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Montana Volunteers Rock! – Excerpts from Extension

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Stop me before i volunteer again!!

I recently gave my friend a magnet that says “Stop me before I volunteer again” and was thinking I should get one for myself. If I’m not working, riding my horse, or playing with my dog, I’m usually volunteering somewhere.   Walking dogs at Heart of the Valley, raising money for The National MS Society, teaching first aid classes for the Red Cross… Volunteering is just something that has always been a part of my life. The national volunteer rate went up to 26.8% in 2009, with 63.4 million volunteers donating approximately 8.1 billion hours of services across the country (volunteeringinamerica.gov). Apparently there are other people that feel the same way.

Here are some quick facts about Montana volunteers versus the Nation’s (volunteeringinamerica.gov)

2009 Volunteer Rate: Montana-34.8%, Nation-26.8%

2009 Volunteer Hours Per Resident: Montana-50.4, Nation-34.2

Montanans above the age of 45 tend to volunteer more than those between 25 and 45.

There are some trends emerging within the volunteer world. Pro bono volunteering has increased over the years. This is where a person or a company provides a service of their expertise for free to an organization. This can be tax or accounting help, to computer or coaching help. More and more youth are beginning to get involved in community service and volunteering. Service Learning is catching on in schools and incorporates volunteering into curriculum. Military personnel turn to volunteering to ease the process of re-engaging within a community. Another trend is virtual volunteering where people can work on projects for an organization from their home or work computer. Volunteering used to be a weekly or monthly commitment within many organizations, which can be time consuming. In response, one-time or one-event only volunteering has become the “norm”.  This episodic volunteering has allowed busy individuals, unable to commit to every week, to still be involved in their community.

MS Walk

If you need volunteers: Remember these trends. Do you have a few tasks ready and waiting if someone came into your office and said “I can volunteer two hours right now”? Are you utilizing people who could be a virtual volunteer or pro bono volunteer?  Create job descriptions and be clear in what you need and want your volunteer to do. If you ask them to organize an event-then don’t meddle. If you don’t want to give them much responsibility, then give them small, specific, accomplishable tasks. Utilize this motto when it comes to volunteers for your organization “If it goes well-they are responsible, if it doesn’t go well-you are responsible”.

If you want to volunteer: There are so many options out there. Find something you are passionate about. Can you offer a service to an organization? Can you commit to one day and help with an event? If you have a few hours of unexpected free time, ask the organization you are involved with if they need help. Check out a new website by our government Serve.gov. It is a great resource for people looking for opportunities to volunteer.

The statistics show Montanan’s are excellent volunteers. We’re ranked 8th in the nation in hours volunteered per resident (volunteeringinamerica.gove). Lets continue the trend.

Be a part of something. Support your community. Volunteer!!!!

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