Archive for December, 2010

10 Benefits of Corporate Volunteer Programs

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkAccording to recent studies, customers really respond when companies are involved in helping their communities, with a direct result to revenues. In this economy, with social funding being cut out of state and federal budgets, volunteers are more vital than ever to thousands of non-profit organizations nationwide.

Here are 10 benefits of implementing a corporate volunteer program:

  1. Employee volunteer programs allow corporations to develop more personal relationships in their communities, by sharing their human resources with non-profit organizations in need.
  2. According to a 2003 study called Good Companies, Better Employees, employees that participate in company-sponsored volunteer programs think more highly of their employers, with 63% calling it a great place to work compared to other companies.
  3. The same study reveals that 67% of employees who participate in volunteer programs are fairly or very satisfied with their jobs.
  4. These employee/volunteers also speak more highly of their employers to others, with 54% saying nice things vs. 49% of non-volunteers.
  5. Volunteer activities strengthen work teams, build employee skills and contribute to professional development.
  6. Employers see higher retention rates for employees who participate in volunteer activities. In addition, they are more likely to pursue promotion and development opportunities after volunteering.
  7. Employers can enjoy a higher level of workforce skills when employees volunteer. A 1998 study showed competency improved 14 to 17 percent as a direct result of volunteering.
  8. 51% of employees surveyed in 2007 said they believe an employee volunteer program is the greatest contribution a company can make to a non-profit organization. In contrast, only 37% named financial donations and 8% mentioned product donations as the greatest contribution.
  9. Corporate-sponsored volunteer events raise visibility in the community. Businesses benefit from positive perceptions and free publicity. Good-news stories about employee volunteers often generate greater media coverage, too.
  10. Employee volunteer programs help attract new employees. 62% of 18- to 26-year olds said in the 2007 study that they prefer to work for companies that provide opportunities for them to apply their skills to a non-profit organization’s benefit.

Blogging Tips for Non-Profits

Friday, December 17th, 2010

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkKeeping your non-profit organization’s website current and fresh is easier than ever. Even if you don’t have an updatable content management system, you can still write blog posts about events, post photos of activities and fundraisers, and keep your supporters engaged by keeping them informed.

Your blog is like a baby. It cannot be neglected. It needs regular care and feeding. And yes, it takes work to raise it properly. But it’s worth the effort.

Here are some tips to make your NPO’s blog easier to update and more successful:

  1. Promote it. If you’re not already on Twitter and Facebook, what are you waiting for? Posting updates on Twitter and Facebook about your new blog posts instantly sends traffic there. And that’s why you’re writing your blog, correct?
  2. Feed it. Do not neglect the blog! It’s too easy to let it go—especially if you haven’t written a post lately. But blogs are very forgiving—like a good friend, you can pick up the conversation as if you haven’t really gone away.
  3. Focus on your audience. What information do they want to know? What news or photos will they be interested in? What have you learned recently that they might enjoy hearing about? Delivering good content is about figuring out what your audience wants and then giving it to them.
  4. Don’t do it alone. Do you have a volunteer who is a good writer? Or a marketing person? Ask them to guest blog for you. Or give a staffer a chance to be creative. As long as the writer is enthusiastic about your non-profit’s mission, you really can’t go wrong. And really, don’t you have other things to do?
  5. Mix text and visual content. Break up the long blocks of text with photos. Throw in a video now and then.
  6. Keep it newsy. Google your NPO’s category—not under the “web search,” but under the “news search.” You’ll find all kinds of news you can write about.
  7. Include keywords. The blog is about informing and engaging your audience, yes—but it’s also a great way to help them find you. Include the keywords that describe your organization or the topic of the post so that when someone Googles that word, your blog comes up in the results.

FourSquare for NonProfits

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

(Since it’s holiday time, you might want to read this to a well-known tune):
You know Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and YouTube,
Flickr and MySpace and Gowalla and HootSuite,
But do you know about a growing leader in social media that non-profits are starting to use more and more? It’s FourSquare.

If you’ve seen your tech-friendly friends “checking in” on Twitter and Facebook with their current location—even several times a day—they’re likely using FourSquare to do so. Why? They might be receiving perks for every time they do. Starbucks and other national chains allow users to compete for prizes for checking in the most and becoming the “mayor” of each location.

FourSquare is designed to make a smart phone a marketing tool by allowing users to promote businesses over social networks—just by checking in.

How can non-profits use FourSquare? You can have your supporters keep your name and mission in the social media stream and promote events and other causes, too. Just add the non-profit venue to FourSquare and it’s ready to go. Tips: make sure the name is spelled correctly and don’t use acronyms. You can even tag the listing with “nonprofit.”

Get supporters to chat about your nonprofit. They can add it to their To Do lists and accrue points and badges for every visit, plus their social friends and contacts can see each other’s lists, and your nonprofit gets great exposure.

Finally, get your supporters to check in at all of your public events: fundraisers, board meetings, exhibits, annual meetings. There is even a group check-in feature that can really make a cause go viral.

If you’re in charge of managing a non-profit’s marketing, events or volunteers, check out FourSquare and get multi-layered coverage and exposure!

Tips That Can Make Anyone A Fundraising Event Guru

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

volunteer screening, background check volunteersFundraising events for non-profits are seldom hassle-free. But they are almost always extremely important to the bottom line. With so much riding on a successful fundraiser, it makes sense to be as organized and thorough in planning as possible. Not only does it make the event easier on everyone involved, it can help bring in more much-needed funds right away, and set the stage for increasing support for your non-profit in the future.

Tips That Can Make Anyone A Fundraising Event Guru

  1. Set your objectives: know exactly what you hope to accomplish, the minimum fundraising goal that must be met and any other expectations that your board of directors or management might have.
  2. Set a budget: This can be the sink-or-swim item on your planning list. You must know what the spending limit is before you purchase a single postage stamp. Base it on previous events, and add or cut to individual line items as necessary.
  3. Start recruiting volunteers and sponsors early. This goes along with the budget—when you look at each budget item, ask yourself if there is a volunteer that can provide the service or a sponsor that can provide the product. Ask early and often. It’s a great feeling to cross a line off a budget because you managed to secure it free of charge!
  4. Start making spreadsheets. Simple Excel spreadsheets serve as checklists and planning documents. They can save your life!
  5. Select the right venue: Consider number of attendees, easy access, parking and accessibility for all. Make sure the main room won’t be too crowded, or you could see your attendees leaving long before the event is over. Get references from previous events and check up on service, food, comfort level (not too hot, not too cold) and accommodations.
  6. Reach out: Not only do you want to contact your entire list of supporters, but you want to let the general community know about your event, too. Get signs and banners made and hung around the venue and in other high-volume spots. Send press releases to the local newspaper and community blogs. Set up Facebook and Twitter accounts and make sure you update them weekly, then daily when the event draws nearer. And ask your friends and family to spread the word through their Facebook and Twitter accounts, too. It works!
  7. Get it in writing: Make sure you have the venue, caterer, speaker, auctioneer and anyone else involved in your event under signed contract. Don’t promote the event without them!
Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with background checks.