If you're among those who volunteer, it's time to take a moment to consider the impact you're making on communities throughout America. Sure, it may not seem like you're making a huge difference when you spend a few hours picking up trash, helping out with a literacy program, planting flowers or collecting cans for a food drive. But the hours you and other Americans donated to a cause last year translates to nearly $175 billion, according to the research report Volunteering and Civic Life in America. And that's reason for recognition.
During the week of April 6-12, Americans are celebrating those contributions as part of National Volunteer Week. And Kiwanis International, an organization whose members donate 18 million service hours in 80 countries every year, is kicking off Volunteer Week with a special day of volunteering on April 5 called Kiwanis One Day. "Our Kiwanis clubs address needs that would otherwise go unattended," says Kiwanis International Executive Director Stan Soderstrom. “Often, the work is hard, but the need in our local communities is great."
To do your part in celebrating National Volunteer Week, consider these 4 ways you can help to make volunteerism even more impactful during 2014.
- Ask a friend or relative to join you. A 2013 census report shows that 25.4 percent of all Americans volunteered last year, which represents a slight drop (1.1 percent) from the previous year. You can inspire others to get involved by asking them to join you when you volunteer. While it's great to share stories about your volunteerism, you can have more of an impact when your friends see what you do firsthand.
- Join a charitable organization. If you're not already a member of a charitable organization, consider joining Kiwanis, which has clubs for all age groups in 80 countries. A lot of us would volunteer more of our time if we were a member of a group, according to the 2013 census. About 71 percent of all volunteers say they are active through at least one organization. And that same census revealed about 43 percent of volunteers became involved with an organization simply because they were asked. If you're already a member of a group, ask a friend to become a member. About 41 percent became involved with volunteering through an organization simply as a result of being asked to join.
- Recognize other volunteers. Take a few moments to recognize other volunteers who inspire you. A simple handwritten note to show your appreciation for their example can be encouraging. What better time to say "thank you" than during National Volunteer Week?
- Get involved with Kiwanis One Day. If your volunteer efforts have been a bit sluggish lately, you can give them a kickstart by participating in Kiwanis One Day. On this one day alone, 26,000 Kiwanis members in the United States will be donating about $3.5 million worth of service. To get a firsthand look at the organization, contact a club in your area to see how you can get involved. For more information, visit www.kiwanisone.org/oneday.
Make 2014 a year worth remembering!