Few things are more beneficial to creating positive change for a community than the efforts of hardworking volunteers. As we just celebrated National Volunteer Week from April 15-21, now is a relevant time to remind our community of what our volunteers do.
Nationwide, one in four Americans donate their time to improve their communities; that’s 62.6 million people doing enough work to equal 20.8 million full-time jobs. Wisconsin alone boasts more than 1,630,000 volunteers — 35 percent of the entire state population—the third highest volunteer rate in the U.S.
Since the average volunteer hour is worth $24.69, this labor force generates monumental benefits for our nation and our community—and that’s just if you look at the numbers.
United Way is a part of a network of volunteers consisting of 2.9 million people around the world. As a result, we see the impact of volunteers’ generosity front and center. In Racine County, we fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community. That is no job for any one organization or team alone—this work takes the efforts of more than 1,000 local volunteers to carry out.
More than 200 volunteers support our Schools of Hope program, all of whom tutored young students to help them become more confident, capable readers in their crucial early years. During the 2018 tax season, our volunteers returned more than $1 million to our community in tax refunds via the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which low-to-middle-income taxpayers can access for free. So far this year, the all-volunteer board of youth who comprise Youth As Resources awarded $4,800 in grants to fund six local, youth community service projects. Hundreds of volunteers assemble annually for Kickoff and Day of Caring to support our funded partners and for Day of Action to drive progress for our initiatives in health, education, and financial stability.
Volunteers are also responsible for the challenging process of deciding how to allocate donor funds each year. Our trained, volunteer investment committee members carefully review and evaluate all local funding requests to make the best decisions possible for our partners and our community.
That’s an incredible amount of work to accomplish for one community. In 2017, our volunteers donated nearly 8,700 hours to our cause, valued at a total of $209,000.
While volunteers donate their time from a spirit of charity, research shows that volunteering has positive, personal benefits beyond the impact on the community. Volunteers can find their activities boost their heart health and well-being.
Volunteering also facilitates a stronger sense of community, building new relationships and connecting them to the work it takes for a region to thrive. And while volunteering doesn’t pay the bills, individuals with volunteering on their resumes are 27 percent more likely to find regular employment than non-volunteers. While these benefits aren’t the reason we volunteer, it’s encouraging to know that volunteering brings an all-around improvement to the lives of individuals and communities.
Whether you’re looking at data or at the kind of impact volunteers have on peoples’ lives, this mighty group of citizens creates extensive positive change. Thank you to all those whose volunteer efforts have supported our community, through United Way or any other organization.
We would not be able to make this progress without your incredible support.