What We’ve Been Reading: April 12th, 2014

National Volunteer Week is from April 6th-April 12th this year, so this week, we’ve been reading a lot about volunteering and the benefits of volunteering both locally and around the world. But first, we learned a little bit on the story behind National Volunteer Week and its purpose; created as a small program with big hopes by the Points of Light in 1974, National Volunteer Week is now celebrating its 40th anniversary of existence. As 40 years passed, tens of thousands of volunteer projects and programs conducted by schools, businesses, and organizations around the world have been scheduled during the week, highlighting the importance and benefits of volunteering. The goal is simple, but it is also one that Bankers without Borders shares: to prove that working together in a community and collectively ensuring progress can and will enact social change not only in that community, but across the globe.

People from all walks of life can volunteer, but the gradually retiring baby boomers are increasingly taking interest in volunteering, particularly in volunteering abroad. A growing percentage of volunteers aged 50 or older are now participating in organizations like the Peace Corps and other volunteer groups. This is incredibly beneficial for volunteer groups and organizations, since seasoned professionals and retired people have more experiences and skillsets that they have accumulated throughout their entire career that can be incredibly useful in the communities that they are trying to help.  Since volunteering abroad is a pretty daunting endeavor, however, it is recommended that prospective volunteers engage in a local non-profit that works internationally, before jumping straight into a foreign country and culture. With the ability to do amazing things like build orphanages, provide health and care services to those who need it, and teach various subjects to students with limited educational opportunities, volunteering is not only incredibly helpful to the poor and impoverished, but also incredibly rewarding for those who participate in it.

While the older generation is taking an interest in volunteering, the younger generation, particularly the most recent college graduates looking for a job, is willing to take a dock in their paycheck to ensure corporate volunteerism. Recent college grads are reported to be willing to sacrifice up to 14.4% of their paycheck so that they can work in a socially responsible company. Volunteers are useful all over the world in many different sectors, and have given non-profits millions of dollars worth of help through their time and skills. In fact, in our latest 5-Year Impact Report for Bankers without Borders, our volunteers have donated an estimated 6.88 million dollars with their work. Volunteers can be the difference between an impossible idea and a successful  project.