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Archive for the ‘volunteer’ Category

If you are a busy volunteer and trying to find balance in your life, it can be difficult. It may not seem as if you have enough hours in your day to get your “work” done, let alone find time to relax and de-stress. And what about friends, family, your children? Overworking and not achieving a healthy balance can be extremely tiring, not to mention, draining. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Turn off those devices

Being connected 24/7 can be tiring in itself. When did you last switch your phone off so you could do something uninterrupted? Those constant notifications and pings can distract your thought processes and your relaxation. Turning them off will allow you to enjoy the moment – even better when you are spending it with those you love. Give them 100% of your attention without the need to check your device constantly. Everyone will benefit because of it.

Everything does not have to be perfect

We are always surrounded by perfectionism – on television, in magazines and in the books we read. But keeping up with those standards of measurements can be difficult. Life is complicated and busy for a start! So if you have to let things slide for the sake of your sanity, then do it. Leave the dishes until tomorrow. Clean the bathroom in a day or two. Whatever you need to put off, it is truly okay. It will still be there tomorrow (unless someone kindly volunteers to do it for you!)

Schedule in exercise

Exercise is one of those things that we constantly tell ourselves we will do later. But the truth is, there is always an opportunity to exercise; we just need to make it a priority in our life. If you have time to sit down and watch a television program, then you have time to commit to a short exercise schedule a couple of occasions a week. Whether you enjoy yoga, want to job, go for a walk, or cycle, then schedule it in. It will not only make you feel less stressed about your busy lifestyle, but it will also improve your energy to get you through the day.

Take it one step at a time

Marathon runners don’t get to where they are without attempting small runs first. It is the same with making any changes in your life. You don’t aim to lose 20 pounds in a week and nor do you try to find 3 hours of “me time” in one go. Take it slowly and snatch moments here and there. Once you begin to see that giving yourself permission is kind, not selfish, then you will be keener to make changes, so it happens on a regular basis. Like exercise, scheduling it into your daily movements will help.

Create boundaries

It is not acceptable for people to call you at 11 pm or 7 am. It is not acceptable when you are asked to forego your lunch break to help out in the office. Create boundaries so people know when you are available – anything else can wait until you are available. Unexpected things happen regularly in life and the office, but your time is sacred and needs to be respected as well. If you don’t want to be interrupted, then turn your phone off and shut the door. People will soon understand when you are open to conversations or wish to discuss their requirements. Saying no is something you have to get used to saying more often.

Plan your holidays in advance

Plan your holidays in advance, so it gives you something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be an all-expenses paid cruise to unwind. Even a staycation (a holiday at home away from work or volunteering) can be great for the mind and body if you plan it right. Once you know your dates, then you can delegate as necessary. That will give time for a volunteer to step up to take on your responsibilities. And don’t forget if you do plan to go away, arrange for someone to water your plants and check on your home, to give you one less thing to have to worry about.

Join a group

While joining another group when you are time limited sounds counter-productive, it can do your mind a world of good. It allows you to concentrate on something else other than volunteering or the mundane chores at home. It also provides you with an avenue where you can spend time talking about something you like with other like-minded individuals. Do you have a hobby or wish to take one up? This is your chance to join a group and expand your knowledge.

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Filling the post of volunteer treasurer can be a difficult task for many boards. While volunteer treasurers are responsible for performing a number of significant tasks and duties, there are a number of myths about being a treasurer of a nonprofit organisation that can hold individuals back from volunteering. The following are a few of the benefits that can arise from fulfilling the role of volunteer treasurer.

Improve Self-Esteem and Sense of Self

Many volunteers report that they find that they effort and work that they do to support their cause is very rewarding. Volunteering gives folks that participate a sense that the work that they do is meaningful, and that the actions that they are taking are helping to bring about positive change and transforming their communities into a better place.

This sense of working with others to serve a greater purpose helps improve the morale and sense of well-being one has as a volunteer.

Networking

Because their service often involves working with both other volunteers and service recipients, volunteering gives others the opportunity to meet new people, and learn new things about existing connections. Volunteering connects individuals with others who often share their values, and this increases friendship and a spirit of camaraderie and belonging. Greater connectedness with others increases empathy and happiness, which can improve wellness and well-being.

Volunteering can also boost one’s employment opportunities, as it makes it easier for volunteers to meet others in diverse fields and backgrounds. This increases prospects for the volunteer and can make it easier to find new positions in one’s field, or change careers entirely.

Learn New Skills and Use Existing Skills in a Different Way

Many accounting software packages have simplified common treasurer tasks, such as creating the budget and other reports and documents. It is no longer absolutely necessary to have prior accounting or bookkeeping experience to be a successful volunteer treasurer. However, volunteers with prior accounting, finance, insurance or other similar experience benefit from using their existing skills in a new way that offers them a different perspective on accounting processes and procedures. Others without this experience will appreciate the chance to learn new skills that are frequently used by volunteer treasurers.

Learning new skills not only help volunteers to grow as individuals, but, it provides them with an opportunity to update their resume and possibly increase their chances of success should they decide to enter a new field or search for a new position.

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Your email list is one of the best resources you have. It consists of people who may have volunteered, are considering volunteering or are interested in your charity. That is why it is important to make the most of this method to boost the number of volunteers you have assisting your organisation.

Keep it short and to the point

While you make think a lengthy email is better, try to communicate all the information you have in one brief request. In today’s age, email holders are often overwhelmed with the number of emails that appear in their inbox. Keep it simple and to the point.

Emphasise the good they can do

Don’t just tell them what they can do, let them know how much they will be helping others by giving up their time. People volunteer to make a difference in the community, so demonstrate that in your email as much as possible.

Showcase the benefits

Volunteering can also teach individuals new skills which will often look good on their resume. Point these skills out to the reader so they understand that by giving up their time, they will also gain skills which can they can use to further their full-time positions or other volunteering positions in the future.

Personalise the email

Add the recipient’s name to the email so that there is a higher opportunity of them even reading it in the first place. It will increase your chances of being noticed and getting your message out there to your audience. Personalisation can increase the average open rate of non-profit emails to increase above the standard 25% to closer to 30%.

Add images to brighten their inbox

If your email text is all words, then your readers will likely skim over it and miss the important points. Add some interesting pictures so they can see at a glance what your charity represents and how they can help you individually. It will keep their attention for slightly longer and give you a fighting chance to gain extra volunteers.

Convey a sense of immediacy

Let your prospective volunteers know that it is important that they respond as quickly as possible. You don’t want to hear from prospects two months after your email goes out. Let them know that interest will need to be provided as soon as possible so you can move on to the next steps of the volunteer recruitment process.

These are all helpful tips to ensure that your email has more chance of being read, let alone acted upon. One bonus tip which you will find especially useful is to keep it real. Show your charity’s personality and aim through your email without trying to be something that you are not. Authenticity is extremely important in maintaining quality connections with your readers, your volunteers and the general public.

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pexels-photo-261577Working or volunteering at an NFP can be a time-consuming task. It can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get through the to-do list, let alone come up with creative ideas for fundraising activities. So what can you do to make the most of your volunteer hours?

Create a workable system

You will need to come up with a system so you can use the time you have to the best of your advantage. Organise everything so you can find it quickly; make lists, create folders, manage a diary – whatever works for your particular job or project. The better organised you are, the easier it will be to manage your time effectively.

Stop procrastinating

Often when things get busy, it is easy to spend time worrying about the mountain of paperwork or the number of items on the to-do list. The trick is to tackle them one at a time. Cross an item off the list and move on to the next one. Don’t spend your energy worrying about things – just do what needs to be done when you have the time.

Work from home where necessary

Sometimes working from home is in your best interests when you have a long or complex task to do. It can mean you can work on it in your own time without interruption, reporting back to the office as necessary. It may not work for all projects, but it could help when you are time limited and could save on much travel time between locations.

Break projects down into mini-tasks

If you are overseeing a big project, then it is often easier to bring things down into workable chunks. Plan your day so you can work on one project to completion. Then move onto something else and repeat. This will take much of the stress and overwhelm out of the work day and minimise time wastage from switching from task to task.

Avoid checking emails and messages first thing

Emails and messages can cut into your day. Try to get out of the habit of checking your emails as soon as you arrive at the office. Start working on your to-do list and save the message checking until mid-morning or mid-afternoon when you feel like you need a break. Add an automatic reply which states you will respond within a 24 hour period, so you don’t feel rushed to answer immediately.

Give yourself a break

You are only human, and you cannot do it all TODAY. Burnout will be no good for you or the NFP you are volunteering for. Do what you can, when you can and be happy with that. And if the NFP is struggling to get through the tasks set, then it may be time for them to look for an extra pair of hands to help you out. While challenging work is good for the soul, self-sacrifice will do you no good at all.

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teamworkVolunteers may come into your NFP as individuals, but you need them to work together as a group. This doesn’t always happen naturally, but there are things you can do to help bond your people into a devoted team.

Know their reasons for volunteering

Some people like to help out in many places; some will be drawn just to your organisation. Understanding why each individual is there will help you to keep them engaged and inspired, whether they want to learn new skills, fill some free time, or just love to help others.

It will also help you to build an effective team of like-minded people who enjoy each other’s company. Volunteering is often a social activity where people make new friends.

Communicate

This is the easiest and most effective way to keep your team motivated, but it’s easy to overlook. Expectations should be clear and responsibilities of each person should be laid out, providing a path to success. Provide instruction and offer additional training if needed.

Don’t forget to listen as well as talk. Volunteers are the people at the heart of your organisation; ask for feedback and be open to suggestions. Talking to them before hiring an expensive consultant can save your NFP time and money.

Share the vision

Your NFP has a big picture and volunteers work on small goals toward making it happen. Show them how the work their team is doing fits into the overall plan, so they know what they’re working toward.

Instead of taking over, delegate responsibility. For instance, don’t hand down a to-do list. Instead, ask the team to make small and large goals for their project. Give your people more control, and they will be driven to make things happen – plus they’ll keep the pressure on the other members of the team.

Let them know they’re making a difference

When a goal is reached, or progress is made, share that with the team so they can see the results of their hard work. For example after building a school, invite the volunteers to visit and see classrooms full of children.

Show appreciation

It’s simple: say thank you! Say it in person when you see them, say it publicly on social media with photos showing off their hard work. Reward the team by celebrating together when important projects come to an end.

Enthusiasm is contagious, and if you aren’t excited about your NFP, no one else will be either. Have fun and your people will too!

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light-sign-typography-lightingPro Bono has just called for nominations for Pro Bono Australia’s 2016 Impact 25 awards.

These awards are designed to recognise this year’s most influential people working to make the world a better place.

In our world, there are many dedicated people who work really hard for the benefit of their charity or NFP, usually for little to no recognition. Others have a higher profile, but work diligently, day in and day out, for their cause.

One of the 2015 Impact 25 Awards winners was Rosie Batty, tireless campaigner against domestic violence. There were more than 280 people nominated from a diverse range of professions and 13,000 votes were cast to select the winner.

To win, the nominee must embody the four core values sought: integrity, initiative, foresight and collaboration.

Who will you nominate?

Take a good look around at the people working with you. Consider your paid staff but also remember your volunteers. Rarely will any of these people be considered for an award despite their achievements. Impact 25 is the award that wants to change that; to bring attention to the people who deserve recognition.

You may nominate up to three people and be sure to include your reasons for the nomination.

Nominations close 14 November.

You can find out more about the awards here and make your nominations here.

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smartphone-569076_640In April, a telling report named “State of Volunteering In Australia” was launched at the National Volunteering Conference. Some of the key findings were ways in which to address perceived shortcomings of volunteer recruitment and placement, as well as how to improve volunteer participation and retention.

Challenge Finding Enough Help

Interesting areas in the report addressed what potentially deters volunteers from becoming involved in non-profit projects, even when the need for volunteers is clear and present. This is pertinent to many not-for-profits, as close to 90% report finding adequate volunteer help is an ongoing challenge for their organisations.

Catch 22 of Finding Volunteers

In a somewhat cyclical manner, it appears some organisations are not getting enough help because they lack the resources to recruit or engage volunteers. In this way, the groups remain small or understaffed, and important work is stalled. Various solutions are suggested for this scenario; mostly surrounding advocating for funding, and recognition of the fiscal contribution volunteer participation brings to operations. Getting a financial boost from outside can be the impetus needed to be able to reach out for more assistance.

Main Deterrents for the Volunteers

Volunteers, for their part, don’t always seem to mind incurring out of pocket expenses to be able to volunteer, with over 60% saying they did so, and just 18% claiming reimbursement. However, for others it can be a barrier, so it pays to be mindful of what may be the case for your organisation. Make sure to offer reimbursement at recruitment if it seems to be an issue. Other things that can be barriers to volunteers offering their time most commonly include work commitments, and ‘excessive’ paperwork, including background checks required in some sectors.

Making the Most of the Volunteers

Another shortcoming that is affecting volunteer retention is the possible lack in positively matching the skills and abilities of volunteers with work organisations. Organisations do well when they recognise and apply the best people to particular jobs, rather than leaving volunteers to do the job paid employees don’t want to do. When good matches happen, it is a win-win, with volunteers returning time and again to assist groups they know need them.

While it is not always easy finding the people you need when you need them, being aware of what stands in the way of long-term volunteer/organisation relationships is a vital step.

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