Next week, from April 23-April 29, our nation will celebrate its 43rd National Volunteer Week, an annual celebration of our country’s volunteers. Since 1974, when President Richard Nixon established the first National Volunteer Week (NVW) with an executive order, Americans have celebrated NVW by honoring volunteers who take action in their communities, serve the needy selflessly, and mobilize others to lend their hands as well.
This year, NVW will be celebrated under the theme of “Service Unites,” helping us all remember that, through volunteering, we can find common ground and build strong communities together. In the spirit of service, communities will gather to volunteer and serve local needs. You, too, can help. Read on to learn more.
Background of National Volunteer Week
Since President Nixon’s establishment of NVW, every sitting president has issued a proclamation during NVW, recognizing the efforts and importance of America’s volunteers. Numerous governors and mayors also add their own proclamations. Over the years, NVW has grown considerably, and it now boasts thousands of service projects and special events across the country.
NVW experienced a surge when, after President George H.W. Bush’s 1989 inaugural address, which urged Americans to become “a thousand points of light” through volunteerism, the Points of Light Foundation was established and began overseeing NVW. Between 1989 and 2008, the number of American adults and youth who volunteer increased by 60%.
NVW has grown in recognition so much that certified organizations use it as the time to award the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Awarded to volunteers who serve a certain number of volunteer hours in the previous year, the President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes citizens whose service has helped advance the common good in an exceptional way.
What happens during National Volunteer Week?
NVW is packed with events that celebrate and serve. You can honor and make a difference by recognizing the change-makers in your community or by rolling up your sleeves and joining a service event near you.
Recognize and Thank Volunteers
Use NVW as a chance to honor the volunteers in your community, school, or nonprofit. Show them you care by thanking them via social media, at assemblies, or with special flyers. Points of Light has a social media and marketing toolkit with downloadable resources and graphics. As you honor your volunteers, be sure to emphasize to all that their stories of service should inspire others, that together we can build a better, safer, stronger community.
Volunteer in Your Community
Check out All for Good, a service of Points of Light, for a volunteer opportunity in your community. You can search by city or by area of interest. Get in the true spirit of NVW, and rally a group of friends to join you!
Honor Your Workplace Volunteers
If you are an employer whose office has an employee volunteer program, use NVW as an opportunity to highlight your employees’ volunteer efforts. Find out how many volunteer hours your employees have logged, identify some particularly poignant stories, and identify how they have made an impact. Use in-office communication methods or office social media groups to recognize and appreciate your employees who volunteer, and encourage others to volunteer as well. For more information, check out Points of Light’s tips for Recognition Best Practices.
What more can I do?
If you’re caught up in NVW fever, then go with it! Take it as many steps forward as you can, and nominate a special volunteer in your life for a Daily Points of Light Award. These awards honor regular people who do extraordinary things by volunteering. Through service, they effect change and inspire others. It takes a few minutes to honor them. You can read more about past winners here.
The #ivolunteer campaign is another fun way to drum up enthusiasm for volunteering and spread the word about NVW. Simply download the printable sign, take a picture of yourself holding it, and share it on Instagram or Twitter with #ivolunteer and #NVW. And don’t forget, encourage your friends to do the same! If you’re a volunteer coordinator at a nonprofit – even better! Encourage your volunteers to get in the spirit and join the campaign, too!
NVW is a wonderful way to light a fire in the hearts of many who have thought of volunteering in the past, but who haven’t taken the first step. Be their inspiration; if you are a volunteer, use some of these simple steps to strike the match they’ve been waiting for!
Learn more about MobileServe and how our platform can help you manage and track volunteers by clicking the link below!