Volunteer Managers are responsible for selecting, training, and supervising the volunteer staff of an organization. They have the unique opportunity of managing a team of individuals who want to be part of their organization. Volunteer management requires a well-rounded, carefully considered, and well-organized strategy.
So, what does a volunteer manager need to do to keep their volunteer program running like a well-oiled machine? Amy DeVita, with Top Nonprofits, suggests the following five key areas of concentration to focus on.
Start the search with existing supporters. This may include donors, organization members, family members and friends of clients. During the recruitment process identify potential volunteers’ skills, work experience, and interests. Be sure you have existing volunteer job descriptions. If not, create them.
Volunteer Management Tools
If possible, utilize a volunteer management software to accumulate, consolidate and organize your volunteer data all in one place. Software will allow you to create volunteer profiles, track volunteer hours, automate email communication and create online registration forms. If you don’t have access to a volunteer management software, create a database using Excel or Access to keep your data together.
Once you have your volunteers it is important to do what you can to keep them. Create and develop relationships with your volunteers. Take time to learn their names. Consider having one-on-one time with each volunteer, either in person or on the phone. This is an opportunity to understand who they are and why they devote their time. Don’t neglect sharing your volunteer involvement with others. Use your website or social media platforms to keep folks aware of the outstanding things your volunteers are accomplishing.
Communication is key in all relationships. It needs to be clear and consistent. Once you have identified the volunteer’s preferred method of communication-email, text, or phone call, use it as a tool to keep volunteers updated about what’s going on in the organization. Share upcoming events, trainings, personnel changes, procedure or policy changes. Don’t leave a volunteer in the dark. Keep them engaged.
Everyone needs to know they are appreciated. Volunteers need to know they are valued and making a difference for your organization. Create a plan that will promote that feeling. Start with two simple words – Thank You!
A few tips for this:
Learn more about volunteer management and join the Volunteer Center in January 2019 for the Volunteer Management Certification Workshop. This event is designed to train Volunteer Managers on organizing, implementing and maintaining an effective volunteer program for their organization. The curriculum is based on effective best practices used in the industry, illustrated with real-life examples.
Volunteer management is a huge piece of your organization’s multi-faceted puzzle. Its importance represents finding the right volunteers, keeping them engaged and keeping them happy. Thank you, Volunteer Managers, for all you do to support volunteers.
Have you heard about the great inter-generational divide facing many organizations today?
You have probably been part of it and didn’t even realize it. The inter-generational divide refers to the sometimes unfavorable discourse that surfaces during multi-generation interactions. Maybe you’ve heard that millennials have a sense of entitlement and aren’t easy to work with. Or maybe you’ve heard baby boomers are set in their ways and aren’t willing to try new things. These schools of thought do a disservice to the generations and they are prevalent in all aspects of the work environment, including the nonprofit world.
It helps to understand what groups are out there and the demographic they represent. Let’s take a look at some of the inter-generational groups you can expect to find in the nonprofit environment:
Nonprofit leaders need to promote inclusion, creative insight, collaboration and communication, ensuring that employees, board members and volunteers follow suit.
Additionally, recognizing these strengths and integrating them into your strategies will help build a well-rounded, functional atmosphere. An example of this might be embracing mentorship programs that encourage traditionalists and boomers to share organizational knowledge to help develop the millennials and xennials to carry on the organization’s mission. Another option, consider utilizing the collaboration skills of the millennials to lead a team during your next fundraising campaign.
The differences in opinions, values and work ethics should not be admonished but embraced, promoted and valued. This is how to bridge the inter-generational divide in your nonprofit community.
“We often hear about stepping outside ourselves, but rarely about stepping outside our generation.” ― Criss Jami, Killosophy
Each nonprofit agency has its own unique story. They each have a background that shares their humble beginnings and how they have evolved into what they are today. There are many pieces to this story and when sharing it with others, especially the media it needs to be accurate and consistent. Using a carefully crafted media kit is the best way to do this.
So, what exactly is a media kit? A media kit is a carefully compiled portfolio of pertinent agency information created to share with others, primarily the media for agency publicity purposes. It’s an excellent way to get accurate agency details out in a clear, concise, consistent format.
Let’s talk about what type of information should be included. Stacy Jones with NonprofitPR.org suggests starting with a general introduction page. This should include up-to-date contact information, along with the agency address, phone number, email, website and social media links.
Provide some general background information. This should include the agency cause and mission statement. Next, add agency statistics and facts that represent your activities. For example, share the number of clients you serve and their demographic information. Include information about any annual events your organization holds, and details about how or where people can donate. Feel free to use charts, graphics, photos, and other illustrations of your goals and mission.
It’s also important to share the biographical information of your organization’s leadership team. This is an excellent spot to showcase their expertise and accomplishments. On the final or back page of the media kit, be sure to include your website, address, phone number and contact information again.
A simple, concise media kit can be used during special events, fundraisers, conferences, workshops and community events. Always be sure the information is correct, current and tailored to best serve its purpose. Don’t forget to include it on your agency web site in an easily downloadable file format.
Media kits are an essential public relations tool for sharing key points about your organization. Take advantage of their value and have yours ready to go.
You did it! Your organization has reached a remarkable milestone. Maybe it’s serving your 1,000th client. Maybe your programs have been serving the community for 10 years. Or maybe the agency has received a significant grant or donation. Whatever the specifics of the milestone, it deserves to be shared and celebrated!
This is an excellent opportunity to share your accomplishments with the community, those you serve and those that support your mission, specifically donors. Katy Teson, content strategist for Wired Impact offers three very important reasons to celebrate:
1. Celebrations will help to reinforce your mission and vision by showing there’s still a need or problem to be solved.
2. This is an opportunity to strengthen relationships with loyal supporters by acknowledging the people and partners that have made your progress possible.
3. This will help reinforce your organization’s legitimacy by demonstrating that your programs and services make a tangible impact.
Now that you understand why the celebration is important, let’s talk about the best way to do it. It is critical to start with a well-planned and organized campaign. Putting in the work upfront will lead to success. Start with pulling together a diverse team of folks, including seasoned, retired and current team members. Their input will be invaluable.
Donor Box suggests keeping these tips in mind as you get things rolling:
-Identify specific milestones. Put some thought into this. Consider the value the milestone has brought to your organization and why it should be shared.
-Decide what the campaign will achieve. Do you want this campaign to be used as a fundraiser? Maybe you are interested in increasing your visibility to a specific audience. Choose your goals early in the process to keep you on target.
-Begin the campaign process early. There’s a lot of work to get done before the celebration begins. Allow time for planning, preparation and execution.
-Involve EVERYONE. Your organization has reached this milestone with help from those who believe in it. Include staff, board members, and volunteers.
-Brand the campaign. This is an excellent time to enhance your presence with a unique tag line or image that identifies your milestone.
Celebrations provide you with an excellent opportunity to contribute more content to your social media platforms. Now's the time to share personal stories, photos and videos. Don’t forget to thank those that have helped the organization on its' journey. Reach out to staff, volunteers, board members and anyone else who has supported the organization with time, treasure, or talent.
Anniversary celebrations are an outstanding time to share your achievements, while you continue to spread awareness of your mission. They are also an opportunity to promote the organization’s vision for the future. Don't miss out on doing both!
Please share your milestones with the Volunteer Center so that we may help spread the word about the great work your organization is doing!
Congratulations on your past accomplishments and best of luck on your future endeavors!
"People with goals succeed because they know where they are going...It's as simple as that. "
Planned giving has traditionally been defined as the gift an individual creates during his or her lifetime that will take affect at or after their passing. Planned giving requires more thought and planning to execute than the average donation.
A donor recognizes the mission of an organization and believes their work should carry on and be preserved for the future. Donors may have a personal connection with the organization and truly appreciate the work they do. For example, a donor might have first-hand experience with an organization and has seen how effective the organization is to the community. Donors usually give to organizations or causes that are important to them, not for the benefits (Garecht). Keep in mind almost everyone has the ability to make a planned gift. They just need to be asked.
Bequests can be made through a variety of methods, generally facilitated through a donor’s will, with the assistance of a professional adviser. Planned gifts can include, cash, stocks, life insurance, annuities, real estate property, personal property and more.
Planned giving can be another part of your organization’s fundraising program. It will require a different type of partnership between the fundraiser and donor, but working with a professional adviser can help with the process. Before jumping on board with this type of fundraising program your organization will need to do its homework. Start by identifying whether this endeavor can be supported by the organization. Considerations will need to be given to identify potential donors for legacy gifts and ensuring those donors align with your mission and goals. Your organization will need to identify how the gift will be used and share this with the potential donor. Establishing this program will also have specific legal requirements that will need to be met.
Not sure where to start? The Volunteer Center McHenry County can help with that. Join them on August 28th for Planned Giving, a workshop that will provide an introduction to encouraging planned gifts in today’s environment. The workshop will take a look at the life-cycle of typical donors and personal priorities at different stages in life, how effective gift planning can help donors make larger gifts today, as well as plan for future gifts through bequests, trusts, gift annuities and other popular gift planning techniques. Learn how planned giving is best done in partnership between fundraiser and professional advisers, and hear about the different roles each have in the process.
20 Facts about Planned Giving. Joe Garecht. https://www.thefundraisingauthority.com?planned-giving/20-facts-about-planned-giving.
24 Planned Giving Terms You Should Know. Katherine Swank. https://www.blackbaud.com/files/resources/downloads/WhitePaper_23PlannedGivingTermsYouShouldKnow.pdf
How a Nonprofit Can Start and Market a Planned Giving Program, Start with Simple Bequests. Joanne Fritz. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-your-nonprofit-can-get-started-with-planned-giving-2502443
"There is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving."
What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you hear someone say, “I am an intern?”
Do visions of coffee runs, dry cleaning pick-up or overall grunt work run through your mind? Its’ true interns are often characterized as a type of “free labor” left to deal with the mundane tasks of the day. However, the reality is an internship is much more than that. Its’ an opportunity to pull in diverse talent to fill a void in your organization, with minimal long-term commitment.
An internship is an official program offered by an organization to potential employees. Interns work either part time or full time, depending on the need. They are paid or non-paid positions. They can be seasonal or year-round. Internships help develop experience in non-profits by allowing someone to learn the in and outs of the organization from more experienced professionals, all the while helping to carry out your mission.
Does your organization take advantage of an internship program? If not, what’s stopping you. There are a variety of roles interns can offer support with: grant writing, social media and digital marketing, clerical administration, community outreach and so much more. To start with identify your needs and create a plan that outlines expectations and responsibilities. Be sure to include your timeframe.
Don’t limit yourself. If you are struggling with identifying the benefits of establishing a program Internship.com offers these ten reasons to get started today.
1. Find future employees. An internship program is a year-round recruiting tool. Fall internships. Summer internships, semester internships, and quarterly internships, implementing an internship program means you have an ongoing pipeline of future full-time employees.
2.. Test-drive the talent. Hiring someone as an intern is the most effective way to evaluate their potential as a full-time employee. When you "try out" candidates via a semester or summer internship, you make fewer mistakes when it comes to full-time staffing; you avoid the pitfall of training a new hire, only to find out they're not a fit for your organization…or that the entry-level employee doesn't like the field. Starting an internship program lets you benefit from added manpower, while more accurately assessing candidates.
3. Increase productivity. Speaking of additional manpower, setting up an internship program allows you to take advantage of short-term support. The extra sets of hands help your employees be more productive, prevent them from becoming overburdened by side projects, as well as free them up to accomplish more creative tasks or those where higher-level, strategic thinking or expertise is required.
4. Increase employee-retention rate. The proof for the test-driving theory is in the positive employee-retention figures: According to NACE's 2009 Experiential Education Survey, almost 40% of employers reported a higher five-year retention rate among employees they'd hired via their internship programs.
5. Enhance perspective. It's not just the extra sets of hands that make interns advantageous. Especially in an organization of only 12 or 15 employees, new people bring with them novel perspectives, fresh ideas, and specialized strengths and skill sets.
6. Take advantage of low-cost labor. Interns are an inexpensive resource. Their salaries are significantly lower than staff employees, and you aren't obligated to pay unemployment, or a severance package should you not hire them on full-time. Moreover, while their wage requirements are modest, they're among the most highly motivated members of the workforce.
7. Find free-of-charge. Internships.com allows you to post your employer profile completely free of charge. This means you get extensive exposure to the top colleges and candidates without putting a dent in your recruiting budget.
8. Give back to the community. As a small business, you likely rely on community support. Creating an internship program is an excellent way to give back. Hiring interns not only helps students in your community get started; it enhances the local workforce.
9. Support students. Internships provide students numerous perks: They gain experience, develop skills, make connections, strengthen their resumes, learn about a field, and assess their interest and abilities.
10. Benefit your small business. When looking for full-time work, the top talent often go for big-name businesses. But when seeking internships, learning is the leading draw. Many candidates feel they'll get more hands-on training, real experience, and mentoring opportunities with smaller organizations.
An excellent resource for internship protocols is the National Council of Nonprofits
Checklist for Success. This easy to follow guide will help you to manage program expectations, allowing you to make the most of your most valuable tool….the intern.
Providing internship opportunities… changes the whole equation.
Eduardo J. Padron
Interns: Employee or Volunteer. National Council of Nonprofits. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/interns-employee-or-volunteer.
10 Benefits of Starting on Intern Program. Internships.com. http://www.internships.com/employer/resources/setup/benefits
Today‘s blog is being brought to you while I sit on my back porch sipping a cup of coffee and listening to the birds chirp. It’s a relaxed environment and allows me to work as I need to get my job done. As a volunteer with the Volunteer Center of McHenry County I certainly appreciate the flexibility this affords me while I support a nonprofit agency from the comfort of my home. Not that long ago I would not have been able to do this but would have made the long commute into the office to sit in a cubicle and pound away on a keyboard. Gradually there has been a shift in work environments and how things are being accomplished.
During the mid 1990’s advances in technology made it possible for a new type of work environment to be created. The era of working remotely was born. Smartphones, laptops, tablets and a Wi-Fi connection became the tools for modern day telecommuting. Telecommuting is a work arrangement where employees work outside of the workplace at a remote location…home, library or coffee shop. All it takes is the technology, a mobile device and a location.
Organizations have discovered that telecommuting programs attract and retain valuable employees, while boosting morale (National Council of Nonprofits). It comes with a flexibility that many employees view as a work benefit. Working remotely also saves on commuting time and reducing an organization’s carbon footprint. So, is telecommuting something viable for non-profit organizations? The answer is YES, but requires planning, policies and procedures.
The National Council of Nonprofits offers these practice pointers when establishing guidelines for nonprofit employees working remotely:
Many nonprofits do not operate within a brick and mortar facility. Employee headcount and budgets restraints may call for a “virtual office” type environment. It is crucial these nonprofits adhere to established policies and procedures specifically created for working remotely.
Keep in mind that a traditional work environment may not have roles and responsibilities which allow for working remotely. Leaders within the organization will need to evaluate and determine what best meets the needs for the nonprofit. For those that do remember flexibility and communication are key to the program’s success.
National Council of Nonprofits. Remote Worker and Telecommuting Practices for Nonprofits.
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. Benefits of Telework.
“We become what we want to be by consistently
being what we want to become each day.”
Richard G. Scott
In the nonprofit world volunteers are invaluable and essential to the success of the organization. They are your eyes and ears of what’s going on with your clients and the community. This means you want to be sure the message and the mission they are conveying coincide with the message and mission of your organization.
This requires establishing a volunteer program and reviewing it regularly. So, what exactly does it take to have a successful volunteer program? A few key components include volunteer recruiting, volunteer delegation, volunteer evaluation, and volunteer appreciation.
Volunteer Recruiting: Recruiting the right person for the right role is critical. To ensure this is happening start with creating job descriptions. Clearly identify volunteer roles and responsibilities. This will help potential volunteers have an idea on what the role is and how they can best serve the organization. It will also help you the organization to assess where their greatest need for volunteers resides.
Volunteer Delegation: Alex Balan with 123ContactForm identifies delegation as one of the most important aspects in managing organizations or programs. “Effective delegation should be based on clearly outlined qualifications and responsibilities drawn from the recruitment phase. By delegating you empower volunteers and make them feel needed and important. Furthermore, it makes everyone in the group involved in activities, motivating them to reach their goals and improving their experience.”
Volunteer Evaluation: How do you know if your program is accomplishing what you want it to without some sort of gauge to measure and evaluate what’s happening with the program. Evaluating the program will show what’s being done right and highlight areas of improvement opportunity.
Volunteer Appreciation: Volunteers are there to support your organization 100% and they are doing it for free! Let me repeat that…for free. However, it is important to remember that everyone needs to feel appreciated. They need to know the job they’re doing matters. Make time to acknowledge your volunteers and let others know what an asset they are to your organization. Remember to say “thank you” often.
Getting your volunteer program off the ground and running or reviewing a current program might seem like a daunting task, however with good resources available it will go much smoother. The Volunteer Center of McHenry County will be hosting the workshop
"Increase Your Impact: Volunteer Management Training Certificate" in June. This is a great opportunity to address all the pertinent components of a volunteer program at one time.
This workshop will focus on:
Alex Balan. "Why and How to Manager Your Volunteer Program Professionally." https://npengage.com/nonprofit-management/why-and-how-manage-your-volunteer-program-professionally/
"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way."
The fields are ready. Uniforms are pristine. The concession stands are stocked. The bats are warmed up. The gloves are oiled. That’s right it can only mean one thing...baseball season is here! At this point you are probably wondering where this is going so let me get started.
One thing baseball and nonprofits have in common is they operate under a form of leadership. Both answer to a board of directors, shareholders or someone at a high management level. The leadership is responsible for a variety of tasks; financials, human resources, employees, clients and operations just to name a few. This probably sounds very similar to your organization. Leaders have a hug responsibility to their organization. Without leadership something is bound to fail. This month let’s look at how baseball and nonprofit succession planning are important to staying in the game.
The game of baseball is a very strategically planned and played as a team sport. On the field the team is led by a manager. The manager is the decision maker for the on-field strategy, lineup, training and instruction. The role is critical to the team because the manager’s guidance is what dictates the team’s direction on the field. So, what happens if the manager is no longer there? Maybe a planned retirement or an unplanned termination has occurred. Maybe a personal emergency takes them off the field. No manager could now mean no direction for the players. So, how does an organization handle this? The organization needs a new leader. They can't just pull one of the streets to fill the role. The sustainability of the team requires careful succession planning if the organization is to continue to drive success.
Nonprofits are also very strategically driven. They are also challenged with the inevitable leadership shifts. Leadership will change, it’s not a matter of if but when. These types of shifts can be detrimental to the organization if there hasn't been any pre-planning done. The best way to handle this is to create a written succession plan. Not taking the time to create one could mean the demise of your organization. Getting started is always the toughest part. Let's get you pointed in the right direction.
The National Council of Nonprofits suggests starting with these ten planning tips for transition:
The future sustainability of your organization relies on the work and plans you put into place today. Get a written succession plan created and keep your organization in the game!
If you are in need additional resources take a look at the Nonprofit-Executive Succession Planning Toolkit. It offers guidance on emergency and planned successions. (Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)
National Council of Nonprofits. Succession Planning for Nonprofits – Managing Leadership Transitions. www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/succession-planning-nonprofits-managing-leadership-transitions
Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. "
So much of what we do today is governed by policies and procedures. Most businesses including nonprofits have some form of policies and procedures program they follow. These policies and procedures help ensure organizations are complying with laws and regulations that protect clients, employees, volunteers and the organization overall. Policies and procedures provide for a consistent message from your organization to your internal and external partners, promoting your organization’s culture. Properly selected and crafted, they serve as valuable guiding principles to be used for handling day-to-day situations.
Here’s an easy way of thinking about it. Policies are created to let us know why something needs to be done; and procedures let us know how to achieve it. An example might be establishing a security policy to protect the privacy of a client. The procedure established to follow that policy includes photo identification verification during the registration process.
Initially defining organizational policies and procedures might seem like a daunting task but there are a variety of resources to help. Start with the Volunteer Center. They will be hosting the workshop “An Easy Button: Implementing Policies and Procedure”, that will take a broad look at policies and answer many of your questions and provide suggestions on types of policies, implementing major policies, how to recognize policy mistakes, and which ones to avoid.
Policy and procedural reviews and updates should also be incorporated into your operational practices. According to Chris Anderson, established policies and procedures help “your organization by providing employees with a handy reference to daily business operations, common organizational activities, or routine organizational tasks.” All these things help to contribute to a smoothly running operation equating to happy employees, volunteers and clients.
Click here to learn more about the Volunteer Center’s upcoming workshops and resources.
National Council of Nonprofits:
Internal Controls for Nonprofits. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/internal-controls-nonprofits
Good Governance Policies for Nonprofits. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/good-governance-policies-nonprofits
Anderson, Chris. Why Do We Have Processes and Procedures. https://www.bizmanualz.com/organize-your-business/why-do-we-have-processes-and-procedures.html
"A true professional not only follows but loves the processes, policies and principles set by his profession.”
Michelle has been a volunteer with the Volunteer Center of McHenry County for a year serving as a marketing volunteering.