Purposeful Volunteering – Engaging College Students

“Purpose” is key to engaging students in volunteering and many are eager to donate their biggest asset- TIME. Research from May 3, 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that “77% of college students said they’re more likely to volunteer when they can use their specific skills or expertise to benefit a cause.” Purpose is empowering. Just as students are seeking to find purpose in their education and career-choice, they look to find purpose in their volunteering activities. We need to remember that college students are “people.” Individually, each is looking to belong to a social network, feel loved, and know that they are making an impact. Helping them find ways to do so is connecting them to realize the purpose of their giving and volunteering actions. As a Volunteer Manager you’ll have to do your homework.

volunteerSelling your project to College Administration and Faculty: Local colleges and universities may have a Volunteer Program already in place and you can contact the staff. If not, contacting the Career Placement Center and Student Center are great places to start. Or, you may have to contact Academic Division Heads to discuss the prospects. Our agency has had great results when we contact the Business, Finance and, Accounting Divisions for recruiting VITA Tax Volunteers. Nursing and PA students provided needed support in health related events such as a Military Standdown for Homeless Veterans. Volunteers from Technical Colleges provide needed skill-based service for repair and construction projects. A number of Instructors and Administrators often offer extra credit for volunteer service and encourage students to serve. You’ll be helping academia provide students with real-life experience and broaden their practice and proficiency in the field they are working to master.

Designing your project: A project for busy college students will have to be crafted to meet their tight schedule.

  • It should be at a convenient time and a location.
  • It should enable them to serve with their peers. Create a group-like experience.
  • A drop-in volunteer opportunity creates spontaneous volunteers.
  • Design transformational experiences that highlight how the work makes a real impact.
  • PROVIDE FOOD!

Marketing the event:

  • Start and end with Social Media: Twitter, Google+, Vimeo, Digg, Flickr, Pinterest, and don’t forget Facebook.
  • College Fairs with “old fashioned” printed fliers.
  • Participate as a work location in a university’s Day of Service event such as IPFW’s The Big Event.
  • Look for pre-formed groups such as athletic teams, student government, and clubs.
  • Make sure you demonstrate the need that this completed project will fulfill.

Selling your project to the students: Give them reasons to volunteer.

  • Tell your story and sell your cause as a “stress-reliever”. College is stressful. But if students volunteer for an organization that serves the less fortunate, they get a chance to see how others live compared to their own life. Nothing relieves stress better than gaining some perspective on how the world really works. Gratitude is an excellent study tool.
  • Be as flexible and transparent as possible.
  • Offer projects that can be done online.
  • Many students express frustration with long, inefficient and unnecessary training and orientation. Even better: put them online.
  • Let them know how volunteering is really worth their time during college years.

The mantra is that a few hours volunteering could change their life and help their future career

-learn to work as part of a team

-learn how to be a leader

-build their resume as they explore careers

-confirm their career choice

-expands their networking connections

-increase chance of scholarships and getting into grad school

We’ve found that a large number of Millennial, Generation X, Generation Y, and Baby Boomer volunteers started their service in college and it became a lifetime commitment. And remember the old adage, “People volunteer because they were asked.” You don’t want them to miss the opportunity to serve.

jean

 

*Post written by Jean Joley, Executive Director at Volunteer Center RSVP

Keep at it – A Fundraiser’s Journey

A Fundraiser’s JourneyKelly pic

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

Two separate instances have converged in my head. Ouch!

The first is from a meeting with Dan Swartz, he of Wunderkammer Company. Dan is planning his second annual Design Week, for which he has obtained a sizeable grant to pay for speakers and marketing. This has given him the freedom to obtain great speakers to participate. People who are significant to their field in a national and even world-class way. Some have local ties to this region.

Dan says he just asks. He figures out how to contact the person, by email or through an assistant, and he asks. He says the person will usually reply and is gracious. Sometimes the person says yes, which means Design Week will again have some phenomenal speakers.

The second is from the My City Summit organized by Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI). This year’s theme was diversity. At this event, too, the speakers were local and national, all terrific.

I left this event thinking about our roles in these changing times. We are cranky, according to the keynote speaker, Rich Benjamin. Another speaker, Fort Wayne’s own Courtney Tritch, pointed out that diversity is a needed economic driver. People move to areas where there is freedom and respect for all. Each speaker asked us what we were doing about it.

On the surface these two meetings were very different. But they both ended up in the same place in my mind:

It does not matter where you are politically, uppercase R or D. What matters is that we work every day to make a difference. Our organizations in particular directly impact others.

What are we going to do to help others continue through these times?

We ask and then we ask again. Simply, purely, clearly. As fundraisers. As advocates. As caregivers. As artists. As one human being to another.

Ask. Don’t stop asking.

 

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

Are You Ready for One-Day Group Volunteer Projects?

Our agency continues to receive requests for group volunteer projects. They can be youth groups, school groups, church groups, corporate groups, and all assortment of combinations in-between.

Here is what the volunteers want from their volunteer project:

  • They want their group volunteering activity to take from 2 to 4 hours.
  • They want to be all together as much as possible, to socialize throughout the experience – they don’t want to be isolated from each other individually.
  • They usually don’t want to have any obligation beyond that one-time volunteering experience.
  • They want the experience to feel like they have fun, they make a difference, and then they leave.

Group size: The larger the group – the harder it is to find opportunities. Unfortunately, volunteering opportunities for large groups are very hard to find. Finding a group volunteering opportunity for 6 people is much easier than finding a one-day opportunity for 150 people. And, it’s okay to say NO if the needs of the group does not match your agency, the time-line is too short, the liability is too great, or you do not have enough staff to support the project.

volunteer

Here are some suggestions for working with a group:

  • Designate a group leader
  • Walk through the project with the group leader at least a month to 2 weeks prior
  • Make a list of supplies needed for project (rakes, shovels, gloves, paint, aprons, etc.)
  • Agree (in writing) who will pay for any needed supply items
  • Have all volunteers pre-register (it’s OK to not accept walk-in’s). Consider creating a free online volunteer registration form in a site like Sign-Up Genius.
  • On the day of event have all volunteers sign a liability waiver
  • Give written job descriptions for each assignment
  • Have a short group presentation to explain what they are doing and the difference it will make
  • Have refreshment (even if it’s bottled water)
  • At the end of the project, include a short time for reflection with the group and talk about their volunteer experience
  • Have a short post-event meeting with the group leader
  • Thank everyone as they leave
  • Send a thank-you note to each volunteer and tell them what a difference that their service has made to your agency.

Think ahead: Your agency may have a number of un-met needs that would be perfect for a group:

  • Set up tables and chairs for an event
  • Clean up after an event
  • Cleaning the landscape in spring and fall
  • Sorting boxes of records and items in your storage area

Here are some classic group activity stories from our agency:

  • Last year we had a corporate group that requested a project for 70 people. The time line was 1 – 4 PM on Saturday, October 7th. (With two weeks’ notice) Outcome: we found 3 parks that needed clean up.
  • Another group was doing a Youth Church Conference and they wanted a 2 hour project for 300 youth ages 14-16. The time line was a Sunday from 1-3 PM. Outcome: We declined.
  • A group of (well-meaning) ladies wanted to rock new-born babies in a hospital nursery for two hours one Thursday a month. Outcome: Would not consider even asking a hospital!
  • One dear lady and her friends wanted to bake birthday cakes, and deliver them, to children of prisoners housed in the local jail. Outcome: The jail Chaplains nixed the project.
  • One talented gentleman wanted to build small houses (like on the TV shows) for homeless individuals. He wanted us to set up the classes and he would teach the volunteers. Outcome: We declined.
  • A group of Air Force recruits wanted a 3 hour project that would require strength and hard work. They had just enlisted and thought that this would be something that they could do for the community before starting their service the next morning. Outcome: They lifted heavy tree branches and spread playground mulch at a city park.

My guess is that you have some great stories to tell too! Volunteer groups can be a blessing but they require patience and planning.

 

jeanWritten by Jean Joley,
Executive Director of Volunteer Center
for PCNRC.

In-Kind Contributions – from “Mission Minded” DWD blog

Carrie Minnich (2) (576x800)Carrie Minnich, CPA recently posted about in-kind contributions for Mission Minded, Dulin, Ward & DeWald, Inc.’s nonprofit blog.

Bottom line – record on your financials the fair market value for most gifts, fund raising items, facilities, and services. Carrie goes into details on her blog with some of the exceptions to the rules. She also notes that it is important to record all contributions, even if not required for reporting on financials.

Read Carrie’s full blog post here.

Short is Not Sweet

Kelly UpdikeA Fundraiser’s Journey

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

Every January I have to arrive early at fitness class.

This is because I need to stake out my favorite spot – near the back, not in front of the mirrors – because most of the room is filled with ladies who have made New Year’s resolutions.

By February I don’t have to get there early any more.

Ouch. Four short weeks and that resolution went ppfffttt for at least 30 people.

My own resolutions were often as short-lived. Lately, I haven’t even bothered thinking about resolutions, let alone making them.

How to break the cycle? Well, my New Year’s resolution is going to be something that I can actually enjoy and thus want to sustain: I’m going to set 12 appointments, averaging one per month, with someone I don’t know very well and admire greatly for his or her work in the community.

Because I’m a shy person (seriously!) who also is a bit socially awkward (my sense of humor aligns well with 12-year-olds), this is a stretch for me personally. Which qualifies this resolution as a growth opportunity. And because calendars quickly go to awfully full, I will need to exert some discipline to schedule each meeting.

I’m motivated to hear more from folks who are quietly changing our world, from health services to sports and leisure. Let me know if you want to have coffee or have ideas on another great person to meet. And I hope to share with you what I learn about fundraising from these sessions.

http://www.wikihow.com/Stick-to-a-New-Year%27s-Resolution

http://www.10news.com/lifestyle/new-years-resolutions-how-to-make-them-stick

http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/10-ways-to-make-your-new-years-resolutions-stick

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

Identity Differences in Donations

There are many factors that affect a donor’s decision to give to a nonprofit. A study published in the Journal of Marketing Research examined the way a donor’s social identification and its relationship to the social identification of previous donors affects the likelihood of donation.

What happens when a potential donor learns about previous contributions? Are potential donors more likely to give when they know the identity of those who have given in the past?

  • During an on-air funding drive for a radio station some callers were told that the person before them of a different gender gave $240 while other callers were told that the person before them of the same gender gave $240. Callers that were told that the person before them of the same gender gave money were more likely to donate.
  • When potential donors find out the contributions of previous donors, their contributions are about $20 more than if they did not find out the contributions of previous donors.

How can this information be applied to the way your organization does fundraising?

  • donateWhen speaking with potential donors, reference the contributions of past donors making sure to include how their identities are similar.
  • When sending fundraising letters, include information about the identities of those who have contributed in the past so potential donors feel a connection to the cause through their social identities.
  • When referencing past donors, remember not to give any information that would give away the exact identity the donors to others. Give demographic information or personal testimony, but do not give names or exact details unless you have permission to do so.

Do you already include information about past contributions when requesting donations? How will this information impact the way you do fundraising in the future?

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Jen Shang, Americus Reed II and Rachel Croson. “Identity Congruency Effects on Donations”. Journal of Marketing Research.

Community Foundation Investments – from DWD “Mission-Minded” blog

CarrieMinnichwebCarrie Minnich, CPA recently posted “Community Foundation Investments″ for Mission Minded, Dulin, Ward & DeWald, Inc.’s nonprofit blog.

Carrie’s post highlights information specific to the recording of investments with the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne.  Although most community foundations are similar, please contact your accountant for details specific to your [organization’s]investment.

Here’s a snippet and link to her post:

Many nonprofit organizations partner with their local community foundation by placing endowment funds with the foundation.  A community foundation is able to combine funds from various nonprofits into professionally managed portfolios that allow greater diversification of investments than an individual nonprofit may likely be able to achieve.

Read more at Mission Minded