the stubborn adults)? Lead by example: share your plans to volunteer and explain why you want to be of service. Then encourage your family to register for kid and teen-friendly volunteer opportunities in your area.

Help your family, especially the younger members, understand some of the benefits of volunteering.

  1. Make it a Family Affair

Besides just explaining the benefits of volunteering to your family, get everyone involved! It’s quality time you can spend together, or a distraction if you need one since you’ll be preoccupied with helping others.

Volunteering is an excellent way to spend time with family and make a difference. According to Nancy Mann Jackson from Parenthood, “For today’s families who rarely have time to spend together — much less, the time to add another commitment to the schedule — volunteering can actually be a solution.”

Getting involved in your children’s classroom activities is another great way to give back, and you can do this any time of the year. Offer to volunteer as a chaperone on school field trips, for example. It’s a great opportunity to spend quality family time and check out new places.

  1. You’ll Get Back Just as Much as You Give

Volunteering is not working for free. Sure, there’s no monetary compensation, but you get just as much (if not more) out of it than you put in. You gain countless benefits from volunteering including health benefits such as a boost in your mood, happiness, and satisfaction. According to these facts on kindness, “Performing good deeds for others, even in as little as a 10-day span, has been reported to boost happiness and life satisfaction.”

  1. You Can Try Something New

Because of all the different volunteer opportunities available to you during the holidays — like teaching, building, crafting and more — you have the chance to try something new or something you never thought of trying before. Who knows, you might even discover a new hobby or passion, or you may stumble upon a hidden talent!

  1. Volunteering Builds Personal Relationships

Volunteering is one of the best ways to connect with your community, make new friends, and boost your social skills, which is important for both adults and children.

When you help people in need, you create a special bond with them, and you also build strong relationships with the people you volunteer alongside. Your fellow volunteers may be people outside of your social bubble; people you may not interact with under normal circumstances. Volunteer groups bring like-minded individuals together for a good cause and create avenues to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

  1. It Helps You Appreciate What You Have

Helping someone in need can put things into perspective. It’s an eye-opening experience that helps us count our blessings and realize the things we should be grateful for. Volunteering can help you adopt this attitude of gratitude.

There are so many different ways to give. Remember, although we encourage volunteering during the holidays, it’s important for nonprofits to have volunteers year-round. Have a safe and healthy holiday season, and have fun giving back!

For a list of volunteer opportunities in your community go to: https://volunteer.helplinecenter.org/

Article can be found at: https://blogs.volunteermatch.org/engagingvolunteers/2016/12/13/9-fantastic-reasons-to-volunteer-during-the-holidays/

Happy International Volunteer Managers Day

November 5, 2018


  • International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMDay) was founded and observed for the first time in 1999. The push for IVMDay was led by American Nan Hawthorn who helped form a committee to explore a day recognizing the work of Volunteer Managers. IVMDay was developed in order to bring recognition to individual Managers of Volunteers and their roles in the mobilization and support of the world’s volunteers.
  • Up until 2005, IVMDay shared its day of celebration with International Volunteers Day on December 5.
  • In 2006, the IVMDay International Supporters Group was formed. This group of key leaders and organizations from around the world are helping to spread the word about IVMDay.
  • IVMDay moved to its own day in 2006 and was celebrated initially on November 1 (a clash with key dates in Europe saw a final shift to the day’s current date of November 5 in 2008).

For more information on International Volunteer Managers Day go to: http://volunteermanagersday.org


Holiday Guides

October 22, 2018

The 2018 Holiday Guides are now available! www.helplinecenter.org/holidayguides

Each year the Helpline Center creates Holiday Guides for those who need help and those who want to help during the holiday season. Separate Guides are available for those who are in need of assistance, wish to volunteer, give items to nonprofits, or attend special events that support local organizations.

How To Volunteer As A Senior

October 9, 2018

Adapted from an article found at: http://www.aginginplace.org/how-to-volunteer-as-a-senior/

Ramona Griego, an 81-year-old retiree, had recently lost her husband and her diabetes wasn’t getting any better. She soon developed depression and was looking for a way to improve her situation. After looking at different available options, Griego soon turned to volunteering. According to the AARP this was an excellent solution.

With the help of the Corporation for National and Community Service, she got involved with her community after visiting a senior center and started helping people her own age stay active and engaged. She said, “The program has allowed me to enjoy my life as I age, and I feel important when I can help people with small things that allow them to remain in their homes.”

Volunteering truly gave Griego a new life. This is a common story for hundreds of thousands of elderly people.

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) matches adults 55 and over with volunteer opportunities, utilizing their talents, expertise, and life-long experiences to address critical community needs.

Volunteer Opportunities
Helpline RSVP assists residents of Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner, and Union Counties in South Dakota finding meaningful volunteer placements. When you volunteer, you’re not just helping others, you’re helping yourself. Volunteering leads to new discoveries and new friends. Plus, studies show that volunteering helps you live longer and promotes a positive outlook on life.

Helpline RSVP supports senior volunteer activities in areas including youth mentoring, food distribution, food delivery, and transportation. RSVP is part of Senior Corps, which is a program of the Corporation for National and community Service, an independent federal agency that promotes community service.

Members of RSVP receive benefits such as, volunteer recognition and support events throughout the year for their service to the community.  Supplementary accident and liability insurance is provided at no cost. For more information go to http://www.helplinecenter.org/rsvp

Contact us
Contact Jessica Schulte, RSVP Coordinator at (605) 274-1420 or rsvp@helplinecenter.org to learn more, or if you’d like to sign up as a RSVP Volunteer.

Adapted from an article found at: http://www.aginginplace.org/how-to-volunteer-as-a-senior/


Volunteers Are The Worst

August 15, 2017

Imagine you are a pretty senior person in a corporate job. Someone tells you there are twenty people who are dying to volunteer for your department.

Volunteer, not intern – These folks get paid nothing in exchange for the experience and knowledge that they are helping you in getting your big job done.

And they are (I repeat!) free labor. They will do anything you ask them. Your department gets more work done and, as a result, is more profitable. And since your own year-end bonus relies on your productivity, the more you deliver, the more you make.

Sounds kinda awesome right? I’m thinking you’d sign right up.

So then why do so many nonprofit leaders have a serious love/hate relationship with volunteers? And is there anything they (and you) can do to make it actually work?

Why yes. Yes there is…

First, a recent reader, without meaning to, brought to light how valuable volunteers can really be:

“I’m the program director and run 9 different committees by myself with one support person that splits her time between me and the ED. Yet we have 4 staff members dedicated to two fundraisers. More money = more help.”

Perhaps more money equals more help. But guess what? More volunteers equals more help too! How about finding a first rate volunteer to work 15 hours a week to help with administrative support for this ridiculous amount of work?


So with all the potential upside, what’s the issue anyway? I mean seriously, who turns her back on free labor? Why don’t we all turn over every stone to try to find volunteers? Here are the top three excuses reasons I hear from nonprofit leaders.

  1. Volunteers are too much work. I have to figure out what the heck they can do that is finite, requires little supervision and keeps them occupied for long stretches of time. I am already way too busy to take on additional responsibility.
  2. Volunteers are just not reliable. I just can’t count on ‘em. I don’t pay them so who knows if they’ll even show up when I need them. I can’t take that chance.
  3. My work needs to be perfect. I can’t afford to let any balls drop – there’s too much at stake. I can’t give work to someone who doesn’t have the same amount of skin in the game as I do.


But they’re not. Here’s why.

Yes there’s a lot at stake if something gets messed up. But there’s even more at stake if you don’t get done what needs to be done. You can’t do everything yourself and have the reach and impact you need. It’s nearly impossible. If you never delegate, you’ll drown (and burn out.) And most nonprofits simply don’t have enough staff.

All three of the reasons come down to managing risk. You just need to find the right person who is committed to your mission. You need to give them specific tasks and you need to hold them accountable.

If you can’t do that, maybe the problem isn’t with the volunteers. Maybe it’s with you.


Don’t get defensive now. Of course there are great volunteers and terrible ones. A great volunteer is the same kind of person who makes a great staffer. She’s committed, understands her responsibilities (and has been sufficiently trained,) and she’s held accountable.

But there’s another critical ingredient. A great supervisor with a dose of creativity.

In other words, you.

Here’s what I mean about creativity. Think about the work you do every day. Think about the small tasks that, in aggregate, suck up your time. I’m positive you can come up with a variety of tasks for a willing and enthusiastic volunteer for at least an hour or two each day. If you plan far enough ahead, maybe even a couple days each week.

Filing. Backing up your computer. Pouring ketchup into cups for the lunch service at the soup kitchen.

It’s just not that hard to be creative about volunteers for annual galas and big dinner parties. In fact, you simply can’t execute these without dedicated volunteers. Start to think about your day-to-day job the same way.

So that’s the “creative” part. How about the “great supervisor” part?


1) Answer the phone

This one is a serious pet peeve. More than once I’ve told somebody I’m a nonprofit consultant and mention a client. The response: “Oh yeah, I tried to volunteer for them once but no one ever got back to me.”

SERIOUSLY? Just stop it! As an organization, make a decision. Either commit to working with volunteers or don’t. But if you do, pick up the phone.

2) Take interviews seriously

Just because the price is right doesn’t mean that either (a) the skill set is right or (b) the volunteer wants the gig for the right reason. Treat volunteer interviews just like you would for a full-time staffer.

3) Invest

People who drive meaning and significance from their work are more than three times as likely to stay engaged and stay put.

If you take time to share successes or a story that amplifies the need for your work, the specific task becomes unimportant. You’ll wind up with a volunteer who cares about the quality of the work as much as you do and will stay with you a long time. Don’t take your volunteers for granted. Let them know they’re appreciated and doing meaningful work.


Do my readers a favor. Head to the comments section below and share a great story about how a rockstar volunteer made your job a bit easier, came up with a great idea, or just provided strong moral support on a particularly tough day.

Let’s hear your stories. Inspire us.

And if you volunteer, thank you! And please share your experiences as well.

Article: http://www.joangarry.com/nonprofit-volunteers/?utm_content=buffer418ba&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Joan Garry

Widely known as the “Dear Abby” of nonprofit leadership, Joan works with board and staff as a strategic advisor, crisis manager, change agent and strategic planner. Joan also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on nonprofit communications and leadership.

Successful Campaigns Empower Volunteers—Then Let Them Lead

July 6, 2017

Abby Monkarsh had always cared about animals. She grew up in Jericho, New York, a small Long Island town. When she turned 11, her family adopted their first dog from a nearby animal shelter. She eventually became a vegetarian, and soon after college she was hired to work at an animal hospital in Brookline, Massachusetts, just outside Boston.

Despite her deep love for animals, she had never joined a campaign to advocate on their behalf. Then, one day in September 2015, more than a decade after starting her work at the animal hospital, she heard about an upcoming event at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) just blocks from her apartment. It was her birthday weekend, and since she always liked doing something good for animals on her birthday, Monkarsh went, along with nearly 100 other animal advocates.

The MSPCA, she learned, had partnered with The Humane Society of the United States and other groups in spearheading a statewide campaign to place an animal protection issue on the November 2016 ballot. If they collected enough signatures from registered Massachusetts voters, the issue of extreme farm animal confinement could qualify for the ballot. The campaign needed to collect a staggering 95,000 signatures—about 1,500 per day over two and a half months—to provide Massachusetts voters with an opportunity to vote “yes” to ensure egg-laying hens, breeding sows, and calves raised for veal would no longer be raised in cages and crates so cramped the animals could barely move.

Monkarsh was in. She didn’t waste any time, either. She left the event and walked right across the street to a music festival to begin collecting signatures from strangers. The following week, she collected more signatures at work, and even planted herself outside grocery stores and at busy street corners. Thanks to Monkarsh’s warm, disarming demeanor, most passersby stopped and signed, so she quickly filled up the petition sheets given to her at the event.

With her petition sheets full of signatures, she delivered a thick stack to the campaign headquarters and asked what else she could do. We campaign staffers were excited but skeptical. We probed: How did she get so many signatures so quickly? Just who was she?

Despite having no experience in political campaigning or animal advocacy, Monkarsh knew what she was doing. And we knew we had found a leader.

Unwittingly, political campaigns often create bottlenecks that are unnecessary impediments to engaging volunteers, requiring that paid staff members handle every task. But, inspired by the words of a former Obama campaign staffer in the book Groundbreakers, we knew that training volunteers to lead would be key to our success: “[Volunteers] are our strength, they are part of our strategy. This is how we’ll win.”

Our campaign could’ve chosen to over-manage Monkarsh by dictating where and when she collected signatures, rewriting the spiel she gave to passersby, or creating any other number of constraints. But we didn’t. In fact, we did the opposite: We gave her more freedom and asked her to take on even more responsibility.

Over the following weeks, every time someone who lived near Monkarsh wanted to get involved, we sent them to her, and she promptly trained them. This approach of transferring some responsibility from staff to volunteers ultimately freed up staff time and gave volunteers like Monkarsh the opportunity to help lead a political campaign.

When all was said and done, Monkarsh had collected more than 5,000 signatures in her spare time while training new volunteers and inspiring many others. “Having everyone at the campaign office recognize my passion and potential was beyond flattering,” Monkarsh said.

It wasn’t just Monkarsh. There was Elizabeth Kenney in Bourne and Jessica Sosebee in Nantucket, who trained volunteers in areas difficult for campaign staff to reach. Carla and Richard Moss, a retired couple in Byfield, diligently spent one hour each day collecting signatures, sometimes bringing new volunteers along to show them the ropes. Kathy Downey in Newbury, Sheryl Becker in Agawam, and Leslie Luppino in Pittsfield activated their local animal-friendly networks to get involved.

Thanks to the leadership of volunteers and staff, the campaign collected 133,000 signatures, more than any other campaign trying to get on the Massachusetts ballot that year and the only one to do it without hiring a paid signature-gathering firm.

Once qualified for the ballot, we had to mount a campaign that would win 50.1 percent of the electorate—about 1.5 million votes. We were asking voters to cast their ballot in favor of preventing the extreme confinement of chickens, pigs and calves—animals they likely had never interacted with and knew little about. It was no small challenge.

Drawing on the strength of volunteers from the signature-collecting phase we recruited 40 of them to serve as “town captains,” leading door-knocking and other grassroots outreach in their own communities. One volunteer in Cambridge, Curt Rogers, organized other volunteers so extensively that the door of every single consistent voter was visited.

On election night, the hard work of Monkarsh, Rogers, and more than a thousand other volunteers paid off when Massachusetts voters ushered in the nation’s strongest farm animal protection law with an overwhelming 78 percent of the vote. “Looking around the room at all those amazing people who worked so hard and cared so much about these animals,” Monkarsh said, “is a feeling I will never forget.” The commanding win confirmed the humane values we all share—that all animals, in addition to the dogs and cats with which we share our homes, deserve to be protected from cruelty. But it also confirmed that when campaigns empower volunteers, rather than simply manage them, everyone succeeds.



Upsides of workplace volunteer programs revealed in Deloitte survey

July 6, 2017

Deloitte’s 2017 Volunteerism Survey conducted in May interviewed 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18+, employed full- or part-time, who have volunteered in the past 12 months. Its objective was to explore how employed Americans view volunteerism in the workplace and their understanding of the impact and benefits to communities, self and business.

A number of interesting findings were revealed in the survey, including:

  • 89% of respondents believe companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment than those who do not
  • 70% say that volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours
  • 77% say volunteering is essential to employee well-being

However, just 38% of respondents indicated that their employers provide access to company-sponsored or coordinated volunteer programs.

“It appears that many employees understand the value of volunteering and have the desire to do more, but they aren’t reaping the full benefits,” said Doug Marshall, managing director of corporate citizenship at Deloitte LLP. “Employers have an opportunity to build on their volunteerism programs by creating a culture that celebrates volunteering and empowers volunteers to be more active.”

Understanding the impact
One way businesses can encourage more volunteering is by explaining how employees efforts benefit the community, Deloitte suggests. For example, 75% of millennials said they would volunteer more if they had a better understanding of the impact they could make. That compares to 61% of all respondents who felt that way.

Businesses can also let employees know how volunteering benefits them – beyond the “halo effect” that comes with active volunteering.

In a Deloitte Impact Survey last year, 80% of hiring influencers indicated they believe active volunteers move into leadership roles more easily. Yet in this year’s volunteerism survey, just 18% of respondents said they believe volunteerism can enhance their career opportunities, although 36% indicated it can help them develop new skills.

A purpose-driven workforce
“As businesses continue to find new ways to retain and attract new talent, and establish a more purpose-driven and engaged workforce, they should consider how they can better incorporate volunteerism into their culture,” Marshall said. “It’s a potential solution from which businesses, professionals and communities can benefit, while supporting employees’ personal and career development, and boosting their sense of well-being.”


This article is from the Council’s Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

20 Volunteer Ideas for Teens & Families

September 15, 2016


As our children are moving into the high school years we are encouraging them to seek opportunities to get involved in the community through volunteering.

Volunteering provides many benefits for teens. By participating in community service activities teens can meet new people, learn the value of serving others, build life skills,explore potential career options, and more.

If your teen is college bound there may be another good reason for volunteering — colleges often look for work and volunteer experience on the college application.

You might even want to consider helping your family (including your teen) find volunteering activities you can all participate in together. Working on projects together as a family is a special way to build ties to your community and unforgettable family memories.

Together with our friends we would like to share 20 of our favorite volunteer ideas for teens and families:

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities for Teens & Families

There are many places for teens and families to volunteer. Non—profit organizations, churches, and community groups are often looking for people to help with activities and events.

Teens can find volunteer opportunities by visiting sites like VolunteerMatch.org  or HandsOn Network. While looking at these sites teens can search for activities that match their interests and/or help them build skills.

Here are a few examples from our family:

  • Because we are big animal lovers our family has been working with a local dog rescue group as a foster family.
  • My oldest son wanted to learn more about law enforcement so he volunteers with the Explorers program.
  • My younger son wanted to strengthen his public speaking skills so he volunteers with our county’s Teen Court program.

Here are a few more ideas from our friends:

Help your teen discover opportunities to use his passions to serve others. – Kris

The Importance of Giving & Serving Others

It is important to help kids and teens understand the needs and concerns of others. We believe hands-on, in-person service activities in the community are the best way to build understanding.

We are thankful to our many friends who are sharing their experiences on this topic (click on the link within each quote to learn more):

Because of our homeschool service projects my children have more compassion for others, notice needs, willingly give up time and resources, joyfully take part in each and every opportunity, and specifically look for ways to help others.- Cindy

The Martin Luther King Day of Service is a moment to work together to fulfill King’s vision for a better America. Eva

Teaching children to serve is such an important thing. If children learn while they are young the value of giving of themselves, not for praise but just because, their lives will be so much better. – Karyn

Helping Kids Help Others – Raising our children to be givers not takers is important. Raising our children to think of others and care for others in need is important too. By Jen

Do you want your kids to learn kindness and service like I do?  I want my kids to naturally desire to show love and kindness to others around them. Here are some fun Acts of Kindness Kids Can do. – Karyn

Every activity on our family’s schedule is carefully considered. Recently, we made acommitment to a new activity that has really blessed our family – serving others. Crystal

Building Life Skills & Character

Volunteering can also help teens build important life skills and positive character traits. For example, by helping to foster homeless dogs my children are learning patience, compassion, and (more practically) how to help dogs learn basic obedience skills so they can find their forever homes. Through his experience with the Explorers program my son is also learning leadership skills that will service him well regardless of what career path he chooses in the future.

Here are some more thoughts on the importance of building these skills from other families:

Character building doesn’t have to be another subject that you tack onto the end of your day. In fact, I would argue that helping your children to develop positive character traits is actually more effective if you use hands-on, real world methods. One way you can do this is by volunteering with your children. – Michelle

Service and Leadership – In our home, learning to serve plays a major role in values training.  Of course, we train our children to serve one another in our home, but we’re also intentional in finding service opportunities outside the home. – Cindy

It’s Our Turn to Lead – Here are a few activities and ideas to teach your students about preserving our earth, while learning about our beautiful planet. – Eva

Additional Volunteering Resources and Ideas

Article found at: http://educationpossible.com/volunteer-ideas-for-teens/