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A Few Thoughts on Volunteerism and the World Giving Index Results

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The recent issue of the Non-Profit Times applauded Australia for topping the World Giving Index, which is compiled by CAF in the UK. You can see the full results here.

Here is the order of placement based upon the generosity in charitable giving:

1. Australia
2. Ireland
3. Canada
4. New Zealand
5. USA

One can easily surmise that the concept of charitable giving stems from the world wide influence of England. I found it ironic that many of the early English colonies have now surpassed mother England in the rankings. It is so wonderful to see the tradition of charitable giving has now spread over most of the globe.

The Placement of USA is even LOWER in Volunteering.

Let’s first focus on one of the tougher aspects for many of us in America to fathom. Within the volunteer portion of the index, our country managed only a tie for 7th place. We managed a tie with Canada and that volunteer powerhouse Paraguay.) I wonder if a portion of the reason for this is how well equipped our American charities are to utilize volunteers.

Since so many of the companies I have been part of over the years serve the non-profit sector, we have always tried to “give back” with a full week of volunteering several times each year. When any of our businesses surpassed 100 employees, finding places to send 10-25 people per day in a volunteer effort, was difficult at best. (Just FYI, we usually averaged above an 80% employee participation rate). Even if we contacted a wide array of local charities months in advance and inquired about a week of full-fledged volunteer efforts by our talented team members, less than 15% seemed eager or had any idea what to do with us!

A member of our charitable effort committee would, more times than not, contact the executive director and help them think outside the box on what our team could do. Sometimes a light bulb would click on and sometimes not. Of course, there are always those non-profits who welcomed all of our team with open arms. We loved those win/win situations and often returned the very next year!

Some of our Best Week Long Volunteer Outings included:

1. Finding a major remodeling project and dividing up tasks into daily team chunks
2. Using our team’s impressive technical skills to achieve results
3. Staging a week long contest between daily teams as we attacked a large project
4. Allowing us to become longer term mentors to people involved with or being helped by the charity
5. Finding projects that were fun and fulfilling for all involved

Perhaps if more non-profits were able to make one or more of the above listed items come to life, our position as a country would move up a few spots in the volunteering area. More importantly, the concept and amount of corporate volunteering might also aspire to new heights.

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