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What if every full-time employee volunteered one week of every year?

I have for years now felt that just 1 week of our time per year could evoke huge change, not only our countries landscape and start to heal us BUT how about opening our eyes to see the wonderful reward one would feel by making that the norm a part of our year/years?! AND what if the government gave a nice tax advantage to the companies that particied in such a concept....

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    Gail .

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    Mar 18 2013: NO to the tax breaks part I don't want my tax dollars supporting so-called "charitable" causes that I find abhorrent. Keep government out of it. I also don't want my tax dollars supporting "charitable" causes that have high overhead (a disguised jobs program).

    The way Dan Pallotta thinks about charity is dead wrong.
  • Apr 1 2013: Another point made in the talk and I have frequently considered when asked to donate some of my time is that if you stayed at work and donated that one weeks salary (or overtime), that would put you ahead of the game. In many (most?) cases, that would be true. However, there is an opportunity for someone to run an effective fundraising activity full time. That person becomes the "force multiplier" by taking the money donated by people and turning it into an effective organization.
  • Mar 27 2013: LOVE IT! IF nationwide, how lovely would our environment look!
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    Mar 26 2013: In Vermont we have "Green-Up Day" each spring where people are asked to pick up trash and debris along the roadside. It has been so successful that it continues to expand each year.
    "Green Up's mission is to promote the stewardship of our state's natural landscape and waterways and the livability of our communities by involving people in Green Up Day and raising public awareness about the benefits of a litter-free environment."
    Everyone gets involved in someway.
  • Mar 25 2013: NOW that is what I LOVE to hear! Thank you for your comment, Nick! This can BE done!
  • Mar 24 2013: oh as for the cost of administering the system, there is an intranet page to list registered organisations and the H&S details for working with an unregistered org but apart from that, the recording is done through our SAP payroll system and takes no more time to record that a rostered day off or annual leave.
  • Mar 24 2013: My company is a large Australian bank and all employees are encouraged to use their two paid volunteering days a year to volunteer in their local community. Last year I think about 45% of the available days were used. There are some basic workplace health and safety issues to be covered off on before you can volunteer with an organisation and it needs to be a not for profit that is not a political organisation.

    I don't believe there are any tax breaks or government incentives involved, the company just wants to be a good corporate citizen and sees the value in engaging with the community at this level.
  • Mar 22 2013: It warms my heart to think that people would be willing to volunteer one-week of every year. The reality, however, is that the costs of coordinating or managing volunteers is often a significant barrier to bridging well-intentioned people to resource deficient nonprofits.

    In the for-profit world, profits from the labor produced by additional staff cover the costs of coordination, oversight, and the tools/materials needed to do that work. In this example, the budget grows by growing profits.

    In the nonprofit world, where budget flexibility depends upon donors rather than profits, you can't add volunteers if you don't have additional cash resources. Few of us would expect for-profit businesses to manage additional staff without having the cash to pay for coordination or oversight, yet some people forget that nonprofits incur costs when they work with volunteers.

    Creative and positive volunteer opportunities that have lasting and real impact for the both the volunteers and the organizations require staffing and the provision of tools, materials, and space necessary to make a volunteer experience fruitful.

    I have worked alongside other volunteers in the past, and many were turned off by the experience because a well-intentioned organization was not able to maximize the value of their skills.

    While I would love to have more volunteers engaged with my nonprofit organization, Families In Schools, I cannot ignore the reality that we do not always have the capacity to work with more volunteers without additional dollars. I know in my heart that we could do a lot more with greater resources.
  • Mar 21 2013: Majority rules and IF a week a year were the norm, the difference inner and external would be HUGE! The act of doing, just that, would turn this country into a happier place for those giving and receiving. That is all I was saying.
  • Mar 21 2013: I think you're missing a point. While often our talents and skills have direct applicability to a non-profits needs, that doesn't suggest that all volunteer effort necessarily taps into that talent. Sometimes it's good for the soul to just lend a hand to an important cause, regardless if it uses our specific talent. I find it most humbling when someone with far more knowledge, skills, and abilities than I is standing next to me doing whatever the work to be done is, be it helping at a food shelf, delivering meals, picking up litter. You get the idea. Those who have special skills simply have more volunteer options available to them.
  • Mar 21 2013: I once had three months to donate as volunteer time. I tried three different organizations and I found none of them was capable or willing to use anything close to the talents I have. I am a highly technical IT professional. I am an accomplished technical writer. I am a specialist in analyzing an improving office processes. I predict that it would be a rare non-profit that would make meaningful use of this one week of free labor. The experience is likely to be more negative than positive for most participants.
    • Apr 1 2013: Greetings Li, Perhaps you should create something yourself that lets you use your talents. I think that would be wonderful. I am on the board of a local ballet company that could use some good web design, but it is hard to get someone who can put in the time that is needed to do it right. Look and you will find a way to use your talents. Good luck to you.
  • Mar 20 2013: To all of you that replied, I feel we are all wanting the same thing BUT we see it as something that just won't fly or as a more individual endeavor...I am trying to make it as normal as recycling...every year one week by all.YES the outward change and bettering of our country would occur naturally BUT our insides , now there the change could be magical and then? the power of paying it forward would keep on going and going and become infectious! Just dreaming...
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    Mar 19 2013: IBM does somenthing like this.
  • Mar 18 2013: I think this would be a good cultural change, but it would have to be voluntary, with no tax incentives and no approval process. Trust people to put their efforts where they will be most effective.

    Just to play devil's advocate, one could argue that we already accomplish the same thing, and much more efficiently, through our government social programs and our charitable institutions. The free economy already provides an efficient mechanism to assure that most people are already performing at their maximum productivity. Consequently their week of volunteer effort would be less productive. When everyone takes a week to produce less, the total effect would be a small reduction of total productivity. From a strictly economic perspective, it would make more sense to just donate one week of earnings to charity.

    Even if it reduced total productivity, I think that volunteering one week per year would have many positive intangible benefits. For example, people would socialize with groups that are outside their normal experience. This would result in a better common understanding of society and its problems; also a better intermixing of ideas. A society in which volunteering is the norm would be a better society.
    • Mar 19 2013: 12 years ago I began spending a week a year on a mission trip. My first was to NYC one month after 9/11. Last year I was in Birmingham helping Habitat rebuild the tornado damage. At one house, the team from my church worked alongside a team of Jewish/Arab students on their spring break from U of Mich. I do not know if I change people's lives. But I do know they have changed me. Instead of focusing inward they have helped turn my focus outward.
  • Mar 18 2013: Thank you both for commenting..NOW lets dream for just one moment and think WHAT our country would look like if such a program existed...a charity would have to get pre-approved to become a part of select charities that one could choose instead of Habitat for Humanity hoping to build that much needed home in a week but would need more hands to help..they could build 10 homes in a week?! OR a soup kitchen would have a sign up sheet that volunteers would have to wait their turn to... DO GOOD?! How would we as humans start to feel...would we start to see things a bit more clearly, with open hearts and open minds and find humility again and throw gluttony to the wayside? In ref. to the tax break, any incentive could be offered and soon there would not NEED to be an incentive for companies to pay for that week so their employees could go out and volunteer to help make our today and tomorrow a better place?! And seriously, IF you only knew all the BAD places your tax dollars were going, you would cheer for this, um yeah..REALLY you would, PLEASE!
    • Mar 19 2013: It is interesting that we have a charity called Mobile Meals of the Grand Strand. Our overhead is exceptionally low since all we have to pay for are food and vehicles. All of our approximately 100 people who drive the vans, serve as runner, serve as packers, interviewers, serve on the three branch boards and serve on the main board of directors are volunteers. We have no paid employees. We serve meals Monday through Friday throughout the year including holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have not had any real problems getting volunteers. There is another Helping Hands program in our area that pays very low salaries to the Director and a small number of employees and has very competent people running it. In many instances you have people who are retired and were CEO's or Directors when they held a job who volunteer to help lead local charities. This is a good thing. I totally disagree that high salaries need to be paid to a "CEO." I do agree that philanthropy is very important to all charities. It is because of those with a lot of money that we can keep charities in operation. We seem to be teaching our children that it is all about money and you need to make large sums in order to be successful. That is unfortunate.
  • Mar 18 2013: Sounds like a good idea to me. The problems I've felt is that there is always a bureaucracy where I volunteer.
    • Apr 1 2013: A bureaucracy exits, and in my experience many times it does not function very well. many charities are run into the ground by well meaning people who are in over their heads (or have day jobs to support themselves, or are making so little money that they cannot concentrate on the task at hand as described in the talk). Get involved and find one that is well run and help them. Help them become well run is even better. Good luck.