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Socializing Your Volunteer Program

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"Socializing Your Volunteer Program," an Ignite presentation for the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference, by Robert Rosenthal, Director of Communications at VolunteerMatch. Tips, tools and training …

"Socializing Your Volunteer Program," an Ignite presentation for the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference, by Robert Rosenthal, Director of Communications at VolunteerMatch. Tips, tools and training for using social networking to recruit, manage, and activate your volunteer base.

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  • Who I amQuick questions: who knows VolunteerMatch? Who works with volunteers?These are my opinions, not necessarily my organization’sWhat I am talking about: Paradigm shift is happening that we are preparing for. Hopefully you will too.
  • We’re going to talk about the benefits of socializing your volunteer programFor those who work with volunteers, you know that recruiting and managing volunteers are two important but different sides of the same coin.Recruiting is more like marketing: You need to know where to look and you need to have the right message in order to connect. Managing is more like, well, managing. Maybe with a little bit of HR in there too. Lots of communications and coordination. Maybe some training. Etc.But don’t forget about activating volunteers. Volunteers are often your most passionate supports. In fact, studies show they give 10x as much money to charities on average. You need to be able to direct them to take specific actions when necessary, even if it has nothing to do with the original role or project they signed up for.
  • So yes, there’s a shift happening. And we see if every day at VolunteerMatch.orgHere’s our two year trend of traffic from Google.Google has been the dominant source of our traffic for years because its search engines love us, we have lots of keyword rich content, and tens of thousands of links coming in.But as you can see the Google traffic has been flat. And yet we’ve been growing 10-20% each year. Where’s all that new traffic coming from?
  • As you can see from these reports, a lot of it is coming from social networking sites, particularly Facebook.Note: MySpace is in series decline.So the trend is clear: At some point in the future, most of your volunteer prospects will learn about your opportunities not from Google but from their social media networks.And as so many of your existing volunteers use social networking services as primary communications systems, much of the coordinatation and engagement of your existing volunteers will take place there too. Let’s look closer at what this shift means for volunteering.
  • Let’s look at how Was search, today is filterSearch starts with curiosity or passion. It’s using tools to take control of our word. At VolunteerMatch we were great at this.
  • Social Web is about filtering. You set up your feed or group preferences, add your friends, and you sit back.There are still opportunities for serendipitous discovery, but those discoveries must be recommended or shared by your friends, family and coworkers first.It’s a smaller world. Yet better tuned to your lifestyle.
  • How and why you volunteer is a lifestyle choice, more than ever.By that I mean it is becoming a key marker of our identities.A manner of living that reflects your values.Lifestyle is about choices that form our identity, and that separate us from others.This trend began during the search paradigm, which unlocked individual passion as main driver, and now it’s deepening with social.What causes do you care about?
  • At the same time, volunteering is different from other lifestyle markers kike your choice in fashion, music, and cars. Telling others that you volunteer increases your social currency. You can share it and communicate it, and it feels authentic. And even when it’s faked it feels real, because who the heck fakes volunteering? It says you care. That things matter to you. That you are active. And sharing it strengthens your social bonds by giving others data about what you care about.
  • So how are people sharing their volunteering?We got a lot of insight into this last year when we dropping in our AddThis feature.AddThis makes it easy for VolunteerMatch users to share cool and inspiring things they find at VolunteerMatch with other people. AddThis includes all the most popular social networking sites.About 1,500 AddThis shares happen each week at VolunteerMatch.Not counting email shares, Facebook and Twitter are dominant.These are only the top 10. There’s a long tail too, which reflects lots of different networks.
  • So what makes up a network? Hubs and tiesHubs in social networks are influential people who tie others to each other.Online, social networks require some form of technology as hubs too.What are the hubs and ties in sharing volunteering?Your organization’s Web site is a hub for lots of activity around your cause, including volunteering activity, so definitely make sure you have a volunteer section on your Web site.Meanwhile, VolunteerMatch and other services like our are also hubs for activity, albeit on a much greater scale.
  • Ties in social networks are the relationships and experiences that people share. Online, the social networking services are hard at work creating new technology to tie people together too.Donating to your organization is probably the biggest social networking tie your community will have.But they will also ties like events, contests, groups and discussions. Set up your pages, profiles, and accounts now so the Web sites and VolunteerMatch listings that serve as your volunteer recruitment hubs can be tied and connected.
  • In the era of social sharing, the secret sauce of your volunteer program is going to be having juicy opportunities. Here’s a juicy listing from Cross Cultural Solutions, which helps people volunteer when they travel, primary internationally. What makes it juicy: It’s compelling: Make a difference!It’s inspiring: Side by side!It’s specific: Costa rica!It uses multimedia: Photo!They also have 7 reviews you can check out.We have lots of travel organizations using VolunteerMatch. CSS has the juiciest listings.With juicy listings like these CCS has generated more than 30,000 requests from people who want to volunteer!Again: to be juicy, use inspiring words and photos, be specific, and talk about the impact volunteers can make.Stuffing envelopes? Not juicy.
  • People want to share juicy listings.Not surprisingly, Cross Cultural has some of our most-shared opportunities too.We’ve added a bunch of tools to feed those connections. Here’s the AddThis tool.At right, what volunteers see. They can share directly from VM. We’ve also implemented Facebook Connect.At left, some tools we’ve added that organizations can use to share their own listings, too.Even if you don’t use VolunteerMatch, make sure whatever you do use enables sharing of your opportunities.
  • Speaking of losing friends, be careful how you target audiences in online social networks. If you’re too aggressive you can come off as spammy.This is particularly common on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Ning -- where it’s easy to find others and join groups.I group I manage at LinkedIn has about 800 members. It’s about volunteering. Yet one member posts multiple messages each week about her business, which is helping nonprofits produce charity auctions. I delete them, she posts. This is a fail. Don’t let it happen to you. Stay focused on listening and sharing.If no one is talking about the kinds of issues, causes, skills or needs that your opportunities deal with, you may be in the wrong place.
  • Speaking of current and past volunteers… it doesn’t occur to many organizations that their volunteers can be their most effective public spokespeople. Or that helping their volunteers to connect with each other can deepen their experience with your organization.Those who manage volunteers need to learn how to inspire and equip volunteers with the messaging and tools they need to spread the word.Badges, talking points, and Facebook fan pages all are part of this… they give volunteers a way to exhibit their pride and involvement. Also, ask volunteers to add a review at sites like VolunteerMatch (3,500-plus) and GreatNonprofits. More and more businesses are doing this, so volunteers are becoming more comfortable with the idea.
  • It’s important to socialize your program because even casual volunteering is the gateway for deeper involvement at your organization in many other ways.With social networking tools, it’s easier to activate your volunteers to help out in areas unrelated to their original volunteering goals.We released a report last year with Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund that showed how volunteers actually donate to nonprofits 10x as much as non-volunteers.Traditional volunteers can also be powerful voices in your advocacy efforts around whatever your cause is. Often you just need to ask. They are often your most enthusiastic supporters. They get the importance of your cause, and they know that your organization is doing awesome things.
  • Finally,it’s also important to socialize your volunteer program because you just never know when you might need it.On the one hand, natural and man made disasters have given plenty of organizations fits, especially when it comes to technology.We’ve seen tons of reports from organizations that have made use of Twitter and Facebook to make sure their food pantry, rescue mission, recovery efforts, and day of service events came off despite unplanned for problems.
  • To recap:Socialize your program to take advantage of social and lifestyle trends.Use social networking sites to create ties between the hubs of your site and volunteer sites like VolunteerMatch.Great networking is about listening and sharing. Not to mention Juicy opportunities.Facebook and Twitter rock. LinkedIn is good if you recruit a lot of professionals. MySpace sucks.Use social tools to help with recruiting, managing, and activating your volunteer base.Check out our free Webinar in June. Read our blog. Follow me on Twitter.Thank you!
  • Transcript

    • 1. SOCIALIZING YOURVOLUNTEER PROGRAM
      Robert J. Rosenthal,Director of Communications,VolunteerMatch.org
      PHOTO: Anirudh Koul/Flickr
    • 2. SOCIALIZING BENEFITS ALL AREAS
      RecruitingManagingActivating



    • 3. TRAFFIC TRENDS: GOOGLE
      SOURCE: GOOGLE ANALYTICS/VOLUNTEERMATCH
    • 4. TRAFFIC TRENDS: SOCIAL SITES
      LinkedIn
      Twitter
      Facebook
      SOURCE: GOOGLE ANALYTICS/VOLUNTEERMATCH
    • 5. SEARCH WAS ABOUT DISCOVERY
      PHOTOS: petereed/Flickr
    • 6. CAST THE NET
      SOCIAL IS ABOUT FILTERING
      PHOTOS: yuan2003/Flickr
    • 7. A LIFESTYLE CHOICE
      PHOTO: Detsugo/Flickr
    • 8. VOLUNTEERING IS SOCIAL CURRENCY
    • 9. SOCIAL CHANNELS
      How Are People Sharing VolunteerMatch Opportunities?
      SOURCE: ADDTHIS/VOLUNTEERMATCH
    • 10. NETWORK STRUCTURE: HUBS
      VOLUNTEERMATCH
      VOLUNTEERMATCH
      YOUR .ORG
      YOUR .ORG
      SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA
    • 11. NETWORK STRUCTURE: TIES
      }
      FeedsEvent pagesContestsGames
      }
      Group Logos (Badges)Discussions/News/ArticlesVolunteering Resumes Event pages
      }
      HashtagsListsFollowing
    • 12. RECRUITING: START WITH JUICY OPPS
      JUICY!
    • 13. RECRUITING: ENABLE SHARING
    • 14. RECRUITING: BUILD YOUR NETWORKS
      Your web site. Newsletters. Email blasts. Other Web sites. Flyers. Brochures. Posters. Banners. Blogs. Press releases. Events. Conferences. Job listings. Volunteer opportunities.Email signature files. Signage. Advertising. Radio and TV interviews. Speaking engagements. Cross-promotion in social networks. Research releases. Podcasts. Op-eds. Phone outreach. Fundraising letters. Annual reports. Video credits. Petitions. Door hangers. Blog comments. Letters to the editor.
    • 15. RECRUITING: LEARN TO TARGET
    • 16. MANAGING: COORDINATE EVENTS
    • 17. MANAGING: INSPIRE SHARING
      PHOTO: ryancr/Flickr
    • 18. ACTIVATING: LEARN TO CREATE ACTION
      PHOTO: aiesecinternational/Flickr
    • 19. ACTIVATING: SAVE IT FOR A RAINY DAY
      PHOTO: hexodus/Flickr
    • 20. THANK YOU
      Recap:
      • “Socialize” your program to take advantage of social and lifestyle trends.
      • 21. Create ties between the hubs of your site and sites like VolunteerMatch.
      • 22. Great networking is about listening and sharing. Plus Juicy opportunities.
      • 23. Facebook and Twitter are must-haves. LinkedIn is a nice-to-have. MySpace is a used-to-have.
      • 24. Use social tools to help with managing and activating your volunteer base too.
      More Help from VolunteerMatch:
      Free Webinar, “Social Media & Volunteer Engagement”, Tuesday 6/22:http://www.volunteermatch.org/nonprofits/learningcenter
      “Engaging Volunteers” Blog:
      http://blogs.volunteermatch.org/engagingvolunteers
      Follow Me on Twitter:@volmatch