John Albers, a state lawmaker from the USA State of Georgia, wants people receiving government jobless benefits to have to put in 24 hours of community service a week (read more about the story here).
Did he talk to nonprofits and government programs that involve volunteers and ask if they could involve an influx of new volunteers, putting at least one person to work for 24 hours a week?
Does he know how much staff time and resources are required for a program or agency to involve volunteers, that volunteers are never free – and, therefore, will the government be providing funding to nonprofits and other organizations in order to fund the staff time and resources to involve volunteers in such large blocks of time each week?
Did he do any research on how difficult it is for people who want to volunteer to find opportunities, that people report applying for multiple assignments on web sites like VolunteerMatch, over a period of weeks , sometimes over a period of months, before they ever actually end up volunteering?
I’m all for people who are unemployed looking into volunteering as a way to build their skills for employment, as a way to make contacts that might lead to employment, as a way to get some accomplishments under their belt that would look great on their résumé, and as a way to counter the negative emotional pressures of unemployment.
But finding volunteering activities is hard. VERY hard. Much of my web site has been primarily focused on the organizations that involve volunteers, but I had to create pages focused on people who want to volunteer because of the OVERWHELMING number of people that post again and again to places like YahooAnswers, people who are trying to find volunteering activities and cannot find such.
Why do I get hired again and again to do training on how to involve volunteers? Why does Susan Ellis keep writing and selling so many books on volunteer engagement? Because thousands and thousands of nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), schools, government programs and many others do not know how to involve volunteers.
So, reality check, Mr. Albers. If you want organizations to involve more volunteers – and to involve volunteers in such huge chunks of time (24 hours a week – three full work days a week!), then start looking for money to give to these organizations – they will need it to fund the time (and perhaps even the training) of a full-time manager of volunteers who will screen, train, support and supervise all these thousands of volunteers you want to send their way.