The Growing Need for Bilingual Volunteers
You can walk into any major U.S. city and find communities where English isn’t the first language.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the more famous enclaves.
And while the United States has been a nation of immigrants, historically; it hasn’t been one of linguistic diversity. That, however, is changing.
Non-Profits Are Desperate for Bilingual Volunteers
Politics aside, the United States is becoming a bilingual nation.
The number of people who speak a language other than English at home has increased 167% since 1980 to 61.7-million people.
For nonprofit organizations, America’s growing bilingual strength is becoming a strategic challenge.
Social service agencies around the country are serving more and more clients who speak a language other than English. As early as 2009, Ronald McDonald House, Gilda’s Club of Chicago, and smaller agencies like Turning Point were suffering from a lack of bilingual volunteers.
The same can be said of nonprofits serving the suburbs.
As immigrants migrate beyond large cities and border regions to settle into suburbs and rural areas, the lack of linguistic diversity will be a stress point for nonprofits with smaller pools of bilingual volunteers.
Bilingualism Carries an Earnings Penalty
For some time there has been a perception that being bilingual carries an advantage in the labor market, yet study after study finds it not the case. Academic literature often finds that bilingualism carries an earnings penalty, which is a negative incentive for second and third generation immigrants to maintain a bilingual skill set.
Opportunities in the Bilingual Youth Culture
While bilingualism may not provide an advantage as an employee, bilingual youth continues to be a significant sector of the work force. This fact is an opportunity for nonprofits looking for a way to tap millennials and expand their volunteer base.
Millennials, generally, seek opportunities with high expectations, offers something better than money, and lets them invest in their future. These ideas form a Venn Diagram between what nonprofits offer and bilingual millennials seek.
Putting It All Together
One in five Americans speak a language other than English at home. The children and grandchildren of immigrants want to grow and prosper in their “new” nation.
Bilingual millennials don’t want participation trophies. They want to make a difference.
Isn’t that why nonprofits exist in the first place?