Published by Peggy on 13 Aug 2009 at 04:17 pm
Are you leveraging the potential of volunteers within your organization? Volunteers are a wonderful asset, bringing skill sets you may not have, as well as, new perspective and practices. We share some of our experience recruiting and making the best use of volunteers.
WiserEarth would have never succeeded over the years without all the amazing volunteers that have joined our global effort and brought their best to the project. One example is the WiserEarth editors’ group, a buzzing hive of activity driven largely by volunteers, now a mainstay of the site, but this was not always so. Late last year, WiserEarth’s Chief Editor Wibowo Sulistio, contacted volunteers and interns who had worked with us in the past to co-define roles for them to serve within the community. Since that time, it has become self-sustaining and community-driven. Wiserearth Editor volunteers have assisted in e-mailing organizations, created a community newsletter, greeted newcomers, helped to keep the directory current, moderated postings, and brainstormed further ways to improve the site.
In March this year, Timonie Hood, contacted me through WiserEarth. She shared her interest in sustainable building and and her passion for learning about social media. During a subsequent call, she mentioned that she was working for the EPA in the San Francisco office and was taking a leadership program that allowed her to volunteer full-time for an organization for a period of four months. You can guess what happened next. Timonie has now been with us for three months as our social media volunteer. She not only succeeded in helping us strengthen our online social media strategy but she also discovered new tools we started using for outreach: “Volunteering at WiserEarth has really opened my eyes to global collaboration and great volunteer opportunities. I definitely plan on continuing to volunteer here after my rotation ends.”.
Those two examples are two among many stories of individuals that have made a true difference within our organization. Over the years, we have learned quite a lot. To summarize, here are a few tips that have made a huge difference for us:
- Ask for help: If you don’t ask, people will not know you need help! You can simply add a small section on your website about your needs, and spread the word through social media. Hey, did you know we are currently looking for a volunteer that can turn wireframe mockups into interactive, clickable HTML pages? Also feel free to use WiserEarth’s free job listings to get your word out.
- Clearly state your need: Define your opportunity clearly, you should then have a better sense of the skill set needed and more likely the right candidate will apply.
- Create a SMART workplan: Don’t waste your precision volunteer time. Design a mutually beneficial workplan from the start with SMART goals.
- Allow for recognition: Are you both formally and informally telling your volunteer about his/her impact on your organization? A mixture of both formal recognition (emails, lunch, meetings) and informal (notes, giving away goodies) is important.
- Take the time to appreciate: Ensure that the volunteer feels appreciated, has a satisfying experience, and feels like he/she made a contribution towards the mission of the organization as well as found opportunities for personal and knowledge growth. Much easier to do if s/he has SMART goals!
If you have any volunteer experiences you would like to share, please contact us! Or better yet, if you would like to volunteer send me an email at peggy[at]wiserearth.org.
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