Non-profits, events struggle to recruit volunteers

NOW: Non-profits, events struggle to recruit volunteers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Employers across Michiana are facing a severe worker shortage. People just don’t want to work! Well, now nonprofits and other organizations are feeling the brunt of the shortage as many aren’t enlisting as volunteers either!

“Normally we operate with about 200 volunteers," Kierstin Miller, the President/CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Michiana said. "The shortage has really been with volunteers coming back.

Now the Ronald McDonald House has about 75 volunteers. The CEO said there are several reasons behind the volunteer shortage – stigma against the vaccine, anxiousness about returning back to in-person, or they are already in a high-risk population.

"Ironically enough, we did have 140 applications come in during the pandemic. It’s been interesting because it’s actually been a younger generation,” she said.

Leaving some other non-profits to change their ways.

“We’ve seen a decrease in the number of active engaged volunteers and the reason for that is there has been a shift in the delivery of services,' Kristin Marlow, the Executive Director at American Red Cross of NW Indiana said.

With the pandemic closing down pretty much everything, disaster preparedness drills in schools or relief shelters through the Red Cross couldn’t happen. But even going online to help people had issues too.

"They were either technology challenged or didn’t have the skills to do it," she said. "Or they didn’t have the technology.”

It’s not just nonprofits that need volunteers right now, events like the Four Winds Invitational are also struggling to find enough helping hands.

“We are looking to get 200 volunteers and those jobs stretch across many different responsibilities," Greg Helkamp, the Head Golf Professional at the South Bend Country Club said.

Everything from cart scorers to leaderboard attendants. Most of the work is going to be outside, and Helkamp said that will contribute to more volunteers signing up.

"As of today we are right around the 75 mark," he said.

The importance of this kind of help – known to leaders for nonprofits – or country clubs alike.

"Really volunteers are what make an event like this go if we don’t have the volunteers, the event will feel the effects. The golfers will feel the effects," he said.

"Where it becomes supercritical is when we have that disaster we didn’t expect. A whole area of town is flooded and we got a couple of hundred people displaced – do we have the volunteers in cue to respond now," Marlow said.



Now some of these organizations are changing up the way they recruit volunteers.

“We’ve had some of those challenges. The good news is we made adjustments early to do all-virtual mission delivery for those critical, life-sustaining missions such as response after a home fire those types of things, the pivot for bio-medical volunteers at blood collection sites," she said. "Moving forward we’re going to have a really nice hybrid role where there will be room for in-person but there will also be room to continue to serve virtually because that’s reaching a lot of people too.”


TO HELP:

Ronald Mcdonald House: https://rmhcmichiana.org/

Four Winds Invitational: https://southbendcc.com/ or http://fourwindsinvitational.com/

To apply go to redcross.org/volunteer. If you have questions, contact 1 (888) 684-1441 or redcrossrecruitsin@redcross.org

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