Archive for April, 2012

Budget-Crunching Leads Cities to Count on Volunteers

Friday, April 27th, 2012

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkIn Chicago-area suburbs, volunteers are now filling positions that used to be held by municipal employees. From painting buildings to installing computers, and even taking fingerprints at the police station, non-paid workers are helping out in ways that would have been unimaginable before the economic downturn.

In Jacksonville, Fla., more than 500 volunteers work in a variety of city government offices, while in Hampton, Va., staff positions are being filled by student volunteers. Across the country, communities are turning to volunteers to help make ends meet.

The solution offers benefits to the volunteers, too. They gain real-world experience, new skills, and work references to add to their resumes. And municipalities are able to continue providing much-needed services to their communities that would otherwise have been cut.

Volunteer workers are free, but that doesn’t mean they are fully qualified for the jobs they do. And they’re not always as committed to the job as paid workers are. There are no penalties for not performing, and little incentive to go the extra mile. A city clerk said that a volunteer, who worked nine to 12 hours a week answering the phone and filing records, was a huge asset, but didn’t want to stay long. “She got bored and went home,” he said.

A representative of a local public worker labor union warned that evidence doesn’t support volunteers as long-term solutions, saying they won’t likely maintain essential services over time. “It is very difficult to screen volunteers for competence and integrity, and even harder to ensure accountability,” he said. The labor union is also opposed to laying off workers and eliminating middle-class jobs.

Others find that volunteers often lack proper training, professionalism and reliability, which could lead to errors—and make cities and towns more vulnerable to lawsuits. To avoid that problem, some municipalities place volunteers only in non-sensitive roles, while fully screening volunteers for criminal records and credit history.

Still, volunteers working in libraries, police departments, mayors’ offices and other city and town service providers are a reflection of a new reality. Budget crunches have forced municipalities to cut workers, and citizens still need services.

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

How Businesses Can Become More Philanthropic and Boost Their Reputations

Friday, April 13th, 2012

volunteer screening, background check, volunteer credit checkGiving back to the community is a goal of many companies. While the reasons for doing so may vary, the fact is that philanthropy can have significant benefits that ripple throughout the organization.

First, contributing to a livable community can lead to a stronger workforce. When quality of life is high, so is the caliber of people who choose to move to or stay in a community. Eventually, that can come back to favor businesses, as they have a quality pool of employees to choose from at hiring time.

Second, surveys and studies show that employees want to work for businesses that give back to the community.

Third, the community tends to show higher regard and levels of trust for companies that are involved in their communities and support causes they care about. According to a survey by Cone, Inc., 87% of consumers will switch brands or retailers in favor of one that supports a good cause, when price and quality are the same.

So how can the average business become more charity-minded? Following these three simple steps can take any firm from the idea stage to achieving true philanthropy.

  1. Establish a plan. Decide what types of charities to support, or detail the actual non-profits that will be on the receiving end of your efforts. Research charities in your community that align with your company’s objectives. Ask employees for their input so they feel a sense of ownership in the process. When requests come from organizations outside your strict parameters, it’s easier to say “no.”
  2. Establish a giving budget. Set an annual budget that your company can comfortably handle. Determine whether it will consist of cash donations, volunteer hours, in-kind gifts, or a combination of these three. Find out if employees are interested and willing to donate their time to volunteering, and offer them the time off to do so.
  3. Manage philanthropy like any other department. Stick to your budget. Say no to requests that don’t match your objectives. Work your plan and build relationships that boost your company’s reputation in the community.

Then, sit back and enjoy the benefits that come with being a philanthropic company!

Using Facebook? Here’s How to Get More “Likes”

Friday, April 6th, 2012

volunteerscreeningblog, volunteer screeningThe more people “like” your nonprofit organization on Facebook, the more credibility you have. The more credibility you have, the more trust you can build. Plus, every update you post provides additional opportunities to stay in front of your fans and spread your message, ask for volunteers or promote events.

Sounds simple enough—but, how do you increase your Facebook “likes?” That’s pretty simple, too, if you follow a few tips.

Ask: A little too simple, perhaps, but you will gain new followers by simply asking for them. Post a “looking for new likes” message on  your organization’s page, and ask current fans to share it on their own timelines.

Give Away a Prize: Do you know local restaurants, cupcake shops, hardware stores or grocers that would be willing to provide gift certificates for a prize drawing? Promote their business and your cause by offering a gift card at different levels: for every 25 new likes, all your fans will be entered in a different drawing.

Partner Up: Think about the businesses that support your nonprofit, and how you can help each other gain more likes. For example, the business can offer to make a donation to your organization for every 25 or 50 new likes it receives, while you can promote the business on your Facebook page. Ask their fans to like your page, too.

Engage: Don’t just post and forget about your followers. Respond to their questions and comments. That’s what the “social” in social media is all about.

Tag, You’re It: You can tag businesses or individuals in your posts by using the @sign before their name. When you do, it alerts the person or company that they’ve been tagged. They may share your post, or “like” it, which puts it on their timeline—where your organization will now be seen by all of their fans. Depending on the company, a mention like this could be worth hundreds or thousands of impressions.

Follow these tips to increase your Facebook followers, boost your credibility and expand your reach—in just a few minutes of your time.