Thursday, April 23, 2009

New York City Seeks to Become Volunteer Central by Making Volunteering Super Easy

This post is from Joanne's Nonprofits Blog by Joanne Fritz, Guide to Nonprofits:

As part of celebrating National Volunteer Week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken steps to make volunteering very easy for people in New York City, through NYC Service. The program's goals are to use volunteers to mitigate the impact of the current recession; to make it super easy to volunteer; and to make sure that young people in NYC learn about civic engagement and have the opportunity to serve.

Besides creating the comprehensive NYC Service website, where New Yorkers can search for programs that need their volunteer help, the program is breaking new ground with its innovative "Go Pass." Go Pass sets up a central clearinghouse for background checks. It will reduce the need for multiple nonprofits to pay for background checks on the same volunteer, and will reduce the time that volunteers must now spend going through individual background checks at several nonprofits.

Background checks are commonly required for volunteers who work with vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. It is an obstacle that may deter some volunteers, and a bureaucratic bottleneck for nonprofits who are trying to funnel volunteers quickly to address immediate needs. The Go Pass is a great idea and a model for other communities.

As always, New York City strives to be the biggest, the best, the first. NYC Service is a great way to harness that energy.

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