Expert Snapshots for April: Prospective, Online, and Pro Bono Volunteers

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 snapshot to get your April going:

Waiting but Not Idle: How to Keep Potential Volunteers Engaged in Your Organization
One of the worst things you can say when a potential volunteer contacts you is… nothing. While it sounds easy enough to respond to each volunteer request, there are some real challenges that come with engaging prospective volunteers. This article from Charity Village explores those issues and offers actionable suggestions.

Online Volunteers: Don’t Ever Call Them Virtual
By calling volunteers who don’t come into your office “virtual,” are you inadvertently making them feeling less important than “real” volunteers? Virtual volunteering is on the rise, and for some nonprofits and volunteers, it’s becoming a norm. This article from The NonProfit Times delves deep into the world of virtual volunteering, and politely reminds us that we shouldn’t call these volunteers “virtual.”

Pro Bono Can Help Fill Nonprofit Resource Gaps
Nonprofits put a lot of emphasis on fundraising. But what about “resource raising?” This is the question posed by Elizabeth Hamburg, President and CEO of Taproot Foundation. Pro bono volunteers can “fill in the resource gaps”. In other words, these highly skilled volunteers can complete projects that nonprofits would otherwise have to pay a lot of money for. Read this article for more about how your nonprofit can benefit from engaging pro bono volunteers… and how the volunteers benefit as well!

Volunteer Onboarding [Free Webinar]
Volunteer engagement expert Tobi Johnson is hosting a free webinar on April 16, 2015 all about volunteer onboarding. She’ll cover the 5 Things to Remember When Welcoming New Volunteers. And bring your questions! After the webinar, stick around for an informal Q&A discussion.

Follow us on Twitter for news and trends throughout the month: @VolunteerMatch.

Looking to Engage Tech Volunteers? Advice from #15NTC

Computer On ButtonPro bono/ skilled volunteerism is a concept that’s been around for a while. Yes, it can come with unique challenges, but for the most part, it  tends to work well for both parties.

So why do things tend to get all murky when technology is involved?

That’s what NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (#15NTC) set out to answer with the session Tech Volunteerism Triumphs and Challenges.

Facilitated by 501 Commons, with presenters from Microsoft, Austin Free-Net, and Breakthrough Austin, it was a session fully of lively discussion from both nonprofit and volunteer perspectives.

We’ve chosen a few of our favorite live tweets from the session, some of which include actionable advice for engaging tech volunteers. (see below).

But let’s keep the conversation going! Tweet to #VolunTech with your ideas, experiences, and advice on tech volunteerism.

Remember, tweet #VolunTech to keep this conversation going!

10 Million is a Magic Number for LinkedIn and Nonprofits

Man and woman with a hand and a heart. Skilled volunteering at LinkedIn.We’re thrilled to extend a big CONGRATS! to our pals over at LinkedIn, who announced last week that over 10 million professionals have added the Volunteer Experience and Causes section to their LinkedIn profiles.

In addition, more than 4 million members have gone a step further in making a meaningful difference by signaling that they are interested in skilled volunteer work or joining a nonprofit board.

What Does This Mean?

Clearly, volunteering has become part of the norm for millions of professionals around the world. They’ve realized that the skills they’ve built up – both in and out of the office – can be put to good use helping the causes they care about most. Not only are they excited to find ways to volunteer their skills, but they expect it as the new norm, and they’re all avidly looking for the opportunity that will fit their busy schedules.

What Does This Mean for YOU, Nonprofits?

It no longer makes sense to keep your proverbial head in the proverbial sand when it comes to strategically engaging skilled volunteers. Not only is this a huge opportunity missed in terms of getting your organization the help it needs, but it will result in the lots of support (cough…funding…) from influential individuals who end up connecting with another, similar organization because yours did not have a present on LinkedIn.

So What Should You Do?

  1. Post skilled volunteer opportunities on VolunteerMatch. Thanks to our great partnership with LinkedIn, any skilled volunteer opportunity you post on VolunteerMatch gets auto-magically posted to LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace for free – to be seen by their millions of skilled professionals.
  2. Take a free webinar about strategic volunteer engagement. In the VolunteerMatch Learning Center we’ve got all sorts of topics that will help you design opportunities to attract great skilled volunteers, and to manage those folks as they become uber-supporters of your organization.
  3. Check out this cool infographic to learn more about the 10million+ folks who have proactively indicated their interest in helping out.

It’s time to grab this skilled volunteering bull by the horns – and help your organization really make a difference for your cause and community!

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.

Engaging Talent in Best Work

Guest post by Stephen Ristau

Engaging Talent in Best WorkToo often I hear from highly skilled and motivated people, “I just can’t seem to find a nonprofit organization that uses my professional talent well.” And despite the great strides that nonprofits have made in recent years to design volunteer or pro bono work experiences that require advanced expertise or training, I still see a disconnect between the available talent pool and the engagement opportunities nonprofits offer.

Do you find this to be true also? Has your organization stepped up the caliber of short-term, project-oriented work that taps into the motivations and expertise of volunteers? How can we assure effective volunteer matches that meet the mutual goal of “best work?”

I am interested in hearing about your experiences, cool ideas and best practices.

Here are some of mine:

  1. Do your homework - Engaging talent (paid or pro bono) is expensive but is well worth the time and effort to do it well. Done right, you are providing a pathway for the contribution of skills and expertise you otherwise may not be able to afford- you can ill afford to not prepare for this potential infusion of talent.
  2. Define what you need - Most of today’s volunteers want to know what impact they will have. Ask yourself “what will happen as a result of this project?” to get at the expected outcomes and deliverables, and then describe the resources and support you will make available to your volunteer to get the job done.
  3. Tailor opportunities to fit your volunteers - While many of us have used volunteers in the same roles for years, today’s volunteers (from Millennials to Boomers) want to use their skills to make a difference. Be prepared to customize short-term, high-yield engagements that may result in “repeat business” from volunteers who discover that your organization knows how to involve them best.
  4. Engage volunteers’ “eyes and ears” to determine new ways they can contribute - Be a progressive talent manager and engage volunteers in identifying organizational issues, challenges, and solutions they see. Collaborate on project plans, assess the strengths and interests of your volunteers, and support volunteers in the customizing of positions that meet your most pressing organizational gaps.
  5. Lead, follow, AND get out of the way - The best leaders and managers know how and when to do all of these: know how to provide direction, enable leadership and initiative, and clear the way for those with the talent and drive to get things done right the first time. Understand the capabilities and experience of your human resources, including volunteers, and allocate your time and supervision accordingly.

“Best work” organizations, nonprofit and for-profit, are those with human resources that champion innovation and learning, are accountable for outcomes, and are able to work in a coordinated team environment.

How are you maximizing opportunities for your nonprofit to achieve this “best work” standard? Let us know.

Stephen Ristau has been a nonprofit executive and social entrepreneur.  An innovator in the national encore movement, he has led Transforming Life After 50 and the SVP Portland Encore Fellows program.Contact Stephen at stephenristau@gmail.com and www.linkedin.com/pub/stephen-ristau/4/75/b28.