Posts Tagged ‘Non Profit Management’

Tracking Volunteer Time

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

volunteer screening, background checkWhy should nonprofit organizations track volunteer hours? The reasons to do so are varied:

  • The number of hours volunteers give to an organization can made a big difference in how prospective supporters, from individuals to large foundations, perceive it. If the community supports your mission, they’re more inclined to do so.
  • Government agencies require volunteer hours reporting from organizations they provide funding to.
  • Some grant money is tied to a certain matching dollar amount, which can often be demonstrated in terms of volunteer hours.
  • Supporters want to be sure that the organization has people in place to get the job done.
  • In many cases, organizations are required to report the value of volunteer labor and services in their financial statements. Tracking hours facilitates good reporting.

Even if you’re not required to track and report volunteer hours, it’s still a good idea to do so. Volunteers want to know they’re part of something bigger, and when those hours add up at the end of the year, it can really boost the pride your volunteers feel.

How to track Volunteer Hours

You can use a simple form to gather volunteer information by the day or week. Just be sure to capture the information as soon as possible so nothing gets overlooked. This system would require entering the daily or weekly data into a spreadsheet or similar tracking system, which could be tedious.

Volunteer management software tools are great for scheduling, recruiting and tracking volunteer hours. There are quite a few on the market, and many offer a free trial so you can try several and determine which one best meets your needs.

Non Profits Analyzing Data to Gain Support

Friday, August 24th, 2012

employee screening, pre-employment screening, employee credit checkBusiness analytics is commonplace in for-profit entities. Gathering data, crunching numbers and spotting trends can improve operations and increase profits. Increasingly, nonprofits are using analytics to determine what they are doing well and what needs to be improved.

At the same time, government agencies, charitable and corporate foundations, and individuals have been taking more care with their donations, asking for evidence that nonprofits are fulfilling their missions, and are therefore worthy of support. Analytics enables nonprofits to provide the data that proves their success.

Keeping detailed databases on clients served and their outcomes are helping nonprofits approach their missions in a more business-like fashion. Where once paper records sufficed, now sophisticated software is tracking clients, measuring progress and assessing impact.

Data systems capable of delivering such insights are not cheap; nor is the staff required to run them and interpret the results. Similarly, independent impact studies can cost more than many nonprofit agencies can spare. However, knowing whether or not your agency is meeting its objectives is fundamental to its existence.

Plus, discovering the hidden gems in data can help re-establish an agency’s focus. For example, if data shows that access to low-cost or free child increases the success rate of parents pursuing GEDs, then an organization can focus on putting together a child care program, as well as preparing students for exams.

Data can also attract new investment from donors. It’s essential to show donors that the work you’re doing is making a real difference. In terms of hard numbers, giving them a black-and-white picture of the return on their investment can make a huge difference.

To attract donors and improve performance, nonprofits need to act more like businesses and demonstrate tangible results. While it may be more difficult to measure social change than corporate profits, it can be done. Tracking participation and results can be accomplished through simple databases, like Microsoft Access, or through more sophisticated database management systems. Give it a try, and you may be surprised at the results you see over the next six months or year.

Can you trust every person who volunteers for your agency? Conduct background checks on all volunteers. Rely on for your volunteer screening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.

The Art of Persuasion for Volunteer Managers

Friday, March 16th, 2012

volunteer background check, volunteer pre-screeningWhether you need to ask for a favor, solicit a donation or delegate a task, the art of persuasion can help you do it better. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know the basics of persuasion, so we either fail at asking for something, or we avoid it altogether.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Persuasive powers can be yours if you follow these tips. Try them next time you ask for something from a donor or volunteer. You may be surprised at your success.

  • Use reciprocation to your advantage: It takes effort, but when you give of yourself, it’s a lot easier to ask for something in return. So when someone asks for your advice, your time or your expertise, give willingly, and you shall receive.
  • Adjust your framing: Framing is a popular tactic in business and politics. How an argument, incident or request is framed makes a huge difference in perception. For example, opponents of inheritance taxes call them “death” taxes. Think about whether you are putting something in a negative or positive light.
  • Tap into the power of timing: They say timing is everything. And they’re right! Do your homework to make sure the timing is right before try persuading someone to do something. Don’t ask a donor for a gift when they’ve written a big check in the past six months. Check your volunteer logs to see who has not been putting in hours lately—maybe they’re feeling a little guilty about it, and are ready to give some time again.
  • Congruence is compelling: Congruence means coming together in agreement. Try framing your requests as though congruence was already happening. You know that salespeople often close the deal long before you’ve made up your mind. They’ll start wrapping an item and before you know it, it’s yours. Try assuming a donation will happen, or a volunteer will sign on, shake their hands, and seal the deal. Think of it as helping them make a great decision!

8 Basic Tips for Structuring a Non-Profit Board

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

screening volunteers, criminaldata.comEvery nonprofit organization needs a board of directors. While specific responsibilities may vary due to the organization’s mission and its stage of existence, the roles and purposes of every board are similar.

Nonprofit volunteer boards must create their own structure, policies and procedures for governing the organization. Far beyond just meeting once a month, the board is responsible for developing its policies and terms of service.

Here are some tips for effective boards and committees:

  1. Make sure that all board members receive a written job description.
  2. Develop the year’s schedule of meetings a year in advance.
  3. Provide board members with meeting materials and agendas well in advance. Two to three weeks is optimal.
  4. Keep meetings focused, stick to the agenda and don’t linger on any one item longer than necessary. Briefer meetings are better meetings.
  5. Encourage all board members to participate in discussions.
  6. Take accurate minutes of all meetings and distribute to board members promptly afterwards.
  7. Require board members to serve on committees.
  8. Show appreciation of all volunteer board members by acknowledging contributions publicly, in newsletters, at meetings and in minutes.

Additional considerations for boards include the size of the board, the length of a board member’s term, and what committees are needed. Typical committees are Executive, Audit and Finance.

How Nonprofits Can Leverage Business Partnerships

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

volunteer screening, volunteer backgound checkBusiness relationships can make a big difference to a non-profit organization. Whether developing partnerships for financial support, human resource (volunteer) support or product donations, nonprofits should tap into the offerings of local, regional and national businesses aiming to increase their corporate social responsibility profile and do good things.

Reaching out to corporate partners can be uncomfortable at first, but if you have a good development director, it should be a part of his or her job duties. A natural first step might be contacting local businesses, entrepreneurs and community service organizations like Kiwanis and Rotary International.

Finding avenues for business to help your nonprofit in a win-win situation is the key. While an event sponsorship might be a perfect fit for a financial institution, it might be too much for a construction company. You might ask for their help in other ways – like volunteering their employees to perform repairs on your building or to donate a crew for a day to fix up an elderly client’s home.

Another way for a business to become a valuable partner is through cause-related marketing. For example, a company donates a portion of every sale of a featured item, for a limited time, advertising their efforts and creating goodwill among the public.

Still additional avenues for businesses to get on board with a nonprofit are social enterprises and donating products or services. A social enterprise is a business venture that combines profit making with social advancement. An ice cream shop started expressly to donate all profits to a charity is one example. Another is a work training program that restores and sells used appliances, in order to fund its programs to train displaced workers in appliance repair.

For some companies, donating products or services is the easiest way to support charity work in their community. A web design firm may be able to provide your nonprofit with the new website you need—and they may do it for free or a reduced cost. Advertising, event banners, office supplies and food for events are additional ways your local business community may be willing to support your nonprofit.

Be sure to offer publicity in exchange for a business’s good deeds. Adding a logo to a banner, blasting positive posts on your e-newsletter, Facebook and Twitter and mentioning your business partners in every interview and story about your nonprofit will demonstrate your appreciation and give the company an enhanced image, which is always a good thing.

Sometimes, all it takes is an ask to start forming valuable relationships with business partners that can really make a difference to your organization’s bottom line!

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

Volunteer Screening is Often Mandated

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkNonprofit organizations don’t have it easy these days. From cuts in state funding to lower donations from supporters, many charitable organizations must battle every day just to keep the doors open. And not all have succeeded. With all the difficulties facing NPO directors, they have their hands full. Added regulations and time-intensive requirements can seem unnecessary.

But there is one that is not: conducting background checks on volunteers. “Why should we be required to run background checks?” said one NPO director. “I don’t have the time or budget, and all of our volunteers are model citizens.”

This must be one lucky NPO manager! Others have not been so lucky. Volunteers come from all backgrounds, and just like the general public, there are a certain percentage of honest volunteers, dishonest volunteers, and volunteers with criminal histories—or worse, sex offender status.

Despite a lack of time or budget, nonprofit organizations depending on federal and state funding to serve their clients could be mandated by state and federal governments to conduct background screening. Specifically, those providing day care or child care services, or that bring employees or volunteers into contact with minors or vulnerable adults, are typically required to perform background checks on all employees and volunteers.

In addition, federal programs or those with federal contracts are required to conduct criminal background checks on both employees and volunteers. The same is often true in some states, if any state funds are used by the organization.

Any NPO that plans to conduct background checks must notify the potential volunteer and obtain written consent by way of a signature on a notification page. It’s easy enough to add this document to a volunteer application.

Whether it’s mandated or not, it’s just good practice to conduct background checks on potential volunteers. Why not take this easy step to protect your staff, clients and other volunteers from potential danger of an unknown volunteer’s unknown problems?

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.

Keeping Volunteers Motivated

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

screening volunteers, background check volunteersNon-profit executive Nancy March found herself playing the role of volunteer coordinator as staffing cuts made her volunteer manager a thing of the past. “I need easy ideas to help me more effectively manage both the non-profit and its volunteers,” she said recently.

Here’s what volunteer coordinators know about keeping volunteers motivated and clients happy:

How you say it is more important than what you say. It’s all in the delivery. Communicating critiques or instructions well requires knowing how, when and where to do it. Especially when it comes to handing out necessary criticism to volunteers—who don’t have to be there—it’s important to gauge the person’s feelings before you start. If you need to correct a volunteer who’s failing at a task, make sure she’s not having a bad day already. Ask how she’s doing and listen closely. You may need to wait until another day.

Offer compliments more than criticisms. Catch volunteers doing something right—and offer immediate praise. Keep track of how often you do it. Karen Awashka, a volunteer coordinator in Madison, WI, starts her day with six dimes in her pocket. Her goal? To transfer each of them to the other pocket before the day is over. Each time she compliments a volunteer with “you’re such a help to our organization,” or “I really appreciate the way you reorganized the bookcase,” she transfers a dime. Why dimes? “Because they’re small, light and they don’t clang together too much,” said Karen. The idea is to find a way to remember to balance criticisms with compliments.

Lead by example. Don’t put off tasks onto others that you can do yourself. Don’t compromise on quality of service delivery or on the brand promise of your organization. When volunteers see leaders digging in and working hard alongside them, they are reminded they are part of an important team.

Ask for feedback. Lauren Bailey, volunteer manager for a youth services organization, suggests asking volunteers what three things could be improved in the organization. “I try to ask each volunteer this question at least once per quarter,” she adds. “It gives them a sense of ownership that we are all looking for solutions to our common problems. And they have great ideas!”

Recruiting Teens to Volunteer

Friday, October 29th, 2010

volunteer screening, screening volunteersAccording to the report Volunteering in America, 4.4 million teenagers, ages 16 – 19, volunteered across the country in 2009. They gave nearly 390 million hours of service, mostly to education and youth service organizations.

That number totals 26 percent of all people in their age group—which is just slightly lower than the percentage of Americans overall (26.8%) who volunteer. 26% is great—but it’s down from a few years back, when over 30% of all teenagers volunteered some time in their communities. They raised funds, provided general labor, collected and distributed food, and mentored youth.

If you manage volunteers for a non-profit organization and need help, perhaps you should focus your efforts on the teens in your community, who may not know about your organization, its mission and its needs.

  1. Boost your social networking presence: Kids receive information through new ways—the internet and social networking, not phone books and newspapers. If your NPO does not have a well-designed and updated website, and isn’t on Facebook, you could be turning off a wide audience—including teens.
  2. Ask. Teens are much more likely to volunteer if they are just asked to do it.
  3. Ask some more. Ask for referrals. If you already have young volunteers, ask them to recruit their friends. A text from a friend is all many teens will need to jump on board. Ask older volunteers to mention the need to their young family members or neighbors. Ask everyone you see if they know a teen who would like to volunteer.
  4. Contact schools, youth groups and scouting organizations. Many are looking for places their kids can volunteer. They just need to know where kids are needed!
  5. Contact the National Home Education Network to reach homeschooling families.

When young people volunteer, everyone benefits. It’s a big confidence booster for them, and with the fresh ideas kids bring, it could even change the direction of your organization.

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

Why Screen Volunteers?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

volunteerscreeningblog.comVolunteers are just like any other staff member that comes into your nonprofit organization. They are usually unknown, unpredictable and will do the unexpected while working for your NPO. It’s important to know as much as you can about each volunteer before they can cause harm and it’s vital to the safety and strength of the organization to use the same background screening procedures you use for employees.

Why is it Important to Screen Volunteers?
To Protect the People You Serve
: This is the most important reason to screen volunteers—to keep dangerous people away from your clients. Adults who work with kids or teens, elderly caregivers and home visitation volunteers should always undergo background screening.

To Limit Liability: If your NPO serves the public, the entire organization is at risk whenever and wherever a volunteer is placed—especially with at-risk populations such as children or the elderly. If harm is done to a member of the public, the NPO could be held liable for a volunteer’s behavior. Thorough background screening will weed out volunteers with arrests or other criminal activities in their pasts.

Because it Could be Mandatory: Nonprofits that depend on federal and state funding are usually required to perform background screening on employees and volunteers.

To Protect the Organization’s Reputation: Volunteer screening allows a nonprofit to enjoy a good reputation in the community, which can lead to more support. Having a “loosey-goosey” approach to placing volunteers can harm an NPO’s standing in the community.

To Discourage Predators: Often, just knowing your organization conducts background screening will be enough to keep away volunteers who might be seeking inappropriate contact with children. Conversely, a no-screening policy could look like an open invitation to offenders and predators to come right in and start working with vulnerable populations.
Volunteer managers and nonprofit organizations are vulnerable to financial loss and inappropriate or dangerous behavior of volunteers. Criminal background screening on all volunteers can protect your organization, staff, and clientele from harm.