Karmit Bulman, executive director of Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement, recommends nonprofits learn from informal volunteering networks, meaning the help neighbors provide each other when needed. Those behaviors remained largely steady through the pandemic, the census survey found. The rate was 50.9 percent in 2021, compared with 51.4 percent in 2017.
“We need to stop thinking that we can do everything we used to do in the same way. So it’s a time for some pretty intensive change management,” she said.
Her advice is to seek volunteers from within the communities that nonprofits are serving, make the onboarding process as efficient as possible, and meet volunteers when and where they are.
“A lot of our systems were set up as a best practice for the professionals who might typically be a white woman who’s leading the program as opposed to being a best practice for anyone” else, Bulman said.