The Spring 2011 Listening Project survey featured a series of questions that polled respondents about their thoughts and experiences with volunteering. Below are the survey questions, and selected responses from the 202 respondents.
Question #1: In the past year, how often have you volunteered or participated in any community events?
“I would volunteer more if opportunities were made more obvious.”
“First thought - not enough information available on the community needs. Second thought - get involved with the community and the needs will become apparent.”
“Yes, I just signed up with the CVNP Conservation Association to volunteer at the recently refurbished Sanford House, an impressive 1800’s home that is now being used by groups, retreats, and hostel use. The place is beautiful now and has many trails and amenities.”
“My workplace demands have become more stringent, thus necessitating a more discreet management of remaining time for self-care, family care giving, as well as personal assistance to a variety of artists/entrepreneurs.”
“I cook for Foodbank, went to ideastream event, served on committee, coach little league, volunteer at church and mentor teens.”
“My excuse: after work I like to enjoy my time w/family/pets and on exercise & personal projects & to-do lists.”
“Love it! I volunteer at two very different venues year round. I have learned new things and grown intellectually and experientially and continue to do so. I have received much more than I’ve given. As you can see, I’m very high on volunteering!”
“Limited time forces me to choose venues that I care about, like my children’s schools, or specific organizations that I truly believe in.”
“I am retired. Volunteering is my work.”
“Some weeks I volunteer 3-5 times per week and other weeks maybe 1-2 times per week. I am sure there is not a week that goes by that I do not formally volunteer. I also try to do at least one random act of kindness per day.”
“As a Christian, I believe it is part of my calling to help those around me, and not just those in my immediate circle of family and friends. However, even for non-religious folk, volunteering is the power behind so much in our community, everything from making sure people’s basic needs are met to beautifying our neighborhoods.”
“After working for almost 40 years, it feels great to be able to volunteer for an organization that I care about and never had the time to help out with before.”
“Volunteering is a great way to make a difference in our community. I’ve met many wonderful people through my volunteering. It’s also an opportunity to learn and apply skills and expand interests.”
Question #2: If you have participated in one or more community events, what did you do?
“Prepared and served food, presented information.”
“Church fundraiser; recycling; coaching; tutoring.”
“Volunteer Coordinator for Interfaith Hospitality Network.”
“I joined a group of friends to make soft pillowcases for children at Ronald McDonald House. My husband and I went to our grandson’s school to talk about our international travels as part of the school’s intercultural program.”
“Administrative and office support.”
“Took photographs, acted as a greeter, set up and/or broke down events and helped with publicity.”
“Data entry, park trail monitoring, clerk in nature shop, frog monitoring, water quality monitoring, helping at special events.”
“Help at a food bank.”
“Worked WVIZ-TV and WCPN radio pledge drives, prepared and served meals for fine arts department at my daughter’s high school.”
“Gave blood and picked up trash.”
“Volunteered for local animal shelter events.”
“Hospice work, medworks, animal welfare, political party support, tutoring.”
“Prepared tax returns for seniors in the AARP Tax-Aide program.”
“Organize neighborhood association. Tutor young students. Resettle immigrant families. Foster dog placement. Adult mental retardation program.”
“Volunteer reading tutor in Cleveland Schools, CROP walk to battle hunger, ESL tutoring, serving in community kitchen, hosting guests for Interfaith Hospitality Network, etc…”
“I usher at two different organizations and I volunteer at a nonprofit fair trade store and I am on their board. I also am involved with a court watch program along with being a member of a block club.”
“Mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, public programming for Cleveland Metroparks, host a Flat Stanley for Midview North Elementary, serve on two boards and related committees.”
“Volunteer weekly at Fieldstone Farms Therapeutic Riding Center.”
“Baked goods for fund raiser. Donated $. Went to church to listen to a speaker. Played in an athletic event for breast cancer (entry fee donation). Such a great fun event..”
“Volunteered at SPACES Benefit and MOCA Cleveland.”
“Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, block club, street cleanups, river sweep, Wendy Park, Dike 14.”
“Help with Rotary activities, such as Doggie Doo in Oberlin, the spring clean up of the town, events that support our local hospital, such as the home tour at Christmas.”
Question #3: Why do you volunteer or participate in community events? Choose all that apply.
“I really do believe ‘it takes a village,’ so when I give what I can offer to someone else or to the community I believe I’m serving as a link in the chain that holds us all together.”
“Keeps me active & connected.”
“Because I feel good giving.”
“It keeps my mind & body sharp.”
“I’m an active person I hate sitting at home, so this gives me something to do.”
“I tell my daughter ‘If not me, then who?’ I am blessed to have the time, means and ability to help.”
“It lets me work on totally different projects and interact with new faces - child and adult - as a great change from my regular job’s duties.”
“I believe in trying to make this world a better place.”
“Was raised to believe that giving back - both financially and of my time - is my duty. And it fulfills me.”
“There is work which needs to be done and organizations can not pay for all of it, especially interacting with people.”
“I want to help people, there are so many that have a great need. I enjoy doing it. I’m also political - I write letters to my legislators regarding topics like helping hungry people or renewing the tax credit, or funding school meal programs, foreign aid, ‘bread for the world,’ etc...”
Question #4: Have you ever been motivated and/or inspired to volunteer or participate in a community event due to a program or service ideastream has offered?
“United Way; Tsunami relief; tool and tennis shoe recycling; Toys for Tots.”
“I don’t recall, but I do enjoy learning about other opportunities out there, and hearing about people’s experiences.”
“I received an honorable mention in the WVIZ/ideastream essay contest two years ago about getting teens more involved in political issues via new technology. I’m currently working on learning that technology and continue to study Washington. Hopefully I’ll be able to set up a website devoted to involving teens in national issues.”
“I have attended things in Cleveland after hearing about them. It has not been what has inspired my volunteer efforts but we do rely on NPR for inspiration and information in our community.
“Listening to NPR recycling program got me involved.”
“In May 2010, ideastream sponsored an event about Creativity in Cities. There was a panel of at least 5 guests.”
“I rely heavily on my local NPR stations to find out about groups and events in our community.”
“I’ve heard plenty of ideastream coverage that has interested me, but haven’t actually ended up getting involved.”
“I did hear about Restore from Habitat for Humanity on 90.3 and I looked them up to donate my bathroom vanity during my current bathroom remodel.”
Question #5: What did you do? Choose all that apply.
“I donate my time to WCPN fund raising events.”
“Participated in the follow-up of an event or cause by contacting other citizens who would be helpful to the cause and promoted the cause.”
“Recycled a lot more. Encouraged others to do the same.”
“Cleveland Foodbank - (w/co-workers from prior workplace.)”
“Charity (not political) fundraisers - which feature active activities. Cleveland Zoo. Cleveland MetroParks. Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”
Question #6: Has the recent economic climate affected how or why you volunteer?
“I’ve been without a job for three years so I have had more time to be active in my community.”
“Unfortunately our financial situation means that my extra time is spent trying to make more money to support my family instead of helping the community.”
“I believe volunteerism is most important during challenging economic times. The needs of nonprofit and community organizations for volunteers is greater, as they try to do more with less. Volunteering also encourages people to look out for their fellow community members, instead of focusing on their own personal situation.”
“More people and causes need help.”
“It feels great to see that people are still getting involved and have ideas to make things better. Instead of staying at home and being scared of what’s going on, getting involved and hearing other people’s views makes it look better than it actually is out there. People are at least discussing what is going on!”
“I had trouble finding full time work, so in the recent past I had more time to volunteer.”
“I was already volunteering. I’m 84 and retired, still active!”
“We need to provide for ourselves and the strength of an organized community can do that, but is less apparent when the normal economy holds more sway over our behavior. Unfortunately even when the economy is strong our communities suffer, and often do so invisibly. With the downturn of the economy there is actually opportunity to strengthen our solidarity and mutual aid and support that hopefully can outlast the up and down swings in the national economy.”
Question #7: Have you ever volunteered for ideastream?
“Membership week answering phones years ago.”
“I came with a group.”
“I would need more information.”
“When I have time.”
“I keep meaning to but am currently swamped. I’ll keep it in mind- one of my friends keeps nagging me.”
Question #8: Compared to last year, do you now belong to more - or less - local clubs and organizations?
“I belong to fewer ‘local clubs and organizations,’ at a formal level. But I am involved with, in some form or another, more.”
“I WILL belong to more clubs and organizations.”
“I don’t belong to any clubs or organizations.”
“The awful economy has increased the needs at my church and in my community, so I volunteer more.”
“I don’t really belong to any clubs or organizations and I don’t see that as a limiting factor on my volunteer efforts.”
“Less people are willing to step up and run something. They don’t mind donating things to help out, but they don’t want to be in charge.”
Question #9: In the past year, have you worked with others to get people in your immediate neighborhood to join together to fix or improve something?
“I wish. I spend a lot of my own time picking up recycle materials which I wish more people did.”
“Set up playground; helping at church; working in elementary school.”
“We worked very hard to pass the local school levy and were able to save 34+ teaching positions. Not to mention – 1,200 kids in our school that are lucky enough to be able to continue their education without having to worry about what programs will be eliminated and whether they will have access to the clubs, organizations and extracurricular activities at the school.
“Working with our city councilperson to upgrade neighborhood conditions and citywide services.”
“I am working with my local community development corporation regarding: graffiti removal.”
“I have gathered other volunteers to help out in both places in which I am participating.”
“Guerilla gardening is our way of taking control of vacant land in our neighborhood.”