Expert Snapshots for May

Expert SnapshotsAt VolunteerMatch, we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and nonprofit management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. 

Here’s just a snapshot to keep your May going strong:

 

Better Board Engagement Starts With Better Board Recruitment
Let’s face it. Even your best board members aren’t going to stick around forever. So what can you do? Start planning now. This article from Nonprofit Hub Magazine offers suggestions and concrete tips for better board recruitment, including long-term strategy. My favorite piece of advice? Start by looking to your existing volunteer pool.

The Future of Virtual Volunteering? Deeper Relationships, Higher Impact
Jayne Cravens of Coyote Communications proclaims that microvolunteering is NOT the future of virtual volunteering. While it’s great for some, many volunteers are looking for more. In this blog post, she summarizes her chapter in the upcoming book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, and explains why you shouldn’t dismiss virtual volunteers who are looking for more than a “quickie volunteering experience.”

Technology and Today’s Volunteers
Is your online communication with volunteers one way? In other words, do you have one primary communication channel, or email blasts without encouraging feedback? According to volunteer engagement expert Tobi Johnson, it’s time to get up to speed. Check out this post from her blog, where she discusses why the landscape is changing, and what you can do to keep up.

Crowdfunded Campaigns for Nepal are Huge. Is That a Good Way to Give?
Crowdfunding has many forms. After the recent earthquake in Nepal, many individuals reached out to their friends, family and acquaintances to raise money for disaster-relief charities. This NPR article interviews NTEN’s Amy Sample Ward and Charity Navigator’s Sandra Miniutti (among others) about why crowdfunding campaigns reached a new high after this recent disaster, and whether or not it’s a good method for getting involved.

Expert Snapshots for April: Prospective, Online, and Pro Bono Volunteers

Expert SnapshotsAt VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and management, and we want to help you stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends. 

Here’s a snapshot to get your April going:

Waiting but Not Idle: How to Keep Potential Volunteers Engaged in Your Organization
One of the worst things you can say when a potential volunteer contacts you is… nothing. While it sounds easy enough to respond to each volunteer request, there are some real challenges that come with engaging prospective volunteers. This article from Charity Village explores those issues and offers actionable suggestions.

Online Volunteers: Don’t Ever Call Them Virtual
By calling volunteers who don’t come into your office “virtual,” are you inadvertently making them feeling less important than “real” volunteers? Virtual volunteering is on the rise, and for some nonprofits and volunteers, it’s becoming a norm. This article from The NonProfit Times delves deep into the world of virtual volunteering, and politely reminds us that we shouldn’t call these volunteers “virtual.”

Pro Bono Can Help Fill Nonprofit Resource Gaps
Nonprofits put a lot of emphasis on fundraising. But what about “resource raising?” This is the question posed by Elizabeth Hamburg, President and CEO of Taproot Foundation. Pro bono volunteers can “fill in the resource gaps”. In other words, these highly skilled volunteers can complete projects that nonprofits would otherwise have to pay a lot of money for. Read this article for more about how your nonprofit can benefit from engaging pro bono volunteers… and how the volunteers benefit as well!

Volunteer Onboarding [Free Webinar]
Volunteer engagement expert Tobi Johnson is hosting a free webinar on April 16, 2015 all about volunteer onboarding. She’ll cover the 5 Things to Remember When Welcoming New Volunteers. And bring your questions! After the webinar, stick around for an informal Q&A discussion.

Follow us on Twitter for news and trends throughout the month: @VolunteerMatch.

How Nonprofits Can Turn 25% into 62%

boy holding butterfly in his hand

Getty Images by Dina Marie

If you haven’t spent time exploring the latest “Volunteering and Civic Life in America” report, released by the Corporation for National and Community Service and National Conference on Citizenship, you should – it’s pretty fun.

You can see statistics about volunteering rates in 2013 based on geography, demographics, and even cause area. How does your state or city rank vs. some of the most active volunteering areas in the country? How is the new “Generation Z” starting to emerge when it comes to volunteering? There are even pretty graphs and charts to help ease your way through all that data.

Some of the statistics might not seem so fun, though. For example, it’s great that 62.6 million Americans reported volunteering in 2013, but when you do the math…that’s only about 25%. Not necessarily encouraging for us as nonprofits, who always seem to be looking for more folks to help out, right?

VolunteerMatch president Greg Baldwin recently took a deep dive into this stat, so we won’t spend a ton of time worrying about it. Instead, let’s take a look at another one: more than 138 million Americans engaged in what the report calls “informal volunteering” in 2013.

Huh? What is this…informal volunteering? The report explains that it includes helping neighbors with such tasks as watching each other’s children, helping with shopping, or house sitting. Basically, these folks spent at least a bit of time, every once in a while, doing something for someone else.

Well, we can work with that!

You see, this number is proof, for those nay-sayers who might be wringing their hands and lamenting the low volunteering rate, that people WANT to help out. They help each other all the time! So why aren’t they turning those altruistic urges into volunteer time for your nonprofit?

What we’ve realized at VolunteerMatch, from our many, many years working in the volunteering field, is that the limiting factor in the volunteer rate is NOT the amount of people willing to help out. It’s the ability of nonprofits to engage those folks effectively. (That’s why, in the rippling wake of this past recession, we’re now seeing a drop in volunteer rate. Nonprofits are feeling the squeeze, and it has impacted their ability to build strong volunteer programs.)

If you’re frustrated by an inability to engage volunteers as efficiently (and as often) as you wish, start with these two important steps:

1. Ask them. A lot of them.

People are busy, and the world is a noisy place these days. You have to cast your net pretty wide and shout pretty loudly to be noticed. Websites like VolunteerMatch can help you reach many more potential volunteers with your opportunities, so go ahead and spend 5 minutes posting a listing right now.

2. Learn what to do with them.

Chances are, you didn’t go to school for volunteer management – and that’s just fine! There are a number of great resources to help you learn on the job, so your program can be stronger at attracting, managing and keeping great volunteers. Check out the free webinars in the VolunteerMatch Learning Center.

Don’t be discouraged by some of the data you’re seeing about volunteering. Instead, be inspired! And know that whatever the numbers say, you can count on VolunteerMatch to be there to help you engage the volunteers you really need for your nonprofit.

How does your organization encourage your community members to move from “informal” to “formal” volunteering?

The Real Reason 75% of Americans Don’t Volunteer

Raising hands to volunteer.Our country takes great pride in the role volunteering has played in our history. We believe that volunteers are virtuous, kind and essential to the health of our society. It is why the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, for instance, is celebrated as a national Day of Service. We are a country that loves volunteering.

 

We are also a country where three out of four people don’t do it.

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service 62.6 million Americans volunteered in 2013. That is about 25% of the adult population, and if you happen to be keeping score, the lowest rate in a decade. Yes, you can view this as a glass 1/4 full. But given how important volunteering is, I’m not alone in thinking, “We can do better.”

Click here to read Greg’s full article about why the majority of Americans don’t volunteer. It will probably surprise you. It will definitely inspire you.

Expert Snapshots for January: Starting 2015 Off Right

Expert SnapshotsAt VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. Here’s a round-up of some news to keep you inspired for the year ahead…

What Did You and Volunteers Do Well This Year?

The first step in planning a stellar 2015 is to reflect on the successes and failures of 2014. Be honest, be merciless, learn from your mistakes, celebrate how awesome your were, then move on. To help your process, Susan Ellis of Energize, Inc. provides a bunch of great questions to ask yourself related to your work as a leader of volunteers, as a volunteer program generally, and more.

Why you *don’t* have to keep up with everything in #nptech

Yesenia Sotelo, a nonprofit website expert, lays out this cold, hard truth: it’s impossible to keep up with everything going on in the nonprofit digital space. Instead, identify the 3-4 things that are most important for your work, and that are most immediately actionable. Follow those things. She provides examples from her own arsenal to help make her point.

Case Study: Get Involved: Powered by Your Library

An amazing story published recently by Reimagining Service chronicles the work of California State Library to engage constituents on a deeper level via volunteering, and the partnership with VolunteerMatch that made it possible. It’s as inspiring as it is practical.

Mark Your Calendars! 2015 Cause Awareness Days

Cause awareness days can be a powerful engagement tool, as you can tap into the buzz already happening to get people excited about your organization’s work. Nonprofit Tech for Good lists the biggest and best coming in 2015 to help you plan ahead, strategically.

Bonus: 2015 Editorial Calendar from Lightbox Collaborative

Speaking of planning ahead, we couldn’t NOT include this amazing resource: a fully-formed editorial calendar from Lightbox Collaborative that you can download for free and customize for your organization’s communications needs. This is a great template for building a robust, effective communications calendar to help your organization really step it up in 2015.