A new study released by the Oregon Heritage Commission addresses the value of heritage organizations through the lens of volunteerism. The Value of Oregon Heritage Organizations’ Volunteers, completed by The Nonprofit Institute of Portland State, surveyed heritage organizations about their volunteers and the volunteers themselves. The commission learned that volunteers clearly value the heritage organizations by giving to them, affirming what was already understood. The research also revealed that volunteers get something special from working for heritage organizations.
Volunteers power heritage organizations throughout the state, whether they have paid staff or not. Of the 76 organizations throughout Oregon that participated, 23 are all volunteer run. Of those that track volunteer hours, 321,863 hours were contributed in 2019. Using the Independent Sector’s estimated value of donated service of $26.39 dollars per hour, we see $8,493,965 in services. Volunteers also gave financial contributions amounting to $875,682. And they promoted the organizations by bringing visitors, recommending the organization to others, and sharing organizational updates to other community groups. These volunteers were motivated to serve by the heritage and preservation missions of these organizations.
In turn, according to the report, volunteers at heritage organizations, get special benefits. Heritage organizations offer localized opportunities to serve that provide volunteers with an enhanced sense of community and belonging to place. They also provide a chance to help preserve local history, develop friendships, be engaged citizens and help organizations function more effectively.
Heritage organizations will be able to use the complete report to promote their value locally, recruit volunteers, and improve volunteer management practices. “This feeds the Oregon Heritage Plan, a goal of which is to promote the value of heritage,” noted Katie Henry, Oregon Heritage Commission coordinator. “The results affirm the value of local history in community development through enhancing sense of place and connection.” The commission has developed a tool kit for heritage organizations to assist in using this report to advocate for their value. Check out the report, summary, and messaging tools provided online and share it with your boards to support your organizations’ work.
Volunteerism is impacted by the current pandemic, with closures and safety precautions. Anecdotally, we are gratified to see volunteer commitment strengthened in supporting the organizations through this challenging time. The Oregon Heritage Commission would like to thank the fantastic team at The Nonprofit Institute and the participating heritage organizations and volunteers. This study was funded in part by the Oregon Cultural Trust.
For more information about the commission, the report, and tools to use the report locally visit the Oregon Heritage website at www.oregonheritage.org or contact Kuri Gill by email or at 503-383-6787.