As 2013 winds down, we’re all deep in planning mode for 2014. With budgets and programming top of mind, don’t let your own professional development slip through the cracks. VolunteerMatch is here to make it easy to gain new volunteer engagement knowledge.
In 2014 we’re adding new dates, new topics, and new speakers – all to help the New You become an even better volunteer manager.New Speakers Katie Campbell on The Ethics of Volunteer Engagement
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify when you’re facing an ethical dilemma in your work with volunteers. Using volunteer management scenarios and a conversational format, this webinar will cover some of the dilemmas you face when you engage and manage volunteers and provide ideas for how to resolve these situations effectively and ethically. Guest speaker Katie Campbell is joining Jennifer Bennett for this critical conversation.Beth Steinhorn on Leveraging Volunteer Talent for Organizational Change
Organizations are recognizing that the old ways of doing business don’t work in this changing world. The good news is that today’s volunteers are interested in opportunities to help organizations innovate and pilot new ways of doing business. This webinar will explore how to engage volunteers as leaders of change. Learn where your organization is in its lifecycle and gain an appreciation for the importance of innovation in organizational sustainability. The webinar will also feature strategies for supporting volunteers and holding them accountable for change. Featuring guest speaker Beth Steinhorn.New Topics Engaging the Volunteer of the Future
At VolunteerMatch we have a unique view into what volunteers are looking for in an opportunity. The age of one-size-fits-all volunteer engagement is coming to an end. This webinar will start with a review of some of the things that we know about what volunteers are looking for in an opportunity. It will then help you use this information to start designing volunteer opportunities and determining who is the “right” volunteer for your program. You’ll also learn how “word of mouth” plays such a large role in attracting volunteers to your organization and how social media makes this even more important.Telling the Story of Volunteer Impact
You want to share the impact volunteers have in your organization and in the community, but often the information you track doesn’t help you tell that story. This webinar will help you move past number of volunteers and number of hours and start telling the real story. You’ll learn about information gathering and the key components to good storytelling, how to evaluate your current measurements and how to build support for a more thorough measurement and evaluation program, and how to engage other staff – paid and volunteer – in this work. You’ll also receive a worksheet to help you begin to tell the story of volunteer impact in your organization.The CVA Credential: A Mark of Excellence
Join this free webinar, hosted only once a year, to learn more about the CCVA and the process for applying for and receiving your CVA. Credentialing in any profession increases credibility and promotes career development. Learn about this unique performance-based credentialing program, the process for becoming Certified in Volunteer Administration and how it can benefit you and your organization. Recommended for those with at least 3 years of experience in any setting.
Guest post by Rob Ortiz, Money Crashers
Volunteers represent the heart and soul of any functioning nonprofit, but we should always remember that they’re not paid staff, and because of that their threshold for burnout is lower than you may think.
For some helpful tips on how to handle your own workload and avoid losing your volunteers to burnout, read on:1. Be Up-Front in the Recruiting Process
One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to be as clear as possible before you bring any volunteers on. Make sure that during the interview process you’re crystal clear as to what responsibilities and time commitments are going to be required. The last thing you want is to hire people only to find they’re unable to fulfill your expectations.2. Better Project Management
If you regularly hold events without enough volunteers or full-time staff members, job burnout is sure to become an issue. However, the same may be true if you over-schedule. Too many volunteers milling about with no real work to do is never a good thing. People who volunteer their time want to feel useful, and if they don’t they probably won’t stick around for long. Review each event with a keen eye for detail and make sure to select the right number of people to assist with each one.3. Communicate Better
How well do you know your volunteers on a personal level? You certainly don’t have to meet one for dinner every night, but you should always show interest. Asking a few questions about friends, family, and hobbies can’t do any harm. If your volunteers view you as more approachable and invested, they’re more likely to be honest with you when a project comes up they’d rather not do – instead of accepting it and eventually burning out.4. Recognize Them More
How often do you recognize your volunteers for the work they do? If it’s not often, it should be. You’ve got plenty of options at your disposal to do so. Everyone likes to be thanked in person for a job well done. Or, you could put together a little shout-out on social media. Include a group shot from your latest event and your employees are likely to get a big kick out of it. Thank-you cards in the mail do just fine, as well. Whatever you choose, just make sure it highlights your gratitude and appreciation.5. Interchange Responsibilities
If you’ve had volunteers in the same job for months – or even years – try switching up responsibilities among them. It may create a bit more work on your part matching up skill sets with responsibilities, but doing so can make for a more cohesive and better-trained group of volunteers, and less turnover. Just make sure they take well to their new responsibilities.6. Create Better Volunteer Positions
Which positions at your nonprofit require volunteers? If the majority involve mundane and tedious work like filing papers, making cold calls, or other less sexy administrative duties, you may not be able to keep them around long. Consider creating volunteer positions where the work fits right in with the mission of your organization. They can feel like they’re doing something integral to the cause they’re passionate about, and you can benefit a great deal as a result.
Once you’ve cracked the volunteer burnout nut, it’s time to make sure you don’t fall victim yourself. Don’t skip lunches and breaks. Your work ethic is admirable, but you’re not doing anybody any good by burning the candle at both ends. Be sure you get daily exercise to have more energy during the day and sleep better at night as a result. Once you exit the office for the day, leave all work matters there and don’t take them home with you. Preventing volunteer burnout is important, but make sure you’re taking care of yourself, too.
What ways do you know of to prevent volunteer burnout?
Rob Ortiz is an advocate of volunteerism and nonprofits and writes about charity, personal finance and the importance of giving.
For most of us, volunteering is simply a part of life – whether we manage volunteers professionally, donate our free time or both, volunteering just seems…obvious.
But for many, many others, this isn’t the case. That’s why it’s great to see the media doing their part to raise awareness about volunteering and how to do it “right.”
Check out these recent news features that we think help close that remaining gap between good people and good causes:How to Find Volunteer Opportunities This Holiday Season | Fox Business How to avoid the volunteer trap | CNNMoney Give It Up for the Greater Good | Working Mother 4 Benefits to Volunteering and 4 Websites to Help You Do So | Yahoo.com 9 Affordable Holiday Traditions to Start This Year | USNews.com
For more press coverage of volunteering and VolunteerMatch, check out our Press Room.
This post also appears on Volunteering is CSR.
On Tuesday, November 19, my team and I rounded up with coffee in our hands and entered the Twittersphere to begin our first Twitter Talk Tuesday. As an intern at VolunteerMatch I was able to be an integral part of the project. Our first topic was pro bono and skilled volunteering.
To be honest, I am not an expert in this field and I was a little intimidated to be a participating member of Twitter Talk Tuesday. Here are some of the things I learned throughout the hour-long chat:Setting the foundation of a pro bono project
We started the chat off talking about how the initial conversation between a nonprofit and a company can be complicated concerning pro bono projects. Many of the responses we received said that both parties need to be clear on what the goal is, how to efficiently reach that goal and provide guidelines for how they will work together. Some even provided links with resources to additional help.
Later in the Twitter chat we discussed who benefits from a pro bono project more: a nonprofit, volunteers, or the corporation. When I was first thinking about this subject I had immediately come to the conclusion that it was a win-win-win situation. However, some of our participants shed light on a few problems involved. I learned that yes, ideally pro bono projects should benefit all parties, but sometimes the needs of the company can overpower the needs of the organization.
On the other hand, those that successfully create a pro bono project allow for nonprofits to get what they need without having to pay for it, employees get to utilize and even sharpen their skills, and corporations increase their impact for good.
— VM_Solutions (@VM_Solutions) November 19, 2013Planning a pro bono project
We also discussed how organizations can plan for pro bono projects. An important realization is that there isn’t one right process; each project is unique to the particular needs of the nonprofit and company involved. The planning team must be flexible and be willing to put in the hard work that goes into pro bono projects. In addition to this, it is equally important to know what kind of skills the community and the corporate employees have to offer.
There are a lot of different aspects that go into these projects, but the outcome is definitely worth it. A running theme throughout our Twitter chat was that these projects are unique and must be treated as such. There must be plenty of flexibility, research, communication and cooperation in order to have a successful outcome.
Overall, the first Twitter Talk Tuesday was incredibly helpful and gave me some insight as to how nonprofits and corporations come together for a pro bono project to help out those in need.
Be on the look out for our next Twitter Talk Tuesday! Keep the conversation going about pro bono volunteering using the hashtag #vmtalk. Tweet you soon!
The holiday season is a popular time for volunteering – and nonprofit organizations know it. In order to stand out from the pack and attract dedicated volunteers who are a good fit for your organization, you need to get creative about how you engage all of the folks looking to help out between now and the end of the year.
By engaging volunteers in new ways, you increase your chances of finding people who will form a more authentic, lasting connection to your organization. So here are three ways to cut through all the volunteer recruitment noise this season to engage great supporters:Everyone Loves Food
This is absolutely true – but to distinguish yourself from all the other organizations engaging volunteers to help with food-related tasks during the holidays, find volunteers who can do more than packing and serving. Appeal to Foodies to help with fundraising and cultural events, like this opportunity with Food Truck Festivals of New England, or create your own Top Chef-style challenge for amateur chefs like the African People’s Education and Defense Fund.Appeal to Their Dramatic Sides
With all the good food, pretty lights and time off from work, volunteers want to have a little fun over the holidays. Engage the artists and performers in potential volunteers and give them a chance to shine in the spotlight. Whether it’s caroling during a holiday concert, face painting to cheer up sick children, building a holiday balloon arch, or transforming into a magical elf, tapping into volunteers’ creative energy will get them even more excited to help you during this busy time.Give Them the Best Jobs
Too often we end up recruiting volunteers for the “leftover” tasks, while paid staff does the fun stuff, or the most directly rewarding stuff. This holiday season, engage volunteers for some of the best jobs at your organization, like calling donors just to say thanks, or attending fun concerts to raise awareness.
What are some creative ways your organization engages volunteers during the holiday season? Share in the comments below, and post your volunteer needs on Volunteermatch.org!
When María Teresa Mejía (or just Teresa to those who know her) introduces herself, you travel with her back to Puerto Rico where she was born, then lost her mother and sister to a tragic domestic violence shooting. Teresa describes working with battered women at shelters, co-founding women empowerment organizations, and then restarting from scratch as a Spanish-speaking immigrant in San Francisco.
After Teresa arrived in San Francisco in 1992, she experienced what it meant to be a Spanish-speaking immigrant with no support or resources. That reality was her first connection with what The Women’s Building had to offer – support and an opportunity to grow. Her life was changed the day she walked through those doors.
Recent VolunteerMatch Communications & Social Media Intern Rana Ayed spent time with Teresa to hear about her journey from recipient of services, to dedicated volunteer, and finally to a leader in her own right. Read about how the services provided by skilled volunteers at The Women’s Building empowered Teresa to start her new life, and how she now passes that strength along to make a difference in other women’s lives.
Guest post by Kristina Richards
‘Tis the season of giving, but before volunteers come running to your doors and you start cashing donation checks, you may need to reassure your supporter base about your organization’s reputability. Consumers are increasingly savvy each year, and to ensure that they are willing to get involved with your organization, you need to look as reputable as possible. By understanding the importance of the following four elements, ensure your charity’s reputation looks stellar and protect your community from scams:1. Online Reputation
Everyone from college applicants to business executives needs to pay attention to their online reputation, and charities are no exception to this rule. Rody Moore, the founder of Genbook, a small business marketing firm, advises clients to engage four simple rules when it comes to online management. In a recent Mashable.com article, Moore explains the importance of:
Both volunteers to your program and recipients of your charity have the opportunity to sing your praises or lambast your efforts online, but only you have the power to deal with negative reports and encourage increased positive exposure. Talk to people who have received your services as well as people who have volunteered for your organization and ask them to post positive reviews online.2. Transparency
Scam-savvy volunteers will take the time to research your organization before they are willing to donate time or money. To encourage their involvement, ensure you are running a transparent operation. Check your organization’s profile at Give.org, the Better Business Bureau’s online source for charity reports and standards. If you find any incorrect information, contact the BBB as soon as possible to make the necessary adjustments. Another great place to make sure your info is up-to-date is Guidestar.org.3. Charity Phishing
A decade ago, charity fishing was just a kid’s game played at fundraising bazaars, but now, the phrase has taken on a new spelling and a new meaning. Charity phishing scams are one of the biggest scams to threaten consumers over the holidays. To safeguard your email list, ensure that you have a strong password and avoid accessing your list over a shared Wi-Fi system, as this makes it easy for hackers to gather the details they need for a charity phishing scam.4. Educate Your Volunteers and Donors
The best phishing scam protection is knowledge, and because not every scam can be avoided, you need to educate your volunteers and donors about how to spot scams. If your email list is compromised, the phishing email will likely come from an address that looks similar to yours or an address that is cloaked by your organization’s name. The email will encourage people to donate to your cause, but instead of bringing them to your website, the email will direct them to a phishing website. Once they enter their information there, the scammers can take off on a credit card spending spree. The more your organization’s participants know about these scams, the easier it will be for them to avoid them.
How do you safeguard the reputation of your organization during the holidays? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Now that her kids are older, Kristina Richards has more time for charity work. She spends most of her free time volunteering at a downtown women’s shelter.