Happy National Volunteer Week from Team VolunteerSpot!
Whether you're getting in the spirit by giving back this week, or taking time to thank the volunteers in your life, have an awesome National Volunteer Week - here's to you!
Whether you're getting in the spirit by giving back this week, or taking time to thank the volunteers in your life, have an awesome National Volunteer Week - here's to you!
Planning a special event for National Volunteer Week? Whether for a party or luncheon, free online sign-ups will save you (and your volunteers) time in getting coordinated for delicious fun!
Use VolunteerSpot's intuitive scheduling and communication tools to quickly set up what needs to be brought for the lunch and where you need participants; invite them to sign up 24/7 from their computer or smartphone, and rely on eCalendar syncing and automated reminders to keep everyone on track! Get started
See how easy it is to set-up your Appreciation Luncheon sign-up in this quick video:
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And don't miss these great Appreciation Potluck ideas:
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By: Jessie Lynn Olien, Co-Director of the Volunteer Program Assessment Service at UNC-Charlotte
Volunteers amplify the work your organization does – they can share the workload, raise awareness, and help your organization meet its mission. While volunteer programs are an essential part of many non-profit organizations, it takes time and effort to ensure these programs run effectively.
1. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The first step in maintaining a successful volunteer program is understanding the health of your program. Knowing where you can, and should, improve allows you to access key resources and allocate them effectively. The Volunteer Program Assessment (VPA) uses a comprehensive and validated volunteer attitudes and engagement survey to assist organizational leaders in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their volunteer program. With the help of grants, VPA offers scholarships for free assessment services. To learn more about VPA and apply for a free scholarship, visit http://www.vpa.uncc.edu
2. Get Organized
Great organization is key to a smooth-running volunteer program. VolunteerSpot's free online signups and volunteer calendars provide organizations with tools and software designed to optimize your volunteer program. Their free services include, but are not limited to, scheduling tools and wizards to plan shifts, donations, tasks and volunteer jobs, the ability to collect contributions from members and donors, automated reminders, mobile access, eCalendary syncing of volunteer jobs and streamlined communication tools. Take a free tour
3. Understand Your “Fit”
Who’s going to be effective in your organization? Before bringing volunteers into your program, you need to know what you value in your volunteers and then accordingly, communicate these desires to your potential volunteers. The Humane Society of the United States has great resources for helping you screen volunteer applicants and make decisions regarding who will be the best fit for your organization, click here.
4. Show You Care
Lastly, never forget to show your volunteers how much they mean to you! Create a culture of appreciation within your organization, where volunteers feel valued and informed. This goes beyond recognition events, awards, and gifts – it filters down to day-to-day efforts such as making sure volunteers are thanked for their work, in the loop regarding key issues, and treated with respect by paid staff. You can find great ideas for showing your appreciation at VolunteerMatch.org, click here.
About the Author:
Originally from Portland Oregon, Jessie Lynn Olien received her BA in Psychology from Michigan State University. She is currently a fourth-year doctoral student in the Organizational Science program at University of North Carolina Charlotte. In addition to her work as co-director and consultant with the Volunteer Program Assessment, Jessie also conducts research on non-profit management.
Looking to pump up your volunteer base this year? It's easy with these ideas for volunteer managers and coordinators:
1. Recruit more volunteers. The key to finding more volunteers this year is meeting them where they're at - online! Try some of these recruitment trends changing the face of volunteerism:
Related: 10 Ideas for Volunteer Recruitment
2. Don't lose the personal touch. Saving time communicating and coordinating online does not mean that the personal touch of joining together to help others goes out the window. Still find ways to commune and bond with volunteers offline:
3. Engage more volunteers. Keeping the volunteers you find can be a real roadblock for many volunteer managers. Find creative and new ways to involve and engage volunteers so they bond with your group's mission and remain active and loyal for years to come:
4. Practice better volunteer appreciation. This year might be the year to put a bit more effort into thanking your volunteers for the time, talents and commitment they offer to their schools and communities. It's easy:
5. Be more social: As mentioned above, active social communities are key for staying visible in the feeds and lives of potential and current volunteers. Facebook, twitter and instagram are great for:
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Using VolunteerSpot for all your GOOD work this holiday season is a given, but now it's even easier to save time and stress less coodinating the signups and holiday help you so need.
VolunteerSpot's brand new Quick Item Entry feature helps organizers build lists in minutes of all the items and things they need donated or contributed: Quickly organize:
Watch our quick how-to video below and click to set up your signup now!
Invite volunteers, family members and participants to sign up to help with a quick email invitation - or post a shareable signup link to your webpage, social accounts. Rely on mobile access, eCalendar sync and automated reminders to keep everyone on track! Get started now
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What could your school do with an extra $2,500? How would your community put $5,000 to work? The YMCA wants to turn your passion for helping others into real opportunity this October with the My Fresh Page Project.
With 10 prizes up for grabs, ranging from $500 to $5,000, the *YMCA’s Fresh Page Project is a great way for schools, community groups, neighborhoods, even families, to submit a creative and engaging service project idea they need funded.
In mirroring the focus of the YMCA, imagine all the ways your community could work to empower the development of children and teens, support and improve community health and well-being, or create an opportunity to assist individuals or organizations in need.
Turn thoughts into action with the YMCA!
Submit your idea today
5 Easy Ways to Turn Your Idea into a Submission:
1. Get creative: Where could your community use a helping hand? Think of creative ways to pull off your goals, e.g. boost healthy living with a community garden or free cooking classes for families, fight childhood hunger with a backpack food program for schools, support lacking graduation rates with free tutoring services and engaging educational programs.
2. Call your friends: Find other school parents or group members who you know are actively 2. involved in bettering the community. Let them know about this grant opportunity and set a time to get together, put your Fresh Page Project into words, and submit your idea.
3. Use Technology to Communicate: Collaborate with others to put a visual spin on your submission. Take some photos or shoot a short video to include with your submission to make it stand out from the rest!
4. Involve kids/students: If your community really is looking to turn a fresh page, involve the young minds and hearts of students and kids who are actively looking to make an impact in their community. Encourage and support young people in your community in their submissions and help them refine and realize them!
5. The Sooner You Enter the Better! Mark your calendar, October 24th is the FINAL day submissions are accepted for the YMCA My Fresh Page Project and the earlier you enter the more time you have to secure votes. Once you submit an idea use social media to get the word out and get the votes in!
*The Y’s My Fresh Page Project invites individuals across the country to submit their idea for a community improvement or service project to carry out in their hometown. Every day until October 24, visitors to the ymca.net/freshpage will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite idea. After the voting period closes, the Y will review the most popular ideas and award 10 prizes of $500, $2,500 or $5,000 to help winners launch their projects.
The success of your nonprofit or community organization is based largely of the good work and contribution of it's loyal members - but how do you retain a loyal base that both donates to your cause but also pitches in? Kirsten Bullock of TheNonProfitAcademy is sharing her expert advice with you in her June 5th, 2014 post & video (full article here).
To be able to start engaging people in the work we do, it’s important to be able to identify some areas that volunteers can help with. It could be as support during events, or to help with thank you calls to donors, become a donor, subscribe to your e-newsletter or become involved in program areas. Not everyone will be interested in the same things, so it’s important to be able to offer some variety. Be creative!
Next is to have some systems in place to support volunteers once they become involved. How will you continue to keep them involved? Do you have a volunteer coordinator? How often will you stay in touch with them? How will you track their interests? If you only have 200 people you’re trying to stay connected with you can probably do that with minimal systems – however if that number increases to 500 – or 5,000 – you’ll have a much more difficult time keeping track of details. Systems that are kept up-to-date will make your life much easier (and your volunteers and donors much happier).
Most importantly though are the interests of your volunteers and potential donors. What do they want to be involved in? If they want to advocate for a particular cause, and you ask them to file paperwork, will they be satisfied? . . .
And join Kirsten for an online workshop around this topic and that of raising more money for your organization - this Friday, June 20th, 2014 at 11a ET, CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Mission driven programs like Girls on the Run, a youth development nonprofit that sponsors running activities and events for girls, rely heavily on volunteer support. Spreadsheets, clipboards and reply all emails don't cut it anymore when it comes to organizing hands on effort; check out this recent post from SoftwareAdvice.com on how VolunteerSpot's free online sign ups help coordinate, track and maintain a volunteer schedule for a very important organization . . .
Girls on the Run—Bay Area relies on the generosity of about 800 volunteers, who contribute a combined 30,000 hours of time annually to coach and train participating youth. Over 100 of these volunteers are recruited to assist on race days with pre-race setup, post-race breakdown, food and beverage distribution, registration assistance, face painting and passing out medals at the finish line.
Prior to 2011, four full-time staff members devoted half their work week to recruiting and scheduling volunteers in the five weeks preceding a race, which strained their limited resources. People who were interested in volunteering signed up through an online form that Girls on the Run staff had created themselves, but volunteers weren’t able to choose which tasks they wanted to undertake.
“All of our race-day volunteers signed up for the same four-hour time slot, and we assigned them tasks as they checked in on race day,” says Thomas. “This created a bit of a mob scene in the check-in tent. We'd end up with too many people in one area and not enough in another, or some volunteers wouldn’t like the job we assigned them. Others were distressed when we had to split up their group to fill the available jobs.”
The disorganized sign-up and check-in process began to jeopardize the volunteer experience—so staff decided it was time to find a better solution.
VolunteerSpot Provides Full-Featured, Budget-Friendly Solution
The team began searching for a system that could streamline race-day volunteer coordination and allow volunteers to accomplish three things:
- Read descriptions of the available tasks.
- Sign up for a specific task online.
- Register a group of volunteers, such as a high school or corporate group, to serve together.
Fortunately, the search for a better system didn’t take long. One of the organization’s committee members recommended VolunteerSpot—an online volunteer scheduling and management system—because he had previous experience using it.
Technorati Tags: how to organize volunteers for girls on the run, organizing girls on the run, organizing girls on the run volunteers, volunteer management software, volunteer management software advice, volunteer management software review
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Planning a fundraiser this Summer? How about a family reunion? DIY camp for kids? There are tons of great summer planning tools, resources and apps to make planning less stressful and more efficient, check out our 9 favorites here:
1) SplashThat.com > Use this website to set up a beautiful webpage for your big event. With free, instant access, social integration and fun customization options, this will ramp up your summer event planning.
2) Cozi.com > Get your families summer calendars synced so everyone knows when pool parties, camps, reunions and more are happening. Set up alerts, reminders and more - it's easy!
3) VolunteerSpot.com > Coordinate hands on help with free online signup sheets & volunteer calendars. Quickly schedule your volunteer needs, invite people to sign up from their computer or smartphone and rely on automated reminders to keep everyone on track! Great for VBS, family reunions, potlucks and picnics, team snack scheduling and more.
4) Pinterest.com > Get your DIY on and dedicate some summer free time to taking on new projects with your family. From festival decorations to family fun crafts, Pinterest has everything you're looking for this Summer.
5) VolunteerMatch.org > Find a nearby service project or volunteer opportunity for your family with the VolunteerMatch database - search by zipcode, interest and more.
6) KiwiCrate.com > Get your fill of super fun crafts for kids plus find the perfect supplies & checklists with a click. Great for DIY camps, kids corners at festivals and fairs, and more.
7. Trello.com > Enhance your project management with online boards and task cards from Trello. Assign projects, make check lists, set due dates and more!
8. Join.me > Share your screen for free and take your event planning meetings to the next level. On a call with siblings planning a vacation? How about coordinating a booth with the festival committee? Use join.me so everyone can see your screen and be on the same page.
9. ConferenceHound.com > Find conferences by date, industry, you name it! Continue your professional development, find marketing opportunities for your company and more.
Hosting a booth to promote your nonprofit or organization this Summer? Festivals, fairs and community events are a prime environment for drawing in new community members to support your cause - catch their attention and bring them on board with these 11 creative ideas:
Volunteer programs serve vital roles in the GOOD work of nonprofits, arts groups, theatres, schools, faith communities, you name it, around the world. Building a strong foundation of a volunteer program takes more than just finding a bunch of helping hands though. As Susan J. Ellis of Energize Inc. points out in this Theatre Communications Group piece, reflection on your group's mission in conjuction with knowing why before you know who, are just the ingredients you need for a recipe for success . . .
Tip #1: Know WHY you want volunteers in the first place.
Be careful that you are not seeking volunteers simply because you do not have enough money. If lack of funds is the major reason for wanting volunteers, you will always view them as a pooralternative to the paid staff you really want. Instead, focus on the unique things that volunteers can offer that are different from what employees contribute: credibility with the public because they do not personally profit from the funds raised; expanded spheres of influence; diversity of experiences and skills; the luxury to focus on one project while the paid staff must divide their time among all the work to be done; and, most especially, outreach to new potential audiences.
Tip #2: Develop the broadest VISION of volunteer involvement.
Working with volunteers is true community-resource development. The process of reaching out to a wide range of people will have the ripple effect of making friends for your theatre — not only the people who actually contribute their time, but also those who learn about your performances, your need for donations of cash and goods, and your work in general. Don't limit your outreach to those with a proven interest in the arts or in drama. Prospective volunteers can represent enormous diversity in demographic profile, occupation and talents — if you genuinely
welcome such contributions.
Tip #3: Never assume people know how to work with volunteers (even
if they are volunteers themselves).
Very few people receive formal training in how to work with volunteers, certainly not in academic course programs. And it is important to realize that being a volunteer does not automatically make someone into a great leader of other volunteers! It takes knowledge and skill to be a good volunteer supervisor. Diagnose and deal with possible staff resistance to volunteers and provide training in the best ways to support volunteers. Be aware of the fact that resistance to volunteers has a special history in the arts community. All too often in the past, actors and other performing artists were approached by organizations to volunteer their talents, usually for fundraising events. To establish the valid point that such artists need to be paid to earn a living, some people grew to resent the concept of volunteerism. In some ways, the theatre community's response to the AIDS crisis has broadened their understanding of volunteerism, but it is important to stress that you are seeking volunteers with skills beyond the theatre world.
Tip #4: Create the infrastructure to support volunteer involvement.
Consider what resources you will budget/allocate to support volunteers: money, staff time, space and supplies. Volunteers are definitely . . .
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Susan J. Ellis is President of Energize, Inc., a Philadelphia-based international consulting, training and publishing firm specializing in volunteerism. Since 1977, the company has assisted a wide range of clients throughout North America and Europe, including many cultural arts organizations. For more in-depth information about volunteer program development and management, call for your free copy of the "Volunteer Energy Resource Catalog" at 1-800-395-9800 or visit the
Energize Website at http://www.energizeinc.com.
1. Tweet a thank you! It's easy, start with this sample >> Huge THANKS to all our awesome #volunteers! We celebrate YOU this week especially for all the amazing GOOD you do. #NVW
2. SAY thank you! When you run into volunteers on site or parents helping out in school, stop, smile and say 'thank you for all you do!'
4. Thank you cake - yum! Or cookies, or brownies, or any other delicious treat - say thank you with a homemade baked good that shows how much you care.
5. Facebook thank you shout! Post a quick thank you shout, a picture or link back to a special thank you section of your group/school's website.
6. Hand-written thank you note. Simple but thoughtful, a handwritten thank you note gives your stellar volunteers something to hold on to. Tips HERE
7. Thank you video. Make a quick 30 second thank-you shout out on your smartphone that you can share on your social channels with Tout or Viddy; or put together a quick (free) slideshow with music, text and pictures using Animoto.
8. Special thank you mention in newspaper. Contact your local paper or e-publications and see if there is free space available to dedicate to thanking your volunteers.
9. Thank you gift! Don't go crazy, but small meaningful tokens never hurt when saying thanks - goodie bags, photo placemats, personalized mugs, etc. More ideas on Pinterest
10. Pin a thank you. Are your volunteers or school parents pinning? Pin a special thank you image and link to it on all your other social channels.
11. Thank you email! Make it short, sweet, to the point and full of love!
12. Send a VolunteerSpot thank you note. It's easy to send a quick thank you message from your VolunteerSpot signup to all the wonderful volunteers who helped with your activity. More info here
14. Thank you latte! You got that right, a "latte" love to go around! Hit up the local coffee shop and get a delicious sweet latte to surprise your star volunteer on their day to help out!
15. Appreciation party. Rock out a serious appreciation party with fun games, good food, photo booths and a special time to recognize volunteers in person.
16. Thank you brunch or potluck. Delicious food and good drink is a great way to spend time and recognize your star volunteers. Coordinate people to bring food and setup/clean up with VolunteerSpot's free online sign up sheets.
17. Certificate of appreciation. Free, colorful printables can do no wrong; print off these certificates and awards for your appreciation party or meal to show special recognition to your volunteers. Free printables here
18. Thank you gift card! Small or large, it's hard to go wrong with a gift card! Unless you know a specific store your star volunteers would prefer go general with a gas gift card, Amazon, Walmart or Target.
19. Thank you graffiti wall. Paper one wall at your school or in your organization's building and leaving markers and sharpies for volunteers and staff to write down their thoughts of appreciation.
20. Thank you with chocolate! Go gourmet or bake it in, you simply can't go wrong in spreading the love and appreciation than with chocolate. Great ideas here
21. Thank you photo album. Online or off, a picture is worth a thousand words! Create photo albums with Facebook, Flikr or Shutterfly; or go old school with a scrapbook theme and binder.
22. Thank you flowers! Whether it's one big bouquet, or a flower a day from class students or organization staff, flowers are always a beautiful way to show volunteers how they help their community "bloom."
23. Love bomb their door or desk. Have staff handwrite thank you post-its and stick them all over your volunteer's car! Ideas here
24. Flash Mob/Dance Party. Coordinate a synchronized flash mob dance routine to surprise volunteers, or simply show up with some sweet jams and a boom box for an impromptu dance party to say thanks!
25. Mini Carnival. Host a day of outdoor carnival fun with games, activities, food and free prizes for volunteers! Game ideas here
Check out more FAB ideas in our free eBook:
As a volunteer manager or school volunteer coordinator, clear communication is key to getting more helping hands involved and sticking around. Make sure these 6 phrases are part of your vocabulary when it comes to recruiting and retaining volunteers:
1. "Can you help with . . .?" Having specific tasks and jobs for volunteers is a proven way to bring them on board quicker and more definitively. Instead of asking folks to show up at a vague time to do "something," request volunteers show up at a set time to help set up for the fundraiser, weed the community garden flower beds, sort and pack food bags, etc. This also keeps you, the volunteer coordinators, more organized and prepared for an efficient and productive volunteer experience.
2. "Bring your friends." Encouraging volunteers and school parents to come with friends, families and other groups not only increases the number of helping hands your organization has to do GOOD work, but makes the volunteer experience an even more joyous and social one. Memories are made when folks are making a difference together and what better way to have your organization remembered by potential volunteers?
3. "Sign up online, it's easy!" Making it easier for a wider pool of potential volunteers to get involved is what VolunteerSpot's free online signup sheets are all about. Easy scheduling, mobile access and being able to post signups on social media and via email are the solution to coordinating volunteers in the modern day. Plus automated reminders? Doesn't get better than that! Check out Online Volunteer Calendars today
4. "Thank you for your time." Recognize a volunteer's time and commitment with a simple in-person thank you, handwritten card, or email. This simple act of appreciation helps volunteers know that their good work is noticed and encourages them to return in the future.
5. "Join us on social media!" In the digital age, it is vital for volunteer-based organizations to stamp out a social footprint that encourages volunteers and members to get involved in their social conversation. When you ask potential volunteers to follow you online (put social handles on your website and marketing materials), you ensure that you become part of their social feeds, staying in their "world" and reminding them time and again that your group is around and needs their help.
6. "See what we've done together?" Illustrating your organization's community impact is a great way to bring volunteers onboard. Find examples, stories and pictures to share with your volunteers and donors that show how and where their time and talents are affecting the community in a positive way. Keep volunteers updated on your website, via social media and in eNewsletters; and when possible, let them know individually how their contribution is making a difference.
Annual budgets, operational planning, strategic forcasts - oh my! With the new year in full swing, chances are your nonprofit is full steam-ahead with planning another year of making a difference in the community. Sure it's easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of paperwork, red tape and stressful event planning, but it's even easier to lighten the load with a handful of simple steps like these:
1. Go Social: Get your nonprofit or community group it's own facebook page, twitter handle, Google+ profile and applicable Pinterest account right now if you have not already. A social presence is a surefire way to spread the word about your group's good work, upcoming events, volunteer opportunities and community impact. People of all ages are online and leaving their own social footprints - become part of their world and they will soon become part of yours.
2. Set Up an Online Volunteer Calendar: It's 2014 and if your nonprofit is stuck on paper signup sheets and distracting spreadsheets, you are behind the times and losing ground. Online volunteer calendars and scheduling tools with mobile access and automated reminders make it easy for more people to get involved with your group and for your nonprofit to capture information digitally from potential loyal participants and donors. Click here to try VolunteerSpot's free online volunteer calendar tool
3. Use Your Board: Cultivate your Board (and donors) early and often! Use the skills, talents and know-how that brought them to your organization for your organization. Don't be afraid to ask for help, recommendations or assistance on big projects; Board members or Directors can offers these services as a gift. You recruited these members for a reason, and they anticipate such requests during their tenure.
4. Get Creative with Fundraising: Taking on a huge fundraiser like an annual gala can be quite overwhelming. PLUS, it's not always the right fit for each group and might be old news for your growing community. Look at your nonprofit's mission and make your approach to fundraising thoughtful and focused on the donor. Depending on the size of your organization, it may make sense to team-up with a partner or complimentary group as well! Get creative with ideas like:
5. Share Content: Spread the word about the great work your nonprofit does with interesting and viral content that can make it's away across the internet and local publications. In today’s digital world, it takes three times as many touchpoints with a potential audience as it used to to get someone to take action. Use your current print strategy (brochures, flyers, programs) and combine with online avenues like blog posts, social media, and video content on your website to increase the visibility of your nonprofit and amplify your reach.
These 5 critical but seemingly simple steps will help your nonprofit take on a new life in the new year, get started today!
Nonprofits, schools and community groups on social media are totally in tune to the 21st century tactics of getting the word out and recruiting help online. Few things are more cringe-worthy, however, then a group tweeting asking for volunteers and getting it all wrong! Rembember these 8 tips when tweeting for help:
1. Start with the perks: If there is free food, swag, drink tickets and the like available to volunteers, bring it up! "All volunteers get a free t-shirt" or "Volunteer on Saturday for free admission to the show" will grab attention quickly and encourage folks to volunteer.
2. Include your signup link: Send volunteers from twitter to your signup sheets, volunteer calendar or pertinent webpage so they can commit on the spot. Don't ask for help and not give them a way to sign up and be reminded.
3. Mention date/time: If you're coordinating a one day event, put the shortened date time, i.e. 2/14 at 2p - not only will volunteers know right away whether they can or can't help then, but it's good publicity for folks who might want to attend your event as patrons or participants.
4. Attach a picture: Whether it's an image of your event flyer or a picture of volunteers helping at last year's activity, a quick pic your followers can open gives them a visual cue to sign up to help your organization and not just a mental one.
5. Drop how many spots are left: Let volunteers know spots are limited or there isn't much time left to sign up. A sense of urgency helps potential volunteers commit faster and sign up right away.
6. Tell volunteers what you need: What positions are open for volunteer work or what skillsets does your group need for your activity? Tweet it out so potential candidates know exactly what your group is looking for and whether they can help.
7. Be funny: Twitter is largely a venue for people's comedic thoughts. Apply some humor to your tweets asking for help!
8. Remember to stick to 140 characters: Don't make a classic mistake and go over Twitter's standard 140 characters - you'll lose interestested parties when your message is truncated or your signup link is left off. Plus, it's just awkward.