Need a Hand? VolunteerMatch Can Help!

If you need a hand with volunteer engagement, VolunteerMatch can help.At VolunteerMatch, our mission is to strengthen communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect (emphasis on the “easier”).

We try to keep it as simple as possible for you to post your open volunteer opportunities on the site and attract great volunteers, but if you run into bumps along the way or want to boost your recruitment efforts, we can help! Here’s how…

Having trouble with your VolunteerMatch account?

There are a couple of places to go if you have a question or issue with your account. First, our treasure trove of support information, answers, and tips for users. To get to this magical place, just click ‘SUPPORT’ in the top right corner of any page on our site. You’ll find detailed info about things like registering your organization, accessing or updating your account, posting and managing opportunities, and much more. Just sign in to your nonprofit account to view these articles!

VolunteerMatch Help Center screenshot

We also have a bunch of quick and easy video tutorials that will walk you through how to do things on your account. These can help you with tasks like gaining administrator access to your organization’s existing account, managing your opportunity contacts, or adding photos to your listings.

Looking for ways to attract more volunteers or strengthen your program?

Look no further! We offer FREE live webinars throughout the year presented by our resident volunteer management guru along with other seasoned professionals from the field. Learn about best practices on important topics like screening volunteers, planning for the future, and using social media to engage volunteers.

We’ve also curated a list of useful resources from around the web that you can find on our Learning Center and blog.

Still haven’t found what you need?

You can always contact us! Click ‘SUPPORT’ at the top of any page on VolunteerMatch.org, then click ‘Submit a Request’. This allows you to send us a message with details about your question, and even links, attachments or screenshots to help us understand the issue you’re having. Your request will be read by human eyes at our office in San Francisco, and we’ll do our best to get you the help you need.

Another great way to reach us is on Twitter. If you’re a big tweeter and have a question that can be posed in 140 characters or less, then this is the resource for you. We monitor incoming tweets all day and love providing fast, succinct help whenever possible.

We hope you’ll take advantage of some of these tools, and if there’s anything else you think might help you engage volunteers and better support your community, we’d love to hear about it.

Make New Friends and Give Back in Austin, TX

If you haven’t heard of the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) hosted by NTEN, then you should check it out and register. A couple thousand nonprofit professionals coming together to discuss how to make the most of technology? Yes, please!

Join VolunteerMatch at the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference Day of Service.

VolunteerMatch is proud to be sponsoring the Day of Service at this year’s NTC. Throughout the conference, there will be volunteer opportunities for you to share your skills with Austin, TX area nonprofits. And this year, we’ve expanded the Days of Service program at the 15NTC to include virtual volunteering opportunities, so you can give back before the conference, too!

A Call for Projects

Are you an Austin-based organization that could use some help either in person between March 3-6, 2015, or virtually in advance of the conference? We would love to hear from you! Please add your organization’s volunteer opportunity to our “Days of Service” project. All you need to do is the following:

  • Create an account – be sure to register as a nonprofit looking for volunteers.
  • Suggest an opportunity – use the ‘Add a Project’ form to share your organization’s volunteer opportunity with the NTC Community.

Please note that you can post multiple opportunities from the same organization. Kindly include a link with the project suggestion and include contact information for the person leading the volunteer opportunity. That will help us and attendees better connect with you.

In order to make these opportunities as rewarding as possible for both the organization and the 15NTC attendees, we ask that projects consider the following guidelines:

  • The volunteer time commitment between March 3-6 needs to be limited to no more than 2 hours per day and must be suitable for groups of 2 or more.
  • In-person volunteer opportunities must be easily accessible from the Austin Conference Center on foot, public transit, or using a transport mode that the organization can provide to/from the Convention Center.
  • Virtual opportunities are also welcome, with specifics on how volunteers will connect with the organization (e.g., Skype, Google Hangout, listserv).
  • Virtual opportunities can begin ahead of the conference.

So spread the word to any Austin-based nonprofits you know! And if you’re a 15NTC attendee looking to volunteer while in Austin, you can sign up for an opportunity here.

We hope to see you (volunteering!) at the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference!

How to Understand Your Volunteers’ Attitudes

Guest post by Haley Myers, Volunteer Program Assessment

Understanding your volunteers' attitudes.Understanding volunteer attitudes and engagement is important for any nonprofit organization. Engaged volunteers are likely to be less stressed and more psychologically healthy. In addition, they feel a sense of commitment to their organization and can foster positive relationships with paid staff, which can have implications for the organization as a whole.

Most importantly, understanding the perspective of the volunteer can provide insight into the larger volunteer program – what components are working well and what may need some attention.

Techniques for Assessing Attitudes & Engagement

The two most popular techniques for assessing attitudes and engagement of volunteers are interviews and surveys. Interviews can provide detailed and nuanced information, but are time consuming; it not only takes time to sit down one-on-one with volunteers, but combing through the resulting data can be messy and tedious. In addition, interviews can be subject to the biases of the interviewer – their interpretations of the information can be influenced by their own pre-conceived ideas of the strengths and weaknesses of the volunteer program.

Surveys represent a much easier mechanism for gathering information on volunteer attitudes and engagement. Surveys are the best way to gather information from a large number of volunteers in a short amount of time. Similarly, interpreting the results is more straight-forward than sifting through the qualitative data from interviews. Once the survey is created, it is easy to replicate on an annual or semi-annual basis, as some organizations may want to track engagement trends over time.

Creating a Volunteer Attitudes & Engagement Survey

Your organization can create your own volunteer attitudes and engagement survey. Some online platforms like Survey Monkey or Zoomerang allow organizations to administer surveys free-of-charge. However, larger nonprofit organizations may face some challenges with these tools because they cap the maximum number of responses for the free versions. In addition, the content of a home-grown attitudes and engagement surveys can lack normative information and support materials. Consulting firms can offer those materials, but will most likely create a financial burden for nonprofit organizations who are already strapped for resources – a simple volunteer engagement survey could run upwards of $10,000.

Another option is to apply for the Volunteer Program Assessment (VPA) at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. VPA is a validated, cutting-edge volunteer attitudes and engagement survey that contains dimensions suggested to be important in the current employee engagement literature. Trained VPA consultants work one-on-one with nonprofit organizational leaders to collect the data using the survey, interpret the results, and develop recommendations to increase organizational effectiveness. Above all, these services are completely free thanks to scholarships funded by grants.

To learn more about VPA, you can visit vpa.uncc.edu or email volprogram@uncc.edu for more information.

Haley Myers is Co-Director of the Volunteer Program Assessment and a member of the Organizational Science Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Why I’m Thankful for My Nonprofit Internship

Guest post by Dylan Manderlink

How nonprofit internships can be valuable for young people.Over the course of my four years of college, I had the privilege to intern at five different nonprofit organizations, all of whom were dedicated to different causes. From my tour relations internship position at a human rights nonprofit in LA, to my marketing internship at a nonprofit’s national headquarters in Boston, I gained a depth of insight that has informed my career decisions in the nonprofit sector.

No matter how different my tasks have been at the internships I’ve held, with each one I have gained a meaningful perspective on nonprofit work and the impact the sector can have on our communities. Given my young age, in each internship I was given a considerable amount of responsibility and mobility within the organization. I felt valued, not just as an intern, but as a part of their staff and movement as a whole.

Now that I am a recent post-grad working my first “real world” job, I can step back and really appreciate the professional and personal growth I experienced while interning in various nonprofits. Here are a few ways my nonprofit internships prepared me for my post-grad life and first job:

1. Nonprofits understand that time is precious and deadlines are important to their organization and cause. Because of this, I learned how to optimize the time I had. In my previous internships, whether I was there for a half-day or the full 9-5, I knew I had no time to waste. Now, that’s not to say that I felt rushed or stressed out at all. Instead, I felt additionally motivated by the urgency and importance of our work.

2. Nonprofits were forgiving if I made mistakes. My employers would take time to coach me, and by doing so, fostered my personal growth. At each nonprofit I interned with, I felt valued, appreciated and empowered as an employee. I have had several friends who interned at large for-profit companies who felt dissatisfied with how they were treated as an intern. I remember them commenting on always having to run errands, do menial tasks, and not have opportunities to build relationships with the staff they worked alongside. On the contrary, in my nonprofit internships I felt like I was constantly given additional responsibilities. In fact, many of those responsibilities were outside my comfort zone or area of familiarity.

3. I always felt like my higher-ups and co-workers took time to get to know me, my interests and passions, and my life outside of work. I noticed how welcoming, supportive, and empowering the nonprofit work culture is. Now, in my first post-grad job, I take the initiative to relationship-build with my fellow co-workers because I know how important that is in a work environment. I also actively seek areas where I can foster personal growth. I value finding mentors, welcoming opportunities to learn from my mistakes, and asking my co-workers to evaluate my performance.

4. Nonprofits promote and embody the notion that ‘it takes a village.’ I think one of the main reasons why I felt constantly empowered as an intern was because the nonprofit culture understands that each person’s contribution and effort is invaluable. Each employee, no matter your status or job title, is vital in promoting the cause that your organization fights for. Together, we have the power to make a real difference – within the organization, our community, and society at large. In my current job, I try channeling the ‘it takes a village belief’ everyday. I do this by:

  • Asking for help from my co-workers.
  • Vocalizing my appreciation for my co-workers and the hard work they do everyday.
  • Thanking others for their contributions to our staff’s overall goal.

It’s important to remember that we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs effectively without each other. I definitely learned that notion of staff unity from the internship experiences I had in college.

5. Nonprofits value a young voice and recognize the potential and eagerness of 20-somethings. As a recent post-grad, I was nervous about being hired at such a young age, and if organizations would question me given the little experience I’ve had. Even when these job insecurities and worries were overwhelming, I remember how appreciative my nonprofit staffs were when they realized that I was still in college and had so much passion and dedication to social change and nonprofit work. They viewed my age and paired eagerness as a pro, rather than seeing my age as something that signified inexperience.

Although there are many more benefits of having nonprofit internship experience as an undergrad, the advantages and skills I have highlighted are ones that have greatly impacted me in my first job as a college graduate.

The multiplicity of skills and diverse knowledge of the workforce that I have gained through my five nonprofit internships have given me a unique but practical perspective on the nonprofit sector. Rather than experiencing a tidal wave of worries following my college graduation, I felt hopeful, motivated, and ready to enter my first job and start pursuing my desired career.

So, if you’re a nonprofit employee who is thinking about hiring on an intern, I would highly encourage and support your decision to do so. As a previous nonprofit intern, I am tremendously thankful for the personal and professional growth I experienced while interning. The nonprofit internships I held helped inform my post-grad career decisions, and are professional experiences I will always reflect on when looking to better myself as an employee and as a community member.

My charge to nonprofit professionals is to recognize college students’ idealism, passion and fire to spark change. Along with recognizing these things, make room for them to be an asset and part of your organization. The confidence that my nonprofit coworkers encouraged concerning my age, idealism and commitment to social justice, is just what I needed when entering the workforce. This similar notion is something nonprofit professionals can embody within their own staffs and use to inspire young people to get more involved in the nonprofit sector.

Does your organization work with young interns? Tell us about your experiences below!

Dylan Manderlink is a recent graduate of Emerson College in Boston, Mass., who with a self-designed major, Investigative Theatre for Social Change. She is now a Teach for America corps member, teaching high school in rural Arkansas. She is passionate about working in the nonprofit sector and providing educational opportunities for students to creatively inform themselves and others about social justice, community change and human rights.

Make 2015 Count with VolunteerMatch’s New Organization Profiles

Make the New Year count with new organization profiles at VolunteerMatch.The New Year is an exciting time that poses many opportunities for nonprofits to engage their supporters and strengthen their Organizations’ missions. Case in point: Jump start 2015 with VolunteerMatch’s new Organization Profile!

 

New VolunteerMatch Organization Profile with "More Info" tab open

The brand-new VolunteerMatch Organization Profile.

The new Profile will boost your organization’s VolunteerMatch recruiting efforts, and serve as a quick and easy way to advertise across the Internet. Due to VolunteerMatch’s excellent search engine optimization, organizations registered in the VolunteerMatch network will most definitely have their profiles prominently displayed on Google search results lists. So take advantage of VolunteerMatch’s SEO, and update your organization’s profile page or register with our vast network of nonprofit partners and volunteers.

The new Organization Profile was redesigned with both nonprofit administrators and volunteers in mind – the Volunteer Profile was a huge inspiration! Check out VolunteerMatch’s new Organization Profile and some noteworthy changes below:

Highlighted volunteer opportunities: Now, everyone who visits your organization’s profile will know exactly how many volunteer opportunities are available and have instant access to your listings. The grid view displays cause areas and requested skills for that particular opportunity, while the list view shows the location and time commitment.

Two views of the Organization Profile at VolunteerMatch.

Grid view (left) and list view (right) of volunteer opportunities on the Organization Profile.

At-a-glance information: We know prospective volunteers are busy people, that’s why we rearranged the Organizations Profile details, so future supporters can quickly scan and discover the information that matters most to them and your organization.

At a glance information on the VolunteerMatch Organization Profile.

At-a-glance information about your organization on your VolunteerMatch profile.

VolunteerMatch Organization Profile on a mobile device.

Your new Organization Profile on VolunteerMatch looks great on any device.

Responsive for mobile: With up-to-date information and active volunteer opportunities, your organization’s profile will stand out on every mobile device!

To view and update your organization’s profile on VolunteerMatch:

  1. Log in at www.volunteermatch.org/post/login.jsp to access your organization’s dashboard.
  2. From the side menu, select ‘Preview Organization Page’ to view your organization’s public VolunteerMatch profile.
  3. See anything that needs to be changed? Click your name at the top of the page to return to your dashboard.
  4. From the ‘Manage Organization’ menu on the left, select ‘Edit Organization Profile’ to update your organization information.

What do you think of the new Organization Profile? Let us know in the comments below, or by emailing support@volunteermatch.org!