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Monday is Twitter’s Global Day Of Giving #mobiMonday July 20, 2011

Filed under: Relevant Articles — attract2engage @ 4:17 pm

I have always wondered how this works. Its just too easy. When the tornado’s of April 27th, 2011 hit the state of Alabama, and the southeast, we were unaware of just how deep the devastation ran. Viewing the aftermath was hard to swallow – seeing the University of Alabama’s student housing demolished and families with no homes, no where to go, and worst of all, many with no insurance. Within days southerners were grouping together for the clean up, and on an even larger and global scale, the fundraising began. I know many people who wanted to get out and help with the labor but for a number of reasons, such as distance from the devestation, could not. That’s when the beauty of sending a text, with just one word, showed it’s massive power to reach millions and make an enormous impact. I am sure you have all heard of similar text messaging campaigns for various fundraising purposes. Even if you are a new, smaller, nonprofit who does not have a lot of history, there are options for you to explore when thinking about launching a mobile fundraising campaign. Below are 7 essential tips for nonprofits considering this great and easy to use fundraising option.

 

GIVE thru your mobile device, right here right now to your charity

http://m.give.mobi/

Read on to start up a mobile giving campaign…

Know the Rules

The mGive Foundation has some pretty rigorous standards in order to approve organizations. Among the eligibility requirements, organizations must have 501(c)(3) non-profit status, file a form 990 demonstrating an annual budget of at least $500,000, have been in operation for at least a year and report all of its expenses to the public.

But what if you don’t have a half a million dollar annual budget, or can’t afford mGive’s $499 monthly fee? There are now solutions for smaller non-profits with shorter histories. MobiPledge is designed specifically for small non-profits, for example.

Another option is to start a text-to-commit program using a text marketing service like Momares. While it doesn’t offer the benefits of direct donations attached to constituents’ phone bills, it is a way for smaller non-profits to create fundraising opportunities through mobile.

Build Your Foundation

Successful mobile campaigns can do much more than just text subscribers and ask for money. Before you can think about fundraising, you need phone numbers. Use all of your existing platforms to ask your community for their phone numbers. If you already have a strong database, great; but you should always be thinking about new ways to gather this information. Think about asking through direct mailings or via your social media accounts. Add a widget to your blog or website where your community can opt in to mobile alerts.

Once you’ve collected a large group of phone numbers and organized your lists, you are ready to kick off your campaign.

Engage

Further develop a relationship with your subscribers. Don’t send an immediate request for money without first explaining your organization and your mission. You can start by appealing to your subscribers emotions and latch on to the things they’re already thinking about (like a special event or holiday).

Tennyson Center for Children, a Denver-based non-profit for at-risk teens, ran one of Snyder’s favorite campaigns. After building a list of numbers, they sent a text on Valentine’s Day saying “Happy Valentines Day! Our Hearts are with you and you have all of our Hearts.” Later that month, they asked for a $10 gift. Tennyson Center for Children increased their annual budget by 8.7% after integrating mobile into their organizations’ infrastructure.

Think Big

Big events with big audiences are the best opportunity to solicit text message donations. Because text campaigns seek micro-donations, the moment your non-profit has its largest captive audience is best time to launch a campaign.

One of the first successful instances of a text donation campaign was during the 2008 Superbowl, when United Way asked for a $5 donation via text message to help prevent child obesity. Since then, mobile giving has been integrated into other major events, like the New York Center for Autism’s Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education in partnership with Comedy Central. For example, when actors Olivia Munn and Will Forte came onstage in the same dress, audience members could vote for best dressed. There was also an ongoing poll as to which type of milkshake — chocolate, strawberry or vanilla — should be poured on John Hodgman’s head. Each text response made a $10 donation to the autism center. By the end of the night, the event raised $130,000 just from those texts.

Don’t worry if you lack the scale of the United Way (and the budget to buy a Superbowl commercial) or the celebrity connections of the New York Center for Autism. There are ample opportunities non-profits with fewer resources to capitalize on crowds — high school sports games, county or town fairs, and fundraising galas are ideal times to recruit excited donors.

Think Outside the Box

Mobile campaigns can do much more than just solicit donations. Mobile is a great channel to find volunteers for specific events or inform people about a rally. Organizations can also text bit.ly links to more information about their programs and where their work is being done.

Don’t Oversaturate

One of the biggest challenges in today’s market is the risk of oversaturation. While we might ignore emails in our inbox, text messages generally have a better conversion rate. Snyder claims that 85% of text messages are read within 15 minutes of being received. This means that there is a higher chance your audience will read text messages you send their way.

Snyder warns her clients to strike a balance between engagement and oversaturation. The worst thing that could happen after you’ve acquired mobile subscribers is to drive them to unsubscribe. This can happen if your messages become overwhelming and unwanted.

Try to limit donation inquiries to once a month, followed by a message of appreciation to those who donated. Beyond that, only send one additional message each month, such as acknowledging a relevant holiday or event at your organization.

Know the Limitations

Mobile campaigns are usually simple, but that can be a mixed blessing. The no-fuss nature of mobile communication means it can be more difficult to collect additional information about individual donors. Most mobile campaigns also don’t allow donors to select how much they want to give. While this sets a minimum (usually $5 or $10) for donations, it also limits larger donations, unless users want to text you 100 times.

This article was gathered from mashable.com, written by Zoe Fox.

Thanks for reading! And, some food for thought, once you have built your network of phone numbers and contacts, think beyond. Now that you have this list of people who are willing to donate, probably because they are an advocate for the cause, don’t let it go to waste. Remember not to over-saturate, but use this list to inform them and promote other like-minded events and happenings in the area. Your local promoter will thank you, and in a way you are perpetuating the cycle of giving by helping him out!

Anna

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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

 

Crash Course on #Google+ #eventprofs #engage365 July 13, 2011

Filed under: The Personal Appeal — attract2engage @ 7:11 pm

If you are not a web programmer or don’t have those innate skills on understanding and operating new social media websites like myself,  this “Google+ 101” slideshow might be beneficial to you.

 

As the Google+ site is still in the “testing” phase and you need an invite to join, the author of this slideshow will send you an invite for sharing the link, like I have done.

 

I am still determining if I want to use Google+ as a personal or professional page, I am beginning to lean towards professional as I have had much success with my new Twitter page and my professional blogging.  If you do end up joining, let’s get together and be in each others professional “Circle”. as I am guessing the new phrase is going to be….“GOOGLE+ ME!”

 

Here is what you will learn in the slideshow:

Google+ is the latest in social media innovation offering a series of tools to help you stay connected with the people/ things you care about.

Step 1: Set up a Google+ profile

Step 2: Integrating your Picasa photo album(s) (if you have one)

Step 3: Establishing your “Circles”

Step 4: Checking your privacy settings

Step 5: Adding your contacts

Step 6: Organizing a “Huddle”

Step 7: Mastering the “Hangout”

 

There is additional information on +Streams, +Circles, and +Sparks. Also, you will learn how to get started chatting, hooking up to your mobile phone, and sending a private message. At the end, there is a great Google+ Cheat sheet for fast learning.

Please click the link below to start the slideshow:

http://slidesha.re/pk2rhY

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you will have a great experience on Google+ with an easy transition into it thanks to the slideshow.

Anna

 

Addressing the Relationship Between #Nonprofit and its Corporate Sponsors #eventprofs #engage365 #sponsorship

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

 

“Corporate Sponsorship Toolkit” #nonprofit #sponsorship

Filed under: Relevant Articles — attract2engage @ 6:00 pm

Below you will find several hints to get the “wheels churning” on churning money for your sponsorship programs.

 

Where will you find assets for your corporate sponsorship program? Read where below….

 
 Communications Materials:
o Brochures, flyers, posters, invitations, postcards, newsletters,
informational packets, web sites, social media, e-blasts, etc.

 

 Public Relations:
o Press releases and campaigns, press conferences, photo opportunities,
press events.


 

Advertising opportunities:
o Print, radio, television, outdoor, web-based.


 

Onsite Visibility:
o Pre-event, post-event, official category designation, use of logo or
trademarked name.

 

 Deeper access with audience:
o Use of or access to database, hospitality opportunities, special offers and
networking opportunities.


 

Mission-related:
o Areas of expertise, proprietary services or programs, enriched connection
to philanthropic efforts

This information was pulled from the Alabama Association of Nonprofits website.

 

Thanks for reading. It seems like if you can pull from some of these bullet points, you will wind up with some sponsorship in one of these avenues. Good Luck!

 

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