Volunteers are important assets to nonprofit organizations and communities. Without volunteers some organizations could not function or would be limited in the range of programs and services they could provide. For example, a nature center may only be able to support three full time staff for programming, grounds maintenance, and operating the nature store. Add a group of part-time volunteers and the nature store and museum can be open daily, nature classes can be enlarged, trails can be maintained, gardens can be planted and groomed regularly. Volunteers can greet visitors, provide information, and assist in public awareness of this educational resource in their community.
Retirees find opportunities to use their talents, skills, and years of experience in less demanding ways through volunteer activities. Instead of forty hour a week work commitments as volunteers they can make commitments to as few as four to eight hours a week. Retirees whose self identity was linked to their work will find other ways to find meaning in life and expand their self image. Service to others can improve the quality of their lives.
Youth can learn about the value of service by volunteering. Schools and religious groups often encourage youth to get involved through special events and projects. Some schools add a certain number of hours in community work to their academic requirements. Youth groups such as scouting reward community involvement through badges or points toward a group goal.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The wise selection of a location and the development of local community support can make the difference in success or failure of a new business. In order to gain community support businesses promise new jobs, policies and practices that are socially and environmentally friendly, and to promote community development.
Businesses committed to social responsibility have helped local communities by fundraising and giving grants through corporate foundations. They have encouraged contributions to charities through payroll deductions and encouraged community volunteerism among employees on local projects and events. They have developed efficient production practices that do no harm to the environment. In addition some businesses opt to earn credits to offset their environmental pollution by contributing to rain forest preservation or development projects around the globe. While this may be viewed publicly as a plus, the reality may be they have not corrected the pollution problems locally. Learn more about Corporate Social Responsibility at the following websites: SourceWatch & CSR Wire.
Charities are organized forms of giving. They provide an opportunity for individuals to help others indirectly. Writing a check or charging a credit card a specified amount is a quick an relatively easy way to help. Public charities are nonprofit organizations with philanthropic missions. They raise and distribute funds to benefit a particular class or group of people. In the USA the government defines and regulates charitable organizations.
The American Institute of Philanthropy monitors and rates the top charities in the United States. Their list of ratings provides links to each charity. Charitable organizations range from those focused on homelessness to free legal advice and from those focused on disabilities and addictions to community renewal. Some charities focus on international aid while others focus on domestic needs. Some charities raise their most money during a disaster and apply much of it to a particular relief effort.