Expert Snapshots for January: Starting 2015 Off Right

Expert SnapshotsAt VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. Here’s a round-up of some news to keep you inspired for the year ahead…

What Did You and Volunteers Do Well This Year?

The first step in planning a stellar 2015 is to reflect on the successes and failures of 2014. Be honest, be merciless, learn from your mistakes, celebrate how awesome your were, then move on. To help your process, Susan Ellis of Energize, Inc. provides a bunch of great questions to ask yourself related to your work as a leader of volunteers, as a volunteer program generally, and more.

Why you *don’t* have to keep up with everything in #nptech

Yesenia Sotelo, a nonprofit website expert, lays out this cold, hard truth: it’s impossible to keep up with everything going on in the nonprofit digital space. Instead, identify the 3-4 things that are most important for your work, and that are most immediately actionable. Follow those things. She provides examples from her own arsenal to help make her point.

Case Study: Get Involved: Powered by Your Library

An amazing story published recently by Reimagining Service chronicles the work of California State Library to engage constituents on a deeper level via volunteering, and the partnership with VolunteerMatch that made it possible. It’s as inspiring as it is practical.

Mark Your Calendars! 2015 Cause Awareness Days

Cause awareness days can be a powerful engagement tool, as you can tap into the buzz already happening to get people excited about your organization’s work. Nonprofit Tech for Good lists the biggest and best coming in 2015 to help you plan ahead, strategically.

Bonus: 2015 Editorial Calendar from Lightbox Collaborative

Speaking of planning ahead, we couldn’t NOT include this amazing resource: a fully-formed editorial calendar from Lightbox Collaborative that you can download for free and customize for your organization’s communications needs. This is a great template for building a robust, effective communications calendar to help your organization really step it up in 2015.

14 Engaging Volunteers Posts That Ruled 2014

It's almost time to drink champagne and welcome in a new year. What were the most popular posts of 2014?It’s been a long, exciting year for volunteer engagement, and hopefully a successful, meaningful one for you and your volunteer program. To make sure you didn’t miss anything important, let’s review the 14 most popular blog posts published on Engaging Volunteers this year:

14. VolunteerMatch Now Connects Nonprofits Directly to 300 Million Skilled Volunteers

13. The Chicken, the Egg, Volunteering, and Employment

Children volunteering in a garden.12. What I Learned from Volunteering

11. The Volunteer as Brand Ambassador

10. Fighting Hunger Together, We Really Made a Difference

9. Here’s How You Measure Volunteer Impact

8. Creative, Fun and Easy Ways to Engage Skilled Volunteers

Some of our favorite and most popular blog posts from 2014. And a girl snorkling.7. Connect to Who Your Volunteers REALLY Are

6. Walking the Talk of Ethics

5. The Pros and Cons of Engaging Young Volunteers

4. How to Get the Most Out of Your Words

3. Best Practices: Thanking Volunteers Using Online Surveys

2. Summer + Teens + Volunteering = A Combination Not to Be Ignored

1. People Make the Difference: Matching Volunteer Interests to Nonprofit Needs

Here’s to a 2015 that blows 2014 out of the water!

A Whole New World of Volunteer Recruitment

It's a whole new world of volunteer recruitment.Last week, VolunteerMatch rolled out some really exciting new features to our free volunteer recruitment tools. Processes are now even simpler, which means less clicking and more connecting with the right volunteers for your organization! Here are the details:

Fewer Clicks

Perhaps you thought posting a volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch was easy before. After all, 5-10 minutes of time, moving through a quick listing flow, doesn’t seem like a lot, right?

Who cares, we were determined to make it EVEN EASIER AND FASTER. As of last week, posting a volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch happens in even fewer clicks, all on one clean, clear page. The whole process is quicker and more efficient, and comes with a sleek new look that makes navigating a breeze.

More Skills

You might remember a few years ago when we introduced a new way to post listings that included a skills taxonomy. For the first time, you could officially connect your volunteer opportunities to the skills volunteers have to give.

Now, three years later, we are thrilled to present the next generation of skilled volunteer recruitment at VolunteerMatch. We’ve upgraded from 19 main categories of skills to 32, and our skills library has increased from 132 specific skills to 354 that you can include in your volunteer listing.

With the newly expanded VolunteerMatch skills library, it's even easier to connect with the right volunteers for your nonprofit organization.

That’s a lot of skills! They include a blend of general, more common skills, and industry- and product-specific skills. (For example, you can recruit a Drupal expert, or a music teacher…) The new skills library covers a huge range, so you can be specific and strategic about recruiting skilled volunteers for exactly what you need.

And remember, every time you include skills from the new library in your volunteer listing on VolunteerMatch, the opportunity will automatically appear on LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace, in front of more than 300 million skilled professionals! (Click here for more information about this partnership and how to connect your VolunteerMatch account to your LinkedIn Company page.)

The whole point of these changes is to make it even easier for your nonprofit to connect with the volunteers you really need. And this is just the beginning – stay tuned for even more great enhancements in early 2015…

Let us know how we’re doing in the comments below, and try out the new features today by posting a volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch!

For the Love of Animals

A young ASCMV volunteer holds a dog. She frequently walks dogs for the organization.

This ASCMV volunteer adores dogs, and walks any size, any breed. It must run in the family, as her mother is a special events and adoptions volunteer for the organization.

The dog glanced back, eying the person holding his leash mischievously. And in a flash, he wiggled out of his collar and took off. Nimbly weaving through the downtown farmers market, the dog ran through a car wash, jumped over a few fences, and went around a roundabout…twice.

Undaunted, the dog’s caretaker followed persistently, and finally caught up as the dog squeezed his way underneath a shed for a nap. The caretaker didn’t give up, and didn’t try to wait the dog out. Instead, this person got down on the ground, wiggled through cobwebs, and emerged covered in dirt, soaking wet, and victoriously holding onto the rogue dog.

Who was this diligent caretaker? Just your average volunteer at the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley (ASCMV), located in Las Cruces, New Mexico. But these volunteers are anything but average.

For ASCMV, volunteers are the physical and emotional lifeblood that enables them to do their important work. Learn how this nonprofit engages and manages dozens of dedicated, passionate and skilled volunteers.

Read more about ASCMV’s volunteer management.

VolunteerMatch Volunteers! An Afternoon at the SF-Marin Food Bank

Rice. Hundreds and hundreds of pounds of it. Scooping, weighing, packing. Talking, singing, laughing.

Such was the afternoon for VolunteerMatch staff a few weeks ago at the SF-Marin Food Bank. At least once a quarter, VolunteerMatch chooses a group volunteer activity to bring its employees together for a common cause.

Group Photo Food Bank

The VolunteerMatch Team at the SF-Marin Food Bank.

It was my first time volunteering at a food bank, and also, as a new employee at VolunteerMatch, my first time participating in an organization-wide volunteer day. Nervous about spending so much time with my new co-workers, and not knowing what to expect at the food bank, I arrived with slight hesitation.

We were immediately greeted by friendly staff, who thanked us for being there. We were trained on rice packing by a man full of jokes and good cheer. He turned the music on (an eclectic assortment of hits from the last 50 years) and we all got to work.

Measuring out rice doesn’t seem like a glamorous task. But the welcoming atmosphere ofTwo VolunteerMatch Staff volunteering at SF-Marin FoodBank the SF-Marin Food Bank paired with lively conversations with great people I’m just getting to know – well, the afternoon seemed like it ended too soon. We finished up by hearing stories about the families we were helping, and were sent off hailed as “superheroes”.

This opportunity showed me firsthand the value of employee volunteer programs. I had the chance to bond with my coworkers, and I’m proud to be a part of an organization that practices what it preaches. It also showed me the value of a well-run volunteer program, such as the one at the SF-Marin Food Bank. I will certainly be back.

Jeff Bautista, one of our Senior Client Relations Managers, put together this short video. You can see for yourself the impact VolunteerMatch had – as well as the fun we had. Enjoy!