How Volunteering Helps Your Career

How Volunteering Helps Your Career

Sometimes, nonprofits and volunteer program managers can have trouble presenting their volunteer programs in the best light. Consider the following advice on encouraging your volunteers and helping them with getting a job or advancing in their careers.

What Skills Will Be Upgraded?

Make a list of the particular skills that your volunteer program will focus on and how those skills can enrich a volunteer’s knowledge and help them advance in their career. Is the position design-focused? Or maybe your volunteer will gain some coding experience in the process. Be sure to outline skills learned in your volunteer position description. That way, the right people will apply and the whole experience will be better for everyone.

Be Unique

What is the one thing your volunteer program encompasses that is unique? If there is no such thing, then come up with one. That way, volunteers will be able to both have fun and adapt to their new environment faster, which is an essential skill for their career advancement. Furthermore, they’ll be able to get creative themselves.

List Jobs

Make a list of jobs that your volunteering program might lead to. If people are interested in a particular career path and think they need relevant experience for it, this list is the perfect way to narrow down their decision on which program to best aligns with their interest.

Volunteering Kick-Starts Careers

There is a paradox that many young people encounter when looking for a job — they are fresh out of college and are required to have at least a few years of experience under their belt in order to apply. This can easily be resolved by providing them with a good reason to volunteer.

To sum up, every volunteering program is considered successful if people manage to use the skills that they had learned in other activities. Therefore, apart from having a good program, you need to also have a good presentation of your program and explain how you could help people who choose to volunteer for you.

Author Bio:

Tom Jager is a professional blogger. He works at Royal-Essays. He has degrees in Law and English literature and has written numerous articles/online journals. You can reach him on Google+ or Facebook.

2015 Impact Report | 5 Stats That Tell Our Story

Each year, the team at VolunteerMatch crunches its network data to put together an Impact Report — our infographic version of an annual report. This year, we’re incorporating real-time stats to help illustrate the impact of VolunteerMatch’s network to-date.2015 VolunteerMatch Impact Report

We’re breaking down our number of volunteers served, top cause areas, and the impact of each dollar spent. Here’s a peek from the report: five encouraging stats that prove the nonprofit sector and volunteer engagement isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

  • 9,208 — the number of nonprofits who joined VolunteerMatch in 2015 to engage the volunteers they need to make a difference in their community.
  • 118,541 — the number of new opportunities posted on VolunteerMatch last year by organizations looking to put the time and talent of volunteers to good use. That’s 325 new opportunities each day!
  • 13,570,983  — the number of new people who used the VolunteerMatch network in 2015 to explore opportunities for a cause they believe in.
  • 21% — the percentage of “Community” opportunities on VolunteerMatch: by far the largest cause area on the network.
  • $1.66 Billion — the estimated collective impact of the volunteers who used VolunteerMatch to get involved in 2015.

Read the full impact report here, then see how far we’ve come by viewing previous reports from 2014, 2013, and 2012. Has VolunteerMatch impacted your volunteer engagement in 2015? Share your story in the comments section below.

Meet the VM Summit 16 Keynote Speakers

VolunteerMatch’s annual conference — VM Summit 16 — brings together nonprofits and companies to work toward a common goal: More impactful partnerships. For more information, check out this press release which announces the upcoming event.

We are thrilled to introduce two talented speakers who will keynote VM Summit 16: Lisa Dietlin and Jay Klauminzer.

Lisa Dietlin, VM Summit 16 Speaker

Lisa Dietlin, President & CEO, The Institute of Transformational Philanthropy

Lisa Dietlin represents the nonprofit sector as an internationally recognized expert on philanthropy, charitable giving, and transformational change. She also founded The Institute of Transformational Philanthropy.

Lisa’s decades-long experience in the fundraising and nonprofit space, groundbreaking research on giving patterns, and influential ideas on transformational philanthropy have led her to become one of the most trusted philanthropic advisors in the nation.

Lisa is also the author of four books about charitable giving and enacting positive change. In her work, Lisa provides expert advice and structured counsel to entrepreneurial individuals and nonprofit organizations, helping them develop strategies that facilitate transformational philanthropy, charitable giving, and measurable impact.

At VM Summit 16, Lisa will be discussing her new book, I Got Hit By A Taxi, But You Look Run Over, which is literally about how getting hit by a taxi driver changed her perspective on life, and specifically, work-life balance.

Jay Klauminzer, VM Summit 16 Keynote Speaker

Jay Klauminzer, VP of Sales and Merchant Operations & Employee Volunteer Program’s Executive Sponsor, Groupon

As a VP at Groupon, Jay comes to us from the other side of the table — the corporate side. In this role, Jay is responsible for driving quality supply into the marketplace, including building and supporting the sales teams, and making sure merchants are happy and engaged once they’re in the marketplace.

Prior to Groupon, Jay was an Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company, where he led their Customer Care Practice in North America.

At VM Summit 16, Jay will share stories of how local communities are becoming increasingly connected, and tips for building networks of impact. He will also discuss Groupon’s community work through stories that reflect Groupon’s corporate mission: to grow their love of Local commerce and build networks of impact.

Get your ticket for VM Summit 16 now to lock in early-bird pricing, which ends July 1, 2016.

For questions, please contact You can also stay up-to-date online with #VMSummit16.

How to Impress Your Volunteers With a Video Training (and Get the Job Done)

Guest post by Elisa Kosarin, Twenty Hats

How to Impress Your Volunteers with a Video Training (6-8-16)This post was originally published on Twenty Hats.

When a video complements a live orientation, the results are powerful.

I had dinner with my friend Gena the other night. What’s great about Gena is that she has managed volunteers – she knows all about the potential of volunteers to expand an organization’s mission and effect real change — and she does a lot of volunteering herself. So when she praised her recent experience as part of a volunteer group with DC Central Kitchen, I listened.

One of the things that impressed Gena the most was the video that her group watched before they jumped into their kitchen duties. She thought the video did a great job of training them for their volunteer role in the kitchen while introducing them to all of the great programs that the Kitchen offers.

That got me curious. Video training is an idea that gets tossed around a lot. A well-produced video has the potential to save time for busy volunteer managers, especially those who run large or understaffed programs.

But there is a downside to shifting things to video that experienced volunteer engagement pros know all too well: when we take ourselves out of the equation, we lose an opportunity to get to know our volunteers better and strengthen ties with the program.

So how does a program offer a video training and retain the relationship-building?

That short answer is: don’t expect your video to do all the heavy lifting. At DC Central Kitchen at least, that’s not the goal.

How to Impress Your Volunteers with a Video Training

Jessica Towers makes the video training experience more meaningful by sharing her story as volunteer, client, and now volunteer coordinator.

I know this because I went right to the source and spoke with the nonprofit’s Volunteer Program Coordinator, Jessica Towers. Jessica had lots of great info to share.

For one thing, the video is considered a complement and not a substitute for live training. Jessica greets every group of kitchen volunteers. She welcomes them, walks them through their role, and then shares her own experience at DC Central Kitchen Then, she shows the video.

The video does three very important things.

  1. Before covering any training, the video educates the volunteers about ALL the programs of DC Central Kitchen and explains why their model is so effective in reducing hunger.
  2. Then, the video walks the volunteers through important safety information, demonstrating tips and techniques in the very same kitchen where the volunteers will work, and using a lot of humor to underscore the message.
  3. Finally, the video leaves the volunteers with the sense that the program has high standards for their work and values their contributions.

Ultimately, it may be Jessica’s own story that connects what’s seen in the video with the volunteers’ experience in the kitchen. That’s because Jessica began as a volunteer herself – a court-ordered volunteer in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Jessica had so many community service hours to fill that DC Central Kitchen was one of the few places that could accommodate her mandate.

Through her time as a volunteer, Jessica came to see the resources of DC Central Kitchen as opportunities that might improve her life. She enrolled in the culinary training program, earned her food manager’s license and joined the staff about 8 months later.

For Jessica, volunteering is about more than spending a few hours making a difference – it’s about opening people up to a new, more powerful point of view. “My goal is to change people’s minds about hunger and homelessness,” says Jessica. “We’re using food as a tool to empower people’s lives.”


Twenty Hats is authored by Elisa Kosarin, CVA, a nonprofit professional with 15+ years of experience in nonprofit marketing, development, and volunteer management. She founded the site to help volunteer managers master the skills they need to make their jobs easier.

Why Prisons Need More Volunteers

Guest Post by Mila Sanchez

Volunteering at PrisonsIt’s easy to think about volunteering in places like hospitals, food banks, schools, and animal humane societies, but some places that are commonly overlooked [and could really use volunteers] are prisons.

I know I’m guilty of neglecting prisons when I consider nearby places to volunteer myself. Maybe it’s because I used to think of prison as a place people chose to be, by committing crimes that brought them there in the first place. The thought that they deserve to be there could be in etched in the back of many people’s minds. Even if it is true that people who commit crimes have a debt to pay their society, it’s incredibly important to do our part to help with rehabilitation programs.

My dad has volunteered in prisons for over 20 years. I recently had the chance to attend a volunteer appreciation dinner with him at a prison, where I heard so many stories about inmates’ lives that changed through the rehabilitation programs volunteers helped facilitate. The warden gave a speech where he mentioned the wonders volunteer rehabilitation programs have done for inmates — specifically in helping to rework their mindsets from defaulting to a life of crime.

With prison overcrowding becoming a real concern in the U.S., and some state governments continually cutting funds, volunteer programs focused on rehabilitation have become essential.

Educational Services

Education can be a great tool for rehabilitation.

Many people turn to crime because their lack of education disqualifies them from being successful in most jobs, or they are frustrated by their educational struggles and chose to act out — often the case for juveniles. Through volunteer services that tutor inmates, you can help an inmate learn valuable skills like reading and math, and even assist them with earning their GED.These opportunities give inmates a better chance to find work once they’re released.

You can also support educational services by donating books to prisons, which undoubtedly aid in their learning.

Religious Ministries

Religious ministries are a popular way to volunteer in prisons, too.

My dad has volunteered in prison ministries in our city, and helped many inmates learn to reflect and pray in lieu of turning to crime and violence. Teaching love and forgiveness that comes from a higher power can be great solace, especially for those inmates who feel abandoned by people who they were once close to, or feel they have done too much wrong to change.


Teaching inmates alternative ways of dealing with anger and finding peace can be essential to their rehabilitation. Many inmates were arrested for violence and anger-related issues; issues that they can learn to channel in different and more constructive ways. Volunteer programs that focus on mindfulness and relaxation, like teaching yoga, are excellent ways to help refocus and rehabilitate inmates.

Any volunteer program that focuses on changing criminal and inmate behavior and mindsets are sure to be extremely beneficial to a prisoner’s rehabilitation process. There are many different programs in different cities, so check to find a program that matches your skills near you.

Author Bio: Mila Sanchez is a writer and recent college graduate, with a B.A. in Linguistics. She’s passionate about traveling the world, learning new languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. She and Baymax can often be found hiking in the foothills near her town.