Volunteer Engagement 2.0 Author Spotlight: Deirdre White & Amanda MacArthur, PYXERA Global

VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, features chapters from 35 experts in the field of volunteer engagement. In this series of blog posts, get to know these #35experts and their areas of expertise.

Today’s experts: Deirdre White, CEO, and Amanda MacArthur, VP of Global Pro Bono & Engagement, PYXERA Global.Corporate Volunteers

First of all, what is your chapter about?
Over the past few years, pro bono has grown across sectors. In order for it to be an effective resource for nonprofits, it’s important to understand why pro bono is different from traditional “hearts-and-hands” volunteering.

Hearts-and-hands volunteering is when people give back through non-job-related skills, such as serving at a food kitchen or cleaning a park. With traditional volunteering, quantity over quality is usually okay.

With pro bono, quality is more critical. Pro bono asks volunteers to use job-related expertise to build capacity at an organization, and is grounded in a mutually beneficial experience for the volunteer and organization. Our chapter explains how recognizing the mutual benefits of pro bono can help a nonprofit get the expertise it needs.

Why is this topic important?
In order for pro bono to work, there needs to be an exchange of resources – a skill or expertise the volunteer can contribute along with a matching need for the nonprofit. To succeed, both need to develop trust.

Corporate pro bono programs can be very powerful. According to a study on skills-based volunteerism by True Impact, 142% of volunteers were more likely to report job-related skills gained than traditional volunteers. In addition, pro bono can be a very successful leadership training experience.

Explain your background on this topic. (In other words, what makes you a “volunteer engagement expert?”)

Deirdre White, Contributor to VolunteerMatch's book Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldDeirdre White:
I serve as the CEO of PYXERA Global, where I lead a team that creates and executes best practices in Global Pro Bono to benefit global corporations, local government, and nonprofits worldwide. PYXERA Global recently received the CECP Director Award of Excellence for JIVA, an integrated community development program made possible by pro bono work. I have several decades working on the ground, virtually, and overseeing pro bono projects with an emphasis on mutual benefit, sustainability, and inclusion.

Amanda MacArthur, contributor to VolunteerMatch's book Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldAmanda MacArthur:
I am Vice President of Global Pro Bono and Engagement at PYXERA Global. I lead the Global Pro Bono team along with PYXERA Global’s MBAs Without Borders division. I specialize in designing, implementing and measuring the impact of skills-based volunteer programs with a focus on leadership development, as well as creating sustainable impact.


What did you learn and/ or struggle with when writing your chapter?
At times, it can be difficult to determine how our extensive work in international settings is applicable to US nonprofits. We reflected on how to take our process of designing and implementing programs for companies and local clients, and make it applicable for nonprofits not working within the framework of a larger pro bono program – who might be looking for pro bono expertise independently.

We thought about the way PYXERA Global acts as a neutral third party to assess an organization’s needs and how to customize that to help nonprofits do this for themselves. We also had an absolutely wonderful editor, Robert Rosenthal, who helped us clarify our thinking and approach in these areas.

What is the one piece of advice you would give volunteer managers to take with them to the future?
Always practice purposeful engagement. In other words, enter into relationships with individuals and organizations across sectors intentionally and with the understanding that you are both on equal footing. When looking for pro bono volunteers, be strategic and don’t compromise. Know what you have to give, but also know what success will look like.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldTo read Deirdre and Amanda’s full chapter, How to Get the Right Pro Bono Expertise for the Job, order your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.

 

 

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.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0 Author Spotlight: Alethea Hannemann, Taproot Foundation

Alethea Hannemann, Contributor to VolunteerMatch's book Volunteer Engagement 2.0VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, features chapters from 35 experts in the field of volunteer engagement. In this series of blog posts, get to know these #35experts and their areas of expertise.

Today’s expert: Alethea Hannemann, Vice President of Product and National Programs, The Taproot Foundation

First of all, what is your chapter about?
Marketing, HR, finance, design: Nonprofits need experts in these functions as much as they need hands-on volunteers. Pro bono service, in which business professionals volunteer their skills on critical projects, is part of the next wave of volunteering. My chapter, Becoming Powered by Pro Bono, tells you how to make reliable, effective pro bono happen for your nonprofit.

Why is this topic important?
Pro bono is no longer just for lawyers! Professionals with all sorts of expertise can help a nonprofit in all sorts of critical ways. Imagine an HR strategist helping a nonprofit Executive Director work through retention issues to keep the right talent on board; a brand manager helping a board and executive team create new key messages to power their outreach and marketing; a financial analyst creating a program cost analysis that informs a new strategic plan.

Pro bono can bring you all this and more. When nonprofits bring in skills-based volunteers in addition to financial contributions and hands-on volunteering, they are truly tapping the resources in their community. It opens up a whole new area of support.

Explain your background on this topic. (In other words, what makes you a “volunteer engagement expert?”)
The Taproot Foundation has worked with more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations on more than 4,000 pro bono engagements—that’s more than 1.5 million hours of pro bono service. We’ve helped make pro bono becomes business as usual for nonprofits, corporate CSR departments, and individual professionals across the country, and we’re constantly growing our programs. We just launched a new platform, Taproot+, to connect even more nonprofits and volunteers.

In my 8 years at Taproot, I’ve had the good fortune to build most of those programs. We know what works, and we are eager to share it so nonprofits can get more of the skills they need to achieve their missions.

What did you learn and/ or struggle with when writing your chapter?
Well, I always struggle not to be TOO enthusiastic about pro bono. Pro bono isn’t right for every organization or every engagement. Being thoughtful in planning and following some core guidelines in picking and prepping for a project is really important. But it’s hard not to get excited about the potential for pro bono service to truly change the nonprofit sector for the better!

What is the one piece of advice you would give volunteer managers to take with them to the future?
Stay creative when you’re looking for resources, and expect you can find almost any skills you need. We do a really simple exercise in nonprofit trainings, asking everyone to search their LinkedIn networks for people with a particular skill, such as social media. So many nonprofit execs tell us “I don’t know ANYONE with that skill”—and then their networks turn up multiple good possibilities. Think big, and you’ll find it!

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldTo read Alethea’s full chapter, Becoming Powered by Pro Bono, order your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.

 

 

 

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.

Think Fun, Think Big and Think GOOD at This Year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference

Arbor Day Foundation Volunteers outside by a tree.

Arbor Day Foundation volunteers having some fun.

Close your eyes, and imagine this:

You’re outside, and you’re not cold. No snow. No biting wind. No humidity, even. Instead, the sun is warm on your face as you laugh with the person next to you. Your common interests and experiences made you fast friends, even though you only met about 30 minutes ago. And as you chat, you’re filled with a deep sense of satisfaction as you weed and plant together in the garden of the nonprofit organization Urban Roots in Austin, TX.

That’s right, you’re volunteering. And this isn’t just any volunteer gig, either – it’s part of the Days of Service program of the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference (15NTC).

Throughout the conference, there will be volunteer opportunities for you to share your skills with Austin, TX area nonprofits. This includes virtual volunteering opportunities, too, so you can give back before the conference, and even from your hotel room!

Think fun: You’ll be meeting new people, you have the opportunity to be outside or interact with the locals at the Food Bank, and make a difference in a whole new place. The Days of Service is an opportunity for you to feel good about your time in Austin…by doing good.

Once you’re registered for 15NTC, sign up for an account on the Days of Service site and start exploring your opportunities!

But wait! Are you an Austin-area nonprofit organization? Your organization could be one of the places these dedicated, passionate, talented 15NTC volunteers spend their time during the conference!

These are people who understand you and your needs. They have the skills and experience to really get stuff done.

Think big: what sort of help does your nonprofit need, whether on-site or virtual? Perhaps some marketing and communications strategy advice. Or help with fundraising planning. Or board development. Or IT and tech infrastructure. Or training for programs like Excel and Photoshop…

You get the idea. The possibilities are limitless, but unfortunately time is not. So hurry up and follow these easy steps to get your nonprofit’s volunteer project up on the #15NTC Days of Service site:

  • Create an account – be sure to register as a nonprofit looking for volunteers.
  • Suggest an opportunity – use the ‘Add a Project’ form to share your organization’s volunteer opportunity with the NTC Community.

And spread the word to other Austin-area nonprofits – there are more than enough awesome 15NTC attendees to go around.

We hope to see you in Austin! (Maybe at your organization, volunteering our time…)