Whether you work for a large nonprofit, a small scrappy one, or a community group, chances are you've been faced with challenges (or possibly even stress) adopting new technology to engage your volunteers. Maybe it's customizing your website, adding a new blog, or jumping into Twitter - and maybe you don't even know what Twitter is (it's okay, really, most people don't!). Wouldn't you like a little help from experts who have been there, done that?
Today's guest blogger sharing strategies for recruiting techie volunteers is Wendy Biro-Pollard a nonprofit management consultant and founder of Training and Consulting Solutions. It's our goal at VolunteerSpot to offer volunteer scheduling software that is so simple and easy that ANYONE can use us, no techies needed (even though we do LOVE techies!). We're one small piece in a very large puzzle. Wendy shares ideas to help volunteer leaders get needed help and support in deploying the best technical solutions and engaging in social media.
Finding Techie Volunteers
by Wendy Biro-Pollard
It’s almost impossible to effectively recruit and manage volunteers today without fully engaging technology and social media. In any given day, successful volunteer leaders and managers increasingly…
- Use volunteer management software to communicate with volunteers and streamline operations
- Contribute to their organization’s website by posting volunteer applications, newsletters, position descriptions, photos, videos, and more
- Leverage social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Idealist
- Post and update volunteer positions on online recruitment sites
- Access free online software and collaboration tools like Wikis and Google docs
- Post to a Blog and Twitter to build their brand and keep folks informed
- Employ multiple methods to communicate with volunteers including text messaging, Skype, and list-serves.
Whew - what a list, and I'm sure I've missed something (or many things)!
If you don’t have the staff or skills to deploy these tools effectively, you can improve your chances of success by adding tech volunteers to your team. Tech volunteers can range from formally trained computer programmers, to naturally tech-savvy high school and college students. And the best part is, these individuals don’t have to live in your community to be helpful!
Before you go in search of help, be sure to download TechSoup’s free manual, Working with Technical Volunteers: A Manual for NPOs. It will help you figure out what kind of help you need, and the recently updated guide includes the latest tech specs to help you screen applicants. The manual also includes comprehensive worksheets, sample applications, volunteer contracts, and questionnaires.
Once you’ve developed your plan and know what kind of support you need, it's time to begin your search. Here are a few strategies for building your team and recruiting volunteers with the right skills:
- Contact your local volunteer resource center or national volunteer matching programs such as All for Good or Tech Soup.
- Get permission to put a notice on an electronic bulletin board at local universities, on Craigslist, or on YouTube's Video Volunteers list. Also consider intranet bulletin boards and newsletters at local corporations and high-tech companies.
- Check with instructors at area high schools, colleges or technical schools for qualified students who may want some real-world experience to add to their resumes. Students are masters at social media (facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and are often eager to support local causes.
- Ask colleagues at other nonprofits in your community where they go to find technical volunteers. If you're already on facebook or Twitter, ask your virtual network too.
- Ask board members and volunteers to tap their personal and professional networks on behalf of your nonprofit. They may have a resource at work to share, or a teenager at home who can be pressed into service.
- Seek out user groups and clubs that meet either in-person or online to discuss different types of tech issues. Look for them on MeetUp or in your local newspaper. Yahoo! and Google user groups, and Craigslist are also good places to start.
One of the appeals to the tech volunteers themselves, is that in many instances, folks can participate from home or from their workplace in just a few hours a week. Being open to flexible scheduling and focusing assignments on results and clear deadlines will go a long way to creating a positive experience for your organization and your volunteers.
“Engaging Techie Volunteers,” Judicious Web, April 23, 2009
“Technology Acceleration: Grab Hold and Hang On,” Susan Ellis, Energizeinc.com, June 2007
For similar articles, training and support in managing your volunteers, please visit Wendy at her website: http://www.WendyBiro-Pollard.com.