Social Media Strategy: The Tool That Has Helped Us Move Onwards and Upwards

Just like many other nonprofits these days, VolunteerMatch relies on social media to expand our reach, increase engagement, and most importantly, to provide value for our community.

Also like many other nonprofits these days, we face challenges when it comes to things like staff time and capacity, measurement and tracking, and pricing. This made finding the right social media management tool critical – and once we did, it was like the clouds suddenly blew away and our social media days have been sunny ever since (well, as sunny as San Francisco gets).

Check out this case study about VolunteerMatch's use of Sprout Social to manage social media.

Sprout Social fulfills our needs in several different ways: It helps us be more efficient with monitoring, publishing and tracking, it enables multiple departments and staff members to easily get involved with social media engagement, and it’s got a very nonprofit-friendly cost structure.

Check out this case study we just did with Sprout Social that details how we’ve used the tool to improve our social media practices – and learn from it. Think about what your organization’s big challenges are when it comes to social media, and find a tool that helps you overcome them. As we learned, the right fit is out there.

Take a look at the VolunteerMatch/Sprout Social case study, and feel free to ask us any questions!

5 Useful Presentations about Volunteer Engagement from SlideShare

5 useful presentations about volunteer engagement from SlideshareSlideShare could be one of the most overlooked resources for nonprofits. I mean, when I search “volunteer” on the site, I got over 100,000 results.

What’s great about these presentations is you can explore them at your own pace in your own time, and still get the main takeaways of the original presentation. Here are a few of the truly useful ones I found during my own browsing session:

Building a Spirit of Volunteer Engagement: The New Volunteerism

by Peggy Hoffman of Mariner Management

Volunteerism has changed and its rocking the association world. Explore the questions, the trends, and the how-to’s for engaging members in volunteering for your association.



Involving Volunteers in Your Fundraising

from 4Good.org

Most nonprofits involve volunteers in program areas and administrative areas. You might not be aware, however, of the many ways you can involve volunteers in your fundraising activities. This webinar will outline ways you can involve volunteers in fundraising, where to find volunteers, how to recruit them, and how to keep them enthused about your organization.



The arbordaynow.org Volunteer Center: A tool for online volunteer recruitment and management

by the Arbor Day Foundation

The arbordaynow.org Volunteer Center (powered by VolunteerMatch.org) matches volunteers with local service opportunities in their community with a click of a button. Discover more about this new tool for volunteer management which allows for tracking volunteer hours, expanded exposure, sending automatic email reminders and includes educational resources. Learn best practices for online volunteer recruitment and engagement and hear success stories from non-profits and communities who have used the Volunteer Center to promote their volunteer events.



Sourcing Skilled Volunteers through LinkedIn Job Postings

by LinkedIn for Good

This presentation from Taproot Foundation covers how to scope skilled volunteer projects and use LinkedIn to source professionals to complete those projects.



Build Staff Buy-In for Your Volunteer Engagement Program

by VolunteerMatch

Is your organization open to engaging volunteers in new ways? Often, one of the biggest challenges to a new model of volunteer engagement is the resistance of paid staff. Attitudes and fears of our co-workers can prevent us from expanding the work that volunteers do. This presentation includes strategies for working with paid staff to engage volunteers. It covers what you can do to alleviate some of those fears, strategies for working within a Union environment, and how you can train and support your coworkers as they become responsible for managing volunteers.



5 Ways to Engage Current and Future Volunteers with Facebook

Guest post by Ken Myers

5 Ways to Engage Current and Future Volunteers with FacebookMost nonprofits maintain a Facebook account, but if it’s not being used properly, it may as well not even exist.

Facebook is a great platform for nonprofits, allowing them to engage with the community and volunteers in a unique way, however many are underutilizing this remarkable platform. By promoting open communication through exposing users’ social circles to each other, the social media platform creates an instantaneous way to network with user groups. Having a strong Facebook presence can benefit your nonprofit by enabling you to discover new volunteers and tout the works of current volunteers, just to name a few ideas.

1. Express Thanks

While volunteers don’t dedicate their time just for the kudos, expressing thanks for their hard work is always appreciated. Facebook is a public platform that can be used to acknowledge and praise their efforts. Not only will this recognition be appreciated by volunteers, but friends and family can be exposed to their loved one’s great work and get involved, too.

2. Engage the Community

A dwindling number of community members rely on traditional forms of communication for local information. Newspapers and community bulletins aren’t utilized by many under the age of 30. Facebook is increasingly becoming the place for people to learn what activities are happening locally. Maintaining an active Facebook page will expose your message to those not already aware of your presence, and provide an avenue to engage the community in dialogue and discussion about your nonprofit’s works.

Don’t rely solely on current members, donors and volunteers to spread your message. Instead, use Facebook to connect you with different communities through shared pages, businesses and local groups. Reach out to the online local community with your mission and your needs. Becoming involved in local pages and businesses will heighten your online presence, allowing community members who support your message to recognize and aid the organization.

3. Make New Friends

Volunteers and donors don’t live in a social vacuum. They have friends, families and neighbors who they engage with daily, and many share their same passions and interests. A connection on Facebook opens your nonprofit up to a whole new audience who may be willing to donate time, money, resources or expertise. The simple act of making a connection with current advocates of your mission on Facebook may encourage them to promote the organization.

4. Promote Current Volunteer Work

Potential volunteers may be scared off by sterile contact form pages or overwhelming volunteer fairs. While many have an idea of a cause they want to support, they often don’t know how to turn that passion into action. Facebook gives nonprofits a unique opportunity to advertise active needs within their organizations in a concrete and non-threatening manner.

A simple post explaining an organization’s need will give future volunteers a sense of purpose and a physical task. Facebook has a simple interface that encourages conversation, so rather than making phone calls or waiting for email replies, potential volunteers can interact with the organization and receive instant feedback and initiative to serve. Community members who may not otherwise volunteer may see a niche they can fill and offer their services.

5. Call to Serve

Emergencies can happen in a heartbeat, and organizing staff and volunteers in a timely fashion can be a challenge. While having a phone tree and emergency plan in place is imperative, Facebook can also provide an avenue to contact available help. Volunteers with limited availability may not be included in an emergency plan, but they may be available in an emergency. An APB on Facebook can alert volunteers and donors to your need.

In emergencies, normal resources often aren’t enough. Nonprofits need additional help to make it through particularly difficult situations. Encouraging friends to like and share your needs on Facebook can expose more community members to your mission. An urgent need can inspire followers who were looking for a reason to donate their time to take the plunge. Facebook can be a lifesaver when nonprofits need help fast.

Facebook is a powerful weapon in a nonprofit’s arsenal when used correctly. Not only will a well-managed Facebook page encourage and engage current volunteers, it will also encourage community members to support the organization and your efforts. Through consistent updates and communication using Facebook, you can connect with both current and future volunteers.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

5 Ways Your Website May Be Driving Away Volunteers

Guest post by Laura Moisei

Is your nonprofit website turning away potential volunteers?Today’s volunteer wannabe is hyper-connected, web-savvy and eager to make use of any information she can get in the quest for a good cause to volunteer for. As Kari Saratovsky shows, the journey of every volunteer’s involvement with your cause starts off with a good dose of research. “Who is behind this organization and why should I volunteer for it?” These are natural concerns that arise before deciding to actually become a volunteer.

Your website is the first voice that can offer everybody a clear answer to these questions (and should). Wondering if you really need a website? You do. Even if you delegate volunteer recruitment to online platforms purposely designed for this (like VolunteerMatch), you still have to make a good presence on the web in order to build trust and stir engagement.

What if your website is the elephant in the dining room for your volunteer recruitment? Here are the top 5 fouls to avoid when managing a recruitment campaign of your own:

1. Website? We don’t have such a thing.

Not being on the web is not an option today. In any field of activity your organization may have, the absence of a website will turn away the vast majority of candidates for volunteering. Don’t worry, building an online presence will not necessarily take gobs of time and money, provided you have the essential tools around.

2. Lack of background information about your organization

The hot spot for your visitors is the “About” page. Make sure you have one and that it’s offering reliable information about your organization’s mission, programs and services. It’s a seal of trust to also display the IRS Form 990 or your country’s equivalent of it if possible.

3. No contact method

A smart contact form that asks for people’s feedback and inquiries is a key element of your nonprofit’s website. Such a form has many utilities and can even act as a donation form. Along with this form, it’s a good idea to also display a physical contact method, such as a phone number, for your volunteers to stay in touch.

4. Social media engagement is absent or very low

People need to identify with your cause or, by extension, find that their friends or likeminded people do. Social media is often the barometer of engagement that tells the outer world about the dimension of your fan base. You can easily embed social media widgets and share buttons on your website, and explore other tips for using social media here.

5. Failing to pay homage to your donors and volunteers on the website

Publishing testimonials from people who have worked with you is a great motivator and helps boost your brand image as a whole. Don’t forget you need to ask for people’s permission first in order for their names to be published.

Just one more thought before you go – it’s easy to overdo things. You don’t need all the bells and whistles that web development companies present you. A minimal website can sometimes prove more successful than a fancy online portal that is not so easy to manage.

Keep things simple, maintain the human touch with every material you create for presenting your organization, and you shall succeed.

Good luck!

Laura Moisei has a degree in Journalism and is involved in social causes for her community. She currently works for 123ContactForm, a tool that helps nonprofits create effective volunteer recruitment forms.

(Photo from: freedigitalphotos.net)