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WASHINGTON (AFP eWire - March 1, 2004) - A joint study by the UPS Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the USA Freedom Corps has revealed that 80 percent of nonprofits rely on volunteers for critical activities, but admit they do not have the resources or knowledge to manage them as they might like.

The study involved nearly 1,800 nonprofits across the United States, including religious congregations that provide social service programs, and focused on how these organizations recruit, engage and manage volunteers, and what value volunteers bring to social service programs.

Some of the study's findings include:

  • Of the approximately 215,000 charities that filed a Form 990 or 990EZ with the Internal Revenue Service (required of those charities with more than $25,000 in annual gross receipts), an estimated 174,000 organizations use volunteers.
  • Nine in 10 organizations cited that volunteers brought benefits to their organization. Two-thirds of charities indicated that their volunteers provide substantial cost savings and greatly increase the quality of services or programs provided.
  • Three out of five charities and only one out of three congregations with social service outreach activities reported having a paid staff person who works on volunteer coordination. Among these paid volunteer coordinators, one in three has not received any training in volunteer management, and half spend less than 30 percent of their time on volunteer coordination.
  • More than 90 percent of the organizations reported that they are ready to take on more volunteers at their present capacity, with a median of 20 new volunteers. Without any capacity enhancements, charities reported they could take on an estimated 3.4 million new volunteers, while congregational social service program providers said they could take on an estimated 2.5 million new volunteers.
  • Twenty-five percent of charities and 34 percent of congregational social service outreach program providers said the most prominent challenge to implementing volunteer programs was recruiting volunteers during the workday.
  • Many charities and congregations struggle with finding a sufficient number of volunteers. Roughly 40 percent reported that having more information about potential volunteers in the community would greatly help their volunteer programs.

The study found that the amount of time a paid staff volunteer coordinator devotes to volunteer management directly impacts an organization's capacity to take on additional volunteers. The best prepared and most effective volunteer programs are those with paid staff members who dedicate a substantial portion of their time to managing volunteers.

The study also found that as staff time spent on volunteer management increased, so did adoption of volunteer management best practices. The study concluded that investments in volunteer management and benefits derived from volunteers complement one another, with investments bringing benefits and benefits justifying greater investments.

For more information about the study and a copy of key findings, go to

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