VM Summit 16 to Bring Good Companies and Causes Together in Chicago, IL

Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer through pro bono volunteering, days of service, paid time off to volunteer, and more. Is your nonprofit effectively engaging these corporate volunteers?

VM Summit 16, hosted by VolunteerMatch, will bring corporate responsibility and employee engagement professionals face-to-face with local and national nonprofits to learn how to create impactful partnerships. Learn more in the below press release.

VM Summit 16

VM SUMMIT 16 TO BRING GOOD COMPANIES AND CAUSES TOGETHER IN CHICAGO, IL

Registration Now Open for Annual Volunteerism Conference Hosted by VolunteerMatch


San Francisco, CA, May 16, 2016
– VolunteerMatch, the web’s largest volunteer engagement network, announced today that it has opened registration for VM Summit 16, which will be held on October 25, 2016 in Chicago, IL.

VolunteerMatch’s annual conference, officially known as VM Summit, brings companies and nonprofits together in one place to learn and collaborate on how to create better, more impactful partnerships, and harness the power of corporate volunteering for real community impact.

Highlights of VM Summit 16 include a keynote presentation from internationally-recognized philanthropy expert and author Lisa Dietlin, opening reception and sessions from hosting company Groupon, as well as panels of volunteer engagement and corporate social responsibility (CSR) experts. VM Summit 16 will also include interactive sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities.

“Teams of corporate volunteers and nonprofits who engage volunteers have the same end goal: To improve communities,” says Bree von Faith, Senior Marketing Manager and VM Summit 16 Event Manager. “However, there are too few opportunities for these two groups to meet face-to-face and figure out how to have the greatest impact, together. That’s what VM Summit is for.”

Clients of YourMatch™, VolunteerMatch’s solution for companies and other groups with large-scale volunteer management needs, are invited to attend an additional day of networking, workshops and panels on October 26, 2016. To learn more about becoming a YourMatch™ client, visit solutions.volunteermatch.org/solutions/employee.

Learn more about VM Summit 16 by visiting solutions.volunteermatch.org/summit, follow #VMSummit16 on Twitter to stay in the know, and take advantage of our early-bird registration today at vmsummit16.eventbrite.com

ABOUT VOLUNTEERMATCH

VolunteerMatch believes everyone should have the chance to make a difference. As the Web’s largest volunteer engagement network, serving 100,000 participating nonprofits, 150 network partners and 13 million annual visitors, VolunteerMatch offers unique, award-winning solutions for individuals, nonprofits and companies to make this vision a reality. Since its launch in 1998, VolunteerMatch has helped the social sector attract more than $6.8 billion worth of volunteer services. Learn more about VolunteerMatch at VolunteerMatch.org, and follow @VolunteerMatch.

PRESS CONTACT

Vicky Hush
+1 (240) 257-3144
VolunteerMatch

Want the Ultimate Endorsement of Your Volunteer Program? Find Yourself a Place at the Table

Guest post by Elisa Kosarin, Twenty Hats

This post was originally published on Twenty Hats.

Real top down support starts with the board and the strategic plan – and you have a role to play

A Place at the Table - Twenty HatsA question: when it comes to running your volunteer program, how would it feel if the Board of Directors had your back?

That’s what the volunteer director and her coordinators experience at Northern Virginia Family Service, where volunteer engagement is included in the strategic plan.  This organization sends a great message about volunteers and how they are valued for their capacity-building potential.

This message got me thinking: how many other nonprofits are this enlightened about the power of volunteers to advance a program’s mission?

Certainly I know of organizations that don’t acknowledge volunteers at the highest level. I recall one former workplace of mine that relied heavily on volunteers but chose not to mention volunteering in the strategic plan nor include information about the state of volunteerism in the environmental scan.  As if dollars were the only resource that mattered.

It’s easy to feel unrecognized in a situation like this and see only the barriers to creating a fully integrated volunteer program. But it may work better to treat the omission as a leadership opportunity and ask yourself, “The next time my organization is up to revise its strategic plan, how do I ensure myself a place at the table?”

You don’t need to be in upper management to participate in high-level decision-making. Many strategic planning committees include staff representatives or at the very least seek out staff input at the start of the process.

In the meantime, here are three things you can do to pave the way for volunteer inclusion:

  • Get to know the board. Educate them about the impact that volunteers are already making within your organization. Ask to report out at board meetings and bring successful volunteers along with you to share their stories.
  • Know your numbers. Know the trends when it comes to how many volunteers apply to your program, how many get trained, how many become active, and how long they stay. Board members need this kind of information to understand what it takes to sustain a high-quality volunteer program.
  • Remember your power. As mid-level managers, we may not possess as much authority as we might like, but we still have plenty of power to effect change.  Our volunteer management expertise and ability to forge connections are tremendous assets to our organizations.

Advocating for volunteer involvement is not an “extra credit” activity for volunteer engagement pros — it is one of the competencies considered essential for anyone earning their Certification in Volunteer Administration (CVA). It’s an indicator that you see the big picture and see yourself as a part of it.

As we sit on the cusp of a new year, make it your resolution to claim a larger role for yourself and your volunteers.

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Tweet this post! If you agree with my POV, feel free to share this message: Is volunteer engagement a part of your org’s strategic plan? Your place at the table makes it happen, http://twentyhats.com/?p=2134

Four Ways to Fail Your Volunteers

Guest post by Eli Raber 

Don't fail your volunteers.Volunteers are the backbone behind many organizations. BusinessAdvising.org, for example, is made possible by business advisers who volunteer their time, insight, and experience to strengthen small businesses that create jobs in underserved communities.

Because volunteers are so important, it’s essential that your engagement and appreciation efforts don’t fall through the cracks. Read on to discover four management missteps that are easy to make, yet with a proactive approach, even easier to avoid.

Fail #1: Not Framing the Big Picture

While you may live your organization’s mission day in and day out, volunteers may need some education on your “big picture.” Just like you, your volunteers could benefit from a holistic perspective.

Break down the value of their work; how do their personal contributions add to the whole, and in what ways are their efforts creating impact? Framing things in a larger scope can up the commitment factor for volunteers, making their efforts more meaningful.

Fail #2: Setting Blurry Expectations

Just because volunteers are eager, willing, and…well, voluntary, doesn’t mean they should be thrown into situations without clear expectations and support. Commit to giving your volunteers the tools they need to succeed.

From an information sheet to a formal starter kit—standardize an onboarding process that best suits your volunteers. Also, take the time to teach your staff how best to train your volunteers; volunteers who do not feel supported by program staff may have a bad experience and might not come back.

Fail #3: Narrow Entry Points for Engagement

Don’t discount the different ways volunteers can lend a hand. For example, the most common way for BusinessAdvising.org’s volunteers to contribute is by mentoring a small businesses. But that’s not a convenient option for everyone who believes in our mission, so we offer multiple entry points for engagement. Hosting an online webinar, volunteering to table an event, and submitting a blog post are different yet important ways our volunteers contribute.

Empower your volunteers to think outside the box when deciding how to help. Also, consider organizing a volunteer committee that can give a voice to the group, and thus, creates a seamless way for your organization to stay connected to its volunteer base.

Fail #4: When Appreciation Stays Stagnant

We all know that we can’t take our volunteers for granted, but thanking them through the same old channel is another fail. Your appreciation should be as fresh and vibrant as your volunteers’ energy.

From t-shirts to coffee cups, consider swag for your volunteers. A Volunteer of the Year Award is an exciting way to show thanks, or (on a smaller scale), make social media shoutouts to outstanding contributors. Remember, individual attention can be more powerful than public recognition. When volunteers send you an email or answer a survey, make an effort to respond. Exemplify that you’re listening and prove how important they are.

Our program, like so many others, would not exist without volunteers. What are some other “fails” to avoid? Join the conversation via the share buttons below!

About the Author: Eli Raber is the Associate Director of BusinessAdvising.org, helping to connect entrepreneurs who create jobs for underserved communities with the valuable resources they need to run and grow their businesses successfully.

How to Embrace Your Volunteer Management Super Powers

Guest post by Elisa Kosarin, Twenty Hats

This post was originally published on Twenty Hats.

If you feel like you haven’t got enough power to make your vision a reality, read this post.

When I was planning my October 7 retreat for volunteer managers, Leading From Where You Are, there were several things that I absolutely knew I wanted to cover – things like the principles of buy in, work/life balance, and what it’s like to lead in a nonprofit scarcity environment. And being the planner that I am, I drew up a nice detailed timetable, mapped out how many minutes we had for each exercise, and then stared at my agenda in consternation: we had extra time that I really wanted to fill with something valuable and different. What might that be?

On a hunch I threw in a discussion based on an article I had found about the different kinds of power that we all possess. I had never facilitated this type of discussion before and wasn’t sure if it would fly or sink.

Our conversation around our power ended up being one of the liveliest parts of the day (and this was a retreat with a lot of lively discussion!)

I know from my own work and from working with other volunteer managers that we spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out ways to bring our bosses or co-workers on board with our big ideas. Sometimes we approach these “internal strategy sessions” with a measure of despair, because we feel we do not have the leverage to make things happen.

Not true.

We may lack “Legitimate Power,” meaning that our position may not rank at the top or carry as much authority, but we hold other forms of power that make it possible for us to turn our ideas into realities.

  • One of my clients leveraged her connection power to initiate an agency-wide staff training on volunteer management. She is someone who is respected and trusted by the leadership – a position that made it much easier to bring them on board with this new project.
  • Another client is the only person in her office to work with court-mandated volunteers. That’s expert power, and even though she’s the youngest person on staff, her office depends on her to fulfill a grant-mandated service.
  • We also hold the power to elevate ourselves professionally. When we meet with our colleagues at conferences or through our local DOVIAS, we share tips and strategies to do our current jobs better or receive leads on more fulfilling positions. That’s information power and referent power in action.

Ultimately we are all gatekeepers for a tremendous source of power – the power of volunteers to expand the capacity of organizations to fulfill their missions and transform the world. If you are the type who worries that your boss or coworkers don’t recognize or appreciate this amazing resource, remember that you have the power to cultivate their buy-in. It may take some guidance or self-reflection to figure out the next steps, but it’s entirely doable.

You can read more about power by viewing the article that inspired this conversation in the first place. The author, Sharlyn Lauby, comes from the HR world. One more example of how managing people is at the heart of effecting change.

Tweet this post! If you agree with my POV, share this message:

Volunteer managers hold plenty of power to turn their ideas into realities, http://twentyhats.com/?p=1904

When People Say “I Want to Help!” 10 Million Times

For the past few weeks, everyone here at the VolunteerMatch office has been paying close attention to our live connection map. This map lets us see, in real time, every time someone clicks the “I want to help!” button on a VolunteerMatch listing.

So, why have we been watching this map so closely?

We’ve been counting down to a huge milestone: 10 million connections created between nonprofits and potential volunteers. And at around 7 a.m. on Monday October 5, 2015, the 10,000,000th prospective volunteer clicked “I want to help!”

You may be saying, “So what?” Well, we all celebrated with cake, so that was something to look forward to:

VolunteerMatch celebrate 10,000,000 connections with cake!

But besides that, it actually says a lot about the world of volunteering.

When a volunteer clicks, “I want to help!”, that’s just the beginning. The initial click is a good intention. It’s an opportunity for nonprofits to reach out and build a relationship with a new prospective volunteer. It’s a mutual hope to take action and make the world a better place.

What happens next? Well, according to our research, only about half of “I want to help!” clicks turn into actual volunteers. Why? Maybe the nonprofit never responded to the volunteer’s offer. Maybe it turned out it wasn’t a good fit once the volunteer and the nonprofit learned more about each other’s skills, schedule, and wants. Maybe the volunteer simply changed their mind.

So, out of 10 million online connections, about 5 million actually volunteered. 5 million. That’s not an inconsequential number. That’s 5 million opportunities for nonprofits to grow their capacity. That’s 5 million ways for volunteers give back, become a part of something, and/ or build their skills. 5 million chances to make our communities, and the world, just a little bit better.

Let’s break it down even more. On average, a volunteer will stay with an organization for 2.5 years. During those 2.5 years, they will volunteer 28 days at an average of 3 hours per day. Add all that together, and you have 150 hours per volunteer. What does that equal when multiplied by 5 million?

750,000,000 volunteer hours.

Let’s just step back and think about all that can be, and has been, accomplished with 750 million hours. To put it in perspective, that’s 1,205 entire lifetimes. Here are just a few examples of some of the volunteers and nonprofits making a big difference with their time. Oh, and a few more.

It’s amazing to think about everything that’s already been done, and what we all can accomplish, together, in the next 750,000,000 hours.