Archive for July, 2011

Empower Volunteers for More Productivity

Friday, July 29th, 2011

volunteer screening volunteer credit checkMost volunteer coordinators say that volunteers are their most valuable assets. Nurturing and looking after assets is important to keep them from slipping away. So how do you take care of volunteers? Are they slipping away, despite your best efforts?

Taking care of your volunteers can pay off in higher rates of productivity and retention. One trick is to channeling their creativity, talent and experience—and that takes real leadership. So does realizing that your volunteers might be smarter than you. Most non-profit organizations have volunteers from all sorts of backgrounds, like retired business executives, teachers, accountants, lawyers—people with top-level talent and plenty of brainpower.

  1. When you see real talent and valuable experience in your volunteers, give them the freedom to do what they do best, and don’t micromanage. Get out of their way and you might be amazed at the ideas they come up with.
  2. If the organization is facing a problem, ask for help or advice from your experienced volunteers. There is no rule saying that you must follow it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Whether or not a volunteer’s advice meet your needs, giving people the freedom to contribute to the organization does wonders for their self-worth, gives them a reason to keep volunteering and can result in solid new ideas for problem-solving.
  3. Consider asking for ideas from a number of volunteers, or putting together a brainstorming session to address a problem. You may soon have a number of “what if” scenarios around the table. One of them could be the solution you decide to go for. Collective problem solving can be a great way to harness and leverage the talent of your volunteers, while making them feel valued and productive.

Leadership means educating volunteers about why their roles are important. But it also means matching them with jobs that matter to them personally. Taking care of volunteers by involving them in tasks that use their talents, creativity and intelligence is a great way to keep them engaged and make your organization more successful.

Tips For a Memorable Fundraising Event

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

For non profit organizations, every fundraising event needs to pay off. The amount of time, money and volunteer effort invested in a fundraiser can’t be wasted on a mediocre turnout and less-than-stellar take.

If you’re in charge of gathering ideas, volunteers and resources to put on a fundraising event, here are a few tips that can make it memorable and moneymaking!

Make it special: People attend events in search of something a little different. They can walk into any number of restaurants and find something good to eat. At an event, they’re after a different feel. The objective isn’t just to feed attendees; it’s to promote the culture and work of your organization. Personalize it, make it special, and make an emotional connection to your audience, and they’ll remember your event—and your organization—for months or years to come.

Make sure you have enough food: There are few worse things than a food event that runs out of food. You can avoid this disaster with proper planning. Make sure that your caterer or food vendors are absolutely clear on the number of attendees you’re expecting. Keep checking on the RSVPs and ask for caterers to be flexible enough to accommodate extras on the day of the event.

Make sure you have enough servers or serving stations: Nobody likes to see or stand in endless food and beverage lines, even if it’s for a good cause! If your lines are too long, or if folks are not served promptly, that’s what your event will be remembered for.

Make sure you have enough volunteers: For planning, ticket selling and help on the day of the event, you’ll need plenty of volunteer help. If you’re new to recruiting volunteers, keep in mind that putting the right folks in place can take time. If your volunteers will have any access to your clients, will drive your organization’s vehicles, or otherwise put your non profit at any risk, they’ll need to undergo be properly background screening—so be sure to plan ahead for that important step.

Give everyone a job, and train them to do it: Connect with your volunteers well before the event to assign duties. Encourage them to ask questions and if you don’t have the answers, get back to them ASAP. Show them how they can be of the greatest help to you, and what a successful event will look like. Paint a picture of smoothly flowing lines, fast ticket sales, answers to every guest’s question and every problem solved.

3 Causes of Unhappy Volunteers

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkYou have a great group of volunteers whom you depend on to help you efficiently run your non profit organization. They’re productive and happy, and all seems to be going well with all of your volunteers—right?

Maybe not. Volunteer dissatisfaction is not uncommon. But it can be a temporary condition and it is definitely a fixable one. The trouble is, before you have a chance to fix it, the affected person or persons have often moved on to better opportunities.

Here are three causes of volunteer dissatisfaction that can be easily remedied, with a little effort.

Problem 1:
Feeling anonymous:
Everyone wants to feel valued, whether they are paid employees, volunteers, friends or partners. New relationships tend to be bright, shiny and happy—until the shine wears off and they become routine. When volunteers start to feel anonymous or you show little interest in them as people, they begin to feel dissatisfied.

With long-term volunteers, showing interest in them, asking about their families and careers, their hobbies and goals, should continue long after they join you. Get in the habit of asking a personal (but not too personal!) question of one volunteer each day.

Problem 2:
Feeling useless:
Volunteers don’t have to show up for work. When they do, they need to feel useful. It’s a great feeling to know that you’re making a difference—and that’s why most people volunteer. When volunteers feel their efforts are wasted, or that they’re having no impact at all, dissatisfaction sets in.

Solution: Find ways to illustrate to volunteers how they are making a difference. This could include sharing data and statistics, or simply telling success stories of how their efforts are helping others in the community.

Problem 3:
Feeling confused:
Volunteers need feedback, just as paid employees do. They don’t always know for sure if they are contributing or performing their duties successfully.

That’s why volunteer evaluations are just as important as employee evaluations. And should be performed regularly.

Keeping your eyes and ears open to volunteer dissatisfaction can prevent unhappy volunteers and help you retain them longer!

Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.

Why Volunteer? Because It’s Good For You

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkIf you’re a nonprofit volunteer coordinator, you may be responsible for coming up with volunteer news or other nuggets for your organization’s newsletter. Interesting news that also encourages people to volunteer is even better.

If you could use a few good volunteers, here are a few good reasons to entice them, all related to a healthy, happy life (and who wouldn’t want that?):

  • Volunteering is good for your health. Research done by the Mayo Clinic indicates that 40 to 100 hours of volunteering per year can help you feel younger, live longer, and lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Volunteering is good for self-confidence and quality of life. Research shows that volunteering creates a “helping high,” which you can feel when your body releases neurotransmitters into your system. It’s also been shown to keep depression at bay.
  • New research has just begun, which will study links between volunteering and brain health through the aging process. The project will measure physical and social functioning and how volunteering may enhance older adults’ cognitive functions, such as memory and attention span.
  • Baby boomers are going to be reaching age 65 by the millions in the next 30 years. So any research that proves volunteering can keep them healthy and alert longer is good news—especially to this group, which exercises, eats well and will try almost anything to keep from aging too quickly.
  • Volunteering two hours per week can give people a new sense of purpose and enhance their social network. Older people, who are at risk of depression as a result of isolation and loneliness, especially need to feel needed and valued.
  • Volunteering is a much better way to spend time than being parked in front of a television or on a park bench. It makes people feel like part of something bigger. It encourages camaraderie, team-building and community-building.
  • Volunteering can be like a free education. Many volunteers pick up new skills and explore areas they were previously not familiar with. It improves communication and leadership skills, and can even lead to formal education and certification opportunities.