Engaging with Volunteers: Risks Accompany Benefits

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Grant Thornton's 2017 State of NFP: VolunteersThe value of volunteers has long been recognized by not-for-profit organizations, and in light of recent economic difficulties and funding challenges, organizations have further built up their base of willing and committed individuals as a means of coping with limited resources. But with the benefits come certain risks that not-for-profit leaders need to inventory and address.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey, during 2015 almost one-fifth of the American adult population had volunteered their time at an estimated value of $188 billion.1 The survey also reports that 72% of American volunteers devote a significant amount of time to the organization they serve — an average of 52 hours per year. Volunteers benefit not-for-profit organizations in many ways, including cost reduction, enhanced constituent services, broadened community reach, and additional knowledge and perspective.

To gain these benefits, organizations must devote significant effort to attracting and retaining volunteers. However, not-for-profit management must be cognizant of the risks associated with volunteer engagement. They need to take the necessary steps to manage those risks in order to protect the reputation, resources and ongoing mission achievement of the organization.

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for recommendations in recruitment and retention, and recognizing and mitigating risk factors.

Visit the report overview for more articles: The State of the Not-for-Profit Sector in 2017
Clients, register for the Oct. 25 webcast Engaging with volunteers: Risks accompanying benefits.
Explore our 2017 webcast series for trends, issues and solutions.

Contact Jennifer Hoffman
Partner, Audit Services, Not-for-Profit and Higher Education Practices
+1 631 577 1852

Edward Miller
Partner, Audit Services, Not-for-Profit and Higher Education Practices
+1 212 542 9563

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Volunteering in the United States, 2015,” U.S. Department of Labor, Feb. 25, 2016.