Yad Sarah, Israel’s leading volunteer-staffed organization is best known for lending out medical equipment. Yad Sarah’s competence in working with volunteers has enabled this remarkable organization to attract more than 6,000 volunteers and serve over 380,000 people in Israel last year.
As the number of voluntary organizations in Israel has grown significantly in the last decade, the need to recruit large numbers of volunteers has kept pace. The wide range of tasks offered to volunteers enables them to select the area in which they will find the greatest satisfaction, choosing from a rich array of types and levels of volunteering. With more organizations and more volunteers comes a growth in the need for volunteer training and training on volunteer management. Enhancing these skills enables volunteers to effectively work with the organizations’ clients, increasing the level of satisfaction from all perspectives.
In recent years, organizations have approached Yad Sarah wishing to learn from its experience in managing volunteers. The conference is designed to assist organizations in various stages of growth that may be grappling with concerns regarding the management and effective use of volunteers.
One of the main reasons for the increasing number of volunteer organizations in Israel in recent years is the erosion of government support for welfare and education. Services that were under government administration until a few years ago now fall on the shoulders of volunteer organizations. These organizations see themselves as being harnessed to help even in areas that up to a few years ago were considered basic services provided by the State – which is now no longer able to provide them to its citizens.
With a population of 6.5 million people, the involvement of a 6,000 people in one service agency is indeed extraordinary. Yad Sarah has more than 4,000 volunteers who log in more than 4 hours a week or at least 230 hours a year. At NIS 25 per hour, the cost of their donated services hovers at NIS 23 million or over $5.1 million dollars. Yad Sarah has an additional 2,000 volunteers who donate professional services: lawyers, publishers, printers, garages, accountants, dentists and other highly skilled professionals, further increasing the dollar value of in-kind human resources.
Yad Sarah’s most celebrated volunteer, Uri Lupolianski, currently serves as Mayor of Jerusalem. As Yad Sarah’s founder and top volunteer, Mr. Lupolianski guides the organization, sets policy and works directly with volunteers and paid staff to move the organization forward.
Throughout its 30 year history, Yad Sarah has placed primary emphasis on the value of volunteering, not only to the organization but to the society at large. Yad Sarah has had much success developing and promoting the role of the volunteer at all levels.
Yad Sarah has already helped develop and adapt models for use in other countries in Europe and Africa, on a consulting basis.