A few weeks ago, Olivia and I had a great conversation with Chris Jarvis from Realized Worth who has great expertise in non-profit organizations and CSR. He shared with us issues that exist in managing volunteering and donation programs at companies. Here are several important points that Chris provided us that will assist us greatly in building a great platform.
- Even with all the tools, the biggest problem is getting the most up-to-date nonprofit data online. One organization says they have about 85,000 nonprofits and close to 600,000’s of opportunities, but most are not up-to-date. Some non-profits don’t even exist anymore. We can go through 100 opportunities before we find a legitimate one. One nonprofit put the same listing in 540 times. Chris gave us a great analogy: For the past five years, people put up posters for bake sales, garage sales and any kind of opportunities on every part of the walls, but they just never come down.
- Design does really matter, which is why people hate one particular organization’s tool because their design is awful. They have dozens of developers. “I don’t know who they hire them, but they cannot fix it. It’s a mess. I can tell you that every company that comes to us, tell us that they hate [it]. We’re trying to get rid of it,” said Chris. However, companies remain with this particular organization because the organization agrees to assume legal liabilities and vet nonprofit organizations to ensure they are meeting companies’ legal requirements to receive money.
- While management tools are about getting people to sign on and volunteer, but at the end of the day, companies are collecting data and sales. Data is more important than technology.
- One company is giving away a free volunteer management software, but is not offering support. Support is important.
- We can be huge for small and medium markets. They need a major increase in quality of program and so it’s a big move for them. They don’t want to be spending money on themselves when they want to give money away to charities. Many of them don’t have the budget for community involvement programs. Many don’t have a CSR manager full-time. They don’t have a strategy to implement. But if we offer them something that is affordable, easy to use and wouldn’t require a full-time person to use, it would be good. The real problem is distributing money, vetting, time consummation.
- Chris believes in game dynamics. Some management tools offer recognition options, and they work well.
- Social media can work, but it depends on the company if they want to use it. There should be a dashboard where we can see our progress with goals. Goals cannot be just money and hours. The goal needs to be translated into an impact. Chris gave an example: “I give 200 dollars to volunteer 14 hours to a company to match and 16 girls in Haiti get to go to school and it’s terribly motivating. If I don’t give money or hours, then these girls just don’t go to school. That’s what the tools need – to get people want to log in the hours and participate.”
Last Monday, I attended a seminar hosted by Evenbrite, “Leveraging Pro Bono Talent to Build Organizational Capacity.” This seminar brought up a very good discussion about why non-profit organizations need to utilize volunteers’ greatest skills or challenging new skills and how can that benefit workplaces.
There is no doubt that any non-profit organizations can benefit greatly from volunteers. They sure do need people to stuff envelopes, enter data entries and/or file papers. However, volunteers should not be only offered to do these mundane pro-bono work. In order for non-profit organizations to lure in as many volunteers as they want and keep them for as long as they can, they need to focus on utilizing volunteers’ greatest skills and passion.
For example, if an individual has an expertise in technology infrastructure, non-profit organizations should offer this individual volunteer opportunities to utilize his/her skills by having him/her set up and fix computers and wi-fi and/or give computer lessons. Companies would also really benefit from employees who do pro-bono work in their area of expertise because employees would be able to keep their skills fresh.
Individuals also can do pro-bono work in areas where they have little or no expertise but can learn as they do the work. For example, a non-profit organization may need a volunteer to manage their social media content. While some individuals, who use Facebook and/or Twitter on regular basis for personal purposes, may not have experiences in managing the social media for an organization or a company, they can learn on the go. Then once they’ve mastered the skills, they can bring their renewed knowledge to the companies where they work by starting up a social media platform or bring in ideas for social media strategies.
When volunteers are able to focus on their area of expertise or work on a new skill, they feel much more passionate about their work because they are challenged and know that they are doing something extremely productive and big for a cause.
Companies and non-profit organizations both can benefit greatly when non-profit organizations utilize volunteers’ greatest skills because it helps both of them improve the quality of their organizations.
While it is wonderful that we want to give of ourselves, it is also important that we spread our passion for making a difference to other people surrounding us by encouraging them to devote their time to a cause and inspire others too. This concept can be known as “pay it forward.” When one helps another human being, be a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger, that human being follows the suit by helping another person.
Here are ten tips to exponentially grow the motivation of helping others:
- Don’t go by yourself to a volunteer event. Bring friends and/or family members with you!
- At a coffee shop, pay for the coffee for the person who was behind you in the line and tell the person to do the same. See how people in South Caroline have done it!
- Bring recycle bins to cafes that do not have them and collect the recycle once the bins are full. If recycle bins exist, people will use them by tossing recyclable materials there.
- When trick-or-treating with kids on Halloween Day, encourage them to ask their neighbors to give them cans of food instead of candies to donate to the food drive. Perhaps other trick-or-treaters will do the same if they see you asking for cans!
- Instead of giving your friends or family members a material or a gift card for their birthdays, donate to a cause in honor of them. Your friends and family members will likely do the same for your birthdays.
- Leave dollar bills on the ground with a note asking the stranger to use the money help someone.
- Don’t just join a political campaign! Become a team leader for a political campaign in your community so that you can recruit people to join the campaign and keep them engaged!
- Bring reusable bags for groceries and bring extras to give to other shoppers to use when going food shopping.
- Offer to help your neighbors with picking up mail or watering the flowers while they’re out of town. If you do, others will help you too and others!
- If volunteers are needed at an organization, school or company, don’t give them the job of stuffing envelopes! Give them tasks that meet their skills and interests!
While it is easy to verbally tell someone to become engaged in an activity, it does not mean that the action will occur. One should take an action in order to encourage others to follow the suit. It’s like saying, “practice what you preach.”
Derek Sivers, a professional musician who started CD Baby, demonstrates an example of how one can start a movement at a TED talk.
In middle of a grassy field where people are peacefully sitting on the ground, an individual gets up and starts dancing. One person follows him by getting up and dancing too. Then another person follow and another and then eventually it grew to ten people dancing together. After a following minute, the number of people who join in to dance increased in ten folds.
The most important lesson to point out in this lecture is don’t just be a leader and take actions. Be a follower too because a follower can make just as great impact as the leader would be creating!
Have you ever started or helped start a movement like Sivers’ example, and if yes, how did you do it?