Most nonprofit organizations need volunteers to survive, but finding them can be difficult.
Both Dianna M. Kall, communications manager for Greater Cleveland Volunteers, and Bob Cohen, a certified small business mentor with SCORE, both in Cleveland, said their organizations hold information sessions to help inform potential volunteers.
“We hold monthly information sessions and these are held either at our office (in Cleveland) or a library in the community,” Kall said. “It’s basically just information about what volunteering is all about, the benefits to the volunteer and what opportunities are available in Cuyahoga County. It’s an hour, it’s pretty informal, people can ask questions. They can also find out if there’s a specific volunteer opportunity they’d like to do, if it’s someone we’re partnered with and can help them out.”
Cohen said SCORE provides business education to entrepreneurs that are starting a business or growing a business.
“We also put together workshops that are geared to the business education subjects, and so forth, and we attract a lot of people to our workshops,” Cohen said. “We attract people in that we’ve kind of gotten our brand out there through all these workshops we’ve done. We also invite people to become volunteers when we’re out in the community and trying to be active. ... It’s word of mouth that helps us get that.”
Cohen noted SCORE is also a national organization with 340 chapters and nationally, the organization is constantly looking for new volunteers.
“Our brand is out there and people do seek us out as much as we seek them out, but I would say the majority of the last several volunteers we’ve gotten have come to us because we reached out to the community and asked for people specifically to volunteer and work with us,” he said.
Kall said Greater Cleveland Volunteers is partnered with more than 100 nonprofits looking for volunteer help and people can enroll to be a volunteer on the organization’s website.
Both Cohen and Kall said the biggest barrier to people volunteering is typically the time commitment.
“It’s commitment of time on their part,” she said. “We ask them how much time would you like to volunteer and if they say (for example) five hours a month, we find out what they’d like to do. There’s anything from working with the arts and cultural section, community centers, food distribution centers, senior living facilities ... just trying to find out do they want to do something for an interest they have or do they want to look for something geographically. Some people say, ‘I don’t care what it is, but it just has to be within “X” amount of miles from my house.’ They don’t feel like driving across town or they don’t want to take the time to do that.”
Cohen said his experience with SCORE has been rewarding.
“From a personal level, anybody that is of the age of retirement and is looking for ways to keep their minds very, very active, volunteering for any kind of an organization where part of what you do is advising other people, I think, is a tremendous way to use your own mind,” he said. “It keeps you active, it keeps you engaged, it keeps you, in particularly with SCORE, part of the local community.”