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September 20, 2020
 
New Berkshire Volunteer Portal Reinforced by Pandemic Study

September 13, 2020 — The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires in Great Barrington, which serves as the clearing house for information for nonprofits, recently launched a free, online resource to help connect nonprofits with volunteers, a move reinforced by a newly released study that found that the coronavirus pandemic apparently has increased volunteering in general.

Give Back Berkshires Launched to Help Connect Nonprofits and Volunteers

The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires (NPC) in Great Barrington, which serves as the clearing house for information for nonprofits, recently announced the launch of a free, online resource, called Give Back Berkshires, to help connect nonprofits with volunteers.

Liana Toscanini, founder of NPC, said, “This online tool couldn’t come at a better time for Berkshire County which has no countywide volunteer service. People really want to help during this pandemic but they need information about volunteer opportunities, items sought, and the types of needs in our community.”

The website features nonprofit profiles, stories of COVID-19’s impact, ways to help, and real-time data such as volunteer hours lost, fundraisers canceled, and program and event revenue lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The platform is supported by the nonprofit technology organization Inspiring Service and the Massachusetts Service Alliance.

Pandemic Appears to Boost Volunteering, Study Finds

Coronavirus and social justice have contributed to what appears to be a boost in volunteering in recent months, according to the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy.

"New data from LinkedIn shows that its members in the United States added more than 110,000 volunteer activities to their profiles each month, more than twice the rate in 2017," The NonProfit Times (NPT) reported.

It noted that "Volunteering for humanitarian and health causes surged in April, after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and for civil rights organizations in June, following protests reacting to the death while in police hands of George Floyd in Minneapolis."

The finding was consistent with the surge in volunteering following previous crises, such as the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans region in 2005; and, the Great Recession of 2007-09, according to Nathan Dietz, a senior reach at the Do Good Institute.

Among the organizations seeing a surge in volunteers since the pandemic broke in the U.S. were the American Red Cross, Toastmasters International, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity, and Meals on Wheels America.

Since March, the American Red Cross has seen an approximately 20% increase in new volunteer applications, including youth and young adults, according to a spokesperson. This year, almost 30% of its volunteer workforce are ages 25 to 49, NPT reported.

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