Many cities, counties, and special districts have recognized the advantage of utilizing the skills of its community members in volunteer programs. Such programs can increase the quality and quantity of public services at a minimal cost, and provide an opportunity for citizens to contribute to the betterment of their community, creating a sense of ownership and pride.
According to Volunteering and Civic Life in America, a U.S. government website, in 2012 Americans volunteered a total of almost 8 billion hours, an estimated economic value of roughly $175 billion. In 2012 Washington State is reported to have an average annual volunteer rate of 35.5%, with 1.95 million volunteers serving 254.0 million hours of service. The value is $5.6 billion of service contributed. For more Washington statistics on volunteer service see Volunteering and Civic Engagement in Washington.
With tight fiscal conditions, more local governments may be thinking about recruiting volunteers. This page provides background articles, legal references, a few examples of the dollar value placed on volunteers by some of our local governments, links to volunteer opportunity programs of Washington local governments, and tools to create volunteer programs. The three items cited below provide an overview to the topic.
- Federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997
- 29 C.F.R. 553, Subpart B - Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Employees of State and Local Governments - Volunteers
- RCW 4.24.670 - Liability of volunteers of nonprofit or governmental entities
- RCW 35.21.278 - Contracts with community service organizations for public improvements - Limitations
- RCW 51.12.035 - Volunteers (Industrial Insurance)
- RCW 43.101.200 - (Law Enforcement Personnel Training) Exempts "volunteers" and "reserve officers" from the requirement that law enforcement personnel must complete basic law enforcement training
- Minimum Wage Act Applicability, Policy ES. A. 1, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, Employment Standards Administrative Policy - See Section 6.d, Exclusions - Volunteers
Value of Volunteer Time
- Measuring Volunteering: A Practical Toolkit, Independent Sector, 2001 - This handbook, produced jointly by Independent Sector and United National Volunteers, is designed to empower countries to produce their own data to underpin policy measures related to volunteering
- Independent Sector's Value of Volunteer Time
- Volunteering in America: Information on Volunteering and Civic Engagement, U.S. Office of Inspector General - Provides volunteering trends, statistics, tools, resources, and information for the nation, U.S. regions, states, and major cities
- Issaquah Volunteerism in 2013 Sustainable City Report
- Sammamish PRO Plan 2012, Chapter 9 Volunteers & Partnerships
- Seattle MSA (Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue) Volunteering and Civic Engagement in Seattle, WA, Volunteering in America, 2012 data
- Vancouver Urban Forestry Annual Program Report 2012 - Report discusses the role of volunteers in the Urban Forest Program
Washington Local Government Volunteer Programs
The websites listed below illustrate the variety of volunteer opportunities and programs. A few jurisdictions post event calendars and some include volunteer events for the entire community. A number of jurisdictions provide links to other organizations in the community seeking volunteers.
- Bellevue Volunteering - Bellevue offers positions for teens to seniors in positions ranging from civic engagement to parks and recreation. The site lists volunteer possibilities by category, provides links to city's current volunteer needs, volunteer orientation presentation, volunteer guide, and place to sign up for updates.
- Federal Way Volunteering in Federal Way - Emphasizes the importance of volunteering and lists current opportunities
- Kirkland Volunteer Program - Volunteers assist city staff in all departments enhancing services to the Kirkland community by restoring the natural vegetation in city parks, supporting the city council in legislative matters, assisting with special events, and providing office support. Website provides a page of volunteer opportunities with brief write-ups on each.
- Kitsap County Get Involved in your community as a Kitsap County volunteer! - Arranges information by type of audience and provides a brief summary for each. It addresses what volunteers can do and the benefits that can received. The audience categories are youth, adults, college student interns, high school students, and groups such as church, community service, support, military, youth and business groups.
- Lacey Volunteer Opportunities - Notes that volunteers contributed over 10,000 hours of community service. In addition to boards and commissions, the page provides links to animal services, community projects, and the WIN! (Work Involvement Now!) program tailored specifically for youth groups and student classes looking to broaden their volunteer experience.
- Lakewood Volunteering - Provides both city and community opportunities for volunteering, including Lakewood Promise and Emergency Shelter (Emergency Management) volunteers
- Mercer Island Volunteer Opportunities - In addition to boards and commissions, volunteer opportunities listed include Youth and Family Services (YFS), the parks and recreation department, Volunteer Outreach in Communities Everywhere (VOICE), the Summer Volunteer Program (SVP), and emergency preparedness.
- Puyallup Volunteer Opportunities - A comprehensive website that provides information on how to volunteer including, Eagle Scout projects in the city, job shadow requests, and student volunteer requirements. Links to city opportunities include boards and commissions, the public library, parks and recreation, police VIPs, Metro Animal Control and Adoptions, the Puyallup Activity Center, and the city hall Visitor Services Station. The site also lists other organizations in the community seeking volunteers including Puyallup Main Street.
- Seattle Volunteer and Donate - An extensive program that includes both the city and community volunteer needs. The site provides an event calendar and a volunteer blog.
- Snohomish County Volunteer Opportunities - Website provides descriptive list of volunteer opportunities, particularly in public works and human services related areas. The Surface Water Management Division provides a calendar of upcoming events that includes volunteer opportunities.
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