November Food for Thought: What Are the Experts Saying?

At VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the fields of volunteer engagement and nonprofit management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. Here’s some food for thought to get your November going.

Food for Thought12 Alternatives to Lecture-Based Volunteer Training
From Tobi Johnson:
You spend a lot of time on your volunteer training presentations. But how much of it are the volunteers actually retaining? Probably not a whole lot, according to Tobi. Find out what you can do about it.

7 Considerations for Managing Volunteer Risk
From The Nonprofit Times:
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for volunteer risk management. But there are some universal things to consider when forming your organization-specific plans and policies.

Want more on risk management? Check out the recorded webinar New Tools and Strategies for Managing Risk.

Using Volunteerism to Build Clients’ Skills
From Coyote Communications:
You may think you know all the ways volunteerism can help your organization. But you may be wrong. In this post, Jayne Cravens pushes us outside of our volunteer box with an unconventional way volunteerism can support your mission.

Attracting Skills-Based Arts Volunteers in the Age of Options
From Americans for the Arts
Americans for the Arts has made big shifts in their pro bono program. And they’ve also seen big results.

Interested in learning more about pro bono? Check out these 6 quotes to inspire your volunteer program.

And for more tips from experts, check out the VolunteerMatch book that brings together 35 experts.

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”

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.

How Prospect Research can Help Engage Volunteers After an Event

Guest post by Ryan Woroneicki

Volunteer EventProspect research is a fantastic tool that can help you improve your volunteers’ experience with and connection to your nonprofit. Even though there are numerous ways to use prospect research in general, we’ll be looking at ways to engage volunteers after a fundraising event using prospect research.

Fundraising events are not only a great way to generate more revenue for your organization’s mission and projects, but they also allow your donors and volunteers to interact with one another as well as members of your team.

Here are the top tips for using prospect research to engage volunteers after your fundraising event:

1. Screen volunteers to discover potential donors

There could be a major gift donor volunteering within your organization and you might not even know about them. Prospect research can help you find that volunteer, so you can reach out  after an event to pursue a donor relationship with them.

Prospect research reveals a donor’s past giving history to other nonprofits and political campaigns as well as business affiliations and charitable connections. Having this information at your fingertips can be the ticket to turning your regular volunteer into a regular donor.

You can connect with volunteers after a fundraiser to encourage them to attend your next event and to ask them to consider contributing monetarily to your organization.

2. Fill in the blanks about your volunteers

Do you know where your volunteers work? What about if they serve on boards of other nonprofits? If you have a large volunteer base, you probably don’t have time to go around to all of your volunteers and ask them for updates about their lives.

Enter prospect research! By conducting a screening of your volunteers, you will be able to fill in the blanks about them. This can not only help you stay informed about your volunteers, but it will help you stay in touch with them after they’ve helped you with an event.

Prospect research can give you basic information like volunteers’ addresses. When you know where your volunteers receive their mail, you are in a better position to send them follow up information once an event is done.

3. Discover if volunteers’ employers offer grant programs

Prospect research can tell you where a volunteer works or where they have retired from. This information can be essential if you market volunteer grant programs to your volunteers.

Volunteer grants are offered by some companies who wish to encourage philanthropy and volunteerism among their employees. Before or after an employee volunteers with a nonprofit, they fill out a volunteer grant request form to submit to the company. The company then donates a certain amount of money to the nonprofit based on their particular guidelines.

You can perform a prospect research screening to find out which volunteers work for companies that offer volunteer grant programs. Not only will you find out more about your volunteers, but your nonprofit may benefit from some extra donations.

Most companies have deadlines for volunteer match grant requests. Perform a prospect screening sooner rather than later so that your volunteers can submit their requests before it’s too late!

Interested in learning more about volunteer grants? Here are the top companies doing volunteer grants right.


There is a multitude of ways to engage with volunteers after a fundraising event, and you can use prospect research specifically to help turn volunteers into donors, fill in missing volunteer information, and learn more about your volunteers’ employers’ grant programs.

For more information, check out this comprehensive list of prospect research tools and resources.

About the author:

Ryan Woroniecki is the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at DonorSearch, a prospect research, screening, and analytics company that focuses on proven philanthropy. He has worked with hundreds of nonprofits and is a member of APRA-MD. When he isn’t working, he is an avid kickball player.

6 Quotes About Pro Bono to Inspire Your Volunteer Program

Pro Bono Week 2015!It’s Pro Bono Week 2015And here at VolunteerMatch, that has us jumping for joy. Because we love pro bono and every chance we get to talk it up.

Why all the hype about pro bono volunteering? Well, when volunteer roles align with professional expertise, everyone wins.

Nonprofits gain expertise they might otherwise have been unable to afford. Volunteers gain new ways to practice and sharpen their skills and can connect with their communities in meaningful ways. Corporate volunteer programs get refreshed, fulfilled employees with new perspectives and heightened skill-sets.

VolunteerMatch's book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0, includes 3 chapters on pro bono volunteerism.In our book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, we dedicate three entire chapters to pro bono and skilled volunteering. Haven’t read the book yet? It’s easy to order your copy today at a 25% off discount. In the meantime, we’ve pulled a few of our favorite quotes in honor of Pro Bono Week 2015:

Imagine if you were adding an additional 5 to 20 percent in value to your budget through high-quality, high-value pro bono? This is the potential of pro bono today. – Meg Garlinghouse & Alison Dorsey, LinkedIn for Good

Although more than 92 percent of nonprofits say that they would like to use a skilled volunteer, only 8 percent actively do. – Meg Garlinghouse & Alison Dorsey, LinkedIn for Good

Like all good initiatives, successful pro bono projects start with a clear need, articulated in a way that shows measurable goals and endpoints. – Alethea Hannemann, The Taproot Foundation

You want your pro bono consultants to treat you like a paying client, so you need to treat them as if you are paying, with all the expectations and responsibilities that go along with it. – Alethea Hannemann, The Taproot Foundation

Despite a mountain of evidence that workers love engaging their professional skills in doing good, most nonprofits say they simply aren’t getting enough pro bono help. – Deirdre White & Amanda MacArthur, PYXERA Global

Remember you have something precious to offer a rich and diverse community of pro bono professionals who want to give back: a meaningful and authentic experience! If you take time to invest upfront in pro bono, you can create the kind of experience that your volunteers will be hungry for and want to repeat! – Deirdre White & Amanda MacArthur, PYXERA Global

Want more? Order your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0 today at 25% off. And don’t forget to help us celebrate pro bono week by following along with #PBW15 on Twitter and sharing your stories.

5 Tips to Build Volunteer Loyalty

Closeup portrait of a group of business people laughingGuest post by Marylin Ryder

Just because you successfully attract volunteers to your organization doesn’t mean you’ll keep them. Here are five effective tips to maintain great relationships with your volunteers by building loyalty.

1. Get personal

In general, volunteers want to feel that you care about them. Ask about their interests and motives for volunteering. Perhaps they came to your organization to gain experience or find friends. In my article “I’m a student volunteer!” I outline the reasons why many young people join the volunteer community. Try to help them in achieving their goals and you will see how loyal they will become.

2. Tell volunteers your expectations

No one likes to spend time doing something he or she does not understand. Lack of understanding leads to low motivation and general disappointment. Thus, to keep your supporters motivated and satisfied with the results of their work, explain clearly what is expected of them and why their work matters.

3. Make volunteering convenient and fun

Many nonprofits ask volunteers to commit to working several hours per week or month. To keep your volunteers satisfied and wanting come back repeatedly, make sure this work is going on in a pleasant and friendly atmosphere.

4. Let your volunteer speak

Each volunteer has his or her own opinion and aspirations in volunteering, so let them share it! Create a forum for your nonprofit where everyone could share their experiences or expectations, discuss topics that excite them or show pictures from their previous volunteering projects. This will help you to get to know your team better and create friendly and loyal relationships.

5. Show appreciation

Every person engaged in volunteering wants to know that he or she is really helping. Showing them they are appreciated is one of the most important parts of your job as a leader. You can do that in many ways, from simply saying “thank you” to holding a volunteer party or more.

Why is maintaining loyal relationships with volunteers so important?

Volunteers consider your mission worthwhile and want to support your community. This is evident in the fact they are volunteering their time. So, you need to focus on keeping their support for the future of your nonprofit.

In their role as an integral part of your organization, volunteers have the ability to give honest feedback. Don’t be afraid to talk with your volunteers about the project they’re working on – in discussion you may find greater solutions to existing problems and improve the process significantly.

Volunteers can help find other donors and supporters. If volunteers have a good experience of working in your team and truly believe in what you’re doing, they can easily convince other people to support the project. By sharing their thoughts and impression of working with your nonprofit, happy volunteers raise awareness for your organization and attract more like-minded people.

About author: Marylin Ryder is a professional blogger and a freelance writer. Currently she’s engaged in educational projects in Seoul and volunteers at, helping students in essay editing.

Photo credit: Richard foster