Tell Us: How Has Technology Changed Volunteering?

We want to hear from you: How has technology changed volunteering?For many of us, technology has become such an integrated part of our daily lives, we barely even notice it. Can you remember life before cell phones? Before DVDs? And both of those things are already on their way out!

It’s hard to deny the impact technology has had on us, but what about on volunteering? How has it changed the way we volunteer, and the way we engage volunteers? Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? How can we, as modern-day, with-it nonprofit professionals make sure we’re leveraging technology in the right way to see the maximum benefit for our cause and community?

What, we have to give you ALL the answers?

We want to hear from YOU! Let us know what you think – you can add your thoughts here in the blog comments, or on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Then we’ll aggregate everything so we can all share the knowledge.

Below are some initial ideas to get the juices flowing:

  • The Internet – and especially social media – have made us all easily able to see what each of us are doing and share with others. What people like and share online becomes a part of their identities, and how they want others to view them. How does volunteering fit into this?
  • Are we busier now because of technology? How does this impact volunteering and volunteer engagement?
  • Technology has enabled the growth of virtual volunteering as a way to engage, and the rise of microvolunteering. Has this been a good thing overall, or a bad thing?
  • In today’s super-connected, globalized world, geographic boundaries don’t mean so much anymore. How does this apply to volunteering?
  • With new technology comes to new skills to use that technology, and new skills that can then be volunteered. What are the most valuable new technology-based skills that have arisen for your organization?
  • More of our technology is becoming small and…mobile. What does this mean for volunteer engagement?
  • How has technology impacted – for better or for worse – your ability to measure and track the impact of volunteering on your organization?
  • Finally, what does the future hold for volunteering, given all of this crazy technology that keeps popping up? What can we do now to make sure we’re prepared?

Answer one question or them all, but we want your two cents! Post them now in the comments below, or on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Can’t wait to see what you have to say!

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.

[slideshare id=28760778&doc=understandingthenewvolunteer-131130084144-phpapp02&w=400]

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.

[slideshare id=28210907&doc=111313involvingvolunteersinyourfundraising-131113131759-phpapp02&w=400]

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.

[slideshare id=28380713&doc=thurs-131118133846-phpapp01&w=400]

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.

[slideshare id=29089728&doc=1312sourcingskilledvolunteersthroughlinkedinjobpostings4-131210180755-phpapp02&w=400]

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.

[slideshare id=26354989&doc=buildstaffbuyin-130919121512-phpapp02&w=400]

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.