Session Recap: Tech Platforms for Volunteering

“How many of you work for nonprofits?”

Joel Bashevkin, Executive Director of Taproot Foundation, posed this question to a packed room in downtown San Francisco last week. As might be expected at an event for the group San Francisco Tech4Good, a majority of the audience raised their hands.

“How many are tech workers?” Joel went on to ask. While less than before, a substantial amount of hands went in the air.

“How many are nonprofit tech workers?”

As a few lonely hands proudly went up (mine included), the audience let out an embarrassed chuckle.

Why aren’t there more organizations that merge technology with the social sector? As an employee of VolunteerMatch, I’m fortunate to see technology put to work every day for social good, and I know the large-scale effect it can have. (Last year alone, VolunteerMatch generated $1.34 BILLION in social value).

This quandry, along with many others, was discussed at last week’s Technology Platforms for Good. The event rounded up pioneers in the tech-volunteering space. Our own Greg Baldwin joined the panel along with Joel Bashevin and Meg Garliginhouse, Head of Social Impact at LinkedIn.

The ultimate conclusion? With so many ways (and free ways at that!) to find, manage, and engage volunteers online- if you’re not using technology, you’re missing out.

I’ve chosen a few of my favorite live tweets from the session, some of which include actionable advice for engaging volunteers via technology (see below). Want even more? Watch the video recording of the event.

4 Steps to Grow Your Volunteer Program with LinkedIn

Guest post by Monique Craig

Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Volunteer ProgramWhen it comes to professional networks, there’s none better than LinkedIn.

You can be sure that all profiles are real, information is (usually) up-to-date, and people are ready to take on challenges that can help them gain new skills, build new relationships, and get their name out there.

Here are 4 simple steps to make the most of this social network.

  1. Set up a LinkedIn profile for your organization

Don’t have a LinkedIn page yet? Or have one, but don’t mention your volunteers’ work? It’s time to change that. Create a profile with full information about your activities, and make sure to include relevant keywords people search for when looking for volunteering opportunities.

Now, it’s time to be active. Join relevant groups, listen to what people are taking about and once you spot the right moment, share you expertise by leaving an insightful comment or advice. People will start to notice your organization and seek you out themselves.

  1. Make sure your volunteers add you to their profiles

If your current volunteers have profiles on LinkedIn, ask them add you as an employer to their profiles. This is something that will make your brand more visible on the network. It might inspire the connections of your current volunteers to reach out to you and ask about some volunteering possibilities. LinkedIn users realize the value of volunteering in their profiles, as well as to the overall recruiting system – this is something recruiters like to see.

  1. Make the most of LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace

LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace is a great new feature that allows you to get your volunteer listings in front of LinkedIn’s corporate audience. The best part? This service is free for VolunteerMatch users. All your listings on VolutneerMatch.org automatically post to LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace. And when viewing a potential volunteer on VolunteerMatch that connected with your organization, you can clearly see if the volunteer found your opportunity through LinkedIn.

To make the most of your postings, make sure you include required or desired skills for the volunteer position, and show how this role will support your overall mission and its impact on your nonprofit.

  1. Find volunteers through Advanced Search tool

In addition to using VolunteerMatch to make yourself visible to potential volunteers, you can use LinkedIn to seek out volunteers yourself. Using the Advanced Search tool, you can find many professionals who’ve indicated an interest in volunteerism.

Click ‘Advanced’ next to the search bar – you’ll find a section of ‘Nonprofit interest’ where you can choose from two sub-categories: Board Service and Skilled Volunteering. Check the ones you’re interested in. You can narrow down the results of your search by title, location, industry, school, spoken languages and many more.

Now you should have a clear idea about LinkedIn as a potential talent pool for your nonprofit, and a way to increase visibility for your program. Try these methods, and you’ll be on your way to building a strong brand that attracts volunteers.

Monique Craig is an Australian blogger and marketing specialist who works for Oneflare, an online marketplace which connects customers with local service providers.

Photo credit: Sheila Scarborough – flickr

Nonprofit Insights: The Brave New World of Engaging Skilled Volunteers

The Nonprofit Insights webinar series brings major thought leaders and experts to you for thought-provoking presentations on a variety of issues related to technology and engaging your community members for social good.

head shots of professional people and their faces.In today’s connected world, new ways of involving volunteers in your organization’s work are popping up all the time.

Have you thought about how volunteers with specific skills could help your nonprofit?

The Brave New World of Engaging Skilled Volunteers

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VolunteerMatch and #vmlearn.

Join VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, for this Nonprofit Insights webinar about the benefits of engaging skilled volunteers, and best practices for setting up a skilled volunteering program in a strategic way.

With 300+ million potential skilled volunteers on LinkedIn alone, connecting with the help you need doesn’t have to be time-consuming or scary. We’ll show you how to make the most of the unique partnership between VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn, including real-world examples of how other nonprofits have successfully connected with skilled volunteers via LinkedIn.

Register for this free Nonprofit Insights webinar now.

Volunteering Annals: Helping Our Community Use Linkedin at the Public Library

Volunteering with skills at san francisco public library

Greg Baldwin teaches the class.

The incredible thing about giving is just how much you get in return – even when you’re not expecting it.

That was one of the takeaways from an afternoon of training a few of us from VolunteerMatch recently conducted at San Francisco Public Library’s main branch, when what was originally a fun challenge for our readers became an important lesson in the power of skilled volunteering.

This story begins earlier this year. As VolunteerMatch prepared to pass a key milestone in our work to make it easier for good people and good causes to connect – our 6 millionth volunteer connection – we bet readers of Engaging Volunteers that they couldn’t guess when we’d hit the mark. To put our money where our mouth is, we promised to let the closest guesser do something special: they could tell the VolunteerMatch team where to do our next employee volunteer outing.

Two weeks later, we hit 6,000,000… a mere 30 minutes after Carla Lehn, a consultant for the California State Library, said we would. Carla, bless her heart, asked us to do our volunteer service in a California library close to us. But what would we – what could we? – do to help?

Moving from Service to Skills

What we came up with was VolunteerMatch’s first ever skilled group employee volunteer outing. Working closely with volunteer program coordinator Kai Forsley and the Volunteer Program at the San Francisco Public Library, myself, Shari Ilsen and Greg Baldwin put together a free hour-long training on using Linkedin to find a job.

The event took place at the city’s popular main branch and was attended by around 15 members of our San Francisco community. We covered how to create an account, set up a profile, network with other professionals, and take a strategic approach to your job search.

Don’t get me wrong: All three of us have presented in the past to much larger audiences. But this was on a topic that had nothing to do with VolunteerMatch and everything to do with the unique needs of the audience served by SF’s library. In short: it was skilled volunteering to support the mission of a local organization.

The hour flew by and we stayed late with the audience to answer questions. Afterwards, as Greg, Shari and I headed back to our office, we talked about how much we enjoyed being able to do what we love — helping people — using the skills we already had. And how great it felt knowing that we were also learning how to talk and present on something we’d never shared with an audience before.

One thing that kept coming up in our discussions was that this was how many other members of the VolunteerMatch team could benefit from getting involved in delivering trainings like this. We all have the ability to put ideas into play for a willing audience. And we can all stand to get better at how we deliver that information.

Laughing, we talked about how great it would be to move beyond the types of unskilled but beneficial volunteering we’d done as groups before (think: fun park clean ups, social service facility rehabs, environmental restorations, etc.). What if VolunteerMatch made it a point to help our team to find skilled roles we could use to give back and also augment our own professional abilities?

Fast forward to today. Shari has stepped forward and has worked with Kai and the Volunteer Program set up monthly training sessions on a variety of topics through the next year. Different members of the team will be invited to take part, meaning we can rotate more people through this exciting opportunity. And of course more of us will be able to help the library fulfill its mission while also strengthening our own presentation skills.

Today we just passed 6.5 million volunteer connections — and we’re moving to the next big landmark faster than ever. What’s that, you ask: Will we have another contest to let the crowd determine where we’ll volunteer? Sounds like a great idea to me!

How about you? Do you volunteer your skills through a program set up by your employer? What have you learned? Share your experiences here.

 

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.