Why Do Calls for Volunteers Go Unanswered?

When I lost my job, I knew I did not want to waste my time on the couch, watching TV and regretting that I didn’t do more with my time off. I had been unemployed before and regretted not taking advantaged of the time that I had when not  looking for a job or taking care of things I otherwise didn’t have time to while I was working.

Immediately, I decided to volunteer. After working at a non-profit, especially one that depended so heavily on volunteers, I knew that there was a great need at so many organizations for people like myself. I could do more than just answer phones and stuff envelopes, I could help develop strategic plans, write press releases, build media lists, create collateral materials; the list was hefty with communications and public relations experience. And I would even stuff envelopes and answer phones. I just knew that I could and wanted to give back.

I began by applying at places that I interested me; places that I would like to work if I had chance, but since I couldn’t, at least could be a part of the team in a voluntary role. My interests varied, so there was a lot to choose from. Unfortunately, no one was answering my calls, emails or applications.

I must have applied to at least 10 non-profits in the last five months. I applied at the YMCA, the Jubliee Center, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, the Innocence Project, Hoboken University Medical Center, and others, throughout Hoboken, Manhattan and surrounding northern New Jersey towns, but no one got back to me. My husband even applied to a non-profit or two and no one got back to him either.

I understand that many non-profits are probably bogged down with unemployed people who are interested in giving back while they are looking for their next career move, but what I don’t get is how these organizations advertise and beg for volunteers yet don’t answer when people heed their call.  I know that some volunteers only want to do something related to their field, but at least call them back. Maybe they’d be willing to do something else or contribute in another way that you never thought possible. Non-profits are losing many valuable people by not returning calls and emails of those who are willing to help. It creates a false sense of urgency for your causes and your needs. And by not developing these relationships, non-profits are losing more than just those who can help, but those who can help foster their mission.


5 responses to “Why Do Calls for Volunteers Go Unanswered?

  1. Great piece! It really is amazing that one has trouble finding volunteer work. Best of luck in your search!!

  2. You are so generous of heart and any organization would be lucky to have you as part of their team!

  3. i know! i tried to volunteer at the aspca, but they have, get this, a waiting list!!!!! crazy…

  4. well, you don’t “apply”…call and talk to someone in charge about what they need, and where, first. you don’t need to treat it like a full-time job. Sometimes a few hours a week would help. Also, get on board with an organization like JErsey Cares that will give you weekly activities that need volunteers.

    • I am not sure if you volunteer, but yes, at some places, you have to fill out an application. As you may have read, I did call, email and apply to places. I actually am now involved with Jersey Cares and have found it rewarding, but thank you for offering the idea. Working at a non-profit, I know how to reach out to offer my services. I was not looking for a full time job, just some way to give back while I had some time on my hand. Unfortunately, places are not so readily available to take you up on it.

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