Taking Volunteerism to the Radio Airwaves

America’s 63 million volunteers are the lifeblood of the nonprofit sector, contributing more than $200 billion in economic value to the communities and causes where they invest their time.

With that message, Independent Sector President and CEO Dan Cardinali took to the airwaves on April 12 in a seven-state media blitz that reached more than 235,000 radio listeners. For nearly three hours, Dan conducted back-to-back phone interviews with local radio hosts during the crucial morning drive time block. Listen to one of the interviews.

The radio blitz was part of a communications campaign designed to promote the Value of Volunteer Time, the most-viewed resource on the IS website. For years, nonprofit organizations have used the number to calculate the value that volunteers bring to their missions. By releasing the latest figures during National Volunteer Week and targeting a broader audience of radio news consumers, IS sought to create even greater awareness of volunteerism while highlighting a relevant federal policy concern.

To make the issue real for local radio listeners, IS reached out to member organizations and cited their actual volunteer statistics on-air. In South Carolina for instance, volunteers contribute more than $1 million in value to United Way of Greenville County, and in Michigan, Girls on the Run enjoys about $4.9 million in volunteer value for its 16 councils statewide.

It was this kind of state-level specificity that made the Value of Volunteer Time so perfectly suited to a local news radio strategy. By calculating a dollar figure that varies by state, IS can offer a number that’s more relevant and accurate than a composite national figure, given the huge variation in wages across the country. Later this year, IS volunteer data will become even more relevant and accurate when county-level figures are released for the first time ever.

In every radio interview, Dan urged listeners to volunteer more with worthy nonprofit organizations in their community. He also made an appeal to support the Volunteer Driver Tax Appreciation Act, which would raise the amount that volunteers can receive in reimbursement when driving their own vehicles. Currently, business mileage is reimbursable at 54.5 cents per mile, while volunteers may only be reimbursed at 14 cents per mile.

As Dan noted, “We don’t think the value of a business trip is four times greater than a volunteer trip.”

Learn more about the Value of Volunteer Time and tell your members of Congress to support the Volunteer Driver Tax Appreciation Act.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Data, IS Board, IS Staff
Policy Issues: Charitable Giving, Volunteer Mileage Reimbursement