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VolunteerMatch Blog for Social Change Organizations
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Welcome to Our New Communications & Social Media Intern

Tue, 2014-01-21 13:02

Hey everyone! My name is Tori Fukumitsu, I am the new Communications & Social Media intern at VolunteerMatch, and I am very excited to join the Online Communications team and the VolunteerMatch family.

I currently attend Hamilton College in Clinton, NY where I am a Junior and an English major with a Japanese minor. At Hamilton, I have had the privilege to meet so many great people from diverse backgrounds who are extremely driven and love learning, and I can’t wait to build similar relationships at VolunteerMatch. My studies have helped cultivate my written and verbal skills which I am very eager to apply to the internship at VM.

Outside of the classroom I am involved in a number of activities. After two semesters of tutoring local elementary school students in an underserved school district through America Reads, I took on a larger role this past semester as a site coordinator for HAVOC, Hamilton’s largest volunteer and outreach club. I led students on weekly trips to a local homeless and hunger shelter called Rescue Mission of Utica where we lent a helping hand to their food service program.

In addition to my volunteer work, I hold two on-campus jobs, am a member of the Hamilton College Orchestra, and captain three intramural sports. In my spare time I enjoy playing acoustic guitar, watching hockey, hiking, and listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Back at home in the Bay Area, I have had the pleasure of applying my passion for giving back to my community in various volunteer opportunities. Last summer, I volunteered with the nutrition program at Kimochi, a Japanese nonprofit in San Francisco, and embodied its mission of the younger generation helping the older generation by serving lunch twice a week to over two hundred senior citizens. My time at Kimochi inspired me to learn more about my Japanese heritage, and led me to decide to study abroad in Tokyo this April.

I also spent the summer as a research assistant for a Stanford graduate student’s Ph.D project on mixed race high school youth, and had a very enlightening experience. Additionally, I serve as an assistant editor for the Sierra Club of San Francisco’s online publication, the Yodeler, spreading the word about the Club’s stance on legislative measures and environmental concerns.

These experiences and the skills I have developed led me to this internship at VolunteerMatch, and I believe it will be a great fit on both sides. Much as I anticipate a career in a business setting, I am very passionate about volunteering, and am excited for this opportunity where those two spheres coexist.

As a Communications & Social Media intern, I will be engaging the public, spreading the word not only about VolunteerMatch’s service to the world, but also the importance of volunteering and supporting our communities. And what better way to do so than at the intersection of volunteers, nonprofits, and business leaders.

I will be on this blog a lot in the coming months, and I am really looking forward to meeting you all!

Webinar Recap: 4 New Volunteer Trends to Watch

Fri, 2014-01-17 10:02

Our recent Nonprofit Insights webinar with Tobi Johnson, “Future Forecast: Four Big Shifts that Will Change Volunteerism…for the Better,” was a big success. We’re hearing from many volunteer managers and nonprofit folks how it’s inspired them to think about changes they can make to improve their volunteer programs.

Lori Halley of Wild Apricot enjoyed the session so much, she wrote up this great recap on the Wild Apricot blog. We’ve re-posted it here, but check out the original article, too.

By Lori Halley, Wild Apricot

Recap of recent Nonprofit Insights webinar hosted by VolunteerMatch about future trends in volunteer engagement, written by Lori Halley of Wild Apricot.Most nonprofits and membership organizations depend on volunteers in order to meet their mission. So at this time of year, many of you are either in the midst of orienting a new wave of volunteers or realizing that you need to recruit additional support. If that’s the case, there are a few shifts and trends impacting volunteerism that you might want to consider.

Last week VolunteerMatch presented a Nonprofit Insights webinar called: “Future Forecast: Four Big Shifts That Will Change Volunteerism…for the Better.” While I was unable to attend the live session, I watched the video and wanted to offer a recap of some of the highlights.

The webinar was led by Tobi Johnson, a nonprofit consultant who helps organizations attract, inspire and mobilize volunteers. Tobi started by reminding us that today’s world of volunteer management is very different than it used to be. It is more public due to social media, which offers challenges as well as new opportunities for engagement. In addition, technological advances and societal changes are forcing volunteer managers to become more sophisticated to keep up. To help, Tobi outlined the impact these changes will have on volunteering and identified four shifts and trends to consider as you plan for the coming year.

Trend #1: Advances in brain science & neuroleadership

While these terms sound very scientific and academic, the key points Tobi made here were that if we develop an understand of how brains function, we can better understand and empathize with our volunteers in order to offer an optimal volunteer experience. In her words, we can develop “volunteer administration practices that work with human nature not against it.”

Tobi offered a number of insights, but one that was key for me was that…

“work productivity does not generate happiness. In fact it is the other way around – happiness generates results in the workplace”

Apparently, there is research that indicates that “happiness is something we can promote and cultivate”. So, for example, when volunteer leaders or staff get stressed out, instead of forcing volunteers to share in this stress, we can find ways of encouraging happiness and developing “gratitude rituals” to “inoculate against negativity.”

What does this mean for volunteer managers?

Tobi’s suggestions for shifting to “using brain science” with volunteers include:

  • Moving away from “legacy volunteer program policies and procedures” and toward “use of human motivational triggers to develop leaders”
  • Instead of relying on “charismatic (and rare) volunteer leaders… focus on minimizing threat and maximizing reward in organizational cultures”
  • Substituting “traditional volunteer reward and recognition activities” with practices that cultivate team happiness “through evidence-based practices and team traditions.”
Trend #2: Discoveries in human performance & talent development

Join the free Nonprofit Insights webinar about the future of volunteer engagement.Since, as Tobi noted, “nonprofits are all about collaboration”, she suggested we should look to research on “talent development” to help us “better understand what motivates and inspires human performance to develop volunteer training and onboarding that is inspiring, fulfilling and makes the most of volunteer skills and talent.”

For example, in terms of insight into motivation, Tobi noted that researchers have discovered that rather than being concerned about efficiency, today workers (and volunteers) are focused on finding meaning in the workplace. We all know that the key reason most people volunteer is to “make a difference.” We’ve blogged about research into volunteer motivation that also confirms that what folks want most from their volunteer experience is to understand how their efforts have made a difference.

For insight into trends on “talent development”, Tobi noted that new research suggests that people learn better with informal versus formal, classroom-style training. Peer-to peer training is especially effective.

Challenges for volunteer managers:

Tobi’s suggestions in terms of human performance and talent development included:

  • Informal volunteer-led learning networks [e.g., peer-to-peer]
  • Use of best practices in talent development, directly aligned with program goals
  • The deeper meaning of work [should be] reflected in volunteer recognition [and allowing volunteers to be more empowered and "have a say in their work" – rather than "plaques and pins"]
Trend #3: Migration from solely virtual to virtual and mobile

Tobi noted that many organizations are already engaging virtual volunteers and allowing volunteers to work remotely. But with the ever increasing Smartphone usage for web access, and the growing numbers of telecommuters and virtual teams, Tobi suggested that organizations need to start thinking about how they can better enable volunteering via mobile. This, she suggests, means “aligning organization and volunteer and communication media and methods”. For example,

  • [Rather than over-reliance on a single communications method] Volunteer communication strategies [should] align with mobile lifestyles
  • [Instead of one-way volunteer information blasts, organizations should work towards] two-way, social communication that fosters a greater sense of community
  • Deliberate strategies to reduce perceived virtual distance [e.g., having information on a wiki that volunteers can access via mobile; websites that offer responsive design; video training that can be viewed on a Smartphone, etc.]
Trend #4: The increasing importance of data

The final trend that Tobi noted in the webinar was the importance of “harnessing and analyzing data in manageable, affordable and scalable ways in order to improve individual volunteer programs and the field of volunteerism as a whole.” This means we need to establish industry benchmarks but also that each organization should think about what data you can gather on, for example, the number of volunteer hours; retention rates; level of involvement; return on investment, etc.

Tobi suggested the following examples as to how data could be used to better manage our volunteers:

  • Common performance indicators and benchmarks used for program accountability
  • Global collaborative data sharing to inform evidence-based practice
  • Experimentation and failure embraced for what it can teach us
Applying this insight to your volunteer program

Tobi finished the webinar by reminding us that “volunteering is really about self actualization”. So if and when you decide to make changes to your organization’s volunteer procedures or programs, you need to ask yourself “will the change help facilitate a deeper sense of connectedness between our volunteers, our community and our cause?” Tobi suggests that if it doesn’t tap into that deeper sense of connection, it probably shouldn’t be your top priority.

Check out the entire webinar presentation

This is just a high level overview of this great VolunteerMatch presentation by Tobi Johnson. If you’d like to watch the entire webinar video (via YouTube) – you can view it here: Nonprofit Insights Webinar: Future Forecast: Four Big Shifts That Will Change Volunteerism…For the Better.

How do you think these four trends will impact your volunteer program in 2014? Let us know in the comments below.

Twitter Talk Tuesday: Myth-busting Virtual Volunteering with Jayne Cravens

Wed, 2014-01-15 14:10

The Internet is a beautiful thing. It allows people all over the world, from China to Canada, to communicate with each other in the blink of an eye, and for nonprofits just about anywhere to involve online volunteers, leveraging the power of virtual volunteering to make the world a better place.


Join Us for the Next #VMTalk

This month we will  focus on virtual volunteering and its value for nonprofits, schools, government agencies and other mission-based organizations, as well as its value for volunteers themselves. Jayne Cravens, a virtual volunteering superstar, will be joining us for our second Twitter Talk Tuesday to talk about the power of all the various forms of online volunteering, and offer some info from her upcoming book with Susan Ellis, The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook.

Tweet with us (@VolunteerMatch) using the hashtag #VMTalk on 1/21 at 11:00 AM (PST)  

What is Virtual Volunteering?

Virtual volunteering is a term describing a volunteer who completes tasks, in whole or in part, off-site from the organization being assisted, using the Internet and a home, school, telecenter or work computer or other Internet-connected device.

Virtual volunteering is also known as online volunteering and cyber service, and includes microvolunteering, crowdsourcing, telementoring, teletutoring, online mentoring, Internet-mediated service, and various other online activities undertaken by volunteers. It’s a rich, varied practice that is more than 30 years old – as old as the Internet itself!

Join the conversation on January 21st at 11:00 AM (PST) on Twitter (@VolunteerMatch) and use the hashtag #VMTalk to track the twitter chat and contribute your thoughts.

About Our Guest

Jayne Cravens has been a vital resource for many in the research, promotion and practice of virtual volunteering from remote staff to virtual teams. She is mainly focused on volunteer involvement, community engagement and management for nonprofits, NGOs and government initiatives.

Jayne launched Coyote Communications in 1993 as one of the first websites focused on helping nonprofits use the internet to the best of their abilities. Many nonprofits are wary of how to navigate virtual volunteering but Jayne Cravens is here to put those rumors to rest.

We hope to “see” you on January 21st for this Twitter Talk Tuesday!

How to Retain Your Volunteers after the Holiday Season

Thu, 2014-01-09 11:05

Guest post by Shayla Price

How to Retain Your Volunteers After the Holiday SeasonRetaining great volunteers is always a challenge for any nonprofit. The holiday season brings an influx of new volunteers, however after Santa disappears, organizations usually notice a decrease in volunteer interest.

To reap maximum benefits from the holiday rush, nonprofit staff must fuel community involvement and re-engage their volunteers. Below are a few simple yet strategic steps to retain new volunteers:

Tap into your volunteers’ motives.

Be mindful that not all volunteers give time just for the progress of your cause. Individuals may want to meet new people or develop certain skill sets. Not understanding your volunteers’ motives can result in dissatisfied people and can lead to negative reviews. So always ask individuals why they decided to volunteer. Then, you can focus on how you can fulfill those desires.

Inform volunteers of your expectations.

Training is key in volunteer management. Explain the nature of your organization’s work and how the volunteer work will fulfill a need in the community. Do not skip any minor details – tackle everything from the minimum commitment hours to your nonprofit’s managerial policies. Give people a complete overview of what you expect from them, and leave no stone unturned.

Make volunteering convenient.

Know the schedules of your volunteers and work around their most convenient times. Your best source of daytime volunteer work would be freelancers with flexible schedules. College students may contribute to your evening shifts, and parents will likely have more time during the weekends. Plot a course of action that will be helpful to all parties involved.

Ensure the volunteer experience is memorable.

You do not have to host a party everyday, but it’s important to ensure volunteers are enjoying their work. For example, if your nonprofit works directly with dogs, give the office volunteers opportunities to interact with the animals. A little interaction can allow volunteers to build personal connections to your mission.

Always show appreciation.

Every volunteer wants to know and feel that he or she is making a significant difference in advancing the organization’s cause. It’s your goal to convey a message of appreciation to your volunteers. Make sure your volunteers feel valued by:

  • Sending a handwritten thank you note.
  • Hosting an annual volunteer celebration.
  • Inviting volunteers to attend VIP events.

Retaining volunteers centers around building mutually beneficial relationships. Let your volunteers see and realize the positive effect of their efforts.

One more great resource for learning about high impact volunteer management is this free webinar from NonprofitWebinars.com.

Today, I challenge you to learn strategies to improve your volunteer program – share how you’re doing it in the comments below!

Shayla Price is the Executive Director of the National Search Dog Alliance. She also teaches the online course Scholarship Winner: Earn Free Money for College.

(Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Why the CVA Certification is Worth Your Time

Wed, 2014-01-08 10:10

Join VolunteerMatch for a free webinar to learn more about the CVA certification.I’ve written before about why I personally pursued my CVA (Certificate in Volunteer Administration), and when I was asked to join the Board of CCVA (Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration) in 2012 I said yes for many of those same reasons.

I still believe in the effective engagement of volunteers, and that it demonstrates my knowledge and experience in the field and reinforces my organization’s commitment to the profession of volunteer management. And, if you’ve joined any of my trainings you know that I often talk about how the experience of pursuing my CVA helped me craft the philosophy and framework for the volunteer management curriculum offered in our Learning Center.

Since joining the Board I’ve had the opportunity to learn a little more about others who have pursued their credential, and thought I’d share some behind-the-scenes facts.

Did you know:
  • The US has the most CVAs in the world, with Texas leading the pack with 78.
  • Canada has the next largest concentration, with Alberta and Ontario each home to 11 CVAs.
  • There are also CVAs from Australia, Bolivia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, and Switzerland!
  • While the minimum requirement to qualify is 3 years of experience managing volunteers, the average candidate has much more experience: 8.7 years.
  • And in 2013 almost half (46%) of CVA candidates came from health and human service organizations.

It clear from the interest in the credential, and the increase in candidates that the CCVA has seen, that others working to engage volunteers are finding a CVA valuable in their work. Check out what previous candidates have said about why they pursued their credential.

Now that you know some trivia, what else do you need to know?
  • This is a credential program – it verifies what you know and have learned on the job, it is not a training or certificate program.
  • You’ll need to have at least three years experience engaging volunteers. This can be full or part-time, paid or volunteer work.
  • It is a lot of work! You need to have time to prepare for an exam and write a portfolio. (But in my experience it was well worth it!)

If you’re ready to pursue your own CVA, you can learn more and register here. (Do you have a VolunteerMatch account? You qualify for a discounted rate – just check the box!)

Still looking for more information, want to learn more, or have questions about the process? Join me and CCVA Executive Director Katie Campbell for a free webinar on January 16, 2014.

Fighting Hunger Together, We Really Made a Difference

Tue, 2014-01-07 13:33

Together, VolunteerMatch and the Walmart Foundation created millions of dollars in social value to help more Americans get the nutrition they need and fight hunger.The problem of hunger often seems insurmountable. 1 in 6 people in the U.S. are going hungry, according to Feeding America. Given today’s economic climate, and all of the other issues we face, it can seem like a herculean task to make a dent in the hunger that plagues our country’s most vulnerable.

Together, however, we have done it. Recently VolunteerMatch completed a two-year partnership with the Walmart Foundation’s Fighting Hunger Together Initiative, to support the work of nonprofits that are fighting hunger. Our goals for the campaign were:

  • To provide hunger-relief organizations the resources they need to deploy, manage and expand an effective volunteer program;
  • To make it easier to support, provide training, and share best practices among volunteer managers; and
  • To increase visibility within the community of the need for volunteers at hunger-related organizations.

We are very proud of the work we did, supported by the Walmart Foundation, to accomplish these goals. So we created an infographic to tell everyone about it. Here are some highlights before you dive in:

  • We facilitated 112,000 connections between hunger-related nonprofits and eager volunteers.
  • We trained more than 3,000 volunteer coordinators so that they can more effectively recruit the volunteers they need.
  • We created over $171 million in social value that is helping more Americans get the nutrition they need.

Take a look at the infographic, and share with friends and colleagues. Together, we can continue to make a big difference for causes like hunger!

Click here to view the infographic showing the impact made during VolunteerMatch's partnership with the Walmart Foundation's Fighting Hunger Together initiative.

Get Free Access to Cutting-Edge On-Demand Nonprofit Training from VolunteerMatch and the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation

Mon, 2014-01-06 16:02

Get free access to cutting-edge on-demand trainings from VolunteerMatch and the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation.Update: Due to extremely popular demand, this opportunity is now full. Thanks for your interest, and stay tuned in case we’re able to offer more opportunities like this in the future!

Imagine if you could go online and immediately access learning, book abstracts, webinars and written materials to develop, train, and broaden your skills as a nonprofit professional? What if you could do this whenever you wanted, for free?

Today VolunteerMatch launches a new phase of our partnership with the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation. We formed this partnership to provide VolunteerMatch training content to nonprofits through the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation’s Gift of Learning program.

The Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation is a nonprofit organization formed by global cloud-based talent management leader Cornerstone OnDemand. The Gift of Learning program leverages Cornerstone OnDemand’s state-of-the-art learning technology to create an online career development tool that provides nonprofit employees and volunteers with access to a free collection of e-learning and other training resources provided by industry experts.

Through this portal you can have access to a customized curriculum that supports the most common job families in the nonprofit sector: Fundraising, Leadership, Accounting and Finance, Operations, Marketing and Communications, Volunteer Engagement, and Program Management. And we are giving 500 nonprofits the key to this treasure trove absolutely free.

All you have to do is fill out the form below. If your nonprofit is among the first 500 to respond, you can choose up to ten employees to access the online library of trainings and resources for three months, absolutely free.

Once 500 organizations respond, the offer is closed – so don’t procrastinate! If your organization is chosen to participate, you will receive a welcome email directly from the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation no later than February 5, 2014.

Update: Due to extremely popular demand, this opportunity is now full. Thanks for your interest, and stay tuned in case we’re able to offer more opportunities like this in the future!

Some fine print: Your organization must have 501 (c )(3) tax exempt status to qualify. Once 500 nonprofits have responded to this offer, requests for additional access may be considered.

Expert Snapshots for January

Fri, 2014-01-03 12:53

Expert SnapshotsAt 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.

What Nonprofits Should Start Doing in 2014: Advice from the Experts

The Chronicle of Philanthropy asked nonprofit leaders what nonprofits should start focusing on in the coming year – you might be surprised what some of these well-known folks had to say about fundraising, engagement and measurement…

Nonprofit Blog Carnival: A Flying Leap in 2014

The theme of this month’s Carnival, hosted by Joanne Fritz, is “The Nonprofit Ride in 2014 – Scary or Fun?” A wide range of people from across the sector contributed an assortment of predictions, reviews of 2013, and best practices for the New Year. This is the ultimate round-up of round-ups.

Four Volunteer Predictions for 2014

Corbit Harrison of VolunteerHub wrote this guest post on the Guidestar Blog looking at how technology and demographic shifts are changing how nonprofits engage volunteers. In the post he outlines some of these changes and suggests ways nonprofits can get ahead of them to be even more successful in 2014.

8 Social Media Predictions for Nonprofits in 2014

When it comes to humanitarian work, 2014 has big things in store for nonprofits, or so says Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation blog. She feels that social media will play an even more critical and central role in nonprofit operations in 2014, and provides a bunch of predictions for the “how.”

Bonus: When You Work With Volunteers

This Tumblr blog about volunteer management at nonprofits is funny and too true on any day of the week, but this recent post highlights the free education and training resources from VolunteerMatch, and we couldn’t be prouder.

Upcoming Nonprofit Insights: Volunteering & Employment – Benefits for Individuals, Nonprofits and Companies

Thu, 2014-01-02 12:46

We’re kicking off the New Year with a special, first-of-its-kind webinar, and we’re inviting our corporate, nonprofit AND volunteer audiences to take part! We hope you can join us and our guest speakers…

Join VolunteerMatch for a special free webinar about the link between volunteering and employment.It turns out that working for free can actually help you get a job.

Recent research shows an empirical link between volunteering and employment – and this benefit doesn’t just apply to individual jobseekers. Volunteering also provides value for companies looking to hire engaged employees, and for nonprofits that need the help of people with specific skills looking to build experience.

Volunteering and Employment: Benefits for Individuals, Nonprofits and Companies

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VM_Solutions and #VMbpn.

Join VolunteerMatch’s President, Greg Baldwin, for a special, free joint webinar with LinkedIn, the Corporation for National and Community Service and Deloitte as we dive into several research studies supporting the connection between volunteering and employment.

Whether you’re an individual jobseeker, a nonprofit looking for skilled volunteers, or a company looking for employees, this conversation will provide a wealth of practical ideas for how volunteering and volunteers can help you reach your goals.

Hint: This is a great webinar to share with your volunteers!

Register for this free Nonprofit Insights webinar now.