The Benefits of Volunteering at a Non-Profit Organization

Volunteers are the lifeblood of many non-profit organizations, providing much of the labor force that these charitable or public service initiatives cannot always afford to hire full-time employees for. It is essential to ensure that non-profit organizations treat their volunteers properly, both for their benefit and to avoid any accusations of improper use of labor. Volunteering at a non-profit organization can be an incredibly rewarding experience both personally and professionally. Here are the key guidelines for volunteers for non-profit organizations.

Volunteer Work: The Cornerstone of Charitable ServiceVolunteering is the foundation of charitable service and hard work. While volunteers do not receive monetary compensation for their hours, the rewards for service go far beyond money. People who volunteer are likely to gain a deeper understanding of the community, develop a network of contacts that can be useful when looking for work, and even awaken a passion in a person to become more involved in a cause and even seek a long-term career in that field.

Non-Profit Organizations: Not Owned by Anyone

A non-profit organization (also called a citizen sector organization or social benefit organization) is not owned by anyone and, therefore, is not controlled by one person or by several shareholders like a normal company is.

A degree in business, accounting, or finance is generally required, and experience in the private sector in a comparable job would be useful in making the difficult financial decisions that are required in a non-profit organization. In general, a non-profit organization cannot pay volunteers directly (either with money or cash substitutes, such as gift cards) or compensate them through “in-kind benefits”, which could include services that the volunteer would otherwise pay for, access to goods or services that the volunteer would not otherwise be entitled to, free use of company vehicles and insurance benefits, among others. Paid employees of your non-profit organization can volunteer for your organization, but according to Department of Labor rules, they cannot provide the same type of services that they are paid for performing in their official position. The organization can use any and all profits to promote its mission instead of distributing the surplus to investors or directors as dividends.

Background check laws also vary from state to state, so even if you think your organization isn't required to evaluate volunteers, be sure to check the rules of the state in which you operate.

Common Jobs Found in Non-Profit Organizations

Here are three common jobs you might find in a non-profit organization:
  • Fundraiser: Most companies rely on selling products or services to make money, but since there is no tangible product to offer donors in exchange for their financial support, fund-raisers must have the ability to make donors feel comfortable donating money and show them that their donation is important to the organization's cause.
  • Board Member: While some jurisdictions allow non-profit organizations to have just one director, volunteer organizations tend to be more successful with large boards whose members can assume the functions needed to manage the organization.
  • Grant Writer: They may also be required to apply for special funding from the government or other institutions by awarding scholarships, although in some non-profit organizations, writing grants is a full-time job in and of itself.
The advantages of volunteering are numerous and far reaching. It begins with individual volunteers and extends beyond the community at large, benefiting everyone around them. Volunteering at a non-profit organization can be an incredibly rewarding experience both personally and professionally.

Chelsey Barkdull
Chelsey Barkdull

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