Is It Time To Spring Clean Your Volunteer Program?

Spring Clean Your Volunteer ProgramFlowers are blooming, birds are singing – it’s finally spring time.

If you’re thinking about brushing some of the cobwebs off your volunteer engagement program, VolunteerMatch has some great topics coming up in our Learning Center to help you revisit or re-energize your program.

On May 7th, I’ll discuss how to design a successful skilled volunteer opportunity, how to recruit a volunteer with professional-level skills, and how best to manage the process. One of the best ways to find and recruit volunteers, including those with professional-level skills, is through social media. I’ll share some great ideas for incorporating social media into all aspects of your volunteer program on May 21st.

While we want to look forward to new ideas for volunteer engagement, we should also make sure we’re doing the best we can for our existing volunteers. As many of our volunteers get older, we need to consider their safety while respecting the contribution they’ve made to our organizations. I’ll be digging into all of this on May 5th in Managing an Aging Volunteer Corps.

Many of these situations, as well as so many other situations with volunteers, involve ethical dilemmas. Too often, we don’t think about the ethics behind our volunteer engagement decisions. The good news is that there are tools to help you! Join myself and Katie Campbell on May 6th as we talk through volunteer engagement scenarios involving ethics. We’ll provide you with tools to bring ethics into your own decision making.

On May 12th, I’ll also explore how to create a training program for your volunteers. Whether you’re looking for a few new ideas or starting from scratch, I’ll cover best practices and some creative ideas to ensure that your volunteers hit the ground running this spring!

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 in 2015!

Hunger Nonprofits: Grow Your Volunteer Program with This Free Tool

Hunger Organization Volunteer Improvement ToolWhat if you could improve your organization’s volunteer program with just a few clicks?

If you’re a hunger-fighting organization, now you can.

We’ve developed a free tool specifically for hunger-fighting organizations to evaluate their volunteer engagement programs.

Why hunger organizations?
This tool was developed as part of a partnership with ConAgra Foods Foundation, a company with a big commitment to end childhood hunger. Part of this commitment includes equipping nonprofits with the resources they need to do what they do best – create real change in their communities in the fight against hunger. And for many food banks and similar organizations, this change is dependent on volunteers.

About the tool.
In this tool, called the Volunteer Program Improvement Tool, you will be taken through a series of statements, and will be asked to select the statements that are true about your volunteer engagement program.

In just a few short minutes, the tool works its magic and generates a custom report just for you. This includes:

  • Where your volunteer program currently stands. Are you volunteer engagement novices, or is your program already running at rock-star level?
  • Specific action steps to improve your volunteer program, based on where you’re program is currently.
  • Lots of additional resources to help with your improvement journey.

Best of all, it’s completely free. Ready to get started? Access the tool today.

35 Volunteer Engagement Experts. One Book.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: VolunteerMatch's New BookFourteen months since I left VolunteerMatch to travel the world, I’m delighted to be back in the pages of EngagingVolunteers.org with an important announcement.

On May 26, 2015, VolunteerMatch’s new book on volunteer engagement for nonprofits, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, will be available for purchase!

Following VolunteerMatch’s approach to training and capacity building, I asked 35 of the smartest volunteer engagement consultants, trainers, and practitioners to share their thoughts on what’s truly important for transforming volunteerism into lasting impact. The result brings together under a single cover one of the greatest collections of experts and practitioners in volunteer engagement that the field has ever seen.

No, this isn’t a how-to guide for “managing” volunteers. Although of course that kind of thing is important. Volunteer Engagement 2.0 is about ideas.

VolunteerMatch is committed to broadening the conversation around volunteer engagement. If you have ever attend VolunteerMatch’s Nonprofit Insights webinar series, you’ve seen that firsthand. What are the concepts, the trends, and the big ideas that are impacting how nonprofits and individuals work together to transform human capital and care into impact?  You can now find them all in one place: Volunteer Engagement 2.0.

Striking a balance between actionable strategy and broad discussion of the issues surrounding volunteerism, Volunteer Engagement 2.0 helps readers craft a strategy that reflects their organization’s mission. Here are some of the ways you’ll be able to get immediate benefit from Volunteer Engagement 2.0:

  • Track the history of volunteerism, as well as the social, cultural, and technological shifts that will shape its future.
  • Keep current volunteers on board, and engage additional volunteers, donors, and board members.
  • Use new tools and trends such as social media, microvolunteering, virtual volunteering, and hackathons.
  • Recruit corporate partners, adopt skilled volunteers, and identify pro bono resources.
  • Quantify and evaluate your volunteer program’s effectiveness, and adjust your strategies.

As for the contributors, well, this is an all-star list. How about DoSomething’s Aria Finger on engaging millennials, LinkedIn’s Meg Garlinghouse on skilled volunteerism, Beth Kanter on measuring volunteer engagement, Susan J. Ellis on what “change” means in volunteer engagement, Joe Waters on Cause Marketing and volunteering, Jayne Cravens on virtual volunteering, Points of Light’s Amy Smith on service enterprises… the list goes on and on.

And it’s a crazy great list. For the last year I’ve been in Asia exploring NGOs in Thailand, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, among other places. It’s a big world with lots of challenges but also a lot of amazing organizations doing great work. Similarly, bringing the best ideas and insights from around the sector to you – all in one place ­– is what Volunteer Engagement 2.0 is all about. Pre-order your copy today.

Robert Rosenthal, Editor of Volunteerism 2.0Robert Rosenthal is a consultant for social change and sustainable development with more than 15 years of experience helping nonprofits, corporations and social enterprises connect with audiences, design programs, and communicate impact. Previously he headed communications and marketing for VolunteerMatch, the Web’s largest volunteer engagement network, where he worked from 2006-2014. Robert is an active writer and trainer, and frequently speaks to audiences about fundraising, volunteering, public relations, cause marketing, social media and corporate social responsibility. Find him on Twitter at @socialgoodR.

Save Time and Build Better Relationships with VolunteerMatch Premium

Celebrate with VolunteerMatch Premium!At VolunteerMatch, we love living out our mission of connecting good people and good causes. And we love that we can do this at no cost to the inspiring people and causes doing amazing work in their communities.

We do this because we believe that everyone should have the chance to make a difference.

However, for organizations that rely heavily on volunteers, we have another option that makes finding new volunteers even easier.

VolunteerMatch Premium lets nonprofits do some pretty cool things with their VolunteerMatch account. Want to craft a personalized greeting VolunteerMatch Premium vs. Basicto potential volunteers when they first connect with you? You can do that. Want to quickly repost that volunteer opportunity from last month that’s still relevant? You can do that. How about exporting a list of the volunteers who have reached out to you? Yep, you can do that too.

That’s just the beginning. Learn more about the various ways we support nonprofits, including our premium service. And if you choose to, head over to your VolunteerMatch account to sign up.

For less than ten dollars a month, your nonprofit can build strong relationships with volunteers from the start, and spend less time managing prospective volunteers. And I’m sure you have many ways to spend a little extra time.

Including Volunteers in Your Nonprofit’s Marketing Efforts

Guest post by Kristen Gramigna

Nonprofit Marketing StrategyYour volunteers have unique sets of skills and talents — and they’re passionate about your cause. So who better to go to for insights into the minds of your supporters? Asking for their opinions and ideas on the best way to present your cause could prove invaluable.

Here are some other tips for ramping up your marketing efforts, and including volunteers along the way.

Measure what works best for your audience.
Any effective marketing effort starts with understanding your audience, what they care about, and how they want to receive messages. Chances are, your supporters are increasingly reliant on mobile devices, email, online communications and social media interactions. Successful nonprofits adjust their strategies appropriately to meet their audiences in the channels they are using.

With that said, remember that not all messages are functional on all kinds of mobile devices. A skilled volunteer can measure your site traffic and social media interactions with analytics tools that provide insights about your audience and the kinds of devices they use. The more you know about the lives of your supporters, the more likely you’ll craft a marketing message that fits into it.

Use videos to get views.
Mobile devices, apps and social media have made it possible for organizations of all sizes to capture compelling images and produce videos that are easily downloaded to social media channels. Despite the power of your copywriting and campaign ideas, the emotional level with which you’re able to connect with audiences is paramount to your nonprofit success. Videos allow you to set the appropriate mood and tone that can do just that.

Videos are also increasingly popular among a range of audiences. According to FameBit, YouTube reaches more 18 to 34 year olds than any other cable network. A study by Forbes Insights also revealed that more than 50 percent of executives watch at least one video on YouTube weekly.

Are these demographics included in your nonprofit’s audience? Film your volunteers talking about why they love your organization, and create a YouTube channel if you don’t already have one. You may even find that a volunteer steps up to manage the project!

Leverage social media supporters.
Establishing an online presence for your organization to be found through online search is challenging. Though producing consistent and quality written and visual content can help boost your website’s page rank, leveraging the reach of your supporters can boost your efforts even further. Identify who among your both your current volunteers and social media followers are especially active and connected in various social media channels. Reach out to them and ask if they’re willing to help spread the word about your cause with their own social media networks in exchange for a token of appreciation, like VIP seating at an event, or similar type of recognition.

Your volunteers’ insights are key to developing marketing efforts that are sincere and meaningful among the people who are truly the face of your organization. Though your volunteers don’t expect monetary compensation, your appreciation and invitations to their involvement goes a long way.

Nonprofits may have the challenge of limited budgets and resources, but with a little creativity and support from others, you can build a marketing effort that rivals that of major corporations.

Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm that provides its services to nonprofits among other businesses. She has more than 20 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.