An open letter to our nonprofit members from Greg Baldwin, President of VolunteerMatch.
First the good news and a thank you. To all the actors, script-writers, production people and executives who put their talent and time to work last week to join the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s iParticipate TV campaign to celebrate volunteering — thank you. Keep it coming.
It was an extraordinary moment that put the voice of volunteers at the center of an emerging national conversation. The high-profile campaign embraced ideas that have been reshaping volunteering for over a decade and is an important tipping-point in the effort to help millions of local nonprofits, schools and civic institutions, like you, unlock the possibilities of volunteer service.
Now the bad news. The campaign didn’t work as planned, and as many of you reported to us, unresolved system bugs related to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s implementation of the new All for Good APIs left thousands of interested volunteers on iParticipate.org browsing through an aggregation of incomplete, incorrect, duplicate, out-of-date and out-of-place volunteer opportunities — many of them your VolunteerMatch listings.
No one knows better than Hollywood that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This was not the first impression we had hoped the bright lights of Hollywood would help you to make and we are sorry.
As an example of some of the issues that have emerged, a default search on the San Francisco ZIP code 94108 returns only three listings and two of them are expired — one for a walk-a-thon on Treasure Island a couple weekends ago and one for the World Veg Festival that ended October 4th.
Searches in New York City invite interested volunteers to serve at a local soup kitchen — in Washington, D.C.; to become a volunteer firefighter in Dare County, NC.; and to join the Kidney Awareness Run in Sacramento, CA.
And searches all across the county included listings from nonprofits recruiting volunteers from January 01, 2000 to January 01, 1971 — really? That might be confusing unless of course you happen to be a UNIX programmer and recognized 01/01/1971 as the instant before computer time began.
How bad was it? It was like a telethon with the wrong phone number.
How did it impact the results? Over the course of the week this historic TV campaign produced an average of only 775 new visits a day or 2.6% of our weekly total of 208,400 visits. This amounts to perhaps 100 new volunteers.
These were not the results we expected, or the results you deserve.
We will continue to work to resolve these issues and to ensure that they don’t happen again. We can do better and we will.
I’d like to hear from you. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.