Guest post by Melissa Crossman
If there’s one response guaranteed to make any volunteer manager cringe, it is “but no one ever asked me.” Though you know you’ve done all you could to engage potential volunteers while retaining those already involved, there’s value in teasing out the real meaning of this dreaded response.
At the heart of connecting with your volunteer base is and always has been identifying that motivational factor that matches your group’s need. Often what volunteer organizers find is that they ask too little of their most motivated, unpaid associates. Knowing where and how to tap into that motivation is where social media comes into play in this digital age. To underscore this notion, look no further than your fundraising efforts.
A Clue in Giving
Certainly not exclusive to notprofits, the adage that goes, “if you want something done well, seek out the busiest person in the room” is one that resonates with securing donations. If you want leadership in your next capital campaign or other fundraiser event, tap your own workers.
VolunteerMatch President Greg Baldwin, speaking at this past November’s Social Media for Nonprofits Conference, shared that two-thirds of volunteers give financially to their own organizations. More to our point, those volunteers who give do so at ten times the rate of regular donors. For those tasked with first getting those volunteers, it’s not a chicken and egg proposition, though. Enter social media and how the worlds of fundraising and volunteer recruitment are sharing common space.
Recruiting, Fundraising and Social Media
Harnessing the potential of social media for both recruitment and securing donations for deserving causes is catching on. In May, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn for Good, a service facilitating connections between supporters and nonprofits. Several months ago, Offerpop, the viral marketing company specializing in campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, announced a new app, Fundraise, allowing for direct giving by users to causes. Given the connections between volunteers and generosity, a comprehensive use of social media as a recruitment tool and raising money is a winning combination. Consider the initial success of Fundraise as a means of helping nonprofits achieve financial goals.
One of first big name users of the Fundraise was Cesar Millan of The Dog Whisperer fame and founder of The Millan Foundation, a dog rescue operation that provides rehabilitation services for abandoned dogs. The foundation’s web page raised over $21,000 – twice the intended goal – with the app, which at the time, had not been released for general use. Other highly personal causes seem well matched with the Offerpop app as well. Raising awareness through social media about such diseases as prostate cancerand diabetes is already an established practice. For volunteer groups providing fundraising support for individuals needing treatment or with other related needs, Offerpop and its ability to harness connections through Twitter and Facebook has the potential to generate viral exposure for both donors and other volunteers.
Identifying New Volunteers
Also mentioned by Greg Baldwin at the November event was his assertion that recruiting social media volunteers is one of the least difficult roles for volunteer managers to fill. The talent and experience necessary to coordinate social media recruitment efforts doesn’t have to come from managers; it’s readily available from volunteers those managers can identify through their own social media searches. Once such a position is filled, the recruiting stream is then channeled to the proper manager through the social media volunteer.
Meeting Your Goals
By co-opting the know-how of a social media volunteer, managers at nonprofits can leverage the skills of those recruited to serve. Delegating authority to a social media volunteer can lead to greater reach of your recruiting efforts as well as the always necessary quest for funding sources.
With the proliferation of fundraising apps combined with the reach of social media tools, this may be the beginning of a much anticipated shot-in-the-arm for volunteer managers and their organizations.
Melissa Crossman is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area with her two dogs and an assortment of turtles. In her spare time, Melissa volunteers at a local reptile rescue operation.