Are Billie-anthropists Knocking Off the Volunteers?

A recent study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that volunteerism was down by 4.4 MILLION people from 2005 to 2006. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, this number may be "specious" because the study hasn't been going on long enough. I'm going to go out on a limb and say a 7% drop is probably significant. I could be wrong.

So, on the one hand you have volunteerism going down. On the other, you have record levels of funding going to philanthropic causes and the rise of what Forbes Magazine calls the "Billie-anthropists" who are pouring mega-millions into projects.

And, on the third hand, if there were a third hand, there is much written here and elsewhere about strategies for scaling philanthropy and having a larger impact by extending a good solution to a broader market.

It makes me stop and think whether this is all related....Could it be that we are increasingly looking to generate impact with our dollars (in order to enable good solutions to reach scale) rather than with our time (impacting the local and immediate)? I wonder what happens when the volunteers don't show up. Who has the time to be scaling their solution when they're busy filing?

Nancy DeFauw

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 15, 2007 in Scaling Philanthropy | Permalink | Comment