Findings Friday | Unemployed? Volunteer.

Join us each Friday as we share recent sector research that has real implications for your organization.  This week, we explore the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) new report, Volunteering as a Path to Employment, and what the data may mean for job-seekers and volunteers.

Based on a decade of Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data correlating volunteer and employment status, the CNCS study provides some of the first empirical evidence demonstrating that volunteers may have the upper hand in the job market.

Their analysis finds that in a two-year span, unemployed individuals who volunteer in the first year have 27% higher odds of finding employment than those who do not volunteer. And when looking at subsets within their sample, the benefits of volunteerism are even more profound. When looking at a subset of individuals without high school diplomas, volunteers are 51% more likely to find work than non-volunteers. And in rural areas, 55% of volunteers are more likely to find employment than non-volunteers.


An excerpt from CNCS’s Volunteering as a Path to Employment infographic.

So how does the volunteer-employment relationship work?

The direct job-related benefits of volunteering in your community are three-fold:

  • Build your network by volunteering with organizations in a nonprofit subsector that relates to your career goals.
  • Gain skills and insights from the field to compliment your educational and work background.
  • Put your volunteer experience on your résumé! Everyone loves someone who is engaged in their community.

Keep in mind, a cause and effect relationship has not been established here, but the consistency in the volunteer-employment relationship is pretty dramatic and stands up to statistical analysis.

A previous study shows that long-term idleness between jobs is perhaps the most significant indicator of future employment (or unemployment). With the national unemployment rate hovering between 7.5-8% and remaining above 8% in Georgia, volunteer experience may be just the thing to fill any personal employment gaps while looking for a next job.

Are you currently looking for work in the nonprofit sector?
Check out OpportunityKnocks.org for job openings in your area.

What does this mean for nonprofit professionals and volunteer coordinators?

As you build a volunteer corps within your organization, consider the goals of those you are trying to recruit. Consider recruiting unemployed individuals as a way to build skills in a struggling subset of our nation’s demographic. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis advocates for this saying, “[A]t the Department of labor, we’re promoting volunteerism as one more strategy to help our long-term unemployed. In a complex 21st century economy that demands new skills of American workers, volunteerism is not a substitute for job training. But it can be an important complement.”

Further, make volunteer management a two-way street by providing opportunities for professional development and brokering relationships within your network. Plus, your volunteers may become your most relied upon assets, providing a pool of potential employees, as they are already familiar with and advocates of your organization and its mission.

Read the full report.

Tommy Pearce is Communications Coordinator at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

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