Results of our Family Volunteering Survey

Over the past year we have identified an increasing level of community interest in family volunteering (adults and children together). This has come from families, employee groups, the media and others.

As one of VV’s roles is to identify emerging trends in volunteerism, we recently surveyed our 296 member agencies to learn more about family volunteering options.

We wanted to determine how many of our agencies currently engage families as volunteers, as well as identify agency capacity for engagement, perceived barriers, current practices / experience around family volunteering and interest in sharing learnings or learning more about family volunteering.

From the 78 agencies that responded to this survey we learned that:

46.6% (34 agencies) have volunteer opportunities that are open to families

Of those agencies that currently offer family volunteer opportunities, 26.3% (10 agencies) have no minimum age and close to 60% (22 agencies) have a minimum age of 10+ years.

Of those agencies that currently involve families as volunteers, 25% (10 agencies) have had 1 or less families volunteer over the past year, 37.5% (15 agencies) have had 2-5 families, 15% (6 agencies) have had 6 -10 families and 22.5% (9 agencies) have had more than 15 families.

34% (14 agencies) of the agencies who currently engage families are willing to share their experiences. For example, on a panel discussion around family volunteering.

66.7% (38 agencies) of those who do not currently engage volunteers would be interested in learning more about family volunteering.

63.8% (44 agencies) of those surveyed indicated that current volunteer positions might be adapted to provide opportunities for families.

The primary reasons that agencies gave for not including families as volunteers focused on timing – volunteer opportunities are on weekdays; nature of the agency’s work – vulnerable or at risk populations; safety, supervision and liability issues; and capacity – space, time investment and staff availability.

Some agencies, however, noted that they simply hadn’t thought of family volunteering.

Based on these findings, it appears there is both potential interest and available expertise to offer a panel session on family volunteering. We have also identified family volunteering as one of our target areas for volunteer engagement in the coming year. Stay tuned!

State of the Non Profit Sector

Blackbaud recently released the results of a North American survey of over 2,200 non-profit organizations. This survey gathered data on general operations, fundraising, technology and accountability/stewardship to provide a snapshot of the sector in 2010 and to make projections for 2011. This survey has been carried out for 6 of the past 7 years. 

With regard to revenue generation, almost half of the organizations anticipated their total income would increase in 2010, while 25% expected their income to remain the same and 28% expected it to decrease. The projection for 2011 is more optimistic with 60% expecting an increase and 26% expecting no change. 

However, looking back at past survey results, the percentage of organizations expecting an increase in income has dropped from 77% in 2007 to 47% in 2010. 

Looking at total expenditures for the year, approximately 49% anticipated expenditures to increase, 27% expect no change and 23% expect a decrease. 

The results for staffing indicate that 53% of respondents expect no change in staffing levels in 2010, while 29% expect staffing to increase and 19% expect a decrease.

When compared to expectations for demand for service, however, the results show that over 70% of the respondents expect an increase in demand for service, while only 24% expect no change in demand and a mere 5% expect a decrease. 

These results highlight the fact that organizations are continuing to respond to greater service demands with limited staff and financial resources. 

Looking at funding, the sources of funding most frequently cited by respondents were Individual Donations (98%), Individual Donations from major giving (92%), Memberships (89%) and Government Grants (88%). Lowest were Special Events (53%) and Online Events (37%). 

For donor acquisition techniques, however, the respondents cited special events as the most frequently used method for reaching out to new donors (81%), followed by direct mail (73%). Social Networking was cited by only 43% of respondents. 

The survey also asked respondents to rank the importance of various business practices and then to rate their performance on those elements. Managing relationships with supporters and retaining current donors were ranked highest in importance at 9.2, with performance in those areas ranked at 7.5 (gap of 1.7 points). Recruiting new donors was ranked at 8.9 in importance and at 6.4 in performance (gap of 2.5 points). 

Other areas included staff retention at 8.2 in importance and 7.6 in performance and utilizing social media at 6.8 in importance and 5.4 in performance. 

With regard to technology, 72% of those surveyed had a technology budget. However, only 28% has a written technology plan and only 19% had a written online strategy. The use of online tools is common and increasing among those surveyed. Social tools tools are used by 68% of the respondents.

Work in Nonprofits

The HR Council for Non Profits conducted a major quantitative survey of Canadian non-profits in 2008. From this they have prepared a report on small non-profits in our sector.

Approximately 75% of non-profits have less than ten employees and over half (53%) have less than five employees. About 168,000 people work in these small non-profits. For every 100 employees who work in small non-profits, 75 are women, half are more than 45 years old, 81 are in permanent jobs (54 f/time, 27 p/time), 88 have post-secondary education, 40 have a university degree and 36 have worked in the sector for more than 10 years.

While the survey determined that job satisfaction was high among all non-profit employees (ranked 4.25 out of 5), satisfaction was higher for small non-profits (4.5 out of 5). This relates closely to the level of commitment felt by this group, with 90% describing themselves as strongly committed to the causes their organizations supported.

The employees of these small agencies identified greater input into decision making, recognition received for their work, and workplace relationships as reasons for their higher levels of job satisfaction.

However, these same employees reported lower levels of satisfaction around opportunities for training and professional development. This may reflect concerns about either the quality of opportunities available or the lack of access. In fact, 44% said that they had no opportunities at all for professional development in the past 12 months.

One of the key challenges faced by these small non-profits is recruitment of qualified staff. Of those organizations that had undertaken staff recruitment over the past year, 43% reported difficulties in recruitment. One of the reasons cited for this is low salaries within their organizations.

The study also identified that management is a big job in small non-profits, with the executive director typically being the HR manager and fulfilling a plethora of other roles. A finding that will come as no surprise to executive directors of small organizations.

A very high percentage of small non-profit employers (93%) believed that their current team had the skills needed to meet the organization’s needs. However, both employers and employees saw an emerging need for higher skills in computers / IT, financial management, fundraising and marketing.

Employees within these organizations also cited a similar list of skills, when indicating where they personally need to build capacity. Topping the list for skills improvements was computer/web/IT.

The study concludes that these findings are important as they highlight what makes working in small non-profits appealing, as well as flagging the need to keep employees challenged and get the most out of their employment.

Excepted from Small nonprofits: A big part of our sector [Trends & Issues March 2010]

by Val Green, Executive Director
Volunteer Victoria

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Stretch Tax Credit & Nonprofit Websites Survey

This post first appeared in Volunteer Victoria’s E-Link newsletter.  Sign up for E-Link and keep current with news and information from Volunteer Victoria. We welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Stretch Tax Credit for Charitable Giving

Imagine Canada has proposed the Stretch Tax Credit to encourage Canadians to give more and support their communities through charitable contributions. The Stretch Tax Credit would provide a tax incentive by increasing the federal charitable tax credit from 29% to 39% on all new giving over $200. This initiative is certainly well timed, as Canadian charities face significant challenges generated by the current economic environment. The sector needs innovative approaches, such as this, to renew and stimulate sector growth and donor interest. This proposal has received some interest. On December 9th the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance released their report that included a recommendation to implement the proposed Stretch Tax Credit.

Survey of Non-Profit Websites

The Open Web Group recently conducted a survey of 81 Canadian non-profit websites. These included small organizations, as well as large national organizations. They learned that the majority of websites are mature, with 88% having a web presence for more than 2 years and 60% for more than 5 years. However, over 50% of the organizations surveyed spend less than .5 percent of their budget on their site. The web content most commonly includes news updates, staff directories and donations capabilities. The least commonly found items were online calendars, membership capabilities and publicly generated content. The majority of sites (89%) are professionally hosted elsewhere. However, those who host their site internally consistently rate the highest on all metrics. While 42% of the organizations have done major upgrades to their site in the last year, 33% have not done an upgrade in over 2 years. The sites of agencies using professional designers were more likely to be rated excellent across all ratings than agencies that use in-house teams. Access full survey.

by Val Green, Executive Director
Volunteer Victoria

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