Community Foundation of the Lowcountry Launches #LowcountryVolunteers ChallengeFebruary 26, 2018
Show Us Your Volunteer Pride
Lowcountry nonprofit organizations have a chance to earn one of four grants of $2,000 from Community Foundation of the Lowcountry by encouraging their volunteers to proudly show the community why they volunteer.
The #LowcountryVolunteers Challenge will run from March 1 through April 11, leading up to National Volunteer Week, which begins April 15. To enter the challenge, nonprofit volunteers must post a photo on the Community Foundation ’s Facebook page of themselves holding a #LowcountryVolunteers sign that explains why they volunteer. At the end of the challenge, participating nonprofits which meet the challenge ’s criteria will be eligible for one of the four grants. The #LowcountryVolunteers sign template, instructions and grant eligibility details can be found here on the Community Foundation website.
Volunteering is a popular activity among Lowcountry residents and it ’s easy to see why. Studies conducted by the London School of Economics found that volunteering creates a multitude of health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, creating a feeling of connection and increasing a sense of happiness, self-confidence and personal fulfillment.
Volunteerism benefits nonprofits, too. Independent Sector, a national nonprofit membership organization, estimates the hourly “rate, ” if volunteers were paid, would be about $24.14. For many Lowcountry nonprofits which rely heavily on volunteer efforts, having to pay workers to do those jobs would create financial hardship. Pam Wall, executive director of The Literacy Center, says volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization. She relies solely on volunteers to teach classes. “There would probably be no Literacy Center without our dedicated volunteer tutors, ” she says. “They walk in the door excited, they motivate and support our students, and that lets the staff concentrate on the day-to-day operations. ”
Stan Stolarcyk, director of volunteers for Volunteers in Medicine on Hilton Head Island says they “could do absolutely nothing without volunteers. Our community benefits from the combined efforts of nearly 600 professional and lay volunteers, ” he says. “Each week the combined average amount of hours given to our community is around 1,000. ”
As a leader in the nonprofit community, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry understands the important role volunteers play in strengthening nonprofit organizations and the entire community. In 2012 the Community Foundation launched Lowcountry Volunteer Connections, an online database that links volunteers with volunteer opportunities. Individuals can search the site for opportunities that interest them and can even create a profile that the system uses to match volunteers to existing opportunities. Part of the #LowcountryVolunteers Challenge will involve “fanning ” Lowcountry Volunteer Connections.
This past fall the Community Foundation helped to form Southern Lowcountry SCAVA, a local chapter of SCAVA (South Carolina Association for Volunteer Administration), which brings together volunteer coordinators from both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. “We see the impact volunteers make in our local nonprofit community, ” Kevin Smith, Community Foundation ’s vice president for grantmaking and community leadership, says. “So we helped launch this chapter to further advance volunteerism by providing resources and training to nonprofit staff who manage volunteers. ”