Nonprofit Insights: How to Socialize Your Volunteer Recruitment with Google Ad Grants

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.

How can Google Grants help your increase your online engagement? Join the free VolunteerMatch webinar.Question: What difference would it make for your organization if you could get $120,000 per year in free advertising?

Good news: you can. Join VolunteerMatch and Eric Facas, founder and CEO of Media Cause, to learn the basics of the Google Ad Grants program.

How to Socialize Your Volunteer Recruitment with Google Ad Grants

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
11am – 12pm PT (2-3pm ET)

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VolunteerMatch and #vmlearn.

On Wednesday, December 3, 2014, Eric will walk you through how to take advantage of this free “perk,” as well as strategies for getting started with your account. We’ll also cover more advanced techniques including supporter growth, volunteer recruitment, and how this program could help supercharge your online engagement.

Register for this free Nonprofit Insights webinar now.

How Do You Keep Your Organization Safe?

How does your organization screen potential volunteersWhen your organization engages potential volunteers, how do you screen them? How do you ensure that, not only are they the people you really need, but that your nonprofit’s information, reputation and clients will be protected? Furthermore, how do you determine what to include in volunteer screenings, and measure the effectiveness of them?

These are not easy questions to answer, especially since we’ve noticed that each organization tends to have its own set of standards and policies for screening volunteers. And wouldn’t it be so much easier if we shared our knowledge and experience with each other?

Of course it would. Enter VolunteerMatch.

We’ve partnered with a national identity service provider to gather information about how nonprofits currently screen volunteers and validate their information. We think the survey results will help us all engage the right volunteers for our organizations. Because even though not every screening process or step will be right for every nonprofit, finding trends and best practices can help steer us in the right direction.

All you need to do is fill out an easy 10-minute survey, and share it with colleagues and friends. We’ll release our findings in early 2015.

Take the survey, and help us create a more secure, volunteer-filled world for everyone.

Take the survey now.

Why Online Petitions are Crucial to Your Volunteer Recruitment (and Retention)

By Aaron Viles, Care2

How online petitions help engage volunteers.These days, every nonprofit organization has a website, usually chock full of articles, reports and blog posts about the issues and programs they support. The role of the Internet as a platform for sharing information with volunteers is pretty obvious. But increasingly, real engagement, organization and action are happening online. This is giving nonprofits new ways to communicate with supporters, find new audiences and leverage their volunteer base to get involved, do good work and make change.

Every nonprofit faces the challenge of finding and keeping volunteers. One tool in particular can help groups do both: online petitions.

Finding New Volunteers

The Internet is vast and gives each individual user the ability to connect with people a world away and build a community uninhibited by geography. People today are increasingly mobile and have connections to many places and many causes.

While an issue may seem local or idiosyncratic, you never know which and how many people may be inspired to get involved. An expat may care deeply about the fate of a local park in her hometown. Someone in California may have friends and family in Kansas with whom they can share the good work of a local organization. Put simply: reaching people online gets your issues in front of their whole network and can exponentially raise your exposure and spread your message.

Online petitions are a fast and easy way to get this process started. First, they present a clear message and opportunity to make an impact. Good petitions have a clear ask directed to a real person with the power to act. This short and sweet format, with active, persuasive language, helps distill nonprofits’ missions into something concrete; educating people about what drives their group while actually moving the ball forward on their issues.

Keeping Volunteers Engaged

Many researchers have found that the key to keeping volunteers is to understand what motivates them to get involved in the first place. Once they’re onboard, the challenge is to keep them active with your organization and issue. Research suggests that the more committed a volunteer is to an organization, the more likely they are to remain involved.

Getting people to feel committed requires engagement and making their volunteer work seem meaningful. Asking supporters to sign a petition—either in an email or over social media—is a fast and easy way for you to get volunteers to take substantive action. Signing a petition has a real, significant effect that can make supporters feel better and more connected to your organization and mission.

Plus, engaging people online can actually be a gateway to encouraging offline involvement. In 2013, Pew found that nearly one in five users of social networking sites said information they learned there inspired them to get involved offline. Even more exciting, researchers in Norway found that local voluntary organizations that communicated with their supporters online were more likely to grow, and (this is the best part) they found that the online engagement didn’t just replace the traditional face-to-face activities. This meant that finding ways to connect to volunteers online actually increased total engagement, strengthening their relationships with volunteers.

People volunteer for lots of reasons, from having a personal connection to an issue, to the desire to meet like-minded people and make friends. But common among these motivations is the desire to be part of a community doing good. Giving people a chance to make a difference and a place to take collective action fosters this sense of both community and efficacy that makes your organization and your relationship with your supporters stronger.

Has your organization used online petitions to engage volunteers and supporters? Tell us about it in the comments!

Aaron Viles is a Senior Grassroots Organizer for Care2. He works with citizen authors on The Petition Site to create petitions that will win concrete victories for animals, the environment, and other progressive causes. When not in front of a screen or on a conference call, Aaron can be found doting on his daughters, pedaling furiously to keep up with the peloton, and serving as a volunteer leader for the Sierra Club, Dogwood Alliance and his church.

A Formula for Elevator Pitches

Guest post by Elisa Kosarin, Twenty Hats

The formula for a great elevator pitch.This post was originally published on Twenty Hats.

Recently, I had the privilege of leading a training hosted by Volunteer Fairfax for RSVP workstation managers on the art of the elevator pitch.

I love the idea of the elevator pitch, because it is another way to use stories to engage prospective volunteers, but this time with the spoken word.

Basic Elements

Just like written stories, a good elevator pitch starts by examining your prospective volunteer’s needs and goals and connecting that information to your volunteer program.

Once you frame your pitch in this manner, the words fall right into place. Here is an example from the RSVP training, created by Alacia Earley of Cornerstones in Reston, Virginia.

“You mentioned that you enjoy working with children one on one. We have a volunteer position you might be interested in. Our Homework Help volunteers come in once a week for a few hours to work one-on-one or in small groups with students at our community centers in Reston. Regular volunteers often tell me how rewarding it is to see the students come in week after week and watch their grades and self-esteem improve from the tutoring. Let me know if you would be interested in becoming a Homework Helper.”

I like the way Alacia starts with her prospective volunteer’s desire to work with children. Then, she suggests a position and illustrates how it might meet her prospect’s needs. She also shares details that describe just how being a Homework Helper helps children and creates rewarding results for the volunteer.

Another Essential Element

There is just one other element that I add to a pitch, and that is your own emotional connection to your work. Think back to what brought you to your job in the first place. Was it your passion for the cause? The quality work provided by your program? The moving achievements of your clients? When your pitch comes from the heart, it resonates further with your listener.

Here is how another pitch might sound with that final link to your own enthusiasm. This one is for a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program:

“You might want to consider CASA volunteering. I know you are looking for a way to volunteer and have a direct, positive impact on a child’s life. That’s exactly what happens with CASA. I talked with a volunteer last week who came back from a court hearing, elated because she made a strong case for returning the child to his mother, and the judge backed up that recommendation. Those are the stories I like to hear, because I know how one volunteer can change the course of a child’s life for the better.”

I’ve Got a Formula – Try It!

Would you like to try your hand at crafting an elevator pitch? I have a simple formula I can share with you. I created it after searching the Internet for just such a formula and finding nothing that applied to volunteer engagement. My Elevator Pitch Planner shows you how to connect each piece of the process so that you create a compelling pitch ready to use when needed.

Email me to get your own free copy of the planner and my monthly updates. And please let me know how the pitch works out – or better yet, send me your successful pitches and I will post them on Twenty Hats.

Twenty Hats is authored by Elisa Kosarin, CVA, a nonprofit professional with 15+ years of experience in nonprofit marketing, development, and volunteer management. She founded the site to help volunteer managers master the skills they need to make their jobs easier.

Nonprofit Insights: The Brave New World of Engaging Skilled Volunteers

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.

head shots of professional people and their faces.In today’s connected world, new ways of involving volunteers in your organization’s work are popping up all the time.

Have you thought about how volunteers with specific skills could help your nonprofit?

The Brave New World of Engaging Skilled Volunteers

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VolunteerMatch and #vmlearn.

Join VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, for this Nonprofit Insights webinar about the benefits of engaging skilled volunteers, and best practices for setting up a skilled volunteering program in a strategic way.

With 300+ million potential skilled volunteers on LinkedIn alone, connecting with the help you need doesn’t have to be time-consuming or scary. We’ll show you how to make the most of the unique partnership between VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn, including real-world examples of how other nonprofits have successfully connected with skilled volunteers via LinkedIn.

Register for this free Nonprofit Insights webinar now.