Posts Tagged ‘Volunteer Recruiting’

How to do Reference Checks on Volunteers

Friday, July 12th, 2013

volunteer screeningThere is no question that a consistent practice of screening volunteers can make your organization, clients and the public safer. Gathering and checking references from volunteer applicants should be part of the screening process.

References can confirm or deny whether the applicant will be a good fit for your organization. It’s much better to find out before they start their volunteer duties!

Here are several tips for doing volunteer reference checks:

  • Ask applicants for references who are familiar with their work—employers, previous volunteer managers, etc.
  • Remember that applicants often think their references won’t be contacted. So don’t assume that they will only provide positive references.
  • Call or email each and every reference.
  • Ask each reference the same set of questions. Don’t neglect to ask any of your questions. You may hear a glowing report on the applicant, until you ask certain questions that trigger concern. Plus, you’ll get a much better picture of the applicant by asking the same things of each reference.
  • Don’t ask leading questions, or “yes” or “no” questions. For example, “Don’t you think Mary would be a great driver for our organization?” Give references the time and space to answer in their own words.
  • Clearly describe the position for which the person is applying and ask whether he or she can successfully handle the tasks.
  • In terms of vulnerability, clearly describe the people the applicant will be serving and ask whether the reference would be comfortable with it.

Consistency and clear communications are very important when doing volunteer reference checks. Make them a standard part of your volunteer screening process, and you’ll have higher quality volunteers who better fit with your organization!

Non Profits Welcome Microvolunteers

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

volunteer screeningBusy workers seem to have less time than ever. Between work, family obligations, second jobs or part-time school, more people are seeing their free time swallowed up. When people have fewer free hours, they contribute fewer of them to volunteering.

Traditional volunteer duties can take hours that many just don’t have. But some companies are jumping on the “microvolunteering” bandwagon, and making it more convenient for their employees give back to their communities.

Microvolunteering was inspired by the thought of the number of hours employees spend on social media each day—and turning that time into volunteer time. Now, employers like Kraft Foods Group, Inc. are allowing employees to volunteer from their desks, in short bursts.

Employees might write a newsletter, translate documents, participate in online brainstorming sessions or update a nonprofit’s social media pages. There is no need for workers to leave the office and drive to another location, spending a day or half day onsite. Volunteers can help out at any time—not just specific hours or events. Plus, they don’t have to give up precious family and friend time on weekends or evenings.

Tapping into volunteers’ at-work free time, such as breaks or lunch hours, is a great way to recruit new volunteers, or re-engage volunteers who have fallen by the wayside. Using their writing, graphic design, data analysis or language skills makes it easy to put them right to work.

Employers who really want to help out their communities don’t limit employees to using only their free time for microvolunteering. Some allow a certain number of hours per month to be spent giving back. The companies also gain from the relationship, since employees are building skills, creating connections between the corporation and community, and learning more about professional development.

If you’re looking to corporate partners to provide some volunteers for your organization, pitch the microvolunteering idea. It’s a great way to turn a few minutes of time into a lasting gift to your non profit organization!

More Details About Teens and Volunteering

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

volunteer screeningWhen it comes to volunteering, young people have definite motivations and favorite causes. A recent study by offers some great insight into the way teens and young adults think.

For example, we talked about how having friends who volunteer is a big influence over teen volunteer rates. But they’re self-motivated, as well. For young people, making a difference on an issue they care about is their #1 stated reason for volunteering. For girls, they say that volunteering is its own reward, as well, while boys were more likely to state that getting into college or landing a good job are also important reasons.

The top five issues that young people are most interested in volunteering for are:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Hunger
  3. Homelessness
  4. The environment
  5. The economy

In reality, young people tend not to volunteer with groups dedicated to animal issues. They are, however involved in fundraising. Nearly 39% of young people who volunteer have fundraised for charity. If you’re running a nonprofit organization, you may not have considered recruiting teens to help with all-important fundraising. Maybe you should!

Guys tend to volunteer in physical ways, such as environmental cleanup or working with kids in sports or recreational programs. Girls tend to do more fundraising and working with marginalized populations. Girls also volunteer more frequently, with 51% volunteering once per month or more, compared to 45% of guys volunteering once per month or more.

Anyone who volunteers know how rewarding it can be. With youth, it’s just as true as with adults. Young people who volunteer score about 24% higher on a life satisfaction. The following activities offer the most satisfaction, according to the survey:

  • Working with young kids in a sports program    71% Happiness Scale
  • Helping at a library or cultural or historical group 69% Happiness Scale
  • Fundraising 68% Happiness Scale
  • Working with sick or old people 63% Happiness Scale
  • Working on a political campaign 60% Happiness Scale
  • Do not volunteer at all 51% Happiness Scale

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!

Remote Volunteers Can Help Fill the Gaps

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

background screening, volunteer background checkJust because a potential volunteer doesn’t have time to commute to your location doesn’t mean you should pass them by. Remote and web commuting can help your organization boost volunteer contributions without adding to greenhouse gases.

How does remote volunteering work? Just like remote working. According to Forrester research, about 62% of the information technology workforce works from multiple locations in the workweek, from home, the office, on the road, or other locations. Like these workers, when volunteers have all the tools needed to access documents, email, and calendars, they can help your organization, regardless of where they happen to be.

Of course, if your organization is a food bank and you need help unloading a truck, you’ll need on-the-ground volunteers. But there are dozens of other volunteer duties that don’t require physical presence:
• Entering supporter information into a database
• Soliciting donations for a fundraiser
• Accounting duties
• Paying bills
• Maintaining or updating the website
• Writing blog posts
• Creating a newsletter
• Updating Facebook and Twitter accounts
• Researching possible events
• Outreach to new supporters

Especially for sensitive functions, such as accounting and banking, your volunteer will need to be fully vetted, with a thorough background check and credit check. Most organizations would only trust a long-time volunteer or board officer with these types of duties. Just make sure they have secure access to online banking. It’s a good idea to supply a paper shredder and training in proper security. And, thorough screening is still necessary!

Giving volunteers the option to work remotely will enhance your ability to attract top talent and retain devoted volunteers who are experts in their fields.

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.

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.

The Importance of a Volunteer Strategy

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

volunteerscreeningblog.comEvery non profit organization (NPO) needs a volunteer strategy. Whether it’s for recruiting board members or office helpers, a plan is essential to finding, retaining, and training volunteers. And, it can make the volunteer manager or executive director’s job much easier!

Why should NPOs have a volunteer strategy?

Volunteer strategies allow volunteer programs to run more smoothly. Planning is the first step to any successful endeavor. If your NPO is embarking on a volunteer program without a plan, it could fail, putting the entire organization further behind on its goals.

  • They make recruiting volunteers much easier. A volunteer strategy should identify the best-fit volunteers for the organization, including demographic information (age, gender, occupation, residence, etc.), level of involvement and needed skills. Once the various groups of potential volunteers are identified, it is much easier to find them, reach them, and recruit them.
  • To help focus orientation and training efforts: A well-trained volunteer is a better volunteer. Defining roles, supplying job descriptions, and identifying staff or volunteer trainers is essential to properly orienting and training volunteers. How can training be accomplished correctly—and replicated—without planning?
  • To keep volunteers engaged and help avoid burnout. Another important aspect to volunteer strategy is retention. It’s usually not a good idea to recruit volunteers and then ignore them. Keeping them interested in the mission of the NPO, demonstrating appreciation, and soliciting their feedback are all vital pieces to the retention puzzle. And there are many more—which should be explored when creating a volunteer strategy.
  • To enable NPOs to develop leaders out of volunteers. If an NPO’s executive or volunteer director is not focused on the volunteer strategy, there is a huge potential for loss, both in the simple numbers of volunteers (who are not being successfully retained) and in the loss of potential leadership. When a strategy has been established, everyone is more focused. Seeing the leadership qualities in volunteers becomes an everyday thing. And those who could help take the NPO closer to its goals will not fall by the wayside, unnoticed and underappreciated.

Every businessperson knows the importance of planning for the future and strategizing on how to get there. The non profit sector can take this page out of the business playbook and use it to successfully run volunteer programs!

What Corporate Volunteer Programs Want from Nonprofits

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

volunteers1Nonprofit volunteer managers are sometimes inundated with offers from corporations—especially around volunteer “holidays” like The National Day of Service and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. While no NPOs we know would turn down volunteers who are willing and qualified to help, sometimes too much of a good thing can make for headaches.

Every volunteer manager has had unusual requests from corporations. From custom-designing a volunteer opportunity just for them, to dictating who will show up and when, and what their employees will and will not do, companies can be “overeager” with their requests.

Some companies want only group activities—are they working on their team-building? What if you have more tasks that require only one person or two-people teams to complete?

Other companies want opportunities that will teach their employees a skill, or enhance their existing skills. What if your needs do not match this desire?

NPO managers are not required to satisfy their corporate volunteer programs’ needs. NPOs do not have to invest tasks and projects to meet their requirements. If you have work that matches what a company wants for their employee volunteers, then great. Let them go get it done! If not, offer an alternative.

You’re in charge—there’s no need to fill someone’s made-to-order volunteer desires. Ask for their help in getting your goals met. Offer alternatives that might make both sides happy. Break up large projects into smaller ones that can work over a longer term. Alternatively, group smaller projects into a work day that a corporate team can attend together.

Finding ways to fulfill both sides’ needs is important when corporate volunteer programs come calling. NPOs can’t alienate supporters, but they also shouldn’t let them dictate the terms of engagement.