It's a pretty common mistake to think of volunteering as just something nice that people can do. Sure, it may make them feel great about helping, but what impact does it really have?
Volunteers have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of communities worldwide. Think of all the ways that volunteers make a difference in day-to-day life:
You get the idea…
Another way to measure the impact of volunteers is to take a look at statistics like hours served and the economic value of volunteer time.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 61.8 million individuals in the United States contributed 8 billion hours of volunteerism in 2008 alone.
The economic value of all this volunteering? $162 billion U.S. dollars.
To put that in context, this is roughly equivalent to the 2008 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Egypt. And that's just U.S. volunteers (to check out your country's stats, click here)!
Volunteers are critical partners of and participants in societies throughout the world. Whether actively giving their time through a formal or ad hoc organizations, or taking part in what is sometimes called "informal volunteering" where citizens voluntarily participate in community activities or provide personal care for family, friends, neighbors, or even strangers as part of accepted cultural norms of giving and reciprocity.
Finally, here's one more way to visualize the impact of volunteers. Try this little exercise: imagine if one day, all volunteers simply didn't show up.
What would our cities, towns, state/provincial parks, schools, places of worship, and libraries look like? What basic needs would go unmet? What opportunities to grow, learn, and thrive as a society would be lost? The truth is you likely cross paths with a volunteer at least once if not several times a day, no matter where you are in the world.