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!

Expert Snapshots for December – International Volunteer Day Edition!

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. And since today is International Volunteer Day, here’s a round-up of some news to keep you inspired…

In pictures: International Volunteering Day

This slideshow published by the BBC features an inspiring collection of photos highlighting local volunteers in developing countries. Putting faces and places to the abstract ideas of international development work can inspire us all to “make change happen.”

Volunteering in the ‘red zone’ of West Africa’s Ebola crisis

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has identified a special focus for this year’s International Volunteer Day on the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa. This article in the International Business Times some of the work that’s going on and the organizations on the ground (and their volunteers) making it happen.

Community Service Volunteers Tackle Billion Dollar Burnout Crisis

Volunteering can be exhausting – physically, mentally and emotionally. Expert Dr. ck Andrade is spending her International Volunteer Day (in partnership with organizations like VolunteerMatch), educating nonprofits and volunteers about how to prevent stress and burnout.

Make change happen, volunteer!

For more inspiring stories about all the great stuff happening today and every day around the world, check out the International Volunteer Day website.

 

Nonprofit Insights: How to Socialize Your Volunteer Recruitment with Google Ad Grants

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.

How can Google Grants help your increase your online engagement? Join the free VolunteerMatch webinar.Question: What difference would it make for your organization if you could get $120,000 per year in free advertising?

Good news: you can. Join VolunteerMatch and Eric Facas, founder and CEO of Media Cause, to learn the basics of the Google Ad Grants program.

How to Socialize Your Volunteer Recruitment with Google Ad Grants

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
11am – 12pm PT (2-3pm ET)

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

On Wednesday, December 3, 2014, Eric will walk you through how to take advantage of this free “perk,” as well as strategies for getting started with your account. We’ll also cover more advanced techniques including supporter growth, volunteer recruitment, and how this program could help supercharge your online engagement.

Register for this free Nonprofit Insights webinar now.

A Formula for Elevator Pitches

Guest post by Elisa Kosarin, Twenty Hats

The formula for a great elevator pitch.This post was originally published on Twenty Hats.

Recently, I had the privilege of leading a training hosted by Volunteer Fairfax for RSVP workstation managers on the art of the elevator pitch.

I love the idea of the elevator pitch, because it is another way to use stories to engage prospective volunteers, but this time with the spoken word.

Basic Elements

Just like written stories, a good elevator pitch starts by examining your prospective volunteer’s needs and goals and connecting that information to your volunteer program.

Once you frame your pitch in this manner, the words fall right into place. Here is an example from the RSVP training, created by Alacia Earley of Cornerstones in Reston, Virginia.

“You mentioned that you enjoy working with children one on one. We have a volunteer position you might be interested in. Our Homework Help volunteers come in once a week for a few hours to work one-on-one or in small groups with students at our community centers in Reston. Regular volunteers often tell me how rewarding it is to see the students come in week after week and watch their grades and self-esteem improve from the tutoring. Let me know if you would be interested in becoming a Homework Helper.”

I like the way Alacia starts with her prospective volunteer’s desire to work with children. Then, she suggests a position and illustrates how it might meet her prospect’s needs. She also shares details that describe just how being a Homework Helper helps children and creates rewarding results for the volunteer.

Another Essential Element

There is just one other element that I add to a pitch, and that is your own emotional connection to your work. Think back to what brought you to your job in the first place. Was it your passion for the cause? The quality work provided by your program? The moving achievements of your clients? When your pitch comes from the heart, it resonates further with your listener.

Here is how another pitch might sound with that final link to your own enthusiasm. This one is for a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program:

“You might want to consider CASA volunteering. I know you are looking for a way to volunteer and have a direct, positive impact on a child’s life. That’s exactly what happens with CASA. I talked with a volunteer last week who came back from a court hearing, elated because she made a strong case for returning the child to his mother, and the judge backed up that recommendation. Those are the stories I like to hear, because I know how one volunteer can change the course of a child’s life for the better.”

I’ve Got a Formula – Try It!

Would you like to try your hand at crafting an elevator pitch? I have a simple formula I can share with you. I created it after searching the Internet for just such a formula and finding nothing that applied to volunteer engagement. My Elevator Pitch Planner shows you how to connect each piece of the process so that you create a compelling pitch ready to use when needed.

Email me to get your own free copy of the planner and my monthly updates. And please let me know how the pitch works out – or better yet, send me your successful pitches and I will post them on Twenty Hats.

Twenty Hats is authored by Elisa Kosarin, CVA, a nonprofit professional with 15+ years of experience in nonprofit marketing, development, and volunteer management. She founded the site to help volunteer managers master the skills they need to make their jobs easier.

From Technophobe to True Believer…My Journey to Using Technology to Bridge Inequality Gaps

Guest post by Denise Howell, VolunteerMatch CFO

This post is part of Blog Action Day 2014.

How technology inspires giving and addresses inequality.I remember listening to Mari Kuraishi, President of Global Giving, at the Independent Sector a few years ago. She spoke about how we can find the greatest richness in our careers when we aren’t looking or have not factored it into our life plans.

I think back now to her message she shared, and how true it has been for me. I would never have expected, almost 4 years ago, to embark on a very different frontier in nonprofit work. I am not a technology person. I appreciate all that it has to offer, but it has generally stopped there. I have tended to focus on the downside of technology – folks seemingly disconnected from others by tuning into their music, iPad, smart phone etc. no matter where the setting. Technology can make our lives easier in certain respects, but can also cut us off, if we’re not careful, by limiting our focus and experiences.

My start in the nonprofit sector began when I was in banking. I worked with a board to address the lack of opportunity for very talented individuals with disabilities in engaging n meaningful job opportunities. It grew from there.

I’ve spent a good number of years in social services and foundation grantmaking, both highly complex structurally, and from that work, I thought I had seen everything about nonprofits and their significant work toward addressing inequality, including homelessness and low income housing, food insecurity, education, child development, immigration assistance, employment assistance, healthcare, literacy, and environmental sustainability. This is the work and the passion that drives all of us in the nonprofit sector every day: addressing inequality, imbalance, needs not yet addressed or addressed inadequately, lifting each other up when we need help.

So what compelled me to join an organization with technology at its core? I had certainly heard of VolunteerMatch, but I didn’t fully “get it.” When an opportunity to work here presented itself, I was intrigued. I came to my work here believing that I had seen all aspects of philanthropy. But this work has completely changed my world view and showed me a powerful aspect of philanthropy I had never seen.

Nonprofits with technology at their operational cores have created such a powerful contribution to societal needs. VolunteerMatch, DonorsChoose.org, Global Giving, and Kiva, to name some of the best and most successful, have broken the barriers for all of us to be a part of the solution toward creating a world where inequality can be eliminated. So, Ms. Kuraishi was right. It has been a very rich and rewarding journey. Not just for me, but for the millions of lives we have touched.

What is really at the essence of how we go about achieving success toward alleviating inequality in its many forms? It’s largely through giving – philanthropic support. Giving of ourselves and our time is one of the most powerful ways that we can work toward addressing social needs.

Remember that line Oprah Winfrey always used in her editorials? It was “what I know for sure.” Well, what I know for sure is that people love to give. During these past several years, I’ve come to know how technology can create opportunities for us to give in more ways than I ever thought possible. Before joining VolunteerMatch, I viewed philanthropy as immune to technology – social media, websites, all of it. I thought giving was too personal and that people need to be close to, and actually see the programs they are giving to before offering support. But technology, surprisingly, brings us closer to people and issues which may be hundreds or thousands of miles away from where we live, but still close to us – because we care and we know now more than ever that something that happens far away can affect us in our own communities, too.

Technology-based nonprofits such as ours at VolunteerMatch make the giving so easy. I’ve learned that giving doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Knowing that the time and money we give can be very manageable and affordable is even more empowering.

VolunteerMatch has tracked millions of connections, hours and impact of individuals and groups giving incrementally to successfully address so many challenges. VolunteerMatch has also reconnected me with to the truer, broader meaning of philanthropy. I, like many of us, have previously associated philanthropy as inaccessible and intimidating for all but affluent individuals. But philanthropy includes giving of ourselves and our time, knowledge and experience too. Both financial and nonfinancial giving are critically important and valuable.

Volunteering can be quick, or recurring and long term. Whatever we do, it is making a difference and it is good enough to give what you can. And nonprofits can find the best volunteers and engage in our educational resources. It is a welcoming experience – even for a technophobe! I have learned that technology can be just the opposite of what I initially experienced.

My faith in technology has been transformed through our work, as well as the work of some of our amazing peer organizations. Each organization is literally connecting millions of people locally and throughout the world, meeting needs and bridging inequality with the use of technology. And even better, these organizations allow all of us to participate with small investments of money and time. The results are tangible.

Our mission here at VolunteerMatch is to make it easier for good people and good causes to connect. I’m very proud of our success at achieving that mission, and it is visible to me every day. Everyone visiting our office is greeted with the giant live map in our lobby with our real-time tracking of people making connections to volunteer all across America.

In our office, we walk the talk, too. We volunteer together and we have amazing volunteers come to us with so much talent to share. We have had many come through our office, and I still see their faces and remember their projects. I am richer for knowing them, even if only briefly.

When I stop to think about the world without our technology-powered nonprofits, I am blown away by what a difference technology can make in addressing the inequalities that exist in our world. We can each do something. I work for an organization that makes that possible, and I am truly fortunate for the experience.

I welcome all of you to explore how technology-driven nonprofits can help you bridge the inequality gap to make your work, and your lives, rich and full. We can be a powerful partner to you in your great work. You, like me, will be transformed by the difference we can make.