Volunteer Spotlight: Becky of JourneyCare

Becky Lininger, JourneyCare volunteer

Becky Lininger, JourneyCare volunteer

Due to shifting life events, Becky recently found herself with time on her hands. What did she do? Turned to Google, of course! This led her to VolunteerMatch, which in turn led her to JourneyCare, a hospice and palliative care facility.

Becky can’t pinpoint exactly why she chose JourneyCare out of all the other options on VolunteerMatch.  “I’ve lost three of my immediate family members now,” says Becky. “My sister passed away from cancer about three years ago. Maybe that played in, I don’t know. But when I discovered just what JourneyCare was all about, I was immediately drawn to them.”

In her short amount of time with JourneyCare, Becky has already worked on several administrative projects, and has visited home-bound patients.

“Other than raising my children, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything quite so meaningful!” says Becky.

Read the rest of Becky’s story, including her experience with one particularly memorable JourneyCare client.

Multiple Personalities and How to Speak Their Language

Guest post by Elisa Kosarin, Twenty Hats

This post was originally published on Twenty Hats.

Use personas to attract volunteers.Volunteers and donors come in all shapes and sizes. Start speaking each person’s language with personas.

Last month I introduced you to Trudy, the persona who helped me recruit volunteers for my program.

So now you might be thinking, “Well that sounds like a fun project. But I’m not seeing the relevance. How will a persona help me on the job?”

Here’s how.

Personas make it much easier to market your program. Instead of guessing at what appeals to a volunteer or donor, you have a “conversation” with the ideal version of that person. You learn about their needs and wants and then show that you have the solutions they seek.

You might event want more than one persona. Volunteer managers and development directors may create multiple identities to represent different groups of stakeholders.

And that’s when it gets interesting, because your messaging changes when you are “talking” to a completely different persona.

Let’s take an example.

Persona # 1 is Max. He is the 30-something manager of a big box store that has an employee volunteer engagement mandate. Max is always looking for volunteer opportunities where his staff can team up to help family-related causes. Max thinks, “I need to find something that’s fun and makes us look good, but I’m beyond busy. I don’t want to spend a lot of time arranging this thing.”

Persona # 2 is Penny. Penny is in her forties with two young teens, ages 13 and 14. She wants to volunteer with her kids. Penny says, “My family has so much. I want my kids to see it’s important to give back when you are fortunate. I’m looking to volunteer alongside my kids and make it fun for all of us.”

Now –say that you are the volunteer coordinator for a family shelter that has a 5K race coming up. You need course marshals. How do you spark each person’s interest?

  • For Max — “Your team can help our team keep homeless families safe – with just one morning of your time. We’re looking for groups to course marshal our benefit 5K race. All it takes is one email to set things up.”
  • For Emily — “Spend a morning helping keep homeless families safe. We need fun-loving, enthusiastic volunteers to cheer on the racers at our 5K race. All volunteers enjoy the post-race food and festivities. Families welcome!”

See how different each message looks? Same event, same volunteer position, completely different messages tailored to the audience you most want to reach.

I have a template – give it a try!

Want to try your hand at persona-writing? I have a template to get you started. Email me and I will send you a copy.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0 Author Spotlight: Deirdre White & Amanda MacArthur, PYXERA Global

VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, features chapters from 35 experts in the field of volunteer engagement. In this series of blog posts, get to know these #35experts and their areas of expertise.

Today’s experts: Deirdre White, CEO, and Amanda MacArthur, VP of Global Pro Bono & Engagement, PYXERA Global.Corporate Volunteers

First of all, what is your chapter about?
Over the past few years, pro bono has grown across sectors. In order for it to be an effective resource for nonprofits, it’s important to understand why pro bono is different from traditional “hearts-and-hands” volunteering.

Hearts-and-hands volunteering is when people give back through non-job-related skills, such as serving at a food kitchen or cleaning a park. With traditional volunteering, quantity over quality is usually okay.

With pro bono, quality is more critical. Pro bono asks volunteers to use job-related expertise to build capacity at an organization, and is grounded in a mutually beneficial experience for the volunteer and organization. Our chapter explains how recognizing the mutual benefits of pro bono can help a nonprofit get the expertise it needs.

Why is this topic important?
In order for pro bono to work, there needs to be an exchange of resources – a skill or expertise the volunteer can contribute along with a matching need for the nonprofit. To succeed, both need to develop trust.

Corporate pro bono programs can be very powerful. According to a study on skills-based volunteerism by True Impact, 142% of volunteers were more likely to report job-related skills gained than traditional volunteers. In addition, pro bono can be a very successful leadership training experience.

Explain your background on this topic. (In other words, what makes you a “volunteer engagement expert?”)

Deirdre White, Contributor to VolunteerMatch's book Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldDeirdre White:
I serve as the CEO of PYXERA Global, where I lead a team that creates and executes best practices in Global Pro Bono to benefit global corporations, local government, and nonprofits worldwide. PYXERA Global recently received the CECP Director Award of Excellence for JIVA, an integrated community development program made possible by pro bono work. I have several decades working on the ground, virtually, and overseeing pro bono projects with an emphasis on mutual benefit, sustainability, and inclusion.

Amanda MacArthur, contributor to VolunteerMatch's book Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldAmanda MacArthur:
I am Vice President of Global Pro Bono and Engagement at PYXERA Global. I lead the Global Pro Bono team along with PYXERA Global’s MBAs Without Borders division. I specialize in designing, implementing and measuring the impact of skills-based volunteer programs with a focus on leadership development, as well as creating sustainable impact.

What did you learn and/ or struggle with when writing your chapter?
At times, it can be difficult to determine how our extensive work in international settings is applicable to US nonprofits. We reflected on how to take our process of designing and implementing programs for companies and local clients, and make it applicable for nonprofits not working within the framework of a larger pro bono program – who might be looking for pro bono expertise independently.

We thought about the way PYXERA Global acts as a neutral third party to assess an organization’s needs and how to customize that to help nonprofits do this for themselves. We also had an absolutely wonderful editor, Robert Rosenthal, who helped us clarify our thinking and approach in these areas.

What is the one piece of advice you would give volunteer managers to take with them to the future?
Always practice purposeful engagement. In other words, enter into relationships with individuals and organizations across sectors intentionally and with the understanding that you are both on equal footing. When looking for pro bono volunteers, be strategic and don’t compromise. Know what you have to give, but also know what success will look like.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldTo read Deirdre and Amanda’s full chapter, How to Get the Right Pro Bono Expertise for the Job, order your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.



Bring VolunteerMatch (and Volunteering) to the NTC Agenda

I don’t mean to brag, but VolunteerMatch’s Engagement Manager Stephanie Hong ROCKS at Google AdWords.

Stephanie Hong, VolunteerMatch's Engagement Manager

Stephanie also rocks at puppy-cuddling.

In just a few months, she’s taken VolunteerMatch’s previously under-used Google AdWords Grant and ran with it. In June 2015, she:

  • Increased traffic from Google AdWords by 12%.
  • Increased new users by 9.4%.
  • Increased Nonprofit Registration by 64%!
  • Decreased bounce rate by 20%.

Do you have a Google AdWords Grant but don’t know where to start? Or have you been allocating some dollars to AdWords but haven’t seen any results? Stephanie can help.

How? She’s proposed a session at NTEN’s 2016 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) called Google AdWords Boot Camp. You’ll hear exactly what she did to boost VolunteerMatch’s Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and how you can scale this to your organization’s needs.

Help us get Google AdWords Boot Camp on the NTC agenda by up-voting Stephanie’s session proposal. If you’re not already a registered NTEN user, it only takes a few minutes to sign up (and it’s free).

While you’re there, browse and up-vote other sessions you’d like to see at the conference. With 439 proposals, you may wonder, “Where do I start?”

Well, there’s at least 7 proposals all about volunteerism, including Leveraging Expert or Technical Volunteers, Convert Volunteers into Donors (& Vice Versa) and Here, There, and Everywhere: Distance Volunteer Training.

Remember, you don’t have to go to NTC to help shape the nonprofit technology conversation. Cast your vote today.

Put Some Spark in Your Volunteer Program!

Sparkler FireworkFor many people, July is the time of year for  fireworks and camping. For many volunteer program managers, it can also be the time of year when needs and programs increase, and volunteers go on vacation.

When I worked at a wildlife hospital, the 4th of July was always super hectic – the height of busy animal season – but not a day most people think about volunteers. For others, things slow down a little – school programs are on hiatus, staff on vacation. Whether your July is a volunteer vacation or your busy season, think about spending an hour (or two) on one of the upcoming VolunteerMatch webinars posted on our Learning Center.

I’m kicking off the month with a session on Single Days of Service on July 14th. So many individuals and groups want done-in-a-day projects that have real impact. It can be tricky to create single day opportunities that are both meaningful and impactful. I’ll share some ideas and how to start working with others – volunteer leaders, paid staff, and corporate partners – to make this a reality. Perfect timing to get your opportunities posted for 9/11 Day of Service!

Speaking of impact, I’ll be discussing how to talk about the real impact of volunteering in your organization, and how to tell that story on July 16th. Telling the Story of Volunteer Impact is one of my favorite topics. So often, when we talk about volunteers, we leave out the good stuff. I’ll share some best practices for telling your story, and show you a video from an organization that’s getting it right. (You might want to have a Kleenex handy…)

Too often, we don’t think about how volunteers can help us run our programs, better engage volunteers, or help us develop opportunities. So on July 21st, I’ll be asking you to Walk the Walk: Engage Volunteers in your Volunteer Engagement Program. We can model the type of meaning volunteer engagement we’d like to see from other departments in our organization, as well as get off the hamster wheel of daily activities.

Any time you make a change, whether it’s including a done in a day opportunity or engaging volunteers in the recruitment, screening, or training of other volunteers, it can be challenging. However, not many people are comfortable with the uncertainty that comes with change. On July 23rd I’ll be talking about Managing Difficult Volunteer Transitions, including what to do when it’s time to ask a volunteer to leave your organization.

You can find the complete list of all of our webinars here. I hope you’ll join me at one of these always free online trainings this summer!