Updates on “A Comprehensive Guide to Volunteerism in Westchester”

We’ve made some good progress so far with our survey. Our initial goal was to reach 100 participants and we’ve surpassed that goal! Now, our next goal is to reach 200 participants and this is is where things start to get more intense. Good time management skills will be essential now more than even because I work full time during the week and sometimes on weekends, but it’s important that my work for this project gets done.

One of the greatest challenges thus far has been contacting the right people. I have a spreadsheet filled with information for people from different organizations to contact but I’ve found that the numbers can be incorrect and, often, the person listed on the spreadsheet doesn’t actually work for the organization anymore. Then it becomes a matter of finding who the person is that I need to speak to now, getting their information, and convincing them to participate in the survey. I hadn’t realized how much time would be spent leaving voicemails. But it’s not all bad. The people I speak with are usually very pleasant and tend to be more than willing to help! It makes all my work worth it when I learn how willing people are to help us.

Some of the findings from the data revolve around budgets and status of the organization. For example, I was under the impression that almost all organizations that would rely on volunteers would be nonprofit organizations but, based on the current results of our survey, there is a significant portion of participants who come from for-profit corporations. In that same respect, most associate nonprofit organizations with having small budgets, hence the need for volunteers but, based on the current results of our survey, some of the organizations we’ve surveyed have budgets of over $20,000,000. My main question from these findings in particular is: If an organization is operating with a budget this large, what is the need for volunteers? Where is the money going exactly?

On a larger scale, what I’ve learned from the project thus far is that there are many more aspects behind volunteerism than meets the eye. It’s a very large and complex world. Volunteerism is not a universal concept where the same rules apply to everyone. Not every organization (or corporation) that requests the help of volunteers necessarily needs them, in terms of free labor. Some certainly do, like those with smaller operating budgets, but organizations with larger operating budgets may not. And the question is why do they still request this help? These findings are the most interesting to me thus far and, once we’ve closed the survey, I can’t wait to delve deeper into what they could possibly mean for the state of volunteerism in New York.

This project is becoming something much larger than I’d expected it to. I’m looking forward to determining what exactly our findings are by the end of this and presenting them to the Pace community during Undergraduate Research Day in the Spring semester. We are a community that is based in volunteerism and helping others so the fact that there may be another angle to this that we’re not quite seeing yet — one that goes beyond just the number of volunteers in Westchester County and figuring out how to improve the ranking of New York State in terms of volunteers — may become a point of conversation and further investigation.

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