Digital inclusion in action in Wales
Finding volunteers can be one of the hardest parts of running a charity or community organisation. For a lot of people, although volunteering offers great opportunities, it just takes too much time. Fortunately, the internet is making it a lot easier and a lot less time consuming for both charities and people to get involved. National Volunteering Week Begins on June 1st 2012.
Getting people involved
More and more non-profits are using the internet and social media to involve volunteers at the very heart their causes and campaigns.
Social media allows for direct interaction between organisations and their current and prospective volunteers. It also allows volunteers to submit social content to their organisation’s cause online and extends the reach of that organisation. Volunteers can share their stories of how they have been affected by particular issues; these can have a more powerful effect to raise awareness than anything the organisation itself can release.
The web allows for volunteers to get involved in different ways, from sharing their stories, to online mentoring, to looking after a forum or writing a blog post.
Smaller non-profits are drafting social media savvy volunteers in to help post on their Twitter feeds and update Facebook. It’s always best to brief social media volunteers to ensure that they are on message with your charity’s aims and to ensure what they are posting is useful and interesting. The Forum – who work with migrant and refugee communities – hold a 7 week Digital Activism For All course which encourages volunteer activism using the internet, Facebook and Twitter.
Coming up with a solid social media campaign can be a difficult task, but there are a lot of people on the web who know how to do it. You can also use social media to find them.
Send out tweets asking for anyone who can help you out. There’s a good chance that a Twitter expert will be following you and if they are already following you it shows they have a certain amount of interest in your cause. Do the same on Facebook by posting to your wall asking if anyone wants to help you out. There are no better Facebook experts than those who use it every day.
Making things easy
One of the things that puts off many potential volunteers is the idea that volunteering takes up a lot of time. This just isn’t the case anymore. There are some great websites that are designed to get people their volunteering fix and help charities get important work done.
Sparked is an excellent example of such a website. It’s a micro-volunteering site that matches up users’ skills and interests to challenges set by charities. These challenges could be anything from generating new ideas, helping mobilise a social media campaign or designing a logo. Within minutes people can be matched up to challenges that suit their interests and can get started helping out. Setting challenges for users is great for charities because it ensures that you can get a wide range of people interested in helping you out.
Do-It also allows volunteers to find a charity to volunteer for, but there is a registration fee for organisations.
There are few things more powerful at building loyalty than a genuine thank-you. It’s important that if someone puts in the time and effort to help you out that you show your gratitude. The internet gives you a number of different ways to say thanks; it could be something as simple as sending out a tweet thanking your volunteer for all their hard work, or something more complex (but not necessarily difficult to do) such as a one minute video posted on your website or Facebook page.
Sharing your story
Through blogs and videos you can really highlight the work you are doing and the impact you are having. RSPCA Danahar made this great video to showcase the role volunteers play in the charity, their day to day tasks and the ultimate feelgood factor – lots of cute cats and dogs.
It’s a great tactic because not only does it put the volunteers in the spotlight, giving them a few minutes of fame, it also shows the great work that you and your volunteers are doing – encouraging more people to get involved.
People volunteer often to get something out of it – whether that’s a sense of giving something back, helping others, meeting new people or improving their CV. Some websites have cottoned on to this and reward acts of social good with prizes!
BlueDot rewards volunteering, donating and campaigning for charities with dots – which can then be redeemed against downloads and gig tickets. So, the more good someone does, the more dots they get, and the more rewards they gain.
This ensures that volunteers are rewarded and feel valued on many levels – they are getting something out as well as putting in, and as a result are more likely to volunteer in the future.
These are just a few ways and ideas you can use to help boost your volunteer programme via the internet. If you’d like more tips then get in contact with firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post has been adapted from the original, written by Jordan Harling and Jo Dunning at Reason Digital