5 Ways to Attract Young People to Your Nonprofit

Guest post by Tess Pajaron

Millennial VolunteersThe Urban Institute reported that 1.44 million nonprofits were registered with the Internal Revenue Service in 2012. Many of those organizations struggle to attract young people – a group that typically has both the strength and endurance to face difficult and challenging tasks. Whether you are trying to attract young donors or bring in new volunteers, you have to employ the right strategy. Here’s an overview of five effective methods to reach out to young people and get them involved.

Get vocal about your organization
Consistent promotional strategy requires clear vision, mission, and professional branding. Successful charitable organizations that range from giants like Greenpeace and Doctors Without Borders, to smaller nonprofits, such as Defenders of Wildlife or Alley Cat Allies have been implementing these rules for years.

In order to draw youngsters to your organization, you need to keep your message simple, fresh and entertaining. Organize events for young people during which you can distribute merchandise like leaflets, bookmarks and other attractive materials to help spread your message among young people. Bear in mind that peer influence is one of the primary reason why young people get involved.

Highlight the cause
Millennials are mostly motivated by passion for a cause, so when spreading the word about your charity, concentrate on your mission, not the institution itself. With that in mind, motivate young people to get involved by showing them that they are able to make a difference.

Advertise what’s been made possible with their support and share stories of people who benefit from the help your organization provides. By keeping your communications frequent and open, you’ll not only attract new people to your nonprofit, but also maintain a high level of motivation and enthusiasm from your current volunteers – they’re the best brand evangelists you can have!

Don’t underestimate the power of social media
Social media channels are currently the most successful communication tools popular among the younger generation. TED effectively uses Facebook and Twitter to share their lectures, publish articles and ask engaging questions to boost social interactions. Through these activities, they have gained over 7 million worldwide followers.

Create profiles and actively participate in social media. Choose only those networks that can help your cause – Twitter might be a much better fit than overcrowded and entertainment-driven Facebook. Make sure to know which social networks are used by your target audience and meet them where they tend to hang out online.

Share inspiring, fascinating and engaging content – once people share it to their own networks, your cause will reach more individuals than ever, some of which might get engaged enough to become volunteers.

Young VolunteersInvest in your website
Numerous nonprofit organizations don’t pay enough attention to their online presence. The website that features an outdated web design and is not properly displayed on various types of screens won’t get much attention.

Young visitors are more likely to stay on your page and read through your content if the website follows current web design trends. If you want to appeal to younger audience, make use of bright colors and use good quality visual materials.

Follow the example of One or Not For Sale and see how an engaging website can work to your advantage. Believe it or not, your page really does require a great FAQ section. Why? A well organized and informative FAQ page is an extremely effective trust building tool. This is a place to share your story, tell about your organization’s ethics, highlight achievements and list your affiliations.

Make experiences mutually rewarding
Young people turn to charitable organizations to gain precious work and life experience. To reach a wider audience you can offer volunteering opportunities that will help with future college admissions, guarantee extra credit or help young individuals launch their careers.

Make sure to collaborate with universities, colleges and even high schools – reaching out to those institutions will help you attract more young people to your cause. Be present at job fairs and prepare a volunteering plan that clearly states all the benefits young people will get – knowledge, experience, specific skills –  once they decide to work with you.

Idealistic young volunteers are extremely beneficial to the growth of nonprofit organizations. Full of life, they are an inexhaustible source of innovative ideas. I hope that with the help of these suggestions, your nonprofit will be bursting with energized young individuals wanting to get involved.

Tess Pajaron is a Community Manager at Open Colleges, an online learning provider based in Sydney, Australia. She has a background in Business Administration and Management.

Meet Trudy

Guest post by Elisa Kosarin, Twenty Hats

This post was originally published on Twenty Hats.

Volunteer PersonaThat’s Trudy, on the left. She is 51 years old, lives in Fairfax VA with her software exec husband, Lance, and her youngest daughter, Angie.

Angie is headed off to college in the fall, and Trudy is trying to figure out what to do when she becomes an empty nester. She used to be a school teacher before raising her daughter – she loves children – but she has not worked in many years. She is wondering if there is a way she can volunteer that involves children and will challenge her – she wants to do more than read to children or tutor them.

Why am I telling you about Trudy? Because she’s not real.

Trudy is a persona that I created while at Fairfax CASA to represent my ideal volunteer. For years, she gave me guidance on how to craft my messaging and direct my marketing. It’s Trudy who kept me focused on inspiring prospective volunteers who were a lot like her.

Old practice, new application
Creating personas is nothing new. Like so many of my favorite practices, the idea comes from the advertising world, where campaigns are carefully targeted to the ideal client. It’s a concept that translates beautifully to the nonprofit world. I have seen the practice used by volunteer managers and development directors. It helps in crafting everything from volunteer opportunities to newsletters to direct mail appeals.

Using personas gets you clear on just who you are trying to reach and how to reach them. Trudy reminded me to post my notices where a boomers might be looking, in newspapers as much as online, and to include words like “challenging” and “child-focused” in my promotional copy.

Feeling creative?
If you are ready to try your hand at creating a persona, make sure to include these essentials:

  • Know your demographics. Get clear on what your successful volunteers look like in terms of age, gender, profession, relationship-status, etc.
  • Build on the demographics with clues to your persona’s emotional world. What brings her to your program? What need is she trying to fill? What gives her satisfaction? The more you flesh out this piece, the easier it gets to write for your target audience.
  • Find a photo to bring your persona to life.

Keep her close by
Keep your persona tacked on your office bulletin board. Take a good look at her every day. And when you sit down to write something about your program, ask yourself a question much like mine, “What would Trudy like to hear about?”

Want to see the complete Trudy persona and use it as a template? Email me and request a copy.

Six Dollars for Doers Programs Doing It Right (And What This Means for Your Nonprofit)

Guest post by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation

Dollars for doers programs doing it rightAtypical children choose to mow the lawn before dad offers payment. As with any person with a job, kids want their hard work to amount to more than inherent byproducts, such as a green field with a proverbial buzz cut.

Thankfully, most nonprofit volunteers truly want to help, but a corporate incentive to volunteer regularly can increase the value an individual can bring to his or her community.

However, many volunteers don’t submit volunteer grant requests because they either don’t know that such programs exist or they don’t know how to submit requests. It’s up to you and your organization to promote these programs to volunteers.

When nonprofits know who is eligible to request a dollars for doers grant, they can reach out to those people and increase fundraising from the very same folks who already dedicated their valuable time to the organization’s mission.

The following sample of companies with volunteer grant programs showcases businesses that place a high value on volunteerism and offer volunteer grant programs that do a great job of incentivizing and rewarding community involvement by employees.

We all know that gas is expensive, but this oil and gas giant has more incentive to donate through its dollars for doers program than not knowing what else to do with an excess of money. Chevron and other companies offer volunteer grant programs to give back to communities and to increase employee engagement.

Chevron Humankind supports nonprofits that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizes as 501(c)(3) organizations or that the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) views as public charities.

Chevron’s Grants for Good Volunteers program rewards volunteerism by both employees and retirees through generous monetary gifts to the nonprofits where employees give their time:

  • 20 volunteer hours = $500 grant
  • 40 volunteer hours = $1,000 grant

While Chevron’s grants equate to $25 per hour, the money is only awarded once employees reach the above time benchmarks, and the 40 hour grant is the maximum. This ensures that grants are awarded to consistent, dedicated volunteers, and that there are enough funds to go around to all employees as well as to a plethora of organizations.

Including volunteer grants, Microsoft employees have donated over $1 billion to nonprofits over the past 30 years. Think about how many lawns you’d have to mow to make that much money.

The company started its dollars for doers program in 2005 in order to expand upon its already popular and productive matching gift program. Since then, employees have volunteered for over 2 million hours.

Employees must volunteer for a minimum of 4 hours to receive a grant. Microsoft pays $25 per hour, which easily puts it on Double the Donation’s list of leading providers of volunteer grants. This encourages employees to spend as much time volunteering as possible, as every hour can help to build towards grants worth thousands of dollars.

Since 2000, Verizon employees have volunteered for 6.8 million hours to raise money for over 54,000 nonprofits.

Employees who volunteer with an organization for a minimum of 50 hours can earn a grant worth $750 for the organization.

The maximum number of nonprofits that an employee can submit grant requests for is two. If an employee volunteers for 50 hours with two separate organizations then he or she can allocate two $750 grants.

Verizon also offers team volunteer grants for groups of ten or more employees who participate in charitable walks, runs, bike rides, and similar events. The company will match money raised by teams up to $1,000 per person and $10,000 per team. This is a great way to encourage team-building that fosters employee loyalty while, of course, helping communities.

Allstate is famous for the slogan, “You’re in good hands,” but you want to pay attention to what type of Allstate employees volunteer for you, as some nonprofits may receive better hands than others.

Allstate employees can earn $500 for volunteering for nonprofits, but volunteer benefits can go twice as far for agency owners, who receive $1,000 grants. Allstate awards its grants after employees have volunteered for 25 or more hours with a nonprofit in a calendar year.

Great coffee and great employee benefits. Starbucks encourages its employees to volunteer by offering various tiers of volunteer grants:

  • 25 – 49 volunteer hours = $250 grant
  • 50 – 74 volunteer hours = $500 grant
  • 75 – 100 volunteer hours = $750 grant
  • 100+ volunteer hours = $1,000 grant

A program with such tiers requires employees to dedicate significant amounts of time in order to earn increased amounts. This is Starbucks’ way of ensuring that employees truly care about volunteering while making sure that there is enough money to go around to all company volunteers.

Best Buy
Akin to how people seek unique clothes, some dollars for doers programs stand out by simply being different.

Best Buy does not offer individual volunteer grants. Instead the company offers team grants which makes Best Buy’s program a little different and encourages team-building among its employees.

There are a number of rules surrounding this dollars for doers program:

  • There is no minimum number of volunteer hours, but grants can only be earned when employees volunteer as a team.
  • Teams must consist of no less than 5 employees.
  • A maximum of $500 can be earned at an event, even if multiple teams volunteer.
  • Team members must volunteer for a minimum of one hour each.
  • A single nonprofit can earn up to $10,000 per year from Best Buy donations.

Best Buy’s program may require more reading than most to understand, but they encourage their employees to work in groups to better their communities. The detailed rules allow for the spacing out of gifts to ensure that Best Buy is helping out year round and aiding multiple groups and people while supporting varying causes and events.

Companies with dollars for doers programs understand that more employees will volunteer when they’re promised greater rewards, and nonprofits have a real incentive to get more people to volunteer. Of course, doing good for the world is at the heart of volunteerism, but people do more good for the world when they are able to donate money on top of lending a helping hand.

Nonprofits can use an array of strategies to figure out who works for companies that offer volunteer grants. The complete list of which companies offer volunteer grants includes both the above list and many additional employers. In fact over 40% of Fortune 500 companies provide grants when their employees volunteer on a regular basis with a nonprofit.

Nonprofits can better capitalize on all types of volunteer grants by performing prospect research to discover which donors work for companies that offer dollars for doers programs or by learning more about Double the Donation’s matching gift and volunteer grant service.

Finally, don’t forget to thank your volunteers who submit their dollars for doers grants. Studies show that an organization’s volunteers are likely to be larger donors than average and thanking volunteers or donors is one of the keys to fostering relationships and improving donor or volunteer retention.

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift and volunteer grant tools for nonprofits. You can connect with Adam on LinkedIn or via email.

Photo credit: www.stockmonkeys.com

2014 Impact Report: Volunteer Engagement Shows Signs of Recovery

2014 Impact Report 2“Our democracy works because ordinary folks, well-meaning people, each and every day are trying to make it a little bit better.”  -Barack Obama, May 4, 2015

Every year, VolunteerMatch crunches its network data to put together an Impact Report, our infographic version of an annual report. And each year, the report offers insights into volunteer engagement trends, and the people and causes making a difference in neighborhoods across the country.

This year, we discovered five encouraging stats that show the nonprofit sector and volunteer engagement may finally be recovering from the economic recession.

Volunteer Engagement by the Numbers:

Stats from VolunteerMatch's 2014 Impact Report

  • 99,132 – the number of groups and causes on VolunteerMatch. working to engage the volunteers they need to make a difference in their community. A record 8,200 new causes registered in 2014.
  • 20% – the increase in new opportunities posted on VolunteerMatch by local causes and groups, inviting volunteers to put their time and talent to good use for a cause they believe in, as compared with 2013.
  • 13,285,814 – the number of potential volunteers accessing VolunteerMatch to find their opportunity match to make a difference.
  • 44% — the increase in the number of potential volunteers who connected with a local cause or organization, as compared with 2013.
  • $1.34 Billion — the estimated collective impact of the volunteers who used VolunteerMatch in 2014 to get involved.

If you are looking for more data and insights into the health of volunteer engagement, view the full report.

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.