Perhaps we sound a bit like a broken record, but we just can’t stop talking about volunteerism. The momentum simply hasn’t slowed since we first called 2009 “the year of service” in January. National Volunteer Week concludes tomorrow, but it’s not the calendar marker that is resonating as much as some of the news and research that has been released in light of it.
This week, President Obama brought to fruition his call for service when he signed “landmark” legislation expanding service and volunteer programs in the U.S. He called upon Americans to “make an enduring commitment to serving your community and your country in whatever way you can.” The Serve America Act will more than triple the size of AmeriCorps, create new volunteer programs and help nonprofits expand programs and recruit and manage volunteers.
The latter is particularly relevant given new findings from Deloitte’s* 2009 Volunteer IMPACT Survey. The study, the latest in Deloitte’s research series which explores skills-based volunteerism, revealed a troubling disconnect in the pro bono space. At a time when more than nine in 10 nonprofit respondents say they need and want pro bono support, “most have a startling lack of knowledge about where to get it.” What’s more, about one-in-four nonprofit respondents say they have “no plans to use skilled volunteers or pro bono support in any capacity in 2009.” This insight points out that corporations and nonprofits are still more focused on giving and getting cash, despite these challenging times. Until the conversations between these two parties extend beyond financial support, both will leave significant value on the table. As Deloitte notes, pro bono is currency. And it’s a tender that will become increasingly valuable as the nationwide, sector-spanning spotlight on volunteerism intensifies and the corporate purse strings tighten.