4 Strategies for Engaging Your Volunteers on Facebook

Guest post by Abby Jarvis

Your nonprofit’s volunteers are likely using Facebook to connect with each other, their favorite companies, and their favorite brands and nonprofits.

Are you one of their favorite nonprofits? Do you want to be?

Let’s look at four tactics for engaging with your volunteers on Facebook.

Check out these tips for staying in touch with volunteers on the internet in general.

1. Recruit More Volunteers.

Recruit More Volunteers

Facebook is an excellent way to engage with and recruit more volunteers. If you have a strong presence on Facebook (i.e., you post regularly, interact with followers, and have a good mix of status updates, pictures, and videos), this is relatively simple.

You should:

  • Continue reaching out to volunteers by answering any questions or comments they post on your statuses, photos, videos, or other content.
  • Keep sharing great content.
  • Give people ways to find your Facebook page on your website and within your emails.

If you don’t have a strong Facebook presence, you should:

  1. Start with those in your organization. Encourage your entire nonprofit to like and interact with your Facebook page.
  2. Ask your current supporters to join in. If your current volunteers are liking and commenting on your posts, it’ll be easier for you to connect with their networks.
  3. Post content regularly. Post statuses, pictures, and videos on a consistent basis. Respond to your followers’ comments, questions, and messages promptly.

If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to recruit more volunteers via Facebook.

How?

Well, individuals might start asking to volunteer simply because you’ve raised awareness on Facebook.

But, they might not know about volunteering opportunities unless you tell them. Next time you host a volunteering event, post a few Facebook statuses in the weeks leading up to the big day.

By growing your network on Facebook, you automatically have a larger pool of potential volunteers to pull from. Once you’ve virtually connected with those donors, post volunteer opportunities right to Facebook.

By maintaining a strong Facebook presence and reaching out to your existing supporters via social media, you’ll be able to expand your network and potentially recruit more volunteers.  

2. Make Donation Appeals…

Make Donation Appeals

…But not all the time!

Yes, your volunteers are already giving you time and energy.

But research shows that if someone supports your organization, they are likely to support it in multiple ways. In fact, two thirds of volunteers also donate money to the same organizations they donate time to. But in order to get a donation, you have to ask!

As a general rule, Facebook should mostly be an avenue for relationship-building and conversations with your supporters.

Appeals should be made only occasionally, and it’s important to time them well when you do make them.

Scheduling donation appeals during peak giving times can be a good way to convert some of your volunteers into donors.

Special events like #GivingTuesday aren’t necessarily volunteer-oriented, though.

VolunteerMatch and #GivingTuesday have recently partnered up to encourage “Giving Time” as an alternative to monetary donations.

Times like these can be opportune moments to ask for donations on Facebook. Additionally, the end of the year is prime time for donation appeals. Many people are in more charitable moods and have better grips on their financial situations.

Some of your volunteers might not want to give monetarily, but it doesn’t hurt to make a donation appeal on Facebook every so often (tip: don’t make your appeals any more frequent than once a week).

3. Highlight Your Volunteers.

Highlight Your Volunteers

Nearly everyone enjoys being the star of the show from time to time. Even your most selfless volunteers might like being publicly recognized for their work.

Facebook is the perfect platform for thanking your volunteers.

If one of your advocates did a great job getting signatures for a petition, for example, highlight her on your Facebook wall. Not only will it encourage her and show her that you care about her passion, it will also show others that you value your volunteers and inspire them to get involved.

You can even make a weekly or monthly post highlighting your supporters!

Your followers will appreciate the consistency, and it’ll motivate them to try to get the Facebook equivalent of “Volunteer of the Week.”  

Tip: Make sure you get permission from your volunteers before you post pictures of them on social media (especially if there are kids in the images!).

4. Encourage Volunteers to Share their Experiences

Encourage Volunteers to Share Their Experiences

If you want to potentially recruit more volunteers and get feedback from your existing supporters, encourage volunteers to share their experiences on Facebook!

During your follow-up after a volunteer day, ask supporters to post statuses, pictures, and videos (when applicable), to their own Facebook walls, tagging any other volunteers they met during the day.

If they had a positive experience, it serves as a great online review of your organization’s volunteer program.

If not, then your nonprofit can take that feedback and use it to improve your volunteers’ experiences with your organization.

Encourage your supporters to share their encounters with your nonprofit as a way to further engage with them!

——

Facebook can be an excellent tool for nonprofits to engage their volunteers. If you already have a substantial following on Facebook, use it to your advantage! If not, now’s a great time to start building up your social media presence.

Engaging Volunteers Guest Blogger Abby JarvisAbout the author:
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.

Share Your Story By Entering The Fight Hunger Photo Contest

Nonprofits know that visual storytelling has the power to prompt social change on a level that no other medium can. Photography can instantly provoke an emotional response which can lead to a call to action.

To share the story of the inspiring work that hunger related organizations are doing, and all the individual volunteers fighting hunger this season, we’re launching a Fight Hunger Photo Contest.

Here’s your chance to be recognized for the amazing work you’re doing in your community. Today VolunteerMatch is launching the Fight Hunger Photo Contest. The goal is simple: to raise awareness of the work being done by nonprofits and their volunteers. We want to encourage as many nonprofits as possible to tell their story, so this contest is meant to be easy, fun and simple.

Here’s How to Enter:

1) Simply upload a picture of you, your organization and/or your volunteers doing hunger related volunteer work to the VolunteerMatch Facebook Page with a caption about fighting hunger.

2) Be sure to also share your photo on Twitter with the hashtag #FightHunger.

3) That’s it. The photo with the most likes, comments and shares wins. Contest ends 12/28/2012. Update: Contest extended until 01/04/2013.

Prize: The winning photo will be featured on the Engaging Volunteers blog along with an interview. We encourage you to take this opportunity to show off the incredible work that you’re doing in your community.

Most importantly, we’d like to encourage you to reach out to your volunteers and ask them submit their photos to the Fight Hunger Photo Contest. We’ll be sharing the visual stories we receive throughout the contest as they come in so be sure to send your entry as soon as possible.

Good luck!

(Photo Credit to FoodBankCENC.org via Flickr)

 

 

 

Tip of the Month: Launch Your Own Social Media Campaign in 3 Easy Steps

If you’ve read our blog before it should come as no surprise that we love social media. It’s free, it’s engaging and it’s an extremely versatile marketing tool. Nonprofits use social media to engage with online audiences and spread awareness for important causes. They also use social media as a fundraising platform to solicit donations. For this month’s tip we’ll discuss using social media as a volunteer recruitment tool. I’ll tell you how to launch your very own social media campaign using free tools available right from your VolunteerMatch account.

And we’ll do it all in three simple steps!

Step One: Create New Content

Nobody wants to read old, recycled material. Don’t just copy and paste! Take the time to create a new volunteer opportunity. Don’t rethink the role entirely, instead change the language used to describe it. Adding new content is more likely to attract new volunteers and pique the interest of those already working with you.

If you find yourself with a serious case of writer’s block:  we’ve got you covered. VolunteerMatch offers a wide variety of resources to help you navigate the posting process. Look for tips on our Community Support Page or sign up for a free webinar in our Learning Center.

Step Two: Share This Opportunity with Your Organization’s Network

The hard part is over but now you have to spread the word. After creating a new opportunity use your VolunteerMatch account to share it on social media. Review your new content in the final posting step and click on the ‘Finish’ button at the bottom of the page. Once the system posts your volunteer opportunity you’ll see the following screen:

Click on these icons to share your opportunity via social media

In the section labeled ‘Share Your Listing’ you’ll see icons for Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Make sure you’re logged into all three platforms, then click on each icon. This will automatically share your new volunteer opportunity on each social media platform.

Step Three: Get Individuals to Share Your Opportunity with Their Networks

For the final step in this process, use VolunteerMatch to engage existing members of your network. Use the fourth icon—pictured below—to email past and current volunteers:

Click on this icon to email copies of your opportunity to volunteers in your network

Take the time to draft a brief message: explain your efforts and request that recipients share your new volunteer opportunity with their own networks. Recruiting others to share your opportunity will not only increase your organization’s online presence, it will expand your audience base and enable you to connect with new individuals who will bring new skills into your organization.

Try out our steps and let us know how it goes! Share your feedback on our Community Page.

Why Slacktivism is a Key Engagement Strategy for Nonprofits

A version of this article also appears on Volunteering is CSR.

Ladder of EngagementSlacktivism used to be a dirty word. It used to stand for actions people take when they don’t really care, when they don’t plan on giving money, when they are just taking a break from watching Hulu and stalking their exes on Facebook.

Nowadays slacktivism often plays a key role in outreach campaigns that nonprofits run to raise awareness and support for causes (think “Like this page and Corporation A will donate a dollar” type of campaigns).

This link between slacktivism and nonprofits is a good thing! As it turns out, slacktivism is an important step in engaging people more deeply in a cause.

In her article “Why Slacktivism is Underrated,” Katya Andresen of Network for Good presents the findings of the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Worldwide. The study shows that slacktivists are in fact more likely to take meaningful actions in support of a cause.

They are just as likely to donate, twice as likely to volunteer, and twice as likely to participate in offline events like charity walks. Slacktivists are also three times as likely to solicit others for donations on behalf of a cause, and more than four times as likely to encourage others to sign petitions and contact political representatives.

Clearly, engagement is a ladder, and slacktivism is the first rung. It’s a way to start people off with small actions, eventually leading them up the ladder to greater involvement with your organization. With proper guidance, slacktivists can become donors, volunteers, and even leaders of organizations and initiatives.

Groundwire's depiction of an engagement pyramid.

Groundwire's depiction of an engagement pyramid.

Here are some examples of common slacktivist actions for social good:

So you’ve engaged all these consumers with your cause. Great job! Now what?

You can really amplify the impact of your campaign by bringing these newfound slacktivists to the next level of engagement.

For people who liked you on Facebook, engage them in running their own mini campaign using Causes or some other application. They can involve their network of friends and family in collecting donations and raising awareness. And people who Twibboned their avatar are probably Twitter junkies, so invite them to participate in a Tweetup event that you’re hosting, or ask them to donate their tweets using a service like Help Attack.

Without the all-seeing eyes of the Internet, it’s much harder to track people who wear your ribbons and pins or buy cause-related products. But if you are able to reach out to those people who engaged offline, this is an important time to educate them further about the cause.

Let people know how they can become more involved by living greener, eating healthier, contacting your organization, volunteering, donating, spreading the word… After all, if you don’t teach them how to help, they never will.

So when you reach out to people, whether online or off, recognize the value of what you’re doing and be proud of engaging so many slacktivists – and potential future activists – in your important issue.

But don’t forget to ask yourself: Now what?

Inside Out: Engaging Volunteers in a Social Media World

Greg Baldwin at Social Media for NonprofitsWe were very proud when our President, Greg Baldwin, spoke at the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference earlier this month. Nonprofit managers already know how important volunteers are to an organization. This conference was an intriguing look at the way social media—if you’re not using it already—can help you do just about everything – including (or especially) volunteer engagement.

The Buzzword: Volunteers

This was the second time the Conference stopped in San Francisco. While volunteering wasn’t a focus in June, this time it was on everyone’s radar. Chelsa Bocci from Kiva told us they have 10 volunteers or pro-bono professionals for every one paid-employee. Meg Garlinghouse offered tips for using Linkedin’s new service for nonprofits, Linkedin for Good, which makes it easier for nonprofits to tap into the leading professional social network to find the perfect volunteer for the job.

Greg’s presentation, “Inside Out: Engaging Volunteers in a Social Media World” showed us that the volunteer community has grown to include a new set of people. Volunteers don’t just stuff envelopes anymore. They can be board members, graphic designers, and social media strategists. The best way to reach this socially-active, plugged-in group is by meeting them on the networks they’re already using.

However, in order to capture attention in a medium that is constantly pushing old, two-dimensional content to the bottom of the feed, volunteer managers should keep in mind exactly who they’re trying to reach. Social media will allow you to create content that caters specifically to your targets, making them more likely to engage and give feedback, and from here you can form a close-knit community of supporters.

People Are Willing to Give

As Greg pointed out, we underestimate by as much as 50 percent how much others are willing to help. As a VolunteerMatch volunteer intern, I can personally back up this claim. I get the chance to read many volunteer testimonials, and am always amazed by the passion people have for their cause.

I started volunteering to get a feel for what it’s like working at a web-based nonprofit, and to build up some real-world experience. The more time I spent here, the more I understood what the people around me are working towards.

Whether it’s learning about tools for social media outreach, sitting in on meetings with the Communications Department, or getting the rare opportunity to attend the SM4NP Conference, my volunteer experience has been truly fulfilling. The most rewarding part, though, is knowing that I’m helping the people I’ve come to meet along the way with their daily goal — helping connect good people and good causes.

Volunteer Engagement is Donor Engagement

Greg showed us that volunteers are influential not only in terms of human resources, but fundraising as well. Two-thirds of volunteers donate to the organizations they serve, and they’re likely to give 10 times more than regular donors.

Social media allows you to drastically increase the number of people you deliver your message to. Imagine if this message were compelling enough to inspire people to get involved offline and experience first-hand the work you do. This is what makes volunteers want to donate money as well as time.

Greg introduced the audience to the &you widget from Johnson & Johnson, a tool for streamlining the way that people interact with nonprofits. It’s an all-in-one interface for listing volunteer and job opportunities, news and events, and a simple way to donate. The widget can then go directly on your website, blog or Facebook page.

The point is, don’t make the mistake of thinking that people don’t have the time or energy to help. Your support base is right at your fingertips thanks to social media tools like these.

The Three R’s

Social networks should be a fundamental part of the entire volunteer-cycle. Remember the three R’s of volunteer engagement: Recruitment, Retention and Recognition. Enticing photos can captivate potential volunteers. YouTube training videos can speed up the introduction process, and mentions on a Facebook post can give thanks.

Remember that these social media networks are all ways to supplement genuine relationships. It’s a new medium for your message, but the content of your message is still what matters most.

Once you start to get the hang of it, you will begin to witness the way social media enhances your organization’s ability to engage volunteers, which at the end of day positively impacts pretty much everyone.

Photo from the Social Media for Nonprofits Facebook page.

Jesse Fineman is an intern at VolunteerMatch. You can reach him at jfineman@volunteermatch.org