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On this page are ideas to help you work more efficiently with volunteers. There are tips on recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and managing the work of volunteers.

~June 2012 ~



Recruiting and Evaluation and Recognition of Volunteers are totally online classes for managers of volunteer programs that begin June 25. Build the most effective program by earning a Certificate in Volunteer Administration from a major research university. Learn more on the Volunteer Today News page


Virtual volunteers are those people who serve an organization via the Internet.  They do not report to a site or an office.  But the jobs carried out can have a big impact.  Getting a virtual volunteer to manage a Pinterest site is just such an opportunity.

Pinterest is a social media site called a pin board.  It provides a place for photos and links.  It is a way to share the essence of the organization not always available at other social media locations. 

It is a simple social media site, unlike Facebook with so many multiple layers you can wonder where you are.  It is where you can share images, inspirational quotes, schedules, links, and ideas.  Imagine a location with pictures of volunteers at work with crazy quotes, and links to Web site, Facebook page or Twitter. 

Here are tips to set up your Pinterest page.

  • Write a purpose statement.  What do you want the site to do?
  • Who is taking pictures and editing them for use on the Internet? If you do not do this regularly, a pin board is not a good idea.
  • Make sure your volunteer application includes a photo release statement requiring a signature.  If you do not have one, create one and have all current volunteers sign.  Use only new pictures from those who have signed the release.
  • Write a position description for a virtual volunteer position. 
  • Have a plan for regular communication with the virtual volunteer .
  • Recruit this virtual volunteer from the Internet—Web site, Twitter, Facebook, VolunteerMatch, etc. 
  • Check with current volunteers who love new technology about taking on this position.
  • Get a back-up virtual volunteer to help the person managing the site.  Ask if they would like a partner.
  • Share the mission and purpose of the pin board site for the organization and its stakeholders with the volunteer.
  • Train the volunteer about the organization, its mission, its volunteers and paid staff. 
  • Create a “paper” mock up of what you hope the site will look like.  This is to share with the volunteer. 
  • Be sure to include on the site:

    > easy identification of organization and purpose
    > captions for all pictures
    > links to other sites—like your Amazon Wish List site or place to make donations or to sign up to volunteer.
    > links to other organizational sites-Facebook, Twitter, Web site, etc.
    > quotes from clients, volunteers, partners, etc.
    > inspirational quotes about things related to organizational mission
    > keep it stylish looking.  This isn’t a photo site, like Flickr. It is not a gallery site

  • Monitor the site. bulletinboard
  • Set a time schedule for changing photos, up-dating information, putting up announcements.  No surprizes for the volunteer or you.
  • Check in with the virtual volunteer as you would with someone you see weekly or monthly. 
  • Be sure to record the number of visitors.  Include in reports information about Pinterest and the traffic. Especially as related to the volunteer program.
  • Encourage volunteers to take photos and send to you for the pin board
  • Test the site with paid staff, and a few volunteers before publishing and promoting the pin board. 
  • Revise the site based on suggestions from the test.
  • Advertise widely to the organization—Web site, newspaper articles, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Change the pin board often.
  • Evaluate the site after six months with the virtual volunteer.  Get a back-up virtual volunteer to help the person managing the site.  Ask if they would like a partner.

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In a June 1, 2012 article on volunteering the San Francisco Chronicle reports that building skills, working with kids, or travel are just some of the reasons to volunteer.  The article reflects the changing nature of what volunteers want.  Does your recruiting appeal match some, if not all of these motivators to volunteer?

For more information: http://tinyurl.com/8yf8yrz

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Volunteerism Research:  A Review Essay”
John Wilson
Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Quarterly
April 2012

A recent review by John Wilson in the journal of the Association for Research on Nonprofits and Voluntary Action, the Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Quarterly, carried a review of research on various aspects of volunteering.  For the next few months the results of the review in a variety of areas will appear in Volunteer Today.  Many university libraries have the electronic version of this journal should you wish to read it in its entirety.

blue dotA review of various studies of the rate of volunteering seems to conclude that the lower a survey response rate to volunteering, the higher the volunteer rate of participation.
blue dotWhy do people volunteer?  A number of studies link personality traits to volunteering.  Extraversion and agreeableness are traits most often associated with volunteering. 

blue dot In a test of American teens who volunteer, researchers found personality characteristics of “high emotional regulation, socially skilled, and tending toward positive emotionality.”
blue dotOne study showed that individuals with high social anxiety, as tested on a standard instrument, are less likely to volunteer.  If they did volunteer it was because a friend or family member got the person involved.
blue dotEmpathetic concerns for others is also a predictor of someone likely to volunteer.  Akin to this is the “principle of care” where a moral position dictates helping someone in need.
blue dotA feeling of solidarity, especially in political organizations or disasters, is one motivator to volunteer.  It is also under-studied.
blue dotOne study showed that the smaller the organization the stronger the solidarity motive is at work to volunteer.

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