Study: Young adults who volunteer at nonprofits are more likely to donate

Jennifer C. Berkshire, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 6/12/12

Charities rarely make deliberate efforts to solicit young adults because they think people in their 20s and early 30s are unlikely to give. But a new survey of more than 6,500 people ages 20 to 35 shows they are inclined to give -- and more than willing to ask their friends and relatives to do the same -- when they feel passionately about a cause. About 75% who provided data for the 2012 Millennial Impact Report said they gave money to a nonprofit in 2011, while 70% said they have helped solicit donations. But 58% reported their largest contribution was $100 or less. Only 16% gave $500 or more to one organization. The survey was conducted by Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle, and Associates, two groups that consult with charities on fundraising. "What we heard over and over again is that millennials are eager to give if they're already engaged in a conversation with the charity," says Derrick Feldmann, chief executive of Achieve. About 63% of those surveyed reported they volunteered for a nonprofit last year, while 90% said they expect to volunteer this year. The report found that young adults who volunteer were far more likely to make a donation. "What we found is that there is a continuum of involvement that starts with communicating, then moves on to volunteering and leadership roles," says Angela White, chief executive of JGA. She notes that, in three focus groups, participants sent a clear message about the sorts of leadership opportunities they're searching for. "They want real responsibilities and an opportunity to put their skills and expertise to work," Ms. White says. "They don't want to sit at the kiddie table." Groups that offer those kinds of opportunities are more likely to forge the type of relationships that lead to donations, the report found.


Study: Students with high exposure to arts more likely to volunteer as young adults

National Endowment for the Arts website, 3/30/12

At-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school also tend to have more civic engagement, according to a new NEA report, The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies. The study focuses on the potential effects of arts engagement on youth from the lowest quarter of socioeconomic status. Although most of the arts-related benefits in this report applied only to these at-risk youth, some findings also suggest benefits for youth from advantaged backgrounds. "Arts education doesn't take place in isolation," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "It has to take place as part of an overall school and education reform strategy. This report shows that arts education has strong links with other positive educational outcomes." Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not. Young adults with high arts [exposure] and low [socioeconomic status, or SES] reported higher volunteer rates (47%) than low-arts, low-SES young adults (26%).


New arts volunteer initiative launches in Atlanta, 5/25/12

ArtWorks, Atlanta's brand-new arts volunteer initiative [was started by a local radio station]... aiming to help put art in the hands of the people by linking up regular folks with volunteer opportunities with some of Atlanta's most influential and innovative arts organizations. We talked to Maya Anderson, [one of] the folks behind the idea, to get the scoop:

"Artworks is a website that will function as a public domain for all arts projects to advertise their volunteer opportunities. It will be laid out in chronological order so that people can volunteer based on when they have time. Eventually, we hope that the website will be able to expand to include all kinds of participatory activities in the art world and get people involved in the arts in many different ways...There was an insularity to the art world up to this point, only because of people's limited knowledge about what is going on in the art world up until going to view the actual event. We want people to be able to get involved in this scene that is so open to working with new people, if only they knew how to get connected. All of these groups are doing awesome projects that really thrive off of the participation of the public, and we wanted to help by making sure we could get them there. There are a lot of people who are already really involved in the Atlanta arts scene as volunteers doing wonderful work. But often it's a lot of the same people. Once you are aware of the scene it's really easy to get involved and we want to open that option up to many people. This website will hopefully be a substitute for that friend you may have who gets you involved just by introducing you to these groups."


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Commentary: Are arts administrators overcommitted with volunteer activities?

Jessica Wilt, Americans for the Arts blog, 5/22/12

Many arts administrators are expected to serve on panels, boards, and committees in addition to joining advocacy-related campaigns and other volunteer activities outside of the day-to-day full time job. Are arts administrators volunteer-driven because of their love for the field? Because there seems to be unspoken expectations? Out of necessity? Or a combination of all three? I volunteer mainly because I am passionate about arts education. I enjoy being connected to networks outside of my job, learning new things, traveling, and meeting some really interesting people...but sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Recently I thought I had lost my mind after receiving less than a week's deadline to review and rank 35 grant applications (over 300 pages) from a cultural agency. However, I not only walked away with a greater sense of pride for the arts in my community, I learned what makes for a strong and fundable grant proposal -- a critical lesson. Last month I was elected to join the VOICE Charter School Board in Queens. I will see first-hand how a dedicated school board, principal, and staff collaboratively work together on building and governing a school that uses vocal music as its common curricular thread. One of my favorite volunteer responsibilities is writing blog posts [for AFTA]. My service on [their] Arts Education Council has engaged me in conversations at the national level. I see these activities as an extension of my workday, which by choice leaves little time for anything else. Did I mention the five-month old Labrador puppy I've got sitting at my feet, whining to go outside and play as I write? I'm not sure we, as arts administrators, can make a clear divide between work and everything else. How do expectations to volunteer and serve in addition to your normal work and life obligations (i.e. the puppy) change how you organize your time outside of the office?


Related: A way for emerging arts leaders to sort out their priorities

Tim Mikulski, Americans for the Arts blog, 6/7/12

At the Emerging Leaders Preconference [for AFTA's 2012 convention], Rosetta Thurman held the full attention of her audience as she walked them through an exercise to help participants develop their own personal mission statement. This reminds you who you are and helps you make decisions related to how you spend your time in your life. Taking a lead from author Stewart Friedman, she asked the crowd to think about the four domains of one's life and determine how much time you spend on them: work, home, community, and your private self -- and assign a percentage (out of 100) for time spent on each. The next step was to rate how satisfied you were with your percentages. She encouraged participants to question your "shoulds" and ask if you want to try to increase time spent on one domain more than another. She asked participants to come up with a list of about 10 values, again ignoring the "shoulds." The next step was to envision those values as an action -- how would you carry them out and reconcile those values with reality? Ask yourself if you were who you wanted to be today, as it will help you keep on track toward living your values. Some values turned to action shared with the group included: community (the hardest part is the decision to show up); compassion (spend less time venting and more time listening to others); and truth (speak and know it). 

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