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What sets your soul on fire? Volunteerism is at the heart of it all.

Erie takes pride in its strong sense of community, and one of the most impactful ways to connect with your neighbors is through volunteering. Within Erie County, there are numerous opportunities to make a lasting impact by volunteering at local nonprofits. Whether your passion lies in education, human services, or animal welfare, Erie has a volunteer opportunity waiting for you.

Volunteering is indispensable for nonprofits, the communities they serve, and the volunteers themselves. A study conducted by the United States Census Bureau and AmeriCorps revealed that 23% of the U.S. population (ages 16 and up), said they formally volunteered at an organization between 2020 and 2021. As all trends during the COVID pandemic decreased, nonprofits also saw less volunteers to support their mission and programs. Although the trends show decrease, community members still gave their time to help others in need during unprecedented time.

In this article, The Nonprofit Partnership (NPP) will explore the importance of volunteering and how it contributes to creating a more compassionate and interconnected world. NPP is a local organization that understands the power of collaboration and connection among nonprofits.


Assisting those in need

The most common reason people volunteer is to help those who are in need! Volunteers often serve as crucial links for nonprofits to achieve their missions, spanning various cause areas such as community development, religion, environmental issues, and arts and humanities.

Not only does volunteering address immediate needs, but it also has a lasting impact on the individuals receiving the services. Volunteer work can improve the lives of individuals by addressing specific needs and providing necessary resources. Beyond tangible resources provided, volunteers can often provide emotional support, friendship, and advocacy for these individuals.

When volunteers offer their time and skills, they contribute to the collective strength of the community.  Volunteers often engage in projects that enhance infrastructure, education, healthcare, and social services, creating a more robust and resilient local environment. As individuals come together to work toward common goals, community bonds strengthen, creating a foundation for long-term growth and prosperity.


Nonprofits rely on your help

Several organizations offering volunteer work rely on the volunteers to fulfill their missions. Volunteering does not have to be a long-term commitment or consume a large amount of time, but any contribution can help nonprofits propel forward in their programs and mission.

While some nonprofits have paid staff, others, particularly smaller organizations with lower operating budgets, consist entirely of volunteer staff. Within NPP’s membership, small organizations with operating budgets below $250,000, make up 60% of membership.

According to Candid, the value of volunteer time reached $31.80 per volunteer hour, which is a 6.2% increase from 2021. For smaller organizations, volunteers are essential as they lack the financial capacity to hire staff and still fulfill their mission effectively. The goal for nonprofits is to provide their services to those in need without having to make sacrifices.


Volunteering is good for your soul

Providing a service to a nonprofit and those in the community is important, but you are also providing a service to yourself. Without realizing it, volunteering helps you in more ways than you can imagine physically and mentally.

While you are connecting and advancing the community, your health is also flourishing. Beyond simply getting active while volunteering, it also counteracts the effects of stress, depression, anger, and anxiety. The sense of purpose one receives while volunteering is unmatched as you are providing a service to both the nonprofit and the community. Volunteering with pets has similar effects, and luckily there are several local nonprofits with animal missions including The ANNA Shelter, Erie Humane Society, Tamarack Wildlife Center, Hope on Horseback, etc.

Furthermore, you can learn new skills and even advance your career by volunteering. Did you know how to use a table saw before volunteering with All God’s Ministries? Did you brush up on your customer service skills and Erie history as the Visitor Services Volunteer at the Hagen History Center? Whatever the volunteer operation may be, there is something to learn from each opportunity. These skills can be carried over into your professional career, or even identify a new career path. Additionally, several employers promote volunteerism, including Erie Insurance’s Giving Network.


Where do I volunteer?

If you are ready to volunteer, there are several ways to find the perfect opportunity for you. If you have your preferred organization in mind, head to their website and look in their navigation menu for key phrases including get involved and volunteer. 

Don’t have an organization in mind? Check out The Nonprofit Partnership’s Service for the Soul volunteer board. In 2023, NPP established this volunteer board to bridge the volunteerism gap between nonprofits and the community.

The board acts as a virtual central hub to more than 400 member nonprofits to share available service initiatives. In this online forum, nonprofits can post their opportunities, detail the nature of the work, time commitments, required skills, and how to begin service.  

The forum is an invaluable tool for nonprofits to reach a wider audience and recruiting individuals who genuinely care about their cause. The board promotes efficiency and collaboration, fostering a community where everyone can contribute their strengths to create a collective impact.


As you embark on your volunteering journey, remember that each act, no matter how small, contributes to the larger tapestry of a thriving and caring community. Together, we can make Erie an even better place for all its residents one volunteer at a time.

The Nonprofit Partnership's offices at The Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Transformational Philanthropy are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM.

Phone 814.240.2490