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Amid Downturn, an Uptick in Doing Good

New York Volunteerin’ City.

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City nonprofits are flush with volunteers. New York Cares—a clearinghouse matching volunteers with community projects—has all of its 1,000-plus projects fully staffed through the end of the year, with attendance rates at 94 percent, versus 89 percent a year ago. One theory for the explosion: Activists energized by the Obama campaign needed new outlets after the election. “Obama’s campaign mobilized grassroots support in an unprecedented way, and activated a new generation of young and older people who may be inspired to continue working in the community,” says Gary Bagley of New York Cares. Indeed, VolunteerMatch .org reported a surge of traffic to its site in the week after Election Day. Organizers are counting on the goodwill continuing, planning service events into next year. “Obama’s election, and also the economic downturn, have driven this spirit of willingness about volunteerism,” said Elizabeth Mitchell of Learning Leaders, which has seen 712 new volunteers since the beginning of November, up from 599 in the same period last year.

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