attract2engage

Just another WordPress.com site

5 Tips For Event Marketing Using Social Media #eventprofs #engage365 August 2, 2011

Filed under: Event and Meeting Tips — attract2engage @ 3:56 pm
Tags: , , ,

In my day to day tasks as an Association Manager, I wear many different hats. As we are all beginning to see, wearing your Social Media hat needs to be an every day thing. Some days I spend my time promoting upcoming events, some days I focus on organizing and keeping my Board of Directors focused and on the right track. Other days I spend time making sure my membership base is taken care of and all of their needs are met. However, every day I am integrating Social Media into all these things.

When it comes to managing events,  sometimes I have free reign over the decision making, and sometimes I need to report to a committee before taking a leap or making a minor decision. 

 By using these tips to keep you on track, or sharing them with your Board of Directors or Events Committee, you can help chart your progress and also be a few steps ahead when reporting your Social Media marketing plan!

1.Don’t forget about the 80/20 rule. 

This is a rule that I live by regarding social media marketing, whether it is when I’m marketing an event or not.  I find that the best ratio to keep people engaged but not tick them off is to have 80% engagement and 20% broadcasting.  Even when you have an event to market, talking 100% about that event is just going to turn people off and they aren’t going to listen to one word that you are saying.

2. Engage creatively.

 This one goes together with tip #1 about the 80/20 rule.   You may ask, why should I waste time tweeting or posting about stuff that has nothing to do with my event when I’m trying to sell tickets?  Well, that is pretty simple to answer.

If you are engaging with people, you will be top of mind so that when they do hear something about you or your event, they will remember the interaction and be much more likely to check it out.

A creative ways to sneak a bit of broadcasting into your engagement posts is to set up a search column in TweetDeck or HootSuite (or whatever program you are using to monitor your social media) with keywords related to your event.

For example, when Palm Beach Opera presents Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, I set up columns for not only the opera title, but also for related terms such as Puccini and Miss Saigon (which is based on the opera).  This way, I can converse with people who are talking about related things without directly “selling” my event to them.  This way, when you do send out those 20% of posts that are directly about the event, you have already engaged a potentially new group of people in addition to your existing fans.

3. Make sure your website is up to par. 

This may seem obvious but it is surprising how many times I see this not being done.  The best way to get the word out about your event is to have it prominently featured on the homepage of your website.  Also, the event should have its own dedicated page with a unique URL.  This URL is imperative to any promotion of the event online whether it is using social media or email.

When promoting an event using social media, add the URL to each broadcasting post.  Do you think the URL is too long?  Use a link shortener like bit.ly or goo.gl to make the link more manageable.  An added bonus to these shorteners is that you will be able to see how many people clicked on the link with their built in stats.

4. Make it easy to buy. 

A good user experience is very important in closing the deal with an attendee.

The buying process should be as simple as possible.  You should always allow tickets to be purchased for your event online.

If you don’t have your own ticketing system or if this is an occasional event, try an online service likeEventBrite.com or BrownPaperTickets.com that creates an easy environment for ticket buying.  The biggest no-no is to promote an event online and then have the only way to buy tickets be over the phone.  You want to make sure that it only takes a couple of clicks between your tweet and buying a ticket.

5. Follow up after the event. 

Don’t forget to follow up with your attendees after the event in a timely manner.  Encourage people to share their thoughts about the event on your profiles.  If you offered social media discount and you are able to track ticket buyers with a code of some sort, send an email or a direct tweet to them just after the event with an easy way for them to provide feedback.

If you didn’t use a code, it is still a good idea to make contact with your ticket buyers right after the event to thank them for coming and ask for feedback.  Also, don’t forget to keep a separate list of the email addresses of your ticket buyers.  This will come in handy when the next event comes as you know they will be a captive audience.

These tips were pulled from Kivi Leroux Miller’s

nonprofit communications blog.

Every day new apps, tools, and formulas are created for keeping organized and up to date in event planning. I find these 5 tips are the basic groundwork that you should always lay to ensure you are covering your bases. After that, you can leap into (and try to keep up with) the new (and really cool) tools for event planning and marketing. Thanks for reading!

Anna

Advertisements
 

10 Tips For Attracting That Audience #eventprofs #tradeshows July 25, 2011

Filed under: Event and Meeting Tips — attract2engage @ 7:03 pm

So you have done all the brainstorming, attended all the meetings, drafted up a great committee or jump-started an enthused Board of Directors to launch a new product, event, tradeshow, conference or idea. You have done your homework and been meticulous in the planning phase. Now it’s time to market that bad boy. 

 

The question is, how do you want to do that? Tap in to all your social networks? Send out Press Releases? Advertise on the radio? Give teaser speeches at other events? Keep blogging away? Yes. Of course you want to utilize all of those to market your event. Below, are ten action items that will help launch your product, idea or event into success and attract the audience you desire.

 

 

Be What You Are

You’ve built a business that is only applicable to corn famers in Northern California? That’s great. Focus on that and be the very best NorCal corn resource out there. So many businesses don’t see themselves for what they really are or they want to be everything to everyone. But understand that how you see yourself is not necessarily how others see you.

 

Just as it’s very difficult to get your users to change their behavior (and it’s well-known that you should avoid trying), it’s probably even more difficult to get them to think about you differently. Do some homework, find out what people think about you and then make sure that you’re marketing yourself to that topic. Anything else is going to border on a waste of effort.

Make It Pretty

This is something that’s so easy to overlook and people forget about it, losing themselves in the product versus the presentation. Whether you’re building an app, a website or even designing your business cards, take the time and invest the necessary money to make them look good.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times we’ve seen interesting ideas come through here at TNW, only to pass them by because they were ugly or too difficult to use. If Google has learned its lessons, then it’s high time you do too.

 

Know Your Customer

Often times, as businesses evolve (not pivot, evolve), we find out that our base of customers expands or even changes completely. I was recently talking to a CEO who had that exact problem. The product could be used as a white-label offering and it made the CEO realize that the customer wasn’t only the end user, but also the businesses who bought the white-label option.

When you’re building your product, make sure that you’re spending ample time to think up the scenarios that might not be immediately obvious. At the same time, make sure that you’re not catering to the fringe cases, but please do make sure you’re paying attention to them.

 

Find Your Audience

I’ve talked about this in my interview on Mixergy, but I’ll go over this again here. There should be no shame in making sure that you’re sending things to the right people. For instance, if you send me a pitch on a location-based service, it’s probably going to get passed over. Send it to Martin Bryant, however, and you’re likely to get a more open mind.

Likewise, it would be foolish to send a story on the inner workings of your bookkeeping app’s technology to Cosmopolitan, even though they might be very interested in how the app could make someone’s life easier. That is to say, often times, there are 3 or 4 different stories all surrounding the same product. Make sure you find them.

 

Craft Your Media Pitch

There are common mistakes that we see so often and they all make it more difficult to get media coverage for your startup. The number one mistake is that people view a press release as a pitch. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your press release is the supporting information of your pitch. It should contain all of the things that we need to write the story, but the pitch is the hook that will make us want to write it in the first place.

Are you in a private beta? Let us know. Can we get access for 100 or so people? We need to know how. Have assets such as videos, social media profiles and the like? Make sure to include them. Are there big changes coming up soon? That’s important to the story. Put it all together, include it in your release and please be available to answer questions.

 

Avoid Cliches Like The Plague

It can be argued that cliches are cliches for a reason – they’re often little nuggets of truth that have stood the test of time. But when it comes to marketing, they’re near certain death. You’ve heard them all before, usually in local radio and TV commercials. Those claims of “free parking” and “conveniently located” have been repeated so often that they’re meaningless.

If you want to stand out, you need to do so by saying (and being) something different than what everyone else is beating to death. Pivot, ground-breaking, magical, synergy…these are words that make me delete a press release on-sight and you would be best-served by avoiding them entirely. Even if you are have pivoted into a ground-breaking photo-sharing application that uses synergistic analytics to seem magical, you should find another way to say it.

 

No More “Me Too”

When Skype announced a partnership with Facebook, we got a flood of pitches that were all directed at “we do this too”. While it might be natural to want to be included into a flood of news about something with which your company is related, it’s very easy to get lost in the shuffle.

You can bet that there’s something about your business that’s unique to you, instead of being just another version of something else. If that’s not the case, then you might want to stop reading this now and start over with a new idea. Your idea’s already been done. If you do find it to be true, make sure that you’re providing us with what sets you apart instead of what makes you the same.

 

On Embargoes

It’s Monday and you want your story to go out on Wednesday. If you have a definitive reason (new code push, updated application, etc.) for why you need to wait until Wednesday, then that’s great. But if you’re just deciding to make everyone sit on the same story for no particular reason then you can bet that your embargo will be broken by someone anyway. You might as well not use it.

On that note, nobody wants to play second fiddle. That is to say that every media outlet should have the go-ahead to publish the information at the same time. If you tell someone “just wait until The Next Web has published, please” then they’re likely to tell you to get bent.

 

Go Where Your Customers Are

While trade shows, media coverage and the rest might be important, nothing beats customer interaction. If you’re using social media and your customers are too, make sure you’re doing it right. Just blasting out information with no interaction is useless. Nothing will build loyalty quite like someone feeling like they’re talking to a real person.

Monitor for mentions of your name using every tool you can. Be that through Google alerts, a social media dashboard or something as simple as a Twitter search. When conversations are going on, walk up (virtually) and introduce yourself. We’re in an age where people don’t always buy products, they buy a feeling. Make sure you’re there to give it to them.

 

Return To Mom and Pop

There was a time when you walked into a corner store to buy something from someone you knew. You did that because they were appreciative of your business. As the big box era came on, the focus shifted to being all about saving dollars, appreciation be damned.

These days, the Internet is the corner store and everybody can talk to anyone regardless of location. You have to bear that in mind and start providing that same warmth that the old stores used to or else face the consequences of Internet wrath.

This article was pulled from thenextweb.com by Brad McCarty

These tips were initially posted to give advice for those businesses investing in startups, but after reading I think they are good tips for anything that you are trying to market, even if it’s an annual event that has been going on for 50 years. Bringing something new to the table, revitalizing old ideas, and establishing a new precedent is something that should be thought of every time you begin your marketing campaign. In essence, there is nothing worse than a stale cookie at an event you are attending for work, even if it is free. (That goes out to my meeting professionals, especially those who order the catering) 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Anna

 

Good Questions to Add to Your RFP To Find Greenest Transportation July 19, 2011

Filed under: Event and Meeting Tips — attract2engage @ 3:57 pm

When it comes to “greening” my contracts I need all the help I can get. There are so many little tips one can use to reduce the waste a meeting can generate, we often forget that these practices can start from the time your attendees hit the ground in your destination city.  The link I have provided below is a great way to start hosting and boasting a green meeting.

 

It’s a simple form that covers everything from:

  • the transportation company’s environmental policy
  • environmental management system
  • confirming the type of vehicles the transportation company uses (hybrid/ alternative vehicles)
  • to who is accountable for the environmental management system

 

Don’t get caught in a bad contract with a company who will be shuttling your speakers and attendees. If you can start off on a “green” foot, it’s the first step to show your attendees that you care about your carbon footprint and that you are making the efforts to do something about it.

 

Another tip that is not included in the RFP form is to suggest that the transportation company has some sort of sinage that represents they are a green vehicle, have certification, or are part of a environmental management system. That way you will be sure to leave a positive impact on your attendees without leaving a negative one on the environment!

 

Click here for the sample form/ questions:

 

http://bit.ly/pXxRFK

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Anna

 

Addressing the Relationship Between #Nonprofit and its Corporate Sponsors #eventprofs #engage365 #sponsorship July 13, 2011

Filed under: Event and Meeting Tips — attract2engage @ 5:13 pm

The link I have provided in this posting is a sample term sheet that might be useful when you are considering setting a policy or guidelines upon receiving sponsorship from a corporate partner.  You will find several paragraphs of clauses addressing a variety of topics that might come up when establishing a relationship with a corporate sponsor.

 

For example, here is some advice on writing a clause about your non-proft hosting special events:

 

 “Nonprofits need to be in the drivers seat to design programs and special events that meet their needs – not primarily their sponsor’s needs. The nonprofit should maintain control of the program, choice of venue and content of special event.”

 

I like this sample form because it gives you advice on what clauses you should include, and then supplies you with the wording for such a clause. If you present this to your sponsor, not only will they appreciate it, but you will look professional, organized, and show that you understand the importance of what their sponsorship means!

 

Click the link below to see the form:

http://bit.ly/omYSne

 

Thanks for reading and I hope you will find this information useful.

 

Anna

 

 

 

“Best Practices” for #Nonprofit & #Event Sponsorship Success #engage365 #eventprofs July 12, 2011

Filed under: Event and Meeting Tips — attract2engage @ 6:51 pm

Below you will find a short, yet informative and helpful list of how you should properly (and successfully) go after corporate sponsorship’s for your big event. Whether you are putting on an annual conference for a nonprofit, or starting your very first “Health Fair”, here is a good guide to follow. We all know sponsorship’s allow an event to host many facets – simply because you would not be able to include beneficial   aspects without that sponsor’s money.

Best Practices for Nonprofit Organization and Event/Festival Sponsorship Success:
1. Leadership clearly articulates the value proposition of the organization and its event, initiative, activity or cause.

 
2. Sponsorship operation is led by enthusiastic and innovative staff with experience in marketing and business development, especially in selling the intangible.

 
3. The organization has a clear process to engage new and current sponsors, build trusting and meaningful relationships, and creatively develop, fulfill and grow sponsorship opportunities that meet the nonprofit or event’s mission.

 
4. Sponsorship program is supported culturally by the organization – internally by its staff and board, and externally through its audiences – in words and actions.

 
5. Corporate sponsors contribute in positive, noticeable, and productive ways to the organization’s events, programs, initiatives or in general.

 
6. The organization’s event, festival, or sponsorship program is so popular that
sponsors call the organization to become involved.

 
7. Because the organization constantly innovates in response to the needs of its
audiences, donors, constituents and stakeholders, the sponsorship program
remains fresh and contemporary.

 
8. As the sponsorship liaison, the organization’s staff member is always operating in the present and 1 to 3 years ahead, anticipating the organization’s and sponsor’s needs and objectives and how to unite them creatively through
sponsorship.

 
9. The nonprofit organization focuses on quality relationships and meaningful
partnerships, not on quantity and transactions.

 
10. The relationship between the organization and its sponsors deepens over time once the first agreement is signed.

These tips were taken from the Alabama Association of Nonprofit’s website. Written by Gail Bower.

 

If I could offer any additional advice it would be to “come as you are”.  A sincere and honest approach is always the best. You should be a walking advocate for your group (if not, ask yourself why, really, are you involved?). Your sponsor will see this within you and your staff which will make them feel more comfortable and at home knowing their money is “going to the right place”.

 

In reference to #9,  make sure you pick the right sponsor. Remember QUALITY. Make sure that you are meeting that sponsor’s mission for why they want to give money in the first place, and don’t just take it because it’s there. Most likely you will not get the grant again next year, and so long goes the idea of building a long and fruitful relationship. (#10)

 

Also, gather some new data and statistics to show your sponsor where his money will be going, why and how it’s useful. In this economy, you will probably not find someone who is “giving blindly”. They will appreciate not having to do this research themselves. This references #7 as you should not be lacking in new data if you are following this step.

 

Spend some time on your application, making it easy to understand and read. It is more professional to write in the third person, and spell out acronyms (don’t assume they will know what they stand for). Write in a tone that exudes confidence, as you are selling your nonprofit’s mission and vision.

 

Think about collaborating with other like-minded nonprofits in your area. It’s o.k. to step out of the box and contact another nonprofit that may be related to yours and consider a partnership with them. As your nonprofit is most likely not the only group this corporate sponsor donates to, they will appreciate seeing you working with another group that they potentially already sponsor. This will also increase your chances of getting a larger grant!

 

I hope you will utilize these lines of thinking when it comes time to secure your next grant.  It could be the difference in a door opening and a door, well, closing. Thanks for reading.

 

Anna

 

Scratching the Surface on Realizing the Importance of Volunteers as a Part of Your “Movement”, Nonprofit, or Organization

Filed under: Event and Meeting Tips — attract2engage @ 5:00 pm

I wanted to capture this article in my blog history for many reasons.  I list a few below, and encourage you to come up with your own ideas on the importance of volunteerism after reading.

1. A reference – As a manager of many Board of Directors and Associations who host conferences throughout the world, the need for volunteers at these events in immeasurable. We would not be able to host the event, in many cases, without volunteers; or the event would just not be something extraordinary if it were not for the time and effort given by these volunteers.

2. A reminder – This article reminds me why people sign away their free time to volunteer for you. They believe in your organizations mission and vision statement – something I always harp to my board of directors as the “twitter version” of breaking down your organizations reason for being.  The mission and vision statement is something that your volunteers BELIEVE in, TRUST and VALUE as the standard for why they want to be a part of this group. If you can’t deliver a clear vision to them you will likely get muddied volunteers.

3. A reason – Upon reading the article in full, it has given me another reason to sit down and re-work my connectivity with the people who sacrifice their free time to help out. It has given me another reason NOT to take my volunteers for granted, because in the end these people are a living, breathing entity to the nonprofit/organization/movement that I also am passionate about. I want my ‘passion’ (movement, association, nonprofit) to exceed expectations and inspire people as well. If I have volunteers who share in my passion while also understanding their role as a volunteer, then I am breathing more life into my group without even having to give a pre-event motivational speech!

Read the full article below:

Two Nonprofit Newswire stories on NPQ’s website recently caught my attention. “Community Volunteers Step in to Save a Y” was a classic story of community ownership of a cause, enabled by the supportive efforts of an organization. It’s too bad it took the near demise of that organization to reveal the level of volunteer support it could have mobilized to avoid reaching the point of deciding to close its doors. A few days later, a Newswire entry mentioned a 2010 Canadian report, Bridging the Gap:Enriching the volunteers experience to build a better future for our communities, that identified a number of significant gaps and barriers in the ways nonprofit organizations recruit, develop, and deploy volunteers. To me, these two short pieces frame a much larger question: Do today’s nonprofits really want volunteers/an engaged community?

 
My organization works with dozens of nonprofits every year, most of which have anemic volunteer strategies. I can’t think of more than a couple of these otherwise highly successful services that would ever be “saved” by community volunteers like that YMCA was if the need arose—there just wouldn’t be that level of community ownership of their work. But, as the second story revealed, most leaders of nonprofit organizations would admit that they’ve done little to nurture that kind of support, and I am concerned that much of the sector has lost sight of the true value of volunteers—those engaged and committed community members who are willing to invest their precious time, social capital, and intellect on a common cause.

 
I’m struck by the sense that today’s volunteer mobilization challenges are not that different from those many organizations have faced for at least the last quarter century. My first in-depth exploration of volunteerism was in the mid-1980s—the result of seeing a worrisome decline in volunteer participation in an international youth-serving organization I worked for. In many of our national programs, the numbers of volunteers were dropping, but, more troubling, staff expectations were dropping even faster. A small group of staff from several different countries formed a short-term task force to study the situation. We tried to understand the cause of the decline, and also looked for exemplary programs around the world that were growing their volunteer base.

 
One of our most sobering findings was in the area of volunteer mobilization rates, typically measured in terms of the number of volunteers an organization deploys per paid staff member. In most developed nations, programs reported between three and ten volunteers per staff member (with most volunteers serving just a few hours per week). What was exciting, though, was identifying a handful of programs with much higher ratios—50:1 or higher. A program in Singapore, for instance, had mobilized so many volunteers that it worked out to the equivalent of ten full-time workers per paid staff member—that’s 25,000 volunteer hours per staff member per year. We then set out to discover what these exemplary programs were doing differently.

 
Our discovery process was framed by some insights from social-movement theory, provided by our “resident sociologist,” Johan Vink, of the Netherlands. Vink was a leader in one of the six exemplary national programs we had identified. The earlier bankruptcy of his own organization had convinced him that, left to their own devices, organizations face an almost inevitable process of decline, which he explains in terms of how social movements rise and then decline over time. I believe the theory can be extended to the dynamics as they are felt between an organization and its community.

 
According to Vink, movements (and organizations) depend upon a combination of four key factors for their growth:


1. A compelling vision. A growing movement typically emerges from a vision that articulates a need or opportunity with unusual clarity. This vision attracts others to the cause by challenging them to become part of something so significant that to say no is not an option. Usually led by a small leadership team or perhaps even one person, these emerging movements are usually short on organization and administration but long on passion and commitment.

 
2. Constant communication.  In a growing movement, communication is maintained partly by the desire of all members to keep up with the latest news concerning progress toward achievement of the movement’s objectives. Every day seems to bring encouraging feedback about new “beachheads.” But leaders also make it a point to keep feeding stories of success to everyone—members or not—who will listen. Communication is carefully designed to keep the purpose of the movement in front of everyone and to maintain the sense of momentum that is so important in keeping people motivated.

 
3. Willing workers. In a growing movement there seems to be little difficulty in finding people willing to get involved. This may be due in part to the fact that those already involved seem to be excited about what they are doing and speak positively about what they are accomplishing through their efforts. It is also typical that new workers are given the opportunity to select the kind of projects and roles in which they wish to become involved. And, the growth of the movement guarantees a constantly growing need for workers as well as an increasingly varied range of roles in which to serve.

 
4. Results-oriented structure. In a growing movement, the focus remains on the objectives—the “raisons d’être” that led to the founding of the movement. All action is evaluated in relation to its potential impact on the accomplishment of those objectives rather than on the basis of other secondary factors, such as worker preferences or the latest trends. Furthermore, organizational structures are designed to channel resources—human and otherwise—efficiently toward the achievement of those objectives. And, excellent performance is rewarded with more responsibility and more resources—there is a clear bias for investment in the “make it happen” people, and little attention wasted on the resisters.

 

Movements decline when:


1. Means become ends. In a declining movement, people become more concerned with “doing things right” than with “doing the right things.” More and more energy is expended on polishing performance, with less concern for finding the most effective ways of accomplishing the mission. Furthermore, the heroes of the movement become those individuals who are most technically skilled rather than those who are most productive in achieving critical end objectives.

 
2. Roles become professionalized. Where once it was deemed important to keep tasks simple so that as many people as possible could be put to work, later it becomes more important to screen potential workers carefully, because only certain people are seen as capable of performing at a high enough level. Ultimately, some or most tasks become so demanding in their complexity that only “professional” workers can perform them adequately.

 
3. Methods become traditionalized. Whereas a growing movement is characterized by ongoing experimentation, with a view to discovering new ways to achieve its objectives, a declining movement is more likely to show evidence of a narrowing of acceptable approaches. Only certain strategies and methods are allowed, and new techniques are greeted with suspicion.

 
4. Leadership becomes maintenance-oriented. Instead of visionary, forward-looking leadership, with its characteristic “rough around the edges” management style, decaying movements are controlled by administrators whose main focus is on keeping the structure and systems going rather than building momentum toward the accomplishment of the mission. Committees abound, and complicated, slow-moving decision-making processes become the norm. Anyone wanting to move out in a new direction finds him- or herself having to work around the existing structure rather than being able to use it as a channel through which to get the needful resources.

 
What all of this told us was that the success of volunteer mobilization was rooted in something deeper than strategy and methodology—it was dependent on an organization’s philosophy, values, and structures. More specifically, did leaders and staff at all levels see volunteer participation as crucial to their success? Did they value volunteers to the point of giving them freedom to serve and lead in ways that met their goals and fit their circumstances? Did they build structures that truly empowered volunteers to do great things and not simply support the efforts of professionals? In all of our identified exemplary programs, the answer was a resounding “Yes!” Here are just a few of the stories:

 
Jamaica: Operating island-wide in every major town, the program in Jamaica had a 50:1 ratio of volunteers to full-time paid staff at the beginning of our study. Autonomous, volunteer-led local groups, supported by a small team of zone coordinators and national-office resource staff, made program and personnel decisions, raised their own funds, and continually recruited new volunteers. Interestingly, as a result of the study the groups became much better at sharing innovative program ideas with each other. And, as they became more open to new approaches, their volunteer participation rate moved closer to 100:1.
• The Netherlands: Vink’s home program was forced to adopt a new, volunteer-led model when the original organization went bankrupt. Their strategy was to re-launch their work as a series of volunteer-led “coffee bar” drop-in centers in towns and cities where there was sufficient volunteer interest. To avoid a repeat of the program’s earlier financial burnout, the small national coordinating team adopted a policy whereby a local group could not hire a staff person until it had at least fifty actively engaged volunteers. Volunteers were organized into “cells” of around eight people, and each cell was fully responsible for its own program planning, logistics, and ongoing recruitment.
Singapore: Again, the story began with the need for renewal—this time of a program that had become stale and complacent, and whose volunteer numbers had been steadily declining for several years. Under new, visionary leadership, the program became a powerhouse of volunteer-based youth service, active in every school and housing district on this tiny island nation. When asked to explain the program’s phenomenal growth, one of the senior leaders summarized it this way: “Our success is the product of how we see our people. We see volunteers as a ‘gift’ that we must steward wisely, and our staff as ‘stewards’ whose role is to support volunteer engagement in fulfilling their vision of doing work that aligns with our overall purpose.”

 
In the years since leaving this international organization, I have continued to observe volunteer mobilization in the nonprofit sector in North America. What I see, to my disappointment, are too many signs of declining movements—once-vital volunteer-conceived and volunteer-led service innovations that have steadily become “monuments to their past glory,” as Vink would describe them. Over time, I’ve come to describe the process like this: When movements begin, their primary focus is the work, which moves forward through the spontaneous, natural growth of a committed workforce, and is supported by small, nimble “workings” that exist primarily to channel resources to the front lines. When they decline, the workings increasingly become the focus, the workforce is seen less as an asset and more as a cost center, and the work shrinks down to fit the confines of the funders’ expectations.

 

Still, there is always hope, and I’ve been heartened by the fact that one can always identify exemplary programs that have avoided this path (or, in some cases, found their way back from an unfortunate one). Some Canadian examples with which I’m most familiar include:
Pathways to Education: Perhaps the most effective high school dropout prevention program in North America, this volunteer-based initiative reduced the dropout rate from 56 percent to 10 percent in one of the poorest communities in Canada. The program is now being planted, through community ownership and volunteer commitment, in a number of other Canadian cities.
Frontier College: Canada’s oldest literacy organization, which began its work by recruiting volunteer “laborer-teachers” during the railroad-building and gold rush days, now recruits thousands of college and university students to do literacy and learning-skills training with children in impoverished neighborhoods across Canada.
Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition: Like virtually all Healthy Cities initiatives around the world, this organization supports local volunteers, through a small team of “community animators,” to do community capacity building in their own towns around the province. An even smaller central office provides resource and communication support, ensuring that stories of success quickly find their way to all of the network nodes.

 
These are just a few examples, but it’s evident that there is something of a renaissance of community building currently underway. A clear message is being sent, not only to individual citizens and community groups but also to the organizations that exist to serve them. That message is, it’s time to rebuild community ownership of the means of community building. We must rediscover volunteerism, but we must also adjust the form in which we do much of our work of program and service delivery. This is not just an economic imperative in today’s world of shrinking finances—it’s also a community imperative.

 

Fortunately, as I see it it’s never been easier to do this. The big advantage we have now, twenty-five years down the road from my first awakening to the potential of large-scale volunteer mobilization, is that we’re all connected. As Seth Godin points out in his recent book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us,we are all members of these groups. Some, like our families, are defined for us, but others—religious groups, community groups, interest groups, teams, work-based groups—are the result of our choices. Godin has articulated an updated perspective on the whole idea of social movements. His idea of a “tribe” is a group of people connected to an idea (or cause), a leader, and one another. They are, in his words, “simply a few keystrokes away from you on the Net,” which means they’re that close to any organization that can support them in making the kind of difference they want in the world.

 
To be sure, a lot of organizations are trying to develop strategies to use social networking tools to attract volunteers, donors, and other supporters. Perhaps, though, we need a different frame of reference. Why not focus on finding individuals and groups who already care about the work you are doing, and invite them to educate you on how to support their involvement in meaningful ways that fit their circumstances.
One way to reframe volunteerism in today’s already-connected world is to think of it as “crowdsourcing” social change. Today’s young adults are increasingly looking for “tribes that make a difference”—they want something more than just to belong to a “happy gang.” The challenge for nonprofit organizations is to trust these young people to take the opportunities and support we provide and, in their own perhaps messy but passionate way, do great things for their neighborhoods, their countries, the world.

The starting point is to ask the question, “What do I believe about the people I’m trying to recruit?”

The truth is, you either believe they will do great things, or you don’t. Either way, they’ll know how you feel, and that determines whether or not volunteers believe in what you’re doing. Let’s not wait until the organization needs to be “saved”—it’s time to take a chance and see how volunteers can lead our work in creative new directions.

This article was pulled from: The NonProfit Quarterly; written by Peter O’Donnell

Thanks for reading! There is a lot of information in this article that may take some re-reading to fully understand volunteering as a whole, and your role in that entity. (I had to read twice, and I am saving it here so I can read it again.) I am forever thankful to the volunteers along the way who have “helped make it happen!” And next time, when I am on the flip side of this coin, and am a volunteer myself, I will remember to regain my passion, and use it wisely!

Anna

 

Good Information on Greening Your Meetings July 7, 2011

Filed under: Event and Meeting Tips — attract2engage @ 6:07 pm

Green Meeting Guidelines – Click here for a cohesive explanation of how, what when and why you should be greening your meetings.

It seems like “Going Green” is just as hot of a topic as “Social Media” is these days. If you are a meeting planner, you might have had your clients more recently ask you what your policy was on greening your meetings and how do you implement these plans. Rather than building your own set of standards and asking the hotel or convention center to build it into your contract, check out these tips I have gathered along the way.

For a quick reference, you can always count on these 5 things:

  • Eliminate paper
  • Do an “eco-audit”
  • Reuse and recycle everything
  • THINK LOCAL!
  • Communicate with your venue

For 50 More Specific Tips…..

Site Selection

1) Start with a detailed statement of environmental expectations for your meeting, along with measurable goals so you benchmark results.

2) If a destination requires extensive attendee travel, consider using carbon off set programs.

3) Ask if the destination you’re considering has an environmentally sound disposal system for solid and liquid wastes. Does it have a program in place to reduce the consumption of water? Does it have a program in place to reduce energy consumption?

4) Consider cities withmass transit systems that connect major venues with each other and with major transportation hubs (i.e., airports, train stations).

5) Ask if the hotel has a recycling program that includes the collection of materials such as paper, metal, glass, and plastic.

6) Is the hotel staff instructed to shut blinds, turn off lights, and turn down the heat/air conditioning when guest rooms and meeting rooms are vacant?

7) Do guest rooms have dispensers for soaps, shampoos, and lotions, or does the property donate unused amenities to charity?

Are guests offered the option to re-use linens/towels? Is the housekeeping staff fully trained to follow guests’ wishes?

9) If using multiple facilities, choose locations where the hotel and event venue are within walking distance of each other.

10) Ask the hotel or venue to provide banquet event orders and rooming lists electronically, in addition to providing electronic check-in and checkout services for attendees.

11) Ask the CVB and local destination management companies to recommend venues and suppliers that have environmental practices in place.

12) Consider off-site events, activities, and tours that involve event attendees in the area’s natural environment with minimal impact.

Transportation

13) Inform transportation companies of your environmental preferences and ask about their environmental practices.

*14) Include a clause in your contract with the transportation provider that states their commitment to comply with your environmental requests.

15) Alert attendees to environmentally preferable transportation choices, such as mass transit and carpooling for getting to their destination.

16) Arrange for shuttles, rather than cabs, to transport attendees to and from the airport and the event venue.

17) Ask transportation providers if they follow environmentally responsible maintenance and recycle used oil, batteries, antifreeze, and tires.

18) Ask providers if they train drivers to minimize idling and the use of air conditioners, especially when no passengers are in the vehicle.

19) Ask providers if they offer fuel-efficient or alternative fuel vehicles.

20) Provide a public transit pass and map in attendees’ registration packets.

Air Transportation

21) Ask airlines if they use reusable or biodegradable service ware.

22) Ask if they collect service items used in flight and recycle them.

23) Ask what efforts the airline has made to improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet.

Food & Beverage

24) Inform F&B suppliers of your environmental preferences and ask about their environmental practices.

*25) Include a clause in the contract with suppliers and caterers that states their commitments to comply with your environmental requests.

26) Require by contract that the caterer use reusable cutlery, dishware, linens, and decorations. If disposables are unavoidable, make sure they contain a significant amount of recycled content.

27) Require that they use compostable and/or biodegradable products only when they are able to be disposed of in a municipal or commercial facility operated in accordance with best composting management practices.

28) Ask that condiments, beverages, and other food items be provided in bulk instead of individually packaged and that any packaging is recyclable and recycled.

*29) Ask themto use locally produced seasonal and/or organic food and beverages when possible.

30) Ask that leftover foods be donated to a local food bank or soup kitchen, or composted. Donate table scraps to farms where possible.

*31) Have attendees sign up for meals on the registration form to indicate their intentions to attend specific meal functions throughout the event. Better attendance numbers will reduce food waste and costs. (this also helps your F&B Minimum stay low if you’re on a tight budget!)

On Site

32) Instead of speaker and/or attendee gifts make a donation to a local charity.

33) Have attendees bring a conference bag from home and have a contest for the most unique or creative bag. (or if it’s an annual event, have a contest for who has the oldest conference bag!)

34) If you are exhibiting at a trade show, consider the following practices:

•minimize packaging and recycle packaging when appropriate

• use products that contain a significant amount of recycled content as giveaways and do not use gift items made from endangered or threatened species

• recycle cardboard, pallets, paper, cans, plastic, glass, and other recyclable materials

• ensure clean-up crews are trained to keep recyclable and reusable items out of the garbage

• choose decorations and display materials that can be reused and/or are made out of recycled materials

• try to use locally grown/made products for give-aways.

35) Provide materials electronically on memory sticks or on a Web site for future reference.

36) Bring only what is needed for the event; reuse what is not distributed. Inform facilities and decorators of your environmental preferences and ask about their environmental practices.

37) Reduce transportation emissions and support local economies by using local speakers and entertainers whenever possible.

38) Consider opening each plenary session with a green tip of the day.

39) Communicate the event’s green initiatives to attendees, stakeholders, and the media.

40) Reduce paper use by using the Web and e-mail to promote the event.

41) For materials that need to be printed, print on double-sided, post-consumer, recycled paper using vegetable-based inks.

42) Reuse nametags by providing collection bins for them.

43) Save directional, food and beverage, and other generic signs for reuse.

44) Turn off lights in meeting rooms, office, and guest rooms when not using them.

45) Use in‐roomTV or hotel telephone message service for on-site meeting announcements instead of printed changes.

46) Recycle key cards.

47) Eliminate water bottles and either give attendees refillable water bottles or paper cups made with a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content, not glasses and pitchers.

48) Set up collection stations for any printed materials or collateral so that they can be recycled.

49) Ask attendees for feedback on other ways you can make the meeting “green” the next time.

50) Remember: You don’t have to be 100 percent green; even one small change or decision can help lessen your impact on the environment.

These 50 tips were pulled from MeetingsNet.com.

 

As you can see from these tips, every little bit helps.  Plus your attendees will notice the efforts and appreciate that you made it easier for them to “be green” as well. It will also look good for the association, organization or group who you are planning the meetings for. People won’t forget your efforts, especially when it’s such a hot topic in today’s world!

 

Anna