Archive for May, 2012

Is it Time to Start a Corporate Volunteer Program?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkIf your company, church or organization has been inspired to step up your volunteer efforts, you may be thinking about instituting a formal volunteer program. You’ll probably have higher participation and more successful outcomes than if you simply encourage employees or members to volunteer on their own.

When you’re ready to start a volunteer program, you’ll need to know how to manage it. Volunteer management software can help you track hours, paperwork, communication and activities. Here are some more quick and easy tips for starting a corporate volunteer program.

  • Focus on what you do best. If you’re a business networking group, then you may want decide to put together a volunteer mentoring team. You might help kids through tutoring, or help teens with job training. You could focus on helping unemployed adults put together resumes or polish interviewing skills. Think about the knowledge and talents that exist in your group, and how to best capitalize on them.
  • Develop a plan. Just as with any major project, you’ll need to manage your volunteer program’s launch. Organize the details, from when it will launch to how people sign up. Delegate by assigning roles to staffers who can best handle questions and assignments.
  • Spread the word. Use all of your standard communication channels, such as company email, newsletters, and announcement boards, along with social media. Set up a Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest account and invite participation. The more people know about your cause, the more potential you have for volunteers and donations.
  • Share your success. After you’ve had a couple of successful projects, it will be easier to mobilize volunteers and the community around your cause. So, make sure everyone knows by posting updates on blogs and social media pages. Take lots of photos, make videos and highlight real-life stories from the people your organization has impacted.
  • Proceed with caution. Use common sense to prevent any legal issues. Don’t publicize on the Web any photos or videos of children or other vulnerable people who cannot understand their implications. Conduct volunteer screening to prevent criminals, sex offenders or others who are unsuitable to come into contact with children or vulnerable populations.

Once you create a solid volunteer program, it will be easy for your organization to give back to your community and build on its success.

Facebook Aims to Increase Organ Donations

Friday, May 11th, 2012

volunteer screening, pre-screening volunteersOrgan donation centers across the country have seen a big spike in their numbers of volunteers lately. Why? Because Facebook made it easy.

Recently, Facebook partnered with the nonprofit group Donate Life America to start a new initiative that allows users to add their organ donor status to their profiles. And it goes one step further, by connecting interested parties to local registries to sign up online.

With 900 million members, this has the potential to be one of the largest volunteer organ donation campaigns ever. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, said he was inspired by natural disasters like the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, as well as by the social network’s ability to connect people.

He also credited his girlfriend, who is studying to become a pediatrician. Her experiences with sick children, many saved by organ donations, moved Zuckerberg to work with Donate Life America, a national organization for local groups that are working to increase the number of registered donors.

The organization says that nearly 114,000 people currently need lifesaving organ transplants. According to the U.S. Department of Health, more than 7,000 people die each year, awaiting them. In addition, thousands more need corneal transplants to restore their sight and help them live normal lives.

Only 43% of U.S. adults have signed up to be organ donors. People often think it’s a good idea, but never quite get around to taking the next step. But every day, millions of Facebook users log in and update their status. Updating their organ donation status has become just as easy. Plus, it opens people to the conversation about organ donation. And as any non-profit organization knows, awareness is half the battle when you’re looking for donors.

Nonprofits Tapping Baby Boomers’ Talents

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

volunteerscreeningblogNonprofit organizations across the country are looking to a huge resource to fill their needs and better serve their communities: retiring baby boomers. Numbering around 77 million, the baby boomer generation is well educated and talented, and many are looking for ways to contribute their skills and experience to help local schools, service organizations and soup kitchens.

Baby boomers are in better shape than any previous generation of retirees, too. Tapping into this healthy resource of human capital could change the face of charities from coast to coast.

So what do volunteer managers need to do to attract the talents of baby boomers?

  • Offer flexibility, such as nontraditional hours or projects that can be done at home.
  • Offer a variety of opportunities that leverage the unique skills and talents of this age group. Rather than having a baby boomer volunteer sit at a reception desk, ask them to edit a newsletter or update the organization’s website.

What types of work do baby boomers typically volunteer for?

  • Helping at food banks: logistics, packing, serving, database management.
  • Helping low-income people and elderly prepare and file tax returns.
  • Coordinating services for veterans and their families.
  • Tutoring, teaching ESL classes and literacy work.

The percentage of baby boomers volunteering their time is declining slightly. While about 33.5% of this age group volunteered in 2003, only 28.8% did so in 2010. The decrease could be because boomers are getting older. Others are working longer, as a result of the economic downturn. Delaying retirement cuts into volunteer time.

Think about how your organization could benefit from a few good baby boomers—and start recruiting new volunteers!