Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What's top cause for volunteers?

In January 2007, Karl Paige, Mike Kan and James Ross
 got busy at the 3rd Street end of Quesada Avenue. 
Quesada Gardens will carry the volunteer spirit
 forward on January 19th of this year by hosting
volunteers as part of the annual MLK Day of Service.
VolunteerMatch, the largest online resource connecting do-gooders to good things to do, published a list last week of causes volunteers liked in 2011.

Quesada Gardens Initiative organizers may not be surprised at the cause that tops the list. The grassroots community building group in the heart of Bayview will soon break through the 40,000 hours of documented volunteerism mark.

San Francisco is 4th among the nation's cities in terms of VolunteerMatch's website usage, behind New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. That's not bad considering that San Francisco's population is much lower than the other cities, and that San Francisco's 140,000 connections between volunteers and nonprofits doesn't trail Chicago's 162,000 by much.

Volunteerism has value. VolunteerMatch calculates the social return per $1 spent to generate volunteerism as $145, and the value of the average volunteer at $3,075.

The number one cause that volunteers connecting via VolunteerMatch and its partners? "Community" which attracts 16% of all volunteers who helped in the top ten cause categories. Children & Youth is in second place at 14%, and Education & Literacy at 10%.

Bayview Hunters Point defies conventional wisdom, at least in California where volunteerism is usually low in places that are home to high foreclosure rates, poverty, high unemployment and barriers to accessing education. That is according to Volunteering In America which ranks California at 36th of the 50 states in terms of the number of people who volunteer. San Francisco ranks 16th in the same category, among 51 major U.S. cities.

Top 10 causes on VolunteerMatch in 2011:

1. Community
2. Children & Youth
3. Education & Literacy
4. Health & Medicine
5. Seniors
6. Arts & Culture
7. Advocacy & Human Rights
8. Women
9. Disabled

10. Homeless & Housing


Quesada Gardens Initiative lists its Every Saturday Volunteer Day on VolunteerMatch and elsewhere. The group has found that Craigslist has generated the best response from the casual volunteer, and that nothing replaces personal relationships when it comes to getting folks to lend a hand.

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