The Good News: Nonprofits Are Seeing a Surge in Volunteer Interest. The bad: They Can’t Always Handle It

Not since Hurricane Katrina has Margaret Duval seen such a flood of would-be volunteers for the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, a Chicago nonprofit.

The clinic, which offers legal aid to victims of domestic violence, needs about 60 volunteers a week to do its work. Formerly, “when people heard about us, they’d say, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,’ ” says Duval, the organization’s executive director, who adds that the phone started ringing Nov. 9. “Now it’s, ‘How can I help?’ “

Local nonprofits that help women and refugees are seeing a surge in calls from would-be volunteers.

The outpouring is a blessing and a curse of sorts. Smaller organizations often don’t need large numbers of volunteers, meaning they can’t use the people who call. Or they need them but don’t have the resources to train and deploy volunteer armies. Read more.