Volunteerism Trends in 2024 Corporate Incentives and More

Volunteerism Trends in 2024 | Corporate Incentives and More

Did you know that the value of a single volunteer hour (according to the benefit it produces for an organization) is estimated to be $29.95? Or that thousands of companies offer generous volunteer grant programs to encourage staff to support philanthropic efforts? Volunteerism trends like these can shed significant light on an invaluable opportunity for your team.

To help your nonprofit understand your volunteers a bit more, this guide will conduct a deep dive into the following essential volunteer trends and patterns:

Volunteers play an integral role in your nonprofit, handling responsibilities from behind-the-scenes bookkeeping to on-the-ground work at your program sites. When solidifying your volunteer program’s recruitment strategies, understanding the nonprofit landscape allows you to source powerful insights from broader trends in volunteer behavior and motivations. Then, you can use the insights to adjust your strategy and better attract and retain a solid group of volunteers.

Ready? Let’s begin with the first trend!

One-third of the nonprofit workforce is made up of volunteers.

Volunteerism trend - percentage of volunteer nonprofit workforce

For U.S.-based nonprofits, volunteers are everywhere. In fact, recent reports indicate that an estimated 63 million Americans volunteer their time and energy with organizations like yours.

That said, your nonprofit’s staff is instrumental in providing beneficiaries with the services they need. However, most nonprofits have tight budgets and often rely on volunteer labor to get work done. This is so much the case that an astounding one-third of all nonprofit workers are volunteers.

Of course, the ratio of paid employees to volunteers will vary from one nonprofit to the next. For example, many small organizations do incredibly important work but are entirely made up of volunteers. In contrast, enterprise-size nonprofits often have entire departments of paid employees.

What does this volunteerism trend mean for your nonprofit?

Because so much labor at charitable organizations goes unpaid, calculations of the nonprofit sector’s economic value will always be off. Don’t let this impact how your nonprofit values your volunteers. Instead, show your appreciation and ensure your volunteer staff feel like they’re a real part of your team. Ultimately, they are!

This also means that, by sourcing new volunteers, organizations can often expand their capabilities and do even more for their missions.

Most U.S.-based volunteers are between the ages of 35 and 44.

Volunteerism trend - average age range

Reports show that the average U.S. volunteer is a woman between the ages of 35 and 44, usually with a child less than 18 years of age.

It’s important to recognize that non-women, along with people of other age groups, certainly volunteer, as well. However, there are a few key assumptions we can draw from the average organization’s volunteer profile.

For example, middle-aged mothers are likely to volunteer at their children’s school, church, and neighborhood activities. This assessment also holds true for reports of informal volunteering⁠—such as cooking for neighbors, taking care of children, and improving the state of their communities.

What does this volunteerism trend mean for your nonprofit?

Assess your current supporter base to see if your nonprofit’s average volunteer fits this profile. Then, use the information to tap into audiences your nonprofit may have previously neglected.

For example, how can you reach more families? Do you offer volunteer positions that are convenient for working professionals? Be sure to assess not just your volunteer marketing but the overall accessibility of your volunteer program for individuals with differing circumstances, needs, and opportunities.

Regular volunteerism offers numerous benefits for individuals.

Volunteerism trend - motivations and benefits

Partaking in volunteerism provides numerous and widespread benefits for volunteers, the organizations with which they devote their time, and their communities as a whole. For volunteers themselves, the value includes personal fulfillment, a deepened sense of purpose, and professional skill development.

When asked why they volunteer, 35% of individuals indicated their primary reason was to socialize. However, the majority of volunteers (83%) say their main motivator is helping a cause they care about.

In addition to these benefits, research indicates that individuals who regularly volunteer have a 27% higher chance of finding employment, too. Not to mention, individuals who volunteer tend to experience 38% fewer nights in the hospital.

What does this volunteerism trend mean for your nonprofit?

It’s easy to focus solely on how volunteering helps the nonprofit recruit supporters. However, while volunteers do want to help causes they care about, it never hurts to mention the benefits they can receive in addition to making a positive impact.

Be upfront about the skills and experience supporters can gain from volunteering. This can include anything from customer service experience, data management, specific labor and technical skills, or anything else related to your programs that’s also applicable in the workplace.

Formal volunteerism rates are declining in most states.

Volunteerism trend - decline across states

Nonprofits need volunteers to staff events, help during fundraisers, and complete tasks that keep their programs running. However, finding enough people to fill all available volunteer positions isn’t always easy, and 62% of nonprofit CEOs state that recruiting enough volunteers is an issue. This goes hand-in-hand with additional data reporting that the demand for many nonprofit services is up.

If your nonprofit has had trouble filling volunteer positions, know that you’re not alone. The majority of U.S. states have seen a decrease in the percentage of their population that formally volunteers. How much volunteering has declined varies from state to state, with some following routine ebbs and flows, while others have experienced as much as a 10% drop. For example, in Florida, already a state with low volunteering rates, 22.8% of the population volunteered in 2017. Four years later, it’s just 15.9%.

Meanwhile, of those who do volunteer, 72% work with just one organization⁠—and a mere 18% are involved with two.

What does this volunteerism trend mean for your nonprofit?

While volunteer rates can shift for a number of reasons, there are several factors your nonprofit can control. For example, consider what roles you have open for volunteers. How do you promote these opportunities? Are these roles volunteers would be interested in, or are they positions that are mostly rote work? Is your team sourcing support through corporate volunteer initiatives?

Additionally, if you’re constantly having to find new volunteers, that might be a sign to take a step back and assess your volunteer retention strategy. Talk with these volunteers about improvements to your program they’d like to see and show your appreciation. Even if you’re low on staff, make sure not to overwork them to avoid volunteer burnout, too.

Companies are increasingly encouraging their staff to partake in volunteerism.

Volunteerism trend - growing corporate volunteerism

More and more, companies are actively encouraging their employees to engage in volunteerism, recognizing the benefits of such initiatives for team building, employee satisfaction, corporate social responsibility, and more.

For example, 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grants, where they encourage their employees to volunteer by donating to the nonprofits their employees support. It generally works like this:

  1. An employee volunteers at an eligible nonprofit. 
  2. The employee reports their volunteer hours and other needed information. Most employee volunteer grant programs are based on the hours an employee volunteers. Some provide a per-hour rate, while others require a certain number of hours to be met before donating a flat amount. Additionally, employers often require the nonprofit’s name, tax ID, and mailing address.
  3. The company donates to the nonprofit. Once a volunteer grant application is submitted, the company reviews it. If the nonprofit and hours requirements have been met, the grant application is improved, and the nonprofit receives a donation.

While the amount offered will vary from one company to another, 80% of employers report offering grants worth $8 to $15 per hour a team member volunteers.

Another way companies incentivize volunteerism is through volunteer time off (VTO), generally offering between 8 and 40 hours each year. Around 60% of companies currently provide employees with paid VTO, with an additional 21% planning to implement a VTO policy in the coming months.

What does this volunteerism trend mean for your nonprofit?

Your supporters’ time is already an invaluable resource for your organization. When you consider that your nonprofit may qualify for grant funding in addition to the hours volunteers donate, you’re presented with an excellent opportunity to maximize this group’s support. Every hour a volunteer spends with your organization not only contributes their time and skills (which is currently worth an estimated $29.95), but also translates into direct financial support.

Therefore, start educating your volunteers about the power of volunteer grants and other incentives. Keep careful track of their hours, and help them discover if they’re eligible for employer-sponsored programming. Most companies will have the relevant information accessible through their CSR portal or in their office handbook. If you can’t find any information there, it also never hurts to ask!

Meanwhile, Volunteer Time Off programs provide employees with the opportunity to volunteer during work hours without sacrificing their income. And 67% of survey respondents say having paid time off to volunteer would make for a positive engagement experience! Take a look at the supporters in your network, and see if any work for companies that offer these programs.

There’s a significant overlap between companies offering matching gifts and ones offering volunteer incentives.

Volunteerism trend - overlap with matching gift companies

You may have heard that more than 24,000 companies offer matching gifts for their employees. But did you know that companies contributing matching gifts often overlap significantly with those offering volunteer grant programs? In fact, recent studies indicate that over 85% of the top matching gift companies also offer volunteer grants.

In other words, philanthropic-minded employers generally offer more than one opportunity for staff to get involved. If you know a company matches monetary donations, the chances are good that it’ll match volunteer time as well⁠—and vice versa!

What does this volunteerism trend mean for your nonprofit?

If you’re looking for volunteer grant opportunities to pursue, identifying well-known matching gift companies can give your organization the boost you need. This can also provide an excellent chance to pitch volunteer activities to matching gift donors and matching gift opportunities to “Dollars for Doers” volunteers.

This also means that a dual approach to marketing can further amplify fundraising efforts. When engaging with donors, it’s beneficial to educate them about both matching gift and volunteer grant opportunities. You don’t want to let either program fall by the wayside!

Many corporate volunteer incentives continue to be underutilized.

Volunteerism trend - underutilized corporate volunteer incentives

Despite the rise in corporate encouragement for volunteerism, many corporate volunteer incentives remain underutilized. Why? Unfortunately, awareness rates are often low, suggesting a need for better promotion around the program to maximize the opportunities.
Today, the average employee participation level for volunteer grants, or Dollars for Doers, is a mere 3%. Like matching gifts, there’s a significant knowledge gap when it comes to eligible volunteers being aware of the opportunities.

Meanwhile, the average corporate volunteer participation rate stands at 33%. Although not all employees participate in existing volunteer incentive programs, it’s worth noting that companies with fewer than 10,000 employees achieved a higher-than-average participation rate of 39%. At the same time, those with more than 50,000 employees had a participation rate of 24%.

What does this volunteerism trend mean for your nonprofit?

For nonprofits, a steadily low participation rate represents an opportunity to increase awareness and, subsequently, engagement in the programs. Volunteers who don’t know about their companies’ existing programming won’t know to request volunteer grant funding on your organization’s behalf, thus leaving dollars on the table.

By actively promoting the benefits of volunteer grants and other corporate incentives to volunteers, donors, and partners alike, your nonprofit can encourage higher participation and secure more employee giving revenue than before.

Wrapping Up & Additional Philanthropy Resources

As the volunteer landscape continues to evolve, nonprofits like yours face a unique opportunity to make the most of your supporter base. Companies are recognizing the dual benefits of volunteer programs: enhancing corporate social responsibility while fostering employee engagement. Meanwhile, innovations in technology are making it easier than ever for individuals to find and participate in volunteer activities that align with their passions and skills.

Incorporating these trends into your organization’s volunteer strategy can lead to more robust and effective programs. By staying ahead of these developments, businesses and nonprofits alike can maximize their impact, build stronger communities, and create a more engaged and fulfilled workforce.

Interested in learning more about volunteerism trends and other philanthropy opportunities? Check out these recommended resources:

Benefit more from these volunteerism trends with 360MatchPro.