Laid-off workers turn to volunteerism

Laid-off workers turn to volunteerism »Play Video
BOISE -- The recession is hurting Americans in many ways, especially those who have seen their jobs disappear.

But there's a positive twist to our troubled economy -- many unemployed people are now pitching in to help good causes.

Charitable groups such as the United Way of the Treasure Valley say they're getting invaluable help from people like Glenn Rummler of Boise, a laid off commercial designer who volunteers his expertise.

"I volunteer because I want to give back," said Rummler. "I want to contribute to improve my community, the place where I live, and where my kids are growing up."

Neva Geisler, director of volunteer engagement for the United Way of Treasure Valley tells CBS 2 there's been a 25 percent jump in volunteers.

And she was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying this year's volunteers are highly skilled and educated, with many having global work experience. "Some are fantastic resources that we could never afford to hire," Geisler told the Journal.

To be sure, many nonprofits are struggling despite the influx of volunteers. As the Journal article noted, a January survey of nearly 22,000 individual donors by Cygnus Applied Research, a market research and fund-raising company for not-for-profits, found that 17.5% of donors planned to decrease the value of their donations in 2009 and 30% were undecided.

"Things are really grim" for nonprofits, Todd Cohen, editor and publisher of Philanthropy Journal, told the Wall Street Journal. "The value of endowments is down, the value of individual investments is down, and nonprofit costs are up, as well as demand for services."