By Michael Wong, JD (Founder & Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)
Recently an Associated Press article’s headline caught my attention – “Nonprofits Scramble for Help Amid Dearth of Volunteers”. According to that article, getting volunteer help at nonprofits has become much more difficult since the COVID pandemic:
As pandemic-related government aid programs end and inflation rises, nonprofits of all kinds are looking everywhere and trying everything to get volunteers. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau and AmeriCorps survey, formal volunteer participation was 23.2 percent, dropping 7 percentage points from 2019 to 2021 — the largest decrease the survey has recorded since a version of it started in 2002.
It’s reached the point where the lack of volunteers strains the safety net that nonprofits provide to many of society’s most vulnerable.
“This is a wake-up call for the social sector, which depends on volunteers, especially as needs for services remain high,” said Michael D. Smith, CEO of AmeriCorps, which has opened its yearly grant program to award $8 million to help nonprofits recruit and retain volunteers.
Volunteers at the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety
In thinking about our recent experience with volunteers at the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety, we have volunteers and collaborators from all around the world – from the web specialist in Nigeria, to the graphic designer in the Netherlands, to the physician writer in the United States. All of these people have come together to help us improve patient safety and the quality of patient care.
The reasons why they volunteer are usually altruistic – a desire to want to “help change the world” or to be a part of “something bigger”.
Others come to us for more specific reasons:
- The nurse who wanted to write a “published” article – we placed it with a healthcare magazine that we collaborate with.
- The drunk driver who was court mandated to do community service – he helped us with IT issues we were having.
- The doctor who wanted to learn to blog write – we published her article on our blog.
- Or, just simply to get a reference.
Our volunteers come from all stages of life – from high school students to practicing clinicians.
Some have become interns with us or even part of our staff. Most have come to us after finding out about us and what we do.
Catchafire Volunteer Platform
Some come to us from Catchafire, an online platform that facilitates “connections between professionals who want to donate their time and talent through virtual volunteering with nonprofits who need their skills.”
Volunteers from Catchafire have completed tasks valued at more than $200,000 since 2021!
To read further about this volunteer work, please click here.
Volunteering for Patient Safety
There are so many ways to help advance patient safety.
- Like to write? Write an article for our blog or one of the many healthcare magazines that have published our articles.
- Have a great voice or are audio/visually talented? Help us with a clinical education podcast.
- Are you a healthcare expert? Join one of our working committees.
Thank you so much, volunteers, for all of your hard work and dedication to improving patient safety and the quality of patient care! With your support, we have been able to achieve our many educational and safety initiatives.