Sustainability. Perhaps the buzzword of the 21st century. But for non-profit organizations today, it’s reality: how do we build the capacity to continue our mission, especially in a down economy?
One answer comes in human form, that is, volunteers. At one time or another, we’ve all given our time to help with an event or a fundraiser, perhaps stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, setting up tables and chairs, etc.
These days, volunteering often goes beyond these tasks. To build capacity, organizations often look to volunteers as an extension of resources they may not have ordinarily had …human capital that could mean the difference between just surviving and thriving.
A quote by an unknown author, “people tend to support that which they help to create,” epitomizes the essence of volunteering. For OASIS sites across the nation, that couldn’t be truer.
The OASIS intergenerational tutoring program
in the West San Fernando Valley wouldn’t exist without the help of Sharon Fine
. Fine, a retired school teacher, helped establish the program in that area, and currently manages it—recruiting and training the tutors, and overseeing the school-based lead tutors. And she’s not paid staff, she’s a volunteer.
Fine is one of many lead volunteers in the OASIS community. To continue serving a growing population of adults 50 and over, OASIS is embracing the model of engaging and mobilizing volunteers in roles designed to build organizational capacity. While volunteers often primarily support programming, they can also be engaged in capacity-building roles across all functions of an organization – from finance to marketing, administration to advocacy, management to program.
Having such volunteers not only benefits OASIS, but also the volunteers themselves. Research shows that volunteers have lower rates of depression and mortality and greater functional ability than those who do not volunteer.
Whatever your passion is, no doubt there is an opportunity for you to make the most of it through volunteering. Not sure where to start? OASIS has plenty of ways to get involved.