Why Strategic Volunteering?

May 31, 2011

By Heather Rocker, Executive Director, Women in Technology & WIT Foundation

I’ve been there and done that (when it comes to strategic volunteering), and I’m thrilled to share best practices at my workshop:

Strategic Volunteering: Preparing Your Organization to Meet the Demand on Tuesday, June 7th @ 8:30 AM. (Session ID: 5354)

While I typically concentrate on helping professionals utilize the strategic volunteering concept to advance their career goals, this workshop gives me the opportunity to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to meet the need of those interested in applying this concept.

Why should strategic volunteering matter to nonprofit organizations?

This program helps organizations remain relevant and competitive in the volunteer community.

You can provide a significant ROI for volunteer time and talent and differentiate your organization amongst a vast pool of options. Utilizing this program within my own nonprofit, I find that it helps increase our recruiting and retention of volunteers.

We strive to provide meaningful volunteer placements and clearly link those to their professional goals.

Your organization is also provided an opportunity to enhance your corporate relationships.

One of the golden rules that we learn in the nonprofit world is that engagement leads to financial support.

Strategic volunteering provides a unique way to both engage and support corporate volunteers.

Step One…We Can Have Lots of Fun

If you don’t have one already, your organization should create a volunteer application.

Having an application process helps with the placement process and “weeds out” those with only a mild interest in participating.

My experience proves that if a potential volunteer will take the time to complete and return an application – that volunteer is MUCH more likely to have an effective level of engagement when placed in a role.

And engaged volunteers make our lives so much easier, right?!

Step Two…There’s So Much We Can Do (or need done)

Of course, volunteers can’t make informed decisions if they don’t know what volunteer opportunities are offered by your organization, so be sure to make that information readily available.

Consider including your placement process, volunteer program philosophy, important deadlines, job descriptions, corresponding time commitments, and paths to leadership.

Employ technology when possible.

In my workshop, I’ll go into more depth about the process of developing the tools to succeed – including the development of the “skills matrix”, a useful tool for matching professional skill-sets with your organization’s volunteer needs.

(Special kudos to anyone who can name the song that inspired by Step One and Step Two titles!)

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Heather S. Rocker joined Women in Technology (WIT) in March 2007 as the organization’s first-ever executive director.

Heather’s story and advice are profiled in the book Change Your Career: Transitioning to the Nonprofit Sector, and she is contributing author to the recently published book CLIMB: Leading Women in Technology Share Their Journeys to Success.

She currently authors a blog about strategic volunteering and speaks to nonprofit and corporate groups about incorporating this concept into their leadership development plans.

Connect with Heather Online on Twitter @hsrocker; or read her Blog: Strategic Volunteering. Find her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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