Session Recap: Tech Platforms for Volunteering

“How many of you work for nonprofits?”

Joel Bashevkin, Executive Director of Taproot Foundation, posed this question to a packed room in downtown San Francisco last week. As might be expected at an event for the group San Francisco Tech4Good, a majority of the audience raised their hands.

“How many are tech workers?” Joel went on to ask. While less than before, a substantial amount of hands went in the air.

“How many are nonprofit tech workers?”

As a few lonely hands proudly went up (mine included), the audience let out an embarrassed chuckle.

Why aren’t there more organizations that merge technology with the social sector? As an employee of VolunteerMatch, I’m fortunate to see technology put to work every day for social good, and I know the large-scale effect it can have. (Last year alone, VolunteerMatch generated $1.34 BILLION in social value).

This quandry, along with many others, was discussed at last week’s Technology Platforms for Good. The event rounded up pioneers in the tech-volunteering space. Our own Greg Baldwin joined the panel along with Joel Bashevin and Meg Garliginhouse, Head of Social Impact at LinkedIn.

The ultimate conclusion? With so many ways (and free ways at that!) to find, manage, and engage volunteers online- if you’re not using technology, you’re missing out.

I’ve chosen a few of my favorite live tweets from the session, some of which include actionable advice for engaging volunteers via technology (see below). Want even more? Watch the video recording of the event.

3 Ways to Celebrate Older Americans Month at Your Nonprofit

Guest post by Amanda Marr, VP of Communications, LeadingAge.

Older Americans "Get Into the Act" By Volunteering for Older Americans MonthSeniors engage with their communities in many important and meaningful ways, including volunteerism. Did you know that more than 20 million senior volunteers give nearly 3 billion hours of service annually, at a value of $67 billion?

This May, we’re taking time to celebrate Older Americans Month (OAM) by recognizing older Americans for their contributions to the nation. Want to join us?

This year’s OAM theme is “Get into the Act.” It aims to bring attention to how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and having a positive impact on the lives of others.

Here are some ideas on how your nonprofit can celebrate OAM:

Get more seniors involved.
Seniors are capable of more than we often give them credit for! Have volunteer opportunities at your organization that can be filled by seniors? Consider coordinating transportation to and from a volunteer event with nursing homes or residences to increase participation. Vary the activities from month to month to keep them engaged and involved.

Get to know your senior volunteers.
Senior volunteers have a lot to offer and often, a lot of experiences to share. Ask them to share their stories of why they volunteer, and the path that brought them to where they are. Bonus: Telling these stories might help you bring more volunteers to your organization!

Show your appreciation.
Already engage older volunteers? Show them how important they are! Give them a shout out in your newsletter, on social media, at your staff meetings, or during a volunteer activity. A little recognition can go a long way for keeping volunteers engaged and happy.

Want to do more?

Help spread the word about OAM. Join LeadingAge in celebrating by printing out one of our “Get into the Act” signs and posting pictures or videos of you holding the sign at your volunteer event with the hashtag #OAM15.

Together, we can make the high senior volunteer rates even higher, and help senior volunteers feel like the special people they are.

LeadingAge is an association of not-for-profit aging service providers committed to expanding the world of possibilities for aging through education, advocacy, and applied research. Follow their Facebook page to see how others are joining in and appreciating older Americans for all that they do!

For VolunteerMatch, #15NTC Was About Appreciation

Tessa Srebro, Adam Alley, and Marlene Feil of VolunteerMatch post for a picture at #15NTC.

VolunteerMatch staff Tessa, Adam & Marlene hanging out at #15NTC.

At the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference (#15NTC) held last week in Austin, TX, VolunteerMatch was lucky enough to have a booth in the Science Fair.

Yes, the Exhibition Hall was called the Science Fair. #15NTC attendees know how to embrace their inner nerd-ness.

And we had a blast talking to all the nonprofit nerds who stopped by our booth. Before letting anyone walk away, however, we asked them to contribute to our Volunteer #AppreciationTree, a post-it fueled tree we were growing at our booth. We asked,

#AppreciationTree Supplies

#AppreciationTree Supplies

“If you could describe how you feel about volunteers/ volunteerism in just a few words, what would those words be?”

(I realize this is a difficult question to be tasked with on the spot, especially since volunteers are such a diverse group of people. So thanks for putting up with us!)

We got some great responses, such as “Big Hearts”, “Invaluable”, “Rockstars”, and my personal favorite, “Awesome Sauce.”

We added these responses as leaves to our #AppreciationTree. The names of stand-out volunteers became the bark. And we were fortunate enough to watch the #AppreciationTree grow:

Appreciation Tree Animation

So, how would you describe volunteerism? Tweet your thoughts to @VolunteerMatch with #AppreciationTree.

Going to SXSW Interactive? Come Find Us!

Southby Southwest Social Good Logo

South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in Austin, TX is one of the biggest conferences out there when it comes to innovation and technology. This year, they’re introducing SXgood, a space for social do-gooders like you and me.

We’re excited to host a Core Conversation on Monday 3/16 on how to engage niche communities. There will be snacks and lots to talk about! Learn more about our fun, interactive session.

Also, VolunteerMatch will be spending a lot of time hanging out in The Beacon Lounge. Why? It’s going to be a great place to talk about bridging the gap between doing good and technology, network with like-minded people, and take a break from the insanity of SXSW.

We’ll be there with our partner Everday Hero during these dates/ times:

March 13 // 11am – 6pm
March 14 – 16 // 9am – 6pm
March 17 // 9am – 5pm

Also, make sure to come to our happy hour in the lounge on Saturday, 3/14, starting at 3pm for drinks snacks and LIVE MUSIC!

Whether you’re a nonprofit looking to engage volunteers, a socially minded tech company, a volunteer advocate, or something else entirely, I invite you to stop by and say hi. See you soon?

How to Have a Fun-Filled, Fullfilling #15NTC with VolunteerMatch

Gummi bears on fingers of hand.In less than one week, thousands of nonprofit nerds will be descending on Austin, Texas to learn, network and have fun at the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference. Hooray!

Whether you’re an NTC veteran or this will be your first time, VolunteerMatch has one thing that will guarantee to make your time in Austin stand out: candy.

Okay, that might have been a joke (not the candy part – we will have that), but finding VolunteerMatch at the conference is a great way to make sure you’re hitting the highlights.

For example, as you explore the wonders of the Science Fair,  stop by booth #726 for some sweet treats – and to learn all about how VolunteerMatch can help you inspire, educate and mobilize your volunteer supporters. For free.

Day of Service at #14NTC conference. Crowd of people standing holding coffee.And if you’re inspired yourself to make a difference, be sure to sign up for the Days of Service. This year it’s even easier to turn your time at the conference into real-life impact (there are even ways to help your favorite causes from the comfort of your hotel room!)

Learn more here and sign up now with a few clicks!

This is truly one of our favorite conferences of the year, so we hope to see you there. Look out for Adam Alley, Marlene Feil and Tessa Srebro.

Come by, meet the team, eat some candy and tell us your favorite volunteer-related story. We know you’ve got ‘em!

Top photo by Betsy Weber on Flickr.