How Skilled Volunteers Can Make a Difference for You in 2014

How skilled volunteers can make a difference for you in 2014.

A United Saints volunteer helps rebuild homes in New Orleans.

Here at VolunteerMatch, we like talking about skilled volunteering. By creating the best match possible between a volunteer’s passions and skills with a nonprofit’s needs, there is a great chance to form a lasting connection and real community impact.

Whether your organization is already engaging skilled volunteers or not, the New Year is a great time to think strategically about how recruiting people with specific skill sets can help you reach your goals in 2014. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Plan More Events

Planning events can be time-consuming and stress-increasing. But there are individuals out there who thrive on this type of work, and who are very good at it. Why not engage some skilled volunteers to help you plan stellar events next year? With more help, and people who really know what they’re doing, your events will be better and there’ll be more of them.

Make Things Prettier

By “things” I mean both your organization’s physical and digital presence. You can recruit a volunteer with a green thumb and a flair for decorating to spruce up your office. You can also engage a graphic designer to overhaul your logo, website, or cook up some dynamite ads for the New Year.

Diversify Your Funding

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Fundraising can be a great way to engage volunteers AND improve your organization’s financial situation. If you’re looking to build more relationships with foundations, find a volunteer grant writer. Or, dip your toes into the exciting world of crowdfunding by engaging volunteers to do some social fundraising online.

Get Serious About Social Media

Chances are you’ll never know more about social media than a volunteer you could recruit to run your social media for you. Millennials, especially, are itching to put their digital native skills to good use for causes they care about.

Step Up Volunteer Engagement

Volunteer engagement and management is at least one full-time job all on its own. So why not recruit some skilled volunteers to help you engage volunteers and develop out your program?

How are you planning on engaging skilled volunteers next year to make a difference for your organization? Don’t wait – post your opportunities to VolunteerMatch now!

Expert Snapshots for December

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. Check back every month for snapshots of what experts in the field are talking about.

Farewell, Nelson Mandela

VolunteerMatch President Greg Baldwin reflects on the lessons and inspiration of Nelson’s Mandela’s life. As we all say goodbye to a figure who often seemed larger than life, one thing is certain – he has contributed more than we could ever express to the world of service and volunteerism. You will be missed, Mr. Mandela.

Nonprofits Use “Speed Dating” Model to Recruit Volunteers”

Fifteen nonprofits in the Sacramento area collaborated to hold a “Speed Matching” event for individuals looking to volunteer in the community, based on the classic “speed dating” or “speed networking” model. Click through to read about how the event went and how other organizations might apply this new model…

Investing in High Impact Volunteer Engagement: A Funder’s Perspective

Jane Leighty Justis, executive director of The Leighty Foundation, writes on the Reimagining Service blog about the need for funders to help nonprofits build up their volunteer resources. After all, in today’s tough economic climate, the best chance nonprofits have is to make the most of the volunteers who want to help.

Don’t Let the History Made by Volunteers Fall Through the Cracks of Time

WhIn one of Susan Ellis’ recent “Hot Topics” posts for Energize, Inc., she urges nonprofits to document the contribution of volunteers to their causes and organizations. It’s critical for us to have records, both visual and textual, of the difference volunteers make in our society, or this important influence will be lost forever. Susan also shares some great ideas for how organizations can do this.

Volunteering is Famous!

Recent press coverage of volunteering and VolunteerMatch.For most of us, volunteering is simply a part of life – whether we manage volunteers professionally, donate our free time or both, volunteering just seems…obvious.

But for many, many others, this isn’t the case. That’s why it’s great to see the media doing their part to raise awareness about volunteering and how to do it “right.”

Check out these recent news features that we think help close that remaining gap between good people and good causes:

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities This Holiday Season | Fox Business

How to avoid the volunteer trap | CNNMoney

Give It Up for the Greater Good | Working Mother

4 Benefits to Volunteering and 4 Websites to Help You Do So |

9 Affordable Holiday Traditions to Start This Year |

For more press coverage of volunteering and VolunteerMatch, check out our Press Room.

3 Creative Ways to Engage Volunteers during the Holiday Season

3 Creative Ways to Engage Volunteers during the Holiday SeasonThe holiday season is a popular time for volunteering – and nonprofit organizations know it. In order to stand out from the pack and attract dedicated volunteers who are a good fit for your organization, you need to get creative about how you engage all of the folks looking to help out between now and the end of the year.

By engaging volunteers in new ways, you increase your chances of finding people who will form a more authentic, lasting connection to your organization. So here are three ways to cut through all the volunteer recruitment noise this season to engage great supporters:

Everyone Loves Food

This is absolutely true – but to distinguish yourself from all the other organizations engaging volunteers to help with food-related tasks during the holidays, find volunteers who can do more than packing and serving. Appeal to Foodies to help with fundraising and cultural events, like this opportunity with Food Truck Festivals of New England, or create your own Top Chef-style challenge for amateur chefs like the African People’s Education and Defense Fund.

Appeal to Their Dramatic Sides

With all the good food, pretty lights and time off from work, volunteers want to have a little fun over the holidays. Engage the artists and performers in potential volunteers and give them a chance to shine in the spotlight. Whether it’s caroling during a holiday concert, face painting to cheer up sick children, building a holiday balloon arch, or transforming into a magical elf, tapping into volunteers’ creative energy will get them even more excited to help you during this busy time.

Give Them the Best Jobs

Too often we end up recruiting volunteers for the “leftover” tasks, while paid staff does the fun stuff, or the most directly rewarding stuff. This holiday season, engage volunteers for some of the best jobs at your organization, like calling donors just to say thanks, or attending fun concerts to raise awareness.

What are some creative ways your organization engages volunteers during the holiday season? Share in the comments below, and post your volunteer needs on!

How to Make Holidays Your Volunteer Recruitment Ace-in-the-Hole

Holidays can be your ace in the hole when it comes to recruiting new volunteers for your nonprofit organization.The holidays are a time for family, friends, food and…volunteer recruitment? Bear with me.

For many volunteer managers at organizations like food pantries and homeless shelters, the holidays are the busiest time of the year. For others, the holidays can seem like a ghost town, as people go on vacation and your next volunteer events are scheduled for after the New Year.

Wherever you fall on this spectrum, the truth is holidays are a great opportunity to recruit new volunteers to your organization, and here’s why:

People want to volunteer. Especially during the holidays. Take it from us – VolunteerMatch traffic goes up by at least 15-20% each year during the holiday season.

So think of the holidays as volunteer training wheels – planning a holiday event will attract new volunteers who are just looking for a place to give back, and give them a reason to walk through your door.

Here are some great examples of holiday-related events you can plan to attract new volunteers. You can also just “rebrand” your existing events with some holiday flair to get those seasonal folks to sign up!

It Doesn’t End There

Once you’ve attracted new volunteers with special holiday events and opportunities, it’s important that you help them form a more lasting connection with your organization. When at the event, be sure to introduce yourself personally, get to know them, and thank them for their time. After the event, follow up via email and even phone to thank them again and let them know the impact they made in just that short period of time.

Finally, make sure to include them in any future volunteer communications – they should know how easy it is to become more involved! If you give them a great experience that they know made an impact, chances are they’ll want to do it again and again.

Don’t Limit Your Holidays

“Holidays” happen all year round! Get creative to attract volunteers for Easter, Memorial Day, Passover… and feel free to take advantage of other types of holidays and special themes, as well! For example, October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Diabetes Month, Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Apple Month and Sarcasm Month. So now all you have to do is plan a “Sarcastic Apple” volunteer event…

How does your nonprofit organization take advantage of the holidays to recruit new volunteers? Share your tips below!