Message from a Happy Volunteer

In light of National Volunteer Week that came to a close yesterday, I’d like to share a message with you from a lovely young woman I met last month when I traveled to Bali. Although the time we spent together wasn’t all that long, with the commonalities in both our approach to life and keen interest in making a difference in the world, I believe we formed a friendship that will last for years.

Lauren Moss is a kind-hearted, twenty-something, big-dreaming gal who has had vast experience in the world of volunteering both in paid roles in volunteer management and as a volunteer herself. In this post, Lauren shares with us her advice on keeping your volunteers happy:

When it comes to volunteering there are a lot of things that can go right and a lot of things that can go wrong. It is extremely important to get all the pieces of the volunteering jigsaw in place before accepting volunteers into your organisation. So, with that being said, here are five tips on how to keep your volunteers happy, master these and you will be off to a great start!

1. Be prepared for your volunteers
The worst thing is walking into an organisation as a volunteer, excited to help in whatever way you can and having no guidance. Make sure you have a great volunteer handbook explaining everything in detail that is sent out before your volunteer’s arrival, this way they will already be aware of what to expect from you and what you expect from them. Also, have a really good welcome and induction. You need to make sure your volunteers feel comfortable from the get-go and that all queries and concerns are cleared up as early as possible.

Volunteer message 22. Tap into volunteer motives
Everyone volunteers for different reasons and it is important to know those reasons and look for ways that you can satisfy them. Find out what their skills are and why they are wanting to be part of your organisation, that way you can really get the most out of every person and that will keep both you and them very happy.

3. Communication is key!
Regular communication is motivating for volunteers and a lack of it will be sure to stop them helping out. Volunteers like to have a particular person to look to, so make sure you have a very good Volunteer Co-ordinator in place who can be there to respond to concerns immediately. I would also suggest having a volunteer feedback form so you have a record of what your volunteers think about your organisation and your volunteering program, this way you will always have ideas on how to improve.

4. Show appreciation
People who volunteer want to make a difference in the World and they want to feel that is happening when they’re volunteering for you. The best ways to do this are to make sure they know they are doing work that is vital to keeping your organisation running, giving thanks often and making them feel as valuable as your paid staff. A really good tip would be to have an event dedicated to your volunteers every year to say thank you for all their hard work!

5. Make volunteering fun!
Volunteer message 1Remember that people are giving up their time for your organisation and not getting paid for it. Of course they will want to work hard but it is also really important to make sure they really enjoy the time that they are volunteering for you. Have a variety of tasks for them to do, maybe you need them to do some office organisation but then you might need that same person (who is a great photographer) to take photos for your upcoming newsletter. By giving a mixture of tasks you will be sure to get the very best out of everyone.

Lauren has had some great experiences on both sides of the volunteering coin and her insights here could really help make a difference in your organisation if you are in the fortunate position to have the support of volunteers. Thanks so much for sharing this important message about volunteers with Fish, Lauren, we appreciate it!

See you in the Pond,

The Fish Chick

P.S.  A bit more about Lauren…  From managing volunteers as a Wishgranter and then as Events & Challenges Fundraiser at Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, to being fully immersed into the volunteering world herself as a teacher in Ghana and a volunteer coordinator at an orphanage in Bali. Lauren is still on her journey to find her purpose on this planet but getting closer every day, read more about her by visiting http://www.perfectlyimperfectuk.wordpress.com.

Being Philanthropic

Philanthropy is not only something for the wealthy.

Here, we share with you a great video that explains how everyone can get involved with giving and be a philanthropist.

In short, it’s a crash course in philanthropy.  The video simply outlines the steps involved for those not sure where to start:

  1.  Find what you love.
  2.  Donate your time, your money or your voice.
  3.  Finding the right place to donate.
  4.  Mobilise others.

Remember one person can make a difference.

To watch this cool three minute clip and learn a little more about becoming a philanthropist and creating change in the world, click the box below.

 

Everyday Hero Gift Shop

Everyday Hero 1Christmas is a time of year when many donors feel especially generous.  If your organisation is looking for new ways to enable your donors to give this year, here is one idea you might like to try out.

Your cause can now have their own virtual gift shop through Everyday Hero complete with your organisation’s branding and three virtual gifts of your choice for only $1,495 (plus GST).

There are many gifts to choose from including a toy for a child, a food hamper for a family or even a goat.  All you need to do is tell Everyday Hero which three gifts you would like in your shop and how much you want them to cost.

After purchase of the gifts, eCards are sent to your donors (or their gift recipient) with your logo and an image of their virtual gift.

The gifts are suitable for just about anyone, especially the person who is tricky to buy for. Being easy to set up and simple for donors to use is a big positive.

For more information on getting your charity an Everyday Hero gift shop, click here.

Valuing our Volunteers

Making sure your volunteers feel appreciated is one of the most important things you can do… if you want to keep them around!  After all, they freely give their time and energy and expect little in return – certainly they don’t do it for the money!  There are a number of ways that you can make your volunteers feel special. Here are some ideas below, and while most of them seem quite obvious, I’m surprised at how many non profits forget them!

We’re so glad to see you!

There’s nothing like a warm welcome to greet you on arrival and it’s a sure way to your volunteers heart. Make sure you include your vollies in conversations and let them know that what they are doing is important and valued. Be sure to ask them how their week has been or what they did on the weekend – and take an interest in them as individuals.

Coffee with heart

Include your volunteers in the coffee run

Buy them a coffee! $3.50 is money well spent and such an easy way to show your appreciation.

Ongoing training and opportunities

Where possible offer your volunteers the opportunity to learn new skills through training. Encourage them to develop their volunteer skills within the organisation or take on other roles that they might find interesting or challenging.

By doing so you will increase their feeling of being valued and reduce volunteer turnover. If your volunteer applies for a job elsewhere show your support by providing a written reference or agreeing to be a referee.

Formal recognition

Make sure you tap into the opportunity to thank your volunteers by celebrating International Volunteer Day and National Volunteer Week (NVW). Volunteering Australia has some great information regarding NVW – with everything from celebration tips to Fast Facts about NVW – check out their website for more information here.

Hold your own volunteer thank you function – high tea, barbeque, picnic lunch or breakfast is a great opportunity for a get-together of staff and volunteers. Part of the function could be a formal presentation ceremony where volunteers can be presented with a certificate, badge or organisation t-shirt.

Some non profits hold activities such as bare-foot bowling or a movie night so that volunteers can get a sense of how they fit into the overall structure of the organisation and the good they are doing.

You could also consider nominating your volunteers for awards or even featuring a volunteer in your newsletter.

Don’t forget the little things…

  • Birthday and Christmas cards.
  • An anniversary card highlighting their year(s) of service. Note how they made a difference in your organisation over the past year.
  • A little (or big) card saying well done with a chocolate waiting on their desk following a recent project they completed.

Just say it – “Thank you!”

Just two small words – thank you – but they mean so much. Let your volunteers know you appreciate their time and effort. They could have been spending their time playing tennis, having lunch with friends or having their nails done – instead they chose to help your organisation.

Whilst recognising and celebrating volunteers’ achievements can take some time and planning, it is well worth it as the rewards can be substantial. It will help maintain volunteer loyalty and increase retention levels, which in turn benefits your organisation.

Do you agree with these ways of acknowledging volunteers? Are there any other ways you recognise your unpaid team members? Let us know. 

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Thank You Thursday: Get Moving Australia

A recent survey revealed that more than half of all Australians do no formal exercise, and despite this alarmingly high number of sedentary lifestyles, more than 63 percent of the population expressed a desire to lose weight. Go figure. Clearly, as a nation our actions aren’t living up to our actions.

Well, whilst this isn’t driven by a charity, one Aussie company is trying to change that by encouraging a change in people’s attitudes to exercise and fitness. It’s clothing brand, Lorna Jane, who have created Active Nation Day.

Taking place this Sunday, September 30th, Active Nation Day is part of the Move Nourish Believe campaign and encourages all Australians to get moving and engage in physical activity. For more than twenty years the brand has inspired women to not only look great when exercising, but to actually get active, and now it’s hoping to get the entire nation moving.

After doing some research with Roy Morgan in late 2011, Lorna Jane realised that we are one inactive country and wanted to play a part in making a shift. Founder, Lorna Jane Clarkson says of the initiative:

“It’s time for the women of Australia to invest in their health and wellbeing and take the first step towards living an active life. Lorna Jane is taking the next crucial step to bring about a fitting change and inspire the nation to get moving.”

They developed the following promotional video to discuss the issue.

As part of the campaign, you can download the free Lorna Jane iPhone app and track your runs, walks or cycles via GPS, motivating you to move for the movement. Once you have completed the workout, you can upload it to the Now Move It website and track it along with your friends’ and the rest of the nation’s activities.

To get involved in some of the free activities happening around the country – check it out here.

While The Fish Chick has been writing Thank You Thursday blogs for some time now, it is the first time I can incorporate one of my personal passions into a post. I’m thrilled to acknowledge Lorna Jane Clarkson, the Lorna Jane brand and the Move Nourish Believe movement for their efforts to not only inspire a nation of women to be fit, but now also tackling Australia’s issues of inactive lifestyles and obesity head on. A brilliant effort.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

P.S Just quietly, I might add, I’ve been a huge LJ fan for a long time and one of the best things about running my own business is being able to make my LJ wear my unofficial uniform. So an extra little thanks from me too. Lol. ❤

Thank You Thursday: A Taste of Poverty

When was the last time you spent two dollars? Not five dollars but just two. What did you buy? I bet it wasn’t much. You can’t even get a coffee for $2 nowadays, can you?

The average Australian lives on about $94 per day. To be living in extreme poverty in Australia, as defined by the World Bank, you would be living on just $2 per day. That’s $2 every day for food, shelter, health care, education, transport and anything else you might need. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?

What about just living on $2 worth of food a day, forgetting about the cost of your home, clothing and so on. Could you do that?