Volunteer Center McHenry County was lucky enough to have Anthony Engle, now a senior at Jacobs High School, as our 2019 volunteer summer intern. Anthony's incredible work ethic, engaging personality and wise-beyond-his-years smarts made him an incredibly valuable asset to our team. As he finished his internship, he shared just one more piece of wisdom for our nonprofit readers on reaching student volunteers. Check out his blog post below!
By Anthony Engle
As summer ends and the thought of school looms over me, I'm not sad or disappointed, rather happy and excited. I go back to high school to enter my senior year on August 13th, and I will greatly remember this summer and everything I did – whether it was going on vacations, hanging out with friends, or my first internship at the Volunteer Center McHenry County.
This summer I decided I wanted to get some practical job experience and see what it would be like to work at a nonprofit. I contacted the Volunteer Center having heard about them online and seen their social media marketing on Instagram. I set up an interview and was able to learn more about the nonprofit and how they work I would do would transfer into valuable skills for me in the future.
I would've never thought I'd have learned so many preprofessional skills in such a short amount of time. It wasn’t anything that a class at my school would be able to teach me. I was able to learn how to make connections and professionally talk to others, whether it was through email, a phone call or face-to-face interaction. I learned about office programs and clerical work. I've helped design leadership programs and held discussions. I've learned how to find grant funding and how to create sustainable growth. All of this I hope to implement into service clubs at my school so we can have a larger impact on our community.
But the biggest takeaway was the importance of nonprofits, not just the big, international ones, but the small, local ones that create huge positive impacts in my own community. It's truly an enriching experience to be able to work with and intern for a nonprofit.
Believe it or not, many high school students want to get out there and do the same thing. One of the best ways to reach high school students is to create a social media presence on Instagram and Twitter – and use hashtags. We love them!
Lastly, feel free to contact schools. A lot of students are incredibly close with their teachers and counselors. If a counselor or teacher learns about a program or opportunity, they'll know students to contact that would have a genuine interest.
I'm so thankful for having the opportunity to intern this summer with a nonprofit. I'm so happy to have gained valuable skills and learned more about nonprofits in my community.
Volunteer Center McHenry County wants to extend a heartfelt thank you to Anthony for spending his summer with us! He made a huge impact on the community and our organization.
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.
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."
Often agency volunteers are the face and voice of your organization. They are the folks out in the trenches, tasked with sharing and carrying out your mission. Although it is important to demonstrate your gratitude for their efforts year-round, the holiday season offers the unique opportunity to highlight their kind-heartedness.
Something to consider is people volunteer for a variety of reasons. They want to give something back to their community. Some want to make a difference in the lives of others. Some want to help others less fortunate or without a voice. During this season of giving nonprofit organizations have a unique opportunity to applaud the generosity given throughout the past year and to celebrate the humanity that seems especially prominent during this holiday season.
Volunteers are an invaluable part of the nonprofit world. Many programs would cease to exist without their efforts. So here are two questions to ask yourself. The first one is does your organization let volunteers know how much of an impact they make? Volunteers need to know that what they are doing is affecting someone, somewhere, somehow. Two, do your volunteers know how grateful the agency is to them for their work? Everyone likes to know their efforts are recognized and appreciated. Now more than ever is a great time to let them hear it.
Whether you choose informal or formal ways to acknowledge volunteers there are many options available to demonstrate your gratitude. Here are just a few:
Peace and joy to you during this holiday season.
Michelle has been a volunteer with the Volunteer Center of McHenry County for a year serving as a marketing volunteering.