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VolunteerMatch’s Community Leader account is a premium service package that helps you recruit more of the volunteers you need, even more efficiently. In other words, Community Leader saves you time and helps you build better relationships with prospective volunteers.
Now we’re excited to announce some great upgrades to Community Leader to make the service even more valuable, and make it even easier for you to connect with the volunteers you need:Show Prospective Volunteers Your Impact with More Photos
We’ve found that the most successful volunteer opportunities in the VolunteerMatch network contain photos. So we decided to make it even easier for you to include photos with each of your listings.
Now nonprofits with Community Leader accounts can add a unique photo for up to 20 volunteer listings. So you can use the power of your own photos to show prospective volunteers how they can make a difference working with you.Get the Info You Need with More Custom Questions
Now when a volunteer clicks “I want to help,” on your listing, you can ask them up to five custom questions, increased from three questions.
This feature enables you to get valuable information about prospective volunteers right at the moment they express interest in your opportunity. Essentially, you can pre-screen your volunteers, saving time that you’d otherwise spend calling them or emailing them.
If you’re running a big volunteer event such as a race or a phone-a-thon, you can use these questions to ask about T-shirt sizes, food choices, shift sign-ups, etc. For example, need to know a prospective volunteer’s T-shirt size? You can now require them to choose from a drop-down menu when they express interest in your opportunity.
These upgrades to Community Leader make this premium service even more valuable for nonprofits to engage volunteers. And we want all our nonprofit members to be able to try it out and make sure it’s a good fit. Right now, use promo code CLPROMO2013 to get three free months of Community Leader – this works for both new and existing Community Leader subscribers.
At VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. Check back every month for snapshots of what experts in the field are talking about.Creating a Virtuous Cycle of Engagement for Millennials | Frogloop
There seems to be a growing disconnect between Millennials who believe they are supporting activism versus what organizations see as truly engaged participation. In this post Kari Dunn Saratovsky shares some ideas from her recently released book “Cause for Change,” co-authored with Derrick Feldmann, for how to build your organization’s Millennial engagement strategy.My least favorite fundraising framing: Shame | Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog
UNICEF Sweden has created quite a buzz in the nonprofit marketing world with their campaign telling people that liking their Facebook page doesn’t actually help. In this post Katya Andresen from Network for Good shares her opinion – what’s yours?Volunteer Retention is Worth Your Time and Effort | Event 360
Written before the Boston Marathon bombings, this post by Michele Campbell of King Fish Media about how nonprofit organizations can treat their volunteers to instill deep loyalty. After the tragic events of that day, this post rings even truer to inspire volunteer appreciation.2013 NTC Round-Up: Your Takeaways | NTEN
Whether you were at this year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in person or not, don’t miss out on the mountains of great resources that have come out of the event. Here’s a great round-up from NTEN itself of collaborative session notes, reflective NTC blog posts, fun videos and more.
What if there was a one day event dedicated to helping you learn practical, real-life strategies for making social media work for your organization? What if this event were affordable and right in your own backyard? That sounds pretty worthwhile, doesn’t it?
Fortunately, the Social Media for Nonprofits conference series makes this dream a reality. These conferences are designed to help you leverage social media for your volunteering program, fundraising and general outreach.
VolunteerMatch is a global partner of the Social Media for Nonprofits series – because we truly think this is the premier conference series dedicated to social media for social good. Each event features an impressive lineup of local and national experts and practitioners that present best practices for you to use social media in your work. Not to mention all the great networking!
As part of our partnership, we’re offering special discounts to VolunteerMatch members for Social Media for Nonprofits conferences. Just use the code “VMatch” when registering. (Note: this discount is for the middle and high-level registration – it unfortunately does not apply to the lowest price level.)Attention Bay Area: The Return of Boot Camp
But wait, there’s an extra-special opportunity for those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area! The folks at Social Media for Nonprofits are bringing back Nonprofit Boot Camp, what was once the most popular nonprofit gathering in Bay Area history.
Boot Camp is a highly practical conference designed to connect nonprofit leaders to the resources, best practices and contacts needed to create a better world. In other words, get ready to meet a lot of inspiring people and learn a lot of practical things.
VolunteerMatch is taking part in Boot Camp this year by organizing the “Ask the Experts” mentoring sessions – an opportunity for attendees to have one-on-one coaching time with experts in areas like marketing, fundraising, strategic planning, board development… More on this after you register.More Special Opportunities for VolunteerMatch Members
Additionally, we’re giving away scholarships to nonprofits in the Bay Area so more of you can attend Boot Camp. Stay tuned for more information on how to win one of these scholarships.Upcoming Dates
Monday, May 20
Nonprofit Boot Camp
Wednesday, June 12
Mountain View, CA
Thursday, June 13
Mountain View, CA
Tuesday, June 25
Monday, July 15
Tuesday, August 13
This May we have exciting news to share: We’re adding two new sessions to our webinar schedule, both focused on volunteer engagement. We’ve also rolled out the remainder of our 2013 webinar calendar. New dates are now available in our Learning Center.
Read more about our two all-new webinars below. Each one focuses on an important aspect of volunteer engagement.
Is your organization open to engaging volunteers in new ways? Often one of the biggest challenges to a new model of volunteer engagement is the resistance of paid staff. Often attitudes and fears of our co-workers prevent us from expanding the work that volunteers do. In this webinar we’ll discuss strategies for working with paid staff to engage volunteers. We’ll cover how you can train and support your coworkers as they become responsible for managing volunteers.
In this webinar you’ll learn how to create a strategic plan for volunteer engagement for your organization. We’ll tell you which components need to be included in your plan. And we’ll share ideas for working with organization leaders to include strategic goals for volunteer engagement in your organization’s overall strategic plan.
If you missed one of our webinars earlier this year, not to worry. We host each title multiple times throughout the year, including the following:
Using common volunteer opportunities from hunger relief organizations we’ll discuss best practices for creating listings on VolunteerMatch that will appeal to the volunteers you’re looking for to run your programs. We’ll look at before and after listings, and we’ll discuss how to use our Premium Account tools to pre-screen and get to know prospective volunteers before you talk to them. Sample descriptions, custom questions, and useful examples will be provided.
Your volunteer engagement program can be measured by more than just the hours a volunteer gives your organization. What other kinds of information should you keep track of, and how do you know if you’re doing a good job with your volunteer engagement program? This webinar will help you think through both the quantitative and qualitative information you can use to evaluate your program.
To view our full webinar calendar, visit our Learning Center.
Editor’s Note: Adam Alley, our amazing Senior Associate of Community Support, has taken the opportunity of December’s special focus on fighting hunger to get up close and personal with some of the hunger-related organizations that have recruited the most volunteers using VolunteerMatch.
Read the interviews in this series to be inspired and to learn from some of the most successful nonprofits in the network.
Interview with Ted Kain, Social Care Volunteer Coordinator at the St. James Food Pantry.
Adam: Why is fighting hunger important to you?
Ted: There is such a great need in our community, let alone our world, for people to be fed. There are so many myths about hunger that it’s been incredibly educational for me to learn how many people are hungry in our neighborhood. St. James Food Pantry is blessed to provide this service in order to try to help our community.
Adam: How has VolunteerMatch helped you engage volunteers to fight hunger?
Ted: VolunteerMatch has been very helpful in promoting our service. We’ve been fortunate to meet individuals and groups who want to contribute to our mission. VolunteerMatch has provided another outlet for St. James Food Pantry to invite our neighbors to give back and help those in need. The work of volunteers helps us exponentially – we’re extremely grateful and inspired by the volunteers who donate their time and talent with us.
Adam: What’s the most challenging aspect of your role? What’s the most rewarding?
Ted: It can be difficult to hear stories of difficult circumstances and situations our clients may be facing. There’s only so much we can provide to our clients, but it’s hard not to be able to do even more after meeting clients each day who struggle to get by.
The most rewarding aspect of my job is receiving a genuine thank you or smile after providing our service. Our clients understand the effort put forth by our volunteers and staff to make our food pantry a success. To bring happiness, comfort and respect through simple acts of kindness brightens my day tremendously.
Adam: What do you love about your work?
Ted: I love working with staff and volunteers who care passionately and seriously about the service we provide. I’m exposed to great generosity every day. The contributions people make through time, talent, donations and respect is humbling to lay witness to. I’m thankful to work with those who give in any way they can. Some people may not have a lot to give, but they give what they’re able to. I find that to be an inspiration for how to live life daily. One doesn’t have to possess the most resources to make an incredible impact on a community.
This post was inspired by the Nonprofit Blog Carnival.
I don’t know how they pulled it off, but when I was in 10th grade my tiny high school managed to get David Mamet to teach an after-school screenwriting class for one semester. As a bushy-tailed aspiring writer, I could not have been more excited.
Sadly, most of what he taught me about actual writing has faded over the years – or perhaps I have so completely assimilated his lessons into my daily practices, I can’t tell where his ideas end and mine begin. That just means the class was a success for me.
But this post isn’t about writing lessons – it’s about life lessons, really. And it was from Mr. Mamet in this screenwriting class that I got the single best piece of advice of my life.
I remember it clearly – it was a day he didn’t want to focus on writing, but on everything else. His lead-up was dramatic, as he said, “If you take nothing else away from this class, remember this one thing forever.” And then he wrote on the chalkboard in big, underlined letters:
Since that moment, these words have been in the back of my mind, pushing their way to the surface whenever I have a choice of how to react in a difficult situation. The server got my order wrong? Someone is frustrated with an online webinar’s bad audio? Trying to get a hotel upgrade? Nothing I or anyone else tries is ever more effective than a genuine smile, empathetic language, and the two most powerful words in the world: “Please” and “Thanks.”
The beauty of this advice is that it translates well across all of life’s difficulties, both personal and professional, and that includes volunteer engagement issues. Here are three general ways being polite can help your organization work with volunteers:The Ask
We said it before (including during our Nonprofit Insights webinar with the Corporation for National and Community Service about volunteering data): The best way to get people to volunteer is to ask them. But be sure to ask them politely – keep in mind what your prospective volunteers care about, and approach them from a place of understanding and kinship. You’ll be amazed what a simple, well-thought-out “please” will do for your recruitment efforts!The Work
Having trouble with your volunteers? Sometimes they don’t understand the importance of staying focused and on-task. Perhaps you’re working with young volunteers who spend too much time socializing. Perhaps you need to provide some constructive feedback on the job they’re doing. Remember to be polite by respecting the hard work they’ve already done, and expressing your support as they find more ways to make a difference for your organization.The Follow-Up
Nothing is more important for your relationship with your volunteers than saying “Thank you.” Make sure you are sincere – you don’t necessarily need a fancy trophy or a gift card. But you will always need a bright smile for each person. Lead by example with your polite and appreciative attitude, and your volunteers will take their cue from you.
I hope this advice has been as valuable to you as it is to me. At this point, it’s unlikely I’ll be a famous screenwriter. But I’ll tell you one thing – I can always, and will always, be polite. In that respect, David Mamet and I have a lot in common.
Has a polite attitude helped you with your volunteer engagement? Tell us about it!
National Volunteer Week isn’t just about recognizing the contribution of your amazing volunteers. It’s not just about building and strengthening relationships with volunteers, either. National Volunteer Week is also a great opportunity for all of us to learn more about how to do these things!
Everyone loves a good “how-to” post, and below we’ve gathered some of the most popular posts from Engaging Volunteers about volunteer engagement and recognition in the past year – all of them chock-full of juicy tips. Enjoy!
There’s a special place in our hearts, and in this post, for the Nonprofit Tip of the Month series:
Join the fun! What volunteer engagement tips would you like us to share with the VolunteerMatch network in honor of National Volunteer Week?
(Photo from Horia Varlan on Flickr.)
National Volunteer Week is about recognizing and inspiring those who give back to their communities through service. It’s also the perfect time for your organization to engage new volunteers. A great way to promote your cause and grab the attention of volunteers is to post a creative, ‘outside-the-box’ volunteer opportunity.
We’ve selected four of our favorites to share with you. Each opportunity engages audiences through celebrating the role of volunteers and the impact they have within their organizations. Let’s take a look!
If you like magic, music, clowns and fun then this opportunity is for you! This organization puts on monthly birthday parties for low-income children residing in homeless shelters. They believe that children should be celebrated throughout the year and not just on holidays.
This opportunity was posted by Cause For Celebration. For more information about this organization, click here.
If you want to put your beauty talents to good use, look no further. This organization recruits volunteers to bring dignity, hope and respite to people living with chronic or terminal illness through beauty ad grooming treatments. They strive to make clients feel beautiful inside and out, in order to raise self-esteem and maintain dignity and the enhance quality of life.
This opportunity was posted by Beauty Bus Foundation. For more information about this organization, click here.
If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and you like working in nature, sign up for this opportunity. This organization strives to develop in children and adults an appreciation for the natural world, and to preserve Eaton Canyon as a natural area for future generations.
This opportunity was posted by Eaton Canyon Nature Centers Associates (ECNCA). For more information about this organization, click here.
Put your video editing skills to use and sign up for this opportunity. Like their counterparts, Evercare Hospice strives to preserve dignity and freedom from pain at the end of life through a series of customized projects and activities. The Life Review Videos help in these efforts by showcasing the lives of each patient.
This opportunity was posted by Evercare Hospice & Palliative Care For more information about this organization, click here.
Does your organization have a fun, creative opportunity that you’d like us to share? Post it in the comments below!
The volunteer experience on Earth Day is changing now more than ever. The Internet has become a great way for Earth Day volunteers to share stories, collaborate efforts and spread general awareness about environmental issues. Using the connectivity of the web, environmentally-focused nonprofits can engage volunteers in a multitude of creative ways on Earth Day and throughout the year.
The Earth Day Network
An excellent online Earth Day resource is the The Earth Day Network, the same group that founded Earth Day over 40 years ago. The nonprofit has developed a number of innovative web-based environmental campaigns for volunteers.
For Earth Day 2013, the group has embraced the challenge of engaging millions of volunteers from around the globe with The Face of Climate Change social campaign, which showcases user-submitted pictures and inspirational stories about people, animals and places directly affected or threatened by climate change.
Launched in 2010, The Earth Day Network’s A Billion Acts of Green is the largest environmental service campaign in the world to date. The campaign encourages volunteers to pledge, donate and commit through various virtual initiatives including Protect Our Clean Air, Recycle Your E-Waste and Restore the Canopy. The Earth Day Network uses its own platform as well as other nonprofits from around the world to spread awareness about a wide array of environmental issues.
Other Great Virtual Volunteering Resources
The Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota are promoting volunteerism this Arbor Day by creating the Volunteer Center, which allows nonprofits, businesses and civic groups around the country to engage volunteers in all 50 states. Through the online tool, volunteers can more easily learn about and share conservation projects in their communities. The interactive database is made possible by support from Toyota and a partnership with VolunteerMatch.
VolunteerMatch is a great resource for virtual volunteers. With the advanced search section, volunteers can narrow their search for virtual opportunities in a wide range of causes, including the environment.
The Environmental Community is nonprofit organization that has developed a unique environmental platform to create new waves of eco-activity. They use VolunteerMatch to find virtual volunteers with a variety of skills to help with environmental projects.
As The Earth Day Network has shown, the Internet can be an effective tool to engage volunteers. As a nonprofit, consider using the web to connect with virtual volunteers. An active volunteer can play a vital role in the health and sustainability of a community and the local environment, and millions of virtual volunteers from around the world can have global impact.
This Earth Day and beyond, use VolunteerMatch as a resource to recruit volunteers who can help you create a sustainable, more livable world – not only for us, but for generations to come.
Guest post by Jason Miner
With National Volunteer Week approaching, and events in Boston and Texas reminding us of the importance of community, it’s become even clearer that volunteers really are the backbone of nonprofit organizations.
Volunteers help with fundraising, administrative tasks and operations, and they help spread the word about the mission of the organization. And although volunteers tend to perform such duties out of the care and concern they have for the goals set forth by the organization, there are a few key strategies that can be used to make these all-important volunteers feel recognized and appreciated:
1. Organizational Recognition - The simple things are sometimes the most respected and this holds true for recognizing outstanding volunteers within an organization. This can be as simple as printing off a volunteer of the week award and hanging it on a wall and doing so each and every week, or being a little more formal and making a presentation in front of others.
The point is that when you take the time to publicly recognize the efforts of those volunteers who go above and beyond, they will feel proud of their own accomplishments and thus work harder for your group’s goals.
2. A Little Fun Goes a Long Way - The work that volunteers do for your organization can sometimes be cumbersome, labor intensive and mentally draining. This is a great reason to set aside some fun time every week or month to show appreciation. A night out for dinner, a day of bowling, a round of golf or even a cookout in the parking lot can all be ways to show everyone that their hard work truly does matter and makes a difference.
3. Organizational Attire - Got some swag? Give your volunteers shirts, hats, jackets and other items that are normally reserved for donors. Make sure everyone has at least one item they can proudly wear to show that they are happy to be a volunteer. The volunteer gets to show their pride in their work, and your organization gets a little extra visibility in the process.
Remember: Even the smallest gesture is one that can make a volunteer feel good about themselves and their work.
Jason Miner plays a vital role for www.blogcarnival.com. He is an expert in writing topics of different categories. He is helping the carnival team to grow & working on making this an even better place for bloggers.
Next week is National Volunteer Week, and we hope you’ll join us and spend some time thinking about the significant role volunteers have played, and are still playing, in our country overall. In the days to come, we’re going to be focusing on volunteer engagement, recognition, inspiration and more. But first, let’s consider just how deeply volunteering is a part of who we are as a nation.A Brief History of Volunteering in America
This country has relied on volunteers from its start: Colonists banded together to survive the harsh New World, forming support groups to help each other plant crops, build houses and fight disease. Benjamin Franklin developed the first volunteer firehouse in 1736, an idea that has become the country’s norm, as more than 70% of all firefighters today are volunteers. And during the Revolutionary War, patriotic citizens volunteered to organize boycotts against British imports and raise funds for the war efforts, and of course there were the famous “minute men,” who were a volunteer militia.
It wasn’t until the Great Awakening in the 19th century that formal charitable organizations started cropping up. Inspired by religious revival, people became more aware of the disadvantaged, and the YMCA, American Red Cross and the United Way were all born in response.
Volunteers also played an important role in the Civil War, as groups such as Ladies’ Aid Societies were created to make bandages, shirts, towels, bedclothes, uniforms and tents.
The 20th century was when mainstream volunteerism really began to flourish, shaping the volunteer and nonprofit organizations that we recognize today. The Rotary Club, Kiwanis and the Lions Club were all established within the first few decades of the 1900s.
One of the first nationwide efforts to coordinate volunteers was in response to the Great Depression, including work by Volunteers of America. The first Volunteer Bureau was founded in Minneapolis, MN in 1919 and became part of the Volunteer Center National Network, which today reaches 170 million people in thousands of cities across the nation.
During World War II, volunteers were active in the military and on the home front. Thousands of volunteer offices took part in coordinating volunteers in collecting supplies, entertaining soldiers on leave and caring for the injured. After the war, major developments including the Peace Corps and President Lyndon B Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in 1964 started the expansion of volunteer opportunities that continues today.Volunteering Today
Within the past few years, you could say volunteering has essentially become a national pastime. In 2011 volunteering reached its highest level since 2006, as Americans volunteered nearly 8 billion hours of their time to local and national causes. Today nearly one in four Americans, an estimated 64.3 million people, have served as volunteers.
The Internet has played a huge role in engaging volunteers, allowing people to find opportunities in their own communities through online resources such as VolunteerMatch. It’s also created the possibility of virtual volunteering, where organizations can utilize the skills of volunteers anywhere in the world. Another growing trend is microvolunteering, in which people volunteer to perform small tasks online, usually to promote a campaign or raise awareness for a cause.
It’s safe to say that volunteering is part of America’s present as well as it’s past. And looking at how Americans volunteer and why, it’s clear that while the “how” has changed throughout history, the desire to help one another will always be a part of the nation’s legacy.
Want to know more about the history of volunteering? Here are some of the sources that were used for this article:
What do you think about the role volunteering has played U.S. history?
Since Monday many, many people have asked us how they can help the victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. So we’ve put together a short list of ways you and your volunteers can respond to the awful events in Boston with support, action and goodwill:Microsoft’s HelpBridge App
This new mobile app, recently released by Microsoft in partnership with Aidmatrix, GuideStar, Mobile Giving Foundation, Network for Good and VolunteerMatch, helps people get help and give help during and after disasters.
HelpBridge will keep you connected with loved ones and show you how to give time and money to support relief and response efforts. The app is available for iOS, Android and Microsoft users.VolunteerMatch Disaster Map
As part of our mission to help connect good people and good causes, VolunteerMatch maintains a map of disaster-related volunteer opportunities, so it’s easier for you to help your community when disaster strikes or respond today to current relief opportunities.Support Local Organizations
What are the organizations on the ground helping the victims in Boston? You can use VolunteerMatch to find nonprofits in the area to support. Or, search for disaster relief and response organizations in your own community to help them prepare for a future crisis.Get Trained in Disaster Preparedness and Response
The life-saving bravery of the first responders in the aftermath of the Boston attacks has been an inspiration for us all. You can join a first response team by getting trained as part of a disaster response program.
Your local Red Cross’ Disaster Action Teams are a great option, or you can contact your community’s police and fire departments to learn more.
Emotionally, we all have different ways of responding to the horror of events like the Boston bombings. Some of us turn to family and friends, some of us retreat inwards, others get angry, and others search for distractions from the pain.
However, there’s one urge we all have when a catastrophe strikes: We all want to help. Hopefully this list will help you and your volunteers to do that.
Choose one or more that resonate with you – no matter where you live or what your personal situation is, if you want to help there’s a way. After all, that’s what volunteering is all about.
This year National Volunteer Week is April 21-27, and VolunteerMatch wants to help you share your cause on Facebook. We’ve created six free Facebook cover photos that you can download and use as your own Timeline cover photo. Each of the six photos focuses on a different cause (animals, education, environment, hunger, housing and social justice,) and answers the question:
Why do I volunteer?
So be proud of your volunteer work – let others know what you care about and why you give back. Choose a cover photo, download it, and put it on Facebook as your own Timeline photo.
By sharing your passion with everyone on Facebook, you’ll not only be showing everyone the important work you do, you’ll be inspiring your friends and family to do the same. And that will seriously make a difference.
What’s your cause? Choose and download your cover photo now!
The importance of volunteer recognition is something we can’t stress enough. Sure we all know that appreciation is important, but while talking with the executive team at Do Good Lab for our April Volunteer Spotlight article, I realized that recognition isn’t just about saying thank you to your volunteers. This organization focuses on proving their appreciation to volunteers instead of simply saying the words, and I think this is something all of us can learn from.
So what else can be included in volunteer recognition, aside from appreciation? Our friends at Do Good Lab—a 100% volunteer international development organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area—have some great insights on how they keep their volunteer team involved and motivated through continued support and recognition. In my conversation with this group of management-level volunteers, they each share their advice on what’s involved in volunteer recognition beyond the simple “thank you.”
1. Make volunteering worth it: Recognize this isn’t their first priority (and make your cause worth their time).
Executive Director Aezed Raza emphasizes how Do Good Lab needs to be even more appreciative of its volunteers than most organizations; after all, everyone there—including Aezed—is volunteering his or her time. People could do much easier work to pad their resumes than volunteering, he points out. Instead, they’ve chosen to give their time and energy to help your organization. So, he explains, organizations need to make sure volunteering is worth their volunteers’ time.
Do Good Lab recognizes that people volunteer because they are passionate and care about their cause. As a result, Aezed says, “we make this something bigger.” The organization makes a big effort to show “outward appreciation” through regular team meet-ups, parties and annual events. This creates momentum and makes volunteering fun, engaging and rewarding.
2. Get them involved: Support their efforts and welcome their contributions.
People volunteer because they want to make a difference. For Project Director Shannon Radsky, Do Good Lab was a way to not only do something good, but to become part of a passionate and engaging cause community. She’d been involved in various volunteer projects and causes before, but the community feel of Do Good Lab is why she chose to volunteer with the organization initially, and it’s why she’s still there years later.
Do Good Lab works around a community structure, where everyone can pitch in and contribute as much as they can or want. They hold monthly Community Meetings, where all volunteers and first-time guests are welcomed and encouraged to present their thoughts, ask questions and give feedback. There are also tons of ways for volunteers to get involved, including proposing new development projects, conducting research, writing blog articles and helping with events. “We all feel like part of something,” Shannon explains; and there is always room for everyone’s contributions.
3. Build a solid support network: Friends take care of each other, inside and outside of the workplace.
Do Good Lab relies on every minute that its volunteer staff can contribute. Because of this, the organization has learned to work around their volunteers’ day jobs. They have developed an extensive team structure, creating different levels of accountability so that the team will be responsible for a project and no one will feel overwhelmed, because work can always be shifted if necessary.
This network of support has also helped to build a closer community within the organization. Not only do these teams motivate team members and hold everyone accountable, Molly explains, but they have also helped volunteers build close friendships outside Do Good Lab. “We happen to enjoy each others’ company,” she says, and volunteering with friends can definitely make things more enjoyable.
What are some other ways that your organization can or does show its volunteers how much they are appreciated? How would you use these tips from Do Good Lab to make volunteering more fun, to engage your volunteers in your cause and to build a solid support network? We hope you find this helpful, and we’d love to hear your feedback!
The Nonprofit Insights webinar series brings major thought leaders and experts to you for thought-provoking presentations on a variety of issues related to technology and engaging your community members for social good.
Who is volunteering in America? How much do they volunteer, and with what organizations? How can nonprofits best engage Americans in their causes?
The new report from the Corporation for National and Community Service, “Volunteering and Civic Life in America,” has some answers. Drawn from the most recent U.S. Census Bureau surveys of tens of thousands of households, the report and its accompanying website show how cities, states, age groups and other demographics rank and interact when it comes to volunteering and community involvement.
What does this mean for nonprofits? How can you use this data to increase support for your organization’s efforts? Why does it matter that parents volunteer at a higher rate than non-parents, or that two out of every three Americans are volunteering informally in their communities?Who is Volunteering in America? A Data Dive with the Corporation for National and Community Service
Register for this free event.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
11am – 12pm PT (2-3pm ET)
For this month’s Nonprofit Insights webinar, join VolunteerMatch President Greg Baldwin for a special conversation with Dr. Christopher Spera, Director of Research & Evaluation at the Corporation for National and Community Service. They will discuss the history of this research report, the trends it reveals, and the many ways nonprofits can make best use of the information contained within.About Our Speakers:
Dr. Christopher Spera, an experienced senior executive and applied social science researcher and evaluator, is currently the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Dr. Spera develops and oversees the agency’s diverse research and evaluation portfolio. He manages a staff of 8-10 researchers with advanced degrees, represents the agency to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and interfaces with the research community. He is currently overseeing 10+ studies, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs), quasi-experimental studies, piloting of agency performance measures, longitudinal studies, etc.
Currently, he is heavily involved with leading groundbreaking studies and evaluations of CNCS’ major programs, including AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). He is also involved in conducting an annual survey to measure volunteering and civic engagement through a supplement to the current population survey (CPS) administered by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Dr. Spera leads a CNCS research agenda rooted in a “research-to-practice model” whereby research results are used to inform program and policy decisions, thereby infusing best practices into everyday program operations. Dr. Spera has over 20+ peer-reviewed publications and holds his Ph.D. in Human Development and Educational Psychology from the University of Maryland.
Greg Baldwin joined what is now VolunteerMatch in the spring of 1998 as its Chief Imagination Officer to finish hotwiring the Internet to help everybody find a great place to volunteer. Today, VolunteerMatch is a leader in the nonprofit world. Its popular web service is strengthening communities and organizations across the country by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect.
Greg appreciates the power of a big idea. He began his career at the Leo Burnett advertising agency where many big ideas were born and later tested his own as a co-founder of 2d Interactive, Inc. — a Boston-based technology start-up. Greg completed his undergraduate studies at Brown University in 1990 with a degree in Public Policy.
He is a life-long volunteer and regularly speaks at nonprofit events and conferences on the subjects of volunteering, communication, and the Internet. He is also proud to serve as the Board Chair of the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration.
Editor’s Note: Adam Alley, our amazing Senior Associate of Community Support, has taken the opportunity of December’s special focus on fighting hunger to get up close and personal with some of the hunger-related organizations that have recruited the most volunteers using VolunteerMatch.
Read the interviews in this series to be inspired and to learn from some of the most successful nonprofits in the network.
Interview with Vivienne O’Neill, Citymeals Director of Volunteer Programs.
Adam: Why is fighting hunger important to you?
Vivienne: Fighting hunger is important to me because it’s a problem that causes such unimaginable human suffering. Over 800 million people throughout the world are hungry. Currently, it is the largest global health crisis. Hunger not only happens around the world, but also right in our own backyard.
Adam: How does your organization fight hunger?
Vivienne: Citymeals fights hunger by providing meals to frail, homebound elderly. We have a team of dedicated staff and volunteers that deliver meals and provide nourishment for our neighbors in New York City.
Adam: You’ve been particularly successful at recruiting volunteers for your cause – do you have any suggestions for fellow organizations looking to emulate your success?
Vivienne: I dedicate a lot of my success to communicating well. I let people know when I need help. You also have to be in the loop about what’s going on out there, so it’s important to focus on communicating in both directions.
Adam: How has VolunteerMatch helped you engage volunteers to fight hunger?
Vivienne: VolunteerMatch has provided referrals for volunteers that deliver meals and prevent hunger from striking New York City’s seniors.
Adam: How do you show your appreciation for your volunteers?
Vivienne: Although we have over 12,200 volunteers, we try to say thank you in a personalized way. Whether it be sending a card for their wedding anniversary or reaching out by phone to check on them when they’re under the weather, we try to stay as connected as possible to our volunteers’ lives to let them know how much we value their work.
Adam: What’s the most challenging aspect of your role? The most rewarding?
Vivienne: The most challenging aspect of my role is finding work for all of our volunteers; I hate turning them away. The most rewarding aspect of my role is seeing the impact that our volunteers have on our meal recipients and vice versa. It’s very humbling to see how everybody benefits from the work we do.
Adam: If you could give one piece of advice to a fellow organization hoping to join the fight against hunger, what would you say?
Vivienne: Roll up your sleeves and get ready to work. Fighting hunger helps build a safer and more secure world, but it’s not an easy task.
National Volunteer Week is pretty exciting for us here at VolunteerMatch. While throughout the year we provide resources and training to help nonprofits like yours recruit, recognize and retain volunteers for your work, having a dedicated week all about volunteering allows us to identify the most valuable way to help you make the most of National Volunteer Week.
There’s something particularly special about this year’s event, though, occurring April 21-27. It’s as if we are at a unique moment in time, that all previous National Volunteer Weeks were just preparing us for this year, when we have an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen our relationships with existing volunteers and build connections to new ones.What Makes This Year So Special?
1. Independent Sector recently released its annual estimation of the value of a volunteer’s hour – and at $22.14, it’s at its highest in at least 32 years. Of course, this is just an average – skilled volunteering, for example, has a much higher value for most organizations. While it’s difficult to truly quantify the impact volunteers have on an organization, it’s clear that their importance for nonprofits is continuing to rise.
2. Additionally, more than ever before, there are outstanding resources out there for those of us who dedicate our time and talent to managing volunteers. The CVA credential has become a respected standard for volunteer engagement professionals, while resources like the VolunteerMatch Learning Center and the Volunteering Resource Library on the IdeaEncore Network provide important informal training and skill-building opportunities.
3. As the nonprofit sector faces (and fights) a looming limitation on charitable deductions, we may start to see more people volunteering their time as an alternative to giving money. Over the course of the recession we saw companies shift their CSR focus more heavily to volunteering, and there’s no reason individuals wouldn’t use this strategy, as well. It’s important for nonprofit organizations to recognize the opportunity to help people find alternative ways to give back when giving money doesn’t work as well.
4. Finally, by now you’ve probably seen Dan Palotta’s TED talk that has been making some serious waves. In it Dan presents the social and fiscal elements that are keeping the nonprofit sector down, so to speak. What’s important to recognize, however, is that for all of those difficulties, volunteers are the force that keeps these nonprofits “up,” by allowing them to do their work and create impact despite a financial system that seems inherently stacked against them. There has never been a more important time to recognize the contribution of volunteers.What Should We Do About It?
Now that we know why this year’s National Volunteer Week is special for us, how can we make sure it’s extra-special for our volunteers, too? Below are just a few ideas:
How will you make this National Volunteer Week extra-special for your volunteers? Tell us about it in the comments!
Graphic by adihrespati on Flickr.
At VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. Check back every month for snapshots of what experts in the field are talking about.Young Event Participants and Volunteers | Event 360
The experts over at Event 360 provide great advice on engaging youth in your events. It’s a winning strategy to secure future support, they say, but be sure to take into consideration additional logistics like parental consent…Building Event Attendance and Inspiring Event Volunteers | Wild Apricot
This is actually two great articles in one. The Wild Apricot Membership Knowledge Hub has one post that talks about the challenges of getting people to pay to come to events during a down economy (especially young people). The second post addresses how smaller organizations can engage event volunteers despite the need to tackle a million other details at the same time (with far fewer resources than larger organizations).Maximize the Social Media Presence at Your Next Event | Social Media Examiner
Social media is a disproportionately valuable tool when it comes to event planning and management. This is often overlooked, however, in favor of more traditional ways of using online platforms. Social Media Examiner provides four simple, easy tips for using social media at your events.Calendar of Nonprofit Conferences: April 2013 | Socialbrite
Since no round-up is complete without linking to another round-up, here’s the April edition of Socialbrite’s excellent list of nonprofit-themed events. There’s a lot going on this month, and hopefully our team will run into yours at one or more of these great conferences!
Spring has sprung and we’re shaking off the winter blues with our webinars in April. This month you’ll learn how to increase capacity by getting back to the basics. We’ll cover the core concepts of volunteer management including the three ‘R’s: recruitment, retention and recognition. So whether you’re new to VolunteerMatch—or just in need of a refresher—here are four webinar you don’t want to miss!VolunteerMatch: Getting Started
In this webinar we’ll tell you how to post volunteer opportunities in order to recruit the volunteers you need. You’ll also learn how to manage and maintain your VolunteerMatch account. All attendees will receive a coupon good for three free months of our premium account known as Community Leader.The New Volunteer Managers Toolkit
This webinar will walk you through the three ‘R’s – recruitment, retention and recognition. We’ll discuss program components such as interviews, orientations, volunteer handbooks, and more. All attendees will receive a sample packet with examples of program documents and assessment checklists to help you evaluate your existing program.Fighting Hunger Together: The Basics of Volunteer Management
From handbooks to retention plans, in this webinar we’ll discuss all the basic components of a volunteer management program. We will focus specifically on the needs of hunger relief organizations, though all types of organizations are welcome to attend. This webinar was originally designed for new volunteer managers, but even seasoned professionals can learn something new.Creating a Comprehensive and Engaging Volunteer Training Program
This webinar will teach you how to determine what information you should be sharing with your volunteers to prepare them for their roles. We’ll discuss how to present this information using different delivery methods that appeal to adult learners. Assessing what your volunteers have learned, and creating ongoing training and professional development for your volunteers will also be covered.
Check out more of our free webinars for nonprofits in the Learning Center.
Anyone hoping to find the next new standout consumer tech star like Twitter or Foursquare at this year’s SXSW Interactive Conference was probably disappointed. Nothing this year truly captured everyone’s imagination, or pointed to the next new toy nonprofits will be using to engage supporters.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean tech has reached a plateau, says SXSW’s Hugh Forrest, it may just mean that today’s SXSW audience can’t recognize tomorrow’s breakthrough tech.
It also means that SXSW — a truly massive event with more than 20,000 attendees – lacked an immediate focus of attention and conversation this year. That could be one reason why many of us who represent the nonprofit technology world spent a lot of time at SXSW this year talking about, well, our own role at the conference. Certainly from my own perspective I’d say three things really stood out… and they all had to do with the “place” that nonprofits inhabit at SXSW.
Who Moved Our Cheese?
For many of us, the awesomeness of SXSW is that it’s usually the best chance all year for social good tech proponents to get together with leaders in the wider worlds of technology, media and marketing. Nonetheless, after years of growing awareness about the great work that nonprofit do to make tech a platform for social good, there’s still debate about what role we should play at SXSW.
As nonprofits, is it enough to come to a conference in order to learn new things that will make our work more effective, or is it also necessary for us to arrive prepared to contribute to the conversation? That is, are we at SXSW to soak up knowledge, or are we primarily there to help the wider community of techies learn how to use their skills to make a difference?
This year the debate began in earnest with the shake-up of session tracks and it only grew louder as the conference went on.
With so many sessions, panels, meetups, events, and screenings happening at once, finding sessions that apply to your field or interests has become a significant challenge for some people at SXSW. For social good fans, the problem was exacerbated this year as SXSW organizers did away with “Greater Good,” the track which cobbled together sessions on topics related to tech in civic participation, community engagement, online social actions, tracking and measurement of public improvement, and interactive storytelling to inspire audience to make a difference.
Instead of Greater Good, SXSW participants had to wade through hundreds of session descriptions in theme area like Community and Activism, Social and Relationships, Design and Development, Health and Medicine, and Government and Civic Engagement in order to find talks that may specifically apply to nonprofit management or executing on a complex mission.
For some people, this dis-“integration” was just a nuisance, while others thought that any complaints would be par for the nonprofit course.
For others, the shift may reflect changes in the relationship between nonprofits and SXSW. As Beth Kanter writes in the comments of this blog post, there was a noticeable dip in “social good and nonprofit peeps” at SXSW this year.
For others like Brian Reich, the big issue at SXSW these days isn’t that nonprofits aren’t participating, it’s that they aren’t having much of an impact at the conference. By not getting organized, by not speaking with one voice to demand more representation, by not leading conversations about social change and technology, nonprofits are opting out of the chance to take advantage of SXSW as a forum for pushing the tech and media worlds to do more to solve real problems.
Or as Reich’s artfully titled blog post “What the f—k are we waiting for?” puts it:
…Change will only happen if we want it to. It won’t happen on its own. The organizers won’t figure out how to properly push a conversation about philanthropy and social good/social change without help. The technology, design, media, and other communities won’t magically show up and participate in a conversation about changing the world without being invited and challenged and pressed for better answers and ideas. People will continue to pass in the hallways, fail to connect — and leave events like SXSW without a different lens through which to view the challenges that exist in the world, and without projects and partnerships that have game-changing potential for the future of our society.
The Lounge with a Conscience
But while the debate flared up on Twitter and in blogs, most at SXSW were happy to come and go to various events with social good themes. Fortunately, there was plenty of that going around. For starters, it was the best year ever for one of my favorite hangouts at SXSW, the Beacon Lounge.
The Lounge is a grassroots effort to give nonprofits and social change folks a place to hang out and turn on to each other’s work. This year Beaconfire, the Washington, D.C.-based agency that curates the Beacon Lounge, did a great job arranging special programming about technology trends, solutions and social good.
Hanging out in the lounge I was able to see hundreds of conference-goers come in, look around, make new friends, and fire up their laptops to show off projects and get work done that’s changing the world.
VolunteerMatch sponsored the Lounge this year along with Groupon Grassroots, NTEN, Salsa Labs, Change.org and a few others, and I was fortunate to be invited to join with Beth Kanter, Beaconfire’s Lynn Labieniec, and NTEN’s Amy Sample Ward in a discussion on measurement.
In previous years SXSW let Beaconfire promote the Lounge with a schedule of events out in the hallways. Folks would pass by and get inspired, then duck in for a snack and good discussion. This year, for some reason, signage wasn’t in the cards and it wasn’t easy to get the word out to conference-goers. Nonetheless spirits were high, collaboration was solid, and those who found their way to the Lounge inside the Austin Convention Center were uniformly impressed.
Hopefully SXSW can do more to help the Lounge connect with the wider audience of SXSW-goers next year.
Also sidelined at SXSW was GoodxGlobal, a day of panels and talks on “local and global power of social good, technology and entrepreneurship” put on by the World Food Program USA, United Nations Foundation & the Social Good Summit.
The well-organized showcase took place at Austin City Hall, instead of the Convention Center. And because it didn’t appear in some parts of the SXSW program and website it seemed like a lot of folks were unclear on what GoodxGlobal’s official relationship was to the conference and whether it even made sense to depart SXSW venues to take in more programming.
I took the gamble and I’m glad I did. The 10-, 20-, and 30-minute talks I saw on technology for effectiveness, tech for women, using data, storytelling and the future of the Social Good Summit were fascinating, if short. Although I left wanting more, I made some good connections while I was there. And the packed lecture made it clear that there’s a big audience still at SXSW for a dedicated discussion of issues about tech and nonprofits.
A few others at SXSW did a great job reporting on day-to-day activities of relevance to nonprofits. Peter Panepento and Cody Switzer kept up on things for the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Definitely read their reports to get a better feel of the event.
As for me, I’ll be looking forward to going back to SXSW next year. In the meantime, how was this year’s event for you? Share your thoughts here.