Posts Tagged ‘volunteers’

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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volunteerVolunteers don’t grow on trees, so it can be tempting to grab any Tom, Dick or Harriet and welcome them onboard, only to find they are the wrong fit for your organisation.

1. Passion plus professionalism.

Just because your volunteers are not getting paid doesn’t mean they get to leave their A game at home and do half a job. Commitment and reliability are just as important in volunteering as they are in professional activities as well as personal life. Passion is infectious too. Adding the right person with a positive spirit and fresh eyes, to an already committed volunteer team, can increase the energy and outputs and make even the most mundane tasks enjoyable. Professionalism also means demonstrating integrity and reliability. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it, and if you commit to being at a certain place at a certain time, then be there! People who give their best, are enthusiastic, willing and interested are invaluable, regardless of the skills they bring to the table. With the right attitude, they can learn and achieve just about anything.

“Your personal and professional lives will have to go hand in hand and will have influence on each other.” – Abhishek Ratna

2. Flexibility & Energy

While it’s true that volunteers bring with them strengths and skills that you may have targeted, and a particular task or role to perform, flexibility and ability to give new things a go is invaluable in a great volunteer. An open mind and willingness to learn, adapt and get stuck in can make the difference between a body just filling a chair and someone who is an asset to the team. Not for Profit organisations who rely on volunteer support need people who can take on a broad range of tasks, and do them with enthusiasm and a smile! You want people with a ‘can do’ attitude who come to hang out with you, make a difference and give their best because they want to. You want them to enjoy working with you and want to make a real impact, not people who just want to make their resume look better. The more positive energy given by volunteers, the more that flows back to them in return.

“Every time you empty your vessel of that energy, fresh new energy comes flooding in.” – Anthony Kiedis

3. Team player

If you could do it all on your own you wouldn’t need volunteers, so chances are there will be a team of people working together on a task or outcome, and teamwork is an essential skill for any volunteer. Depending on the array of duties you may be working with other staff, paid or volunteer, service users and the general public. Your volunteers will also be representing your organisation, so teamwork skills also contribute to being a good ambassador. Good communication and listening skills, being approachable and friendly, and generally amiable and cooperative are the starting points of good teamwork and the ability to play nice with others and work towards a common goal. An ideal team player is also a self-starter who can use a little initiative and identify what needs to be done and when without being given constant supervision and instruction.

“Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results.” – Ifeanyi Onuoha

If your volunteer recruitment activities are effective, and your induction process is robust, you should be getting it right, most of the time. Keeping in mind these basic key attributes and qualities to look for in a volunteer will help ensure you get it right, more often than not.

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volunteers-601662_640Volunteering is a wonderful thing to do to boost your skills and help others, but did you know it can also boost your career? While you may not necessarily be getting paid for your volunteer work, it can still provide you with valuable knowledge of your particular industry as well as create quality references to fall back on during your personal and professional career.

Personal development is greatly enhanced giving you the opportunity to learn new skills or maintain and develop existing skills. Helping others can have a great impact on yourself and others and improve your self-esteem and sense of achievement. Volunteering can also bring people together from diverse and cultural backgrounds that you may not have the opportunity to meet in your regular day to day activities.

And of course, volunteering is not just for individuals. Businesses can also reap the rewards such as strengthening team bonds, increased morale, and of course, don’t forget good old fashioned fun.

Offering pro bono work is another way to offer your volunteer services in your own industry. Neo-philanthropist and entrepreneur Matthew Manos developed a “double-half” methodology – a 50% pro-bono business model that will have a great impact on your business and on you as an individual. Working on a volunteer project is also likely to make you more innovative, creative and resourceful – great qualities that can enhance your approach to business.

Perhaps you have the potential to take volunteers within your own organisation  Most volunteers won’t mind what they do as long as they feel their contribution is useful so by not accepting their help you could be overlooking a valuable resource. Or perhaps a retired business professional might be a great option to consider.

Anytime of the year is a great time to volunteer, and, more so around the holiday season. Whatever your reason for doing so, there are plenty of ways to give back to the community, without emptying your bank account. Depending on what it is you want to do, or whom you want to support, there is likely to be a lot of opportunity for you.

Whether you are seeking to volunteer or are taking volunteers, the relationships you create during these experiences will be the most memorable. Positive rewarding experiences are yours for the taking and with anything, today is a great day to start.

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womanWhat roles can volunteers take in your not for profit?

That’s the question that sometimes stops organisations from accepting voluntary help.  What work can they do that is useful but not petty?

Actually, most volunteers won’t mind what they do as long as they feel their contribution is useful so by not accepting their help you could be overlooking a valuable resource.

Volunteer roles should not be limited to basic unskilled tasks but should be used to fill gaps that may exist. Sometimes the work might require high level professional skills.  For example, if you are recruiting a volunteer treasurer, the potential volunteer is likely to have extensive accounting experience and possibly CPA qualifications.  In addition, the organisation my require assistance with  the development of a strategic plan so utilising the skills of a retired business professional could be a great option to consider.

From a volunteer’s perspective there are also many opportunities available from both local to overseas organisations.  The Australian Government through AusAID have established the Australian Volunteers for International Development program where you can volunteer for short and long term projects.  As discussed in previous post there are many other organisations that you can volunteer for in overseas countries.  These opportunities provide great experience for the volunteers that can significantly enhance their career prospects.

One way to assist in determining which roles a volunteer can do is to complete a simple skills and task assessment matrix.  The first step to complete this matrix is to brainstorm what tasks can be performed by a volunteer.  Then with each task identify the required skills, experience, objectives, timelines as well as the priority for this role within your organisation.  This then makes it easier to create a position description for the role so you can attract the right person.

The roles of a volunteer can be vast but the important issue is to identify what skills are required as this will then make it easy to recruit for that role.

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How do you show your appreciation for your supporters?  Your supporters can come in many forms and it is important to acknowledge them and give them some form of recognition.

For example, a supporter can be a donor who has made a significant donation to the organisation.  This doesn’t always have to be a financial donation as some people prefer to donate their time, a local company may donate a piece of equipment or perhaps your local politician allows you to use their photocopier.

If your organisation runs an event, you may have a lot of volunteers who act as marshals, assist with registrations or you may have parents who act as umpires or referees at sporting events.  Whatever the case may be you should make sure you show your appreciation.   Here are some ideas:

  • Hold a lunch or function where all the volunteers are invited.
  • Make reference to the supporters in a newsletter or on your website.
  • Include their details in a list as part of the printed annual report.
  • Send a xmas card that thanks them for their participation and assistance during the year.  The xmas card may be a picture of all the volunteers.
  • Send them a gift.  For example, it may be a key ring, a diary or a pen with details of your organisation on it.
  • Provide a certificate of appreciation for their efforts.
  • National Volunteer Week occurs each year so use this as an opportunity to show your appreciation.  National Volunteer Week for 2013 is between 13 – 19 May.

These are just some ways to show your appreciation but there are so many other ways you could do this.  Also, it can cost a lot more to acquire a new supporter than it does to retain one so make sure you take the time and effort to show your appreciation as without these supporters a lot of organisations would fail to exist.

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Winning a prize recently in an international Twitter competition was worthy of a press release, so here it is…..

President Sally Saunders and Admin Bandit Nerida Gill at Bosom Buddies Chrismas in Winter dinnerCanberra-based software company Admin Bandit has won US$1,000 on Twitter for Bosom Buddies, a local volunteer group that supports women living with breast cancer. 
Director Nerida Gill secured the donation on the popular social networking site by entering a competition run by Kayako, an international provider of online help desk software, which invited entrants to nominate a charity to receive a funding boost.
“A number of friends and family have suffered from breast cancer, so this cause is close to my heart,” Gill says. “Bosom Buddies provides vital aftercare for women who have undergone painful treatment for a disease that is frightening and often makes them question who they are as women.”
As a provider of volunteer treasurer software in community groups and a user of Kayako, Gill is also pleased to have won funding for an organisation staffed by volunteers. “Everyone at Bosom Buddies gives their time and energy simply because they care,” she says. “This kind of selfless giving is the backbone of our communities.”
Bosom Buddies is delighted with the unexpected windfall: “Nerida’s donation is like a rainbow delivering a pot of gold,” says Marilyn Brookes, chair of the organisation’s breast awareness education subcommittee. “We raise all our own funds, which is time-consuming and hard work.”
Brookes says the gift will be used to provide a range of support for those experiencing breast cancer, as well as their families and supporters, including: education materials, 24-hour telephone support, a one-on-one buddy system, hospital visits, and practical surgery aftercare in the form of soft prostheses and cotton shoulder bags to hold post-surgery tubes.
Kayako Chief Operating Officer Ryan M Lederman is also pleased to assist such a strong initiative. “We’re glad Admin Bandit chose to donate their US$1,000 to Bosom Buddies,” he says. “Breast cancer is a very important problem facing the world today.”
Lederman adds that Twitter was the perfect forum for hosting the competition. “Social networking is hot right now,” he says. “We believe in building relationships that last a lifetime and we want people to know they’re our highest priority. Twitter is one of the best ways we know to do that.”

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This week I attended the Canberra Region Business Expo and picked up some helpful tips. Todd Wright presented a workshop on “The New Net” in your business. I now understand the significance of tags and the tag surfer tool that people use to pick up blogs with information in which they are interested. Todd explained blogs and how to use them for your business and took participants step by step through the process by setting up a blog about the event. Within minutes of setting up the blog a comment was posted because of the tags he used on the post. A tag was picked up by someone using tag surfer! I’m going to investigate tag surfer and think more about the tags I use.

Here’s to volunteer treasurers..

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