Friday, January 30, 2009

If We Care, Why Aren't We Making Change Happen?

RJ Note: I know it's been said before, and I shall say it again. Fayette County, Georgia citizens are tremendous in putting their time and efforts into serving others.

/PRNewswire/ -- A Porter Novelli Styles survey reveals a significant Service Gap between Americans who say they are concerned about causes and those who are willing to volunteer their own time and energy to support them. While more than 7 in 10 Americans indicate that a variety of causes are important to them -- supporting health research for problem diseases, protecting the environment and improving schools among them -- fewer than 1 in 5 have actively worked for betterment of these issues in the past 12 months.

In fact, for most causes, only 1 in 10, or fewer, Americans made personal efforts. President Obama took his first steps toward closing the Service Gap with his national Call to Service over the Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend, which drew an estimated one million volunteers, as part of the highly anticipated launch of his administration's online organizing efforts (usaservice.org). Obama famously made community service a part of his campaign platform and vowed to utilize the Internet to create channels of communication enabling citizen volunteerism. "I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am president of the United States. This will not be a call issued in one speech or program; this will be a cause of my presidency," he said. His administration's goals include offering a tax credit to college students in exchange for hours of service work, and activating the swelling ranks of retirees into key volunteer service opportunities, among many others.

President Obama's own story of community involvement has put activism in the sights of millions of young Americans -- as a career path. As the country shifts away from consumer-focused industries and toward future-critical industries, college graduates are beginning to turn to service-oriented careers in droves. For example, this year, an unprecedented 19,000 graduates applied to Teach for America, making the nonprofit one of the largest hirers of college seniors -- eclipsing big names like Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Accenture.

"When Teach for America moves into the position of one of the most desirable Ivy League employers," said Wendy Hagen, EVP/Partner and Director of Planning and Integration for Porter Novelli, "you know that volunteerism in America has attracted a whole new generation."

In this unprecedented time of need, the real challenge is how to engage everyday citizens in volunteering and service beyond an annual day of service. "By making it easier for Americans to find specific volunteer opportunities that align with their personal passions, skills and time availability, we could motivate even more people to get engaged in volunteering and sustain their involvement over time," said Hagen.

Porter Novelli Styles is a suite of annual surveys conducted among a variety of audiences. The base survey, ConsumerStyles, was conducted May through June 2008 among a total of 10,108 consumers. The data are weighted to ensure a nationally representative sample. The margin of error is +/- 1% for the total sample, and larger for subgroups. For additional Styles information, contact Styles@porternovelli.com.

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