Let the Countdown Begin! The Top 15 Engaging Volunteers Posts of ’15

Happy New Year from VolunteerMatch!In just a few short hours, many of us will be welcoming 2016 and celebrating a brand new year and a fresh start. Cheers to that!

Before the countdown to midnight begins, however, here’s another countdown. Stroll down memory lane with me as I look back on the 15 most popular Engaging Volunteers posts of 2015. So many of them are lists of their own!

May you find something useful to take with you into the new year:

15. The Future of Volunteer Engagement in 8 Quotes

14. 8 Creative Ways to Show Volunteer Appreciation

13. 4 Ways to Improve Volunteer Retention

12. How to Turn Away Volunteers and Still Have an OK Day

11. What Does Volunteerism Look Like Around the World?

10. 5 Tips to Build Volunteer Loyalty

9. 4 Ways to Fail Your Volunteers

8. 4 Ways to Build an Ineffective, Disengaged Nonprofit Board

7. 3 Reasons to Give Your Time this #GivingTuesday

6. 9 Quotes to Inspire Your Volunteers (And Yourself!)

5. 5 Ways to Attract Young People to Your Nonprofit

4. 3 Ways to Recognize Volunteers That Will Appeal to (Virtually) Everyone

3. 5 Ways to Motivate Your Nonprofit’s Volunteers

2. The Real Reason 75% of Americans Don’t Volunteer

And the number one most popular post of 2015?

1. 5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Lose Volunteers

Happy New Year from your friends at VolunteerMatch!

The Top Engaging Volunteers Posts from the Past Five Years

Time for a little reflection

Time for a little reflection.

At VolunteerMatch, we’ve been talking about volunteer engagement for quite some time. This particular blog, Engaging Volunteers, dates back to 2009. As we passed the 5 year milestone, we started thinking. What topics were people most interested in throughout the years? Which blog posts did people read the most? Since volunteer engagement has changed so much over the past five years, would these popular articles still be relevant today?

For the most part, the answer is yes. While some of the specifics may be outdated, the underlying messages – the reasons these posts were so widely received – are not. Without further ado, a countdown to the most popular posts on this blog over the last 5 years!

Ten Great Movies About Volunteering and Giving Back
Who doesn’t love a good movie? This post looks back at decades of films that tie volunteerism and community involvement into their plots and themes.

5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Lose Volunteers
A cautionary tale that shows just how easy – and how preventable – volunteer turnover can be.

10 Tips For Keeping Your Volunteers Motivated and Happy
A happy volunteer equals a productive volunteer. Happy volunteers are also likely to stay around longer and donate more to your organization. So, what can you do to keep your volunteers happy?

[INFOGRAPHIC] 2011 VolunteerMatch Annual Report
Raise your hand if you like 10+ page, wordy annual reports? Didn’t think so. We’ve never been fans of the traditional annual report format, but in 2011, we turned to the power of the infographic (and have been ever since).

A Volunteer Communications Strategy: 13 Steps to Driving Recruitment, Engagement and Leadership
A real-life case study about overcoming volunteer engagement challenges, written by nonprofit communications expert Nancy Schwartz, and packed with practical advice. Of course this post made the list.

Here’s What You Can Do to Help with Hurricane Sandy
When disaster strikes, it’s human nature to want to help. While this post is specific to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, it also includes some timeless advice for you and your nonprofit regarding disaster relief.

And the number one most popular post over the past 5 years?

7 Ways to Appreciate Your Volunteers
No surprise here. Advice for volunteer appreciation is one of the most frequent requests we get at VolunteerMatch. Why? It’s something that can make or break your program, but because there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy, it’s hard to master.

Keep an eye out in the next few weeks as we count down the 15 most popular posts of 2015!

Photo credit: Paul Reynolds

5 Ways to Treat Yourself on International Volunteer Managers Day

Happy International Volunteer Managers Day!We spend a lot of time thinking about how to make our volunteers feel valuable and appreciated. But the efforts of you, the volunteer manager, can sometimes slide under the appreciation radar.

That’s why today, we celebrate International Volunteer Managers Day. It’s a much-deserved holiday for volunteer managers around the world to be reminded how amazing they are!

While (we hope) you’re receiving endless high fives, hugs, and/ or pats on the back from everyone you see today, here are a few ideas on how you can celebrate how awesome you are.

  1. Reflect on Your Achievements

Sometimes the work days can be so hectic, taking care of each item that miraculously pushes itself to the front of your to-do list, that it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re accomplishing. Take a few minutes today to look back on and recognize what you’ve achieved over the past year – both small and large alike.

  1. Give Yourself Some “Me Time”
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Photo Credit: Ray Sawhill

When was the last time you focused on you? We can get so wrapped up in serving others, that we can forget that others are best served when we take the time to serve ourselves. Set aside some time today to learn a new skill, catch up on your professional reading list, or anything else to help turn you into the very best version of yourself.

  1. Cut Yourself Some Slack

Didn’t finish everything you wanted to today? There’s always tomorrow. Consider intentionally shifting some items off today’s to-do list to give yourself some well-deserved breathing room. And don’t be so hard on yourself. Today is your day.

  1. Remember Why You’re Doing This

Take a step back and think about the impact you are having on a daily basis. Think about on your organization’s mission, and how you are making making strides towards achieving it. Think about the people you’re serving and the lives you’re improving. And indulge in all the warm and fuzzy feelings that come along with it.

  1. Have Some FUN

Yes, this holiday is based on your professional identity. But the way you celebrate doesn’t have to be! Whatever your definition of fun is, give yourself some of it today. Make your favorite breakfast. Hang out with friends after work. Take a walk after lunch. Invite some co-workers to join you. Re-energize yourself for another year of being awesome.

Meet Sandra, Volunteer ESL Tutor

Sandra, Mariana and Ernesto

Sandra teaching English to Mariana and Ernesto at Hamilton Family Center.

Meet Sandra.

Sandra always thought about volunteering. But she also thought she didn’t have the time.

After she found Hamilton Family Center through a search on VolunteerMatch, she realized just how easy it could be.

Now, she looks forward to her weekly tutoring sessions, in which she teaches kids ESL (English as a second language). “When I started, I was like, okay I have to drive more and I’m tired from work,” says Sandra. “But now, frankly I look forward to it, and sometimes, if I can come another day, I’ll make time to come, because I think when you give, you receive more.”

In particular, Sandra works with Mariana and Ernesto, two children from Guatemala. “Even though I’m just helping them a few hours,” says Sandra, “I feel like they’re going to have better lives because of Hamilton. And that makes me feel part of something important.”

In the short video below, get to know the amazing work Sandra and Hamilton Family Center are doing together.

To find your own perfect volunteer match, visit VolunteerMatch.org.

3 Reasons to Give Your Time this #GivingTuesday

Give Your Time This #GivingTuesday#GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back, will take place on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Whether you’re a nonprofit engaging volunteers on #GivingTuesday, or an individual looking to give back, the following post (originally published on GivingTuesday.org) explains why “giving time” is a good idea.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “give”?

A donation of money? An act of kindness? A concession (i.e. “giving in” or “giving up”)?

How about volunteering?  

Across the country and across the world, people are giving back to their communities by volunteering their time. Why? Plenty of reasons:

1. Volunteering is Good for Your Health

Celebrate with VolunteerMatch Premium!In 2013, UnitedHealth Group conducted a study on the link between health and volunteering called “Doing Good is Good For You.” They found that volunteering makes people feel better physically, emotionally and mentally. 76% of participants reported that volunteering made them feel healthier.

You may be wondering how volunteering could possibly be related to health. One big reason? Volunteering lowers stress, which not only improves general health, but improves your mood. Which leads me to point number two…

2. Volunteering is Good for Your Happiness

Make your volunteers HAPPY!According to that same UnitedHealth Group study, 94% of volunteers report an improved mood from volunteering. And it’s not surprising. Volunteering can be fun.

Volunteering is a great way to meet others in your community with similar passions and get connected with your neighbors. Volunteering together with friends or coworkers can strengthen those relationships.

And beyond the fun, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose. By seeing how your actions are having a positive impact on your community, you’ll feel an unsurpassed sense of fulfillment.

At VolunteerMatch, we collect stories from our network of volunteers, and nearly every one is inspiring in some way. Becky, a volunteer at a hospice care facility, recently told us, “Other than raising my children, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything quite so meaningful!”

3. Volunteering is Good for Your Community

Older Americans "Get Active" By Volunteering for Older Americans MonthLet’s not overlook the obvious. People volunteer because they are needed in their communities. There is someone that needs help, a problem that needs to be fixed, or an improvement that can be made.

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, 85% of nonprofit organizations are entirely volunteer-run. Gina, who works at a no-kill cat shelter, said to us, “Without our volunteers, we would cease to exist.”

Furthermore, if you put a dollar amount to every volunteer hour, you would find that the amount of social value volunteers generate each year is astounding. Do you volunteer using your specialized skills? That number gets even higher. For example, $1.3 billion dollars of social value was created through connections made on VolunteerMatch.org alone in 2014.

Even if you have the means to give monetary donations this #GivingTuesday, consider giving your time as well. Working during the week? Volunteer the weekend prior, or the weekend after. While the exact date doesn’t matter, the act will carry you and your community to a better place.

To find your #GivingTuesday volunteer opportunity, visit VolunteerMatch.