What Nonprofits Should Know about VolunteerMatch’s Global Expansion

VolunteerMatch to Pilot International Expansion of Corporate Volunteering Network Using TechSoup Global TechnologyLast week we announced that we’re beginning to expand our services to create a global volunteer engagement network. We’ve partnered with TechSoup Global to leverage their technology and help build the capacity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world.

We hope you’re as excited by this announcement as we are! But we also recognize there may be some questions that pop up about this global expansion. Below are some FAQ’s for nonprofits that will help your organization, no matter where you’re located, make the most of the growing global VolunteerMatch network:

Isn’t VolunteerMatch already global?
How is VolunteerMatch working with TechSoup Global?
You mentioned 10 countries. Where is this expansion happening?
Will the whole world see my organization’s international listings?
What is planned for the future of VolunteerMatch Global?
So as a nonprofit, what should I do?

Isn’t VolunteerMatch already global?

Yes, actually, we have been for a while. Of the 100,000 organizations using VolunteerMatch, roughly 3,000 are from outside the U.S. However, we’ve never actively promoted our services to organizations based outside the United States. Until now.

How is VolunteerMatch working with TechSoup Global?

TechSoup Global has an amazing network of charities around the world that they’ve built up over the last 20+ years. We are using their technology to help smooth the registration process for organizations in 10 countries. In other words, now when a charity in one of the 10 countries registers, we ping TechSoup Global and can automate parts of the registration process. The power of technology!

You mentioned 10 countries. Where is this expansion happening?

The 10 countries in which we are working with TechSoup Global are Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Ireland, Germany, India, Singapore and Hong Kong. However, we are actively promoting VolunteerMatch just to organizations in the UK, Australia and Canada. We’d like to build the network of organizations and opportunities this year and learn what kind of growth we can expect, and starting with English speaking countries makes things a little easier.

Will the whole world see my organization’s international listings?

At first, the listings will appear in our corporate volunteering network – this means to the hundreds of thousands of employees who work at our more than 150 client companies. We are making it available to the corporate network first as part of the initial pilot before rolling it out on the public VolunteerMatch.org site.

What is planned for the future of VolunteerMatch Global?

For the rest of 2014, we will continue with this pilot initiative. We’re also working on translation issues as well as how to spread the word about VolunteerMatch in other countries. We’ll keep you posted about our progress!

So as a nonprofit, what should I do?

Great question! If your organization works in one of the pilot countries mentioned above, you can now post your listings for your volunteer needs in those countries! We encourage you to do this right away – the more volunteer listings we have in each country, the more great, skilled volunteers will make use of the network.

Have questions that weren’t answered here? Feel free to email us!

Keep up the great (global!) work!

Winning People Over to Your Cause – Part Four: Measure Success Based on Your Volunteers and Community

Content Marketing for Nonprofits, by Kivi Leroux MillerEditor’s Note: This series explores ways to apply content marketing strategies to help lead a successful nonprofit volunteer program. Using the wealth of information in Kivi Leroux Miller’s book “Content Marketing for Nonprofits” as a jumping-off point, this four-part installment discusses how a solid content marketing strategy will pay dividends in drawing volunteers and supporters, bridging the gap between volunteers and donors, and engaging your community.

heartmeterHow can you learn more about your volunteers and supporters? This question should serve as the driving force behind how you keep track of your work and success. In this blog post, the final one of the series, we will discuss how you can quantitatively and qualitatively measure the impact of your work and adapt to the needs of your volunteers and community.

Invite Volunteer Feedback

One way your data might manifest itself is through surveys and polls. After a volunteer participates in one of your opportunities, ask that person to fill out a short form talking about how it went. Did the opportunity match his/her skills and interests? Did the volunteer learn something or take something away from the experience? Did the volunteer feel guided by his/her supervisor? How you tweak your program based on responses to questions like these can be the determining factor in whether or not that volunteer will lend his/her time with you again.

One organization that encourages volunteer feedback is my local Sierra Club chapter. In the process of creating and publishing their newsletter, “The Yodeler,” released online and in print, the Club invites volunteers to edit their articles, not only grammatically but stylistically and formally as well. As a result, existing volunteers directly affect how the Club’s message is delivered, and can provide input based on their own needs.

Use Online and Social media Analytics to Follow Trends

Website analytics like Google Analytics and Sprout Social will provide you with quantitative data that you can use to track a number of different statistics and trends. You might be interested in:

  • How long people stay on the volunteering page of your website
  • How many people are visiting your site for the first time (unique visitors)
  • Which age group has the most people following you

You can collect a wide variety of data and follow a bunch of different trends. But efficiently using social media is more than just collecting a mass amount of data: it is using those metrics that are most relevant to you that will then help you improve your content.

Analytics can also be used to determine how good of a job you are doing in responding to social media activity. Your online analytics can track how quickly you are responding to comments on the different social media outlets. You can then take that data and compare it to the graphs that tell you how many followers, fans, and likes you are receiving on a weekly basis. Small steps in improving your social media presence can be very beneficial in drawing new volunteers.

Balance Exposure and Engagement

Much as you want to have your name heard by lots of people, it will only be meaningful if people are actually having conversations about you. To clarify this idea, think about this awesome analogy that Kivi presents in her book:

To summarize, think of building social media followers like filling a football stadium. Many people like you enough that they will attend, but only a small fraction will wear apparel and team colors, and even less will put on face paint and go all-out with costumes. Social media provides extremely useful tools for connecting with a massive number of people, but it is up to you to use those tools effectively to create quality relationships and die-hard fans.

You might have thousands of followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook, but these only mean something if people are actually getting involved. In terms of online analytics, you might compare your impressions (the potential number of people who saw your name and post) to the number of interactions (the number of times you were mentioned by other people), and compare these to the number of people who actually sign up to volunteer.

At the same time, you can only create new interactions if you are meeting new people. Thus, exposure and engagement work together, and you need to balance both in order to successfully build strong relationships with your volunteers and community.

By following some of the strategies in this blog series, we hope that your organization leads a more successful volunteer engagement program. Maybe you used these strategies as inspiration for a new approach, or your existing strategies diverge from those listed here. We would love for you to share your experiences, and hope you will jump in the conversation about how to engage volunteers using content marketing!

What methods does your organization use to measure successful communication with and engagement of volunteers?

Know the Facts: Volunteer Drivers and the “Ride-Sharing” Liability Controversy

Guest post by William R. Henry, Jr.

Know the Facts: Volunteer Drivers and the “Ride-Sharing” Liability ControversyIf your organization engages volunteers to transport people, and the volunteers use their own vehicles, you may be concerned about liability. Now those worries have been amped up by the controversy over “transportation network companies” (TNC’s) such as Uber and Sidecar, which use Web portals to act as brokers between those who need rides and those who are willing to provide them in their private vehicles.

The controversy is that the liability exposure of TNC’s falls between the scope of commercial auto policies and that of personal auto policies, and it will take some time before insurance companies and government regulators can sort it out. Meanwhile, nonprofit-sponsored programs are at risk of an unfair comparison, because TNC’s sometimes are described as “ride-sharing” – a term that volunteer-based programs have used for many years.

There is a major difference in the two models – volunteers driving their own vehicles for nonprofit organizations might be reimbursed for their expenses by the organization or by passengers, but they are not driving to make a profit. In contrast, vehicle owners drive for TNC’s to make money.

Based on all evidence I have been able to find, insurance companies understand this difference. Although individuals who drive for TNC’s might jeopardize their personal auto insurance, there is no reason at this point to believe that an insurer would deny a claim, cancel coverage, or increase premiums of a customer just because that individual is a volunteer driver, and is reimbursed for reasonable expenses.

Most insurance companies writing personal auto coverage have an exclusion for liability “arising out of …a vehicle being used as a public or livery conveyance.” In other words, don’t use your vehicle as a taxi. In response to the rise of TNC’s, the Insurance Services Office (ISO), which provides standard policy forms, recently issued a policy “endorsement” (modification) excluding coverage for TNC-type arrangements.

My organization has approached several underwriters with the question of whether a customer’s coverage might be jeopardized if that person serves as a volunteer, transporting clients for a nonprofit organization, and is reimbursed for expenses.
Although underwriters always remind us that coverage determinations depend on specific facts of a claim, one underwriter from a major insurer did venture to say that a claim would be covered unless the compensation the volunteer had been receiving “exceeded normal reimbursement of expenses, including wear and tear on the auto.”

Jim Levendusky, manager of Insurance Solutions Underwriting for Verisk Analytics, the parent company of ISO, told me he is not aware of any insurance companies that are contemplating adverse action against customers who drive as volunteers.

The California Public Utilities Commission, in a 2013 ruling on regulations and insurance requirements for transportation network companies, also recognized the difference between TNC’s and volunteer-based programs. The rules exempt nonprofit organizations from the requirements.

Even in the absence of evidence, insurance agents and brokers sometimes warn their customers that they are jeopardizing their personal auto coverage by serving as volunteer drivers. A few states have enacted laws to prevent insurance companies from taking the kind of adverse action that no company yet has taken. The “facts on the ground,” as reporters like to say now, do not justify those warnings and legislative actions.

If your organization engages volunteer drivers, make sure your staff and volunteers know these facts!

William R. Henry, Jr. is executive director of Volunteers Insurance Service Association, which provides insurance and risk management services to volunteer-based nonprofit organizations nationwide, under the brand CIMA Volunteers Insurance (www.cimaworld.com).

Why and How VolunteerMatch Works with Sponsors

Keep your remote employees in the volunteering loop.Yes, VolunteerMatch works with sponsors. It’s a good thing that helps us do even more good in the world. Over the past couple of years we have tested out ways to help companies, brands and other nonprofit organizations get their special messages in front of our massive membership of dedicated do-gooders. In exchange, these sponsoring groups help support VolunteerMatch.

You might have seen this sponsored content on the side of VolunteerMatch.org while you update your nonprofit’s listings, sign up for a webinar, or search for a volunteer opportunity. You also could see a sponsored message in an email or newsletter, and in one of your Opportunity Alert emails we send to you.

Aren’t We Selling Out?

We really don’t think so. As any nonprofit knows, it takes money to do good – and VolunteerMatch is no exception. You might already know about how we help companies run successful employee volunteer programs. This work not only further fulfills our mission of connecting good people and good causes by exposing your organization’s opportunities to large populations of corporate volunteers, it also helps support the free services we provide for nonprofits and volunteers.

Sponsorship is one more way to do that – it gets important messages about social good and giving back in front of nonprofits and volunteers, and helps support the VolunteerMatch organization and network so we can continue to provide free services and better support.

Our Promise to You

It’s important to us that the sponsored content and ideas we present to you are well aligned with the mission and values of VolunteerMatch; we want them to be important to you, just like you are important to us. If you ever feel the messages we present to you from our sponsors are not in line with the VolunteerMatch spirit, let us know!

In the end, we’re all here to make a difference, and the sponsors we work with help us do that. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments!

Want to Join In?

We know why sponsorship is great for VolunteerMatch and for nonprofits and volunteers who care about doing good, and it can also be beneficial for your initiatives – walkathons, unique volunteering projects, etc. We are engagement experts and our members want to take action. The VolunteerMatch network is growing by leaps and bounds thanks to all of you: we had 12 million visits to the website in 2013, and 2014 is shaping up to be even better. Hundreds of thousands of people get our emails each month.

With millions of members, we are a trusted resource and destination for anyone who cares about getting involved in their community. Where better to put messages about your projects and efforts?

We’ve got a bunch of different, flexible opportunities for you to share your organization’s message with the perfect audience, inspire more people to get out and make a difference, and support VolunteerMatch’s work.

Interested in sponsorship options at VolunteerMatch? Get in touch!

Was VolunteerMatch Affected by the Heartbleed Issue?

Was VolunteerMatch affected by the Heartbleed issue?On Monday April 7, we (along with many other Web services) received notification of a widespread internet security issue – called Heartbleed, impacting the popular OpenSSL technology – and we moved quickly to respond.

We began testing the fix on Monday morning and applied the changes to our production environment Tuesday afternoon. We have verified that the exploitable bug has been fixed.

The servers impacted by Heartbleed do not store user information, and since we were able to close the gap quickly, it is unlikely that this had a security impact on our users.

To be extra vigilant, this is a good time to choose a strong new password for your account and remember to change it often! We’ve made it a priority to take all the steps necessary to keep your data secure.

To update your account information, including your password, you can follow these steps:

  1. Log in and access your organization’s dashboard at www.volunteermatch.org/post
  2. Click ‘Manage Personal Account’ on the left side of page.
  3. Choose ‘Edit Personal Profile.’
  4. Make any desired changes and click ‘Continue.’

If you also change your email address, please make sure to check your inbox for a request to verify your new email address.

Don’t worry, we’re taking care of you and your information, but you can help out by changing your password often!