Minding Your Nonprofit Business

nonprofit business 2013Most people love this time of year. It’s a time of renewal, a time for do-overs, and a time to create beneficial volunteer opportunities that will build your nonprofit’s brand and leave volunteers wanting to do more for the community.

As you plan your nonprofit’s volunteer engagement strategy for 2013, you may find it’s easy to get caught up in what other nonprofits are doing and what you may feel yours is lacking. Granted, there are many nonprofits that are never at a loss for volunteers, but your task is to identify ways that you can “sell” your services and build your own volunteer base. Here are a few things to consider when looking to increase volunteer numbers in 2013.

1. What Makes you a Stand Out?

Are you a thought leader in the community? Have you received some form of recognition? Do people truly understand the services your organization offers? If not, now may be the time to sharpen your message and involve the community in getting the word out. For instance, if your nonprofit serves blind citizens consider hosting an event where program participants share their success stories and invite their friends to learn about your services.

This is a great opportunity to evaluate what on-site and off-site volunteer opportunities you can offer and share this information with individuals who may be interested in assisting with or directly benefiting from your programs.

2. Hold Yourself Accountable

Think about how you can spread the word that you want and need volunteers and get creative in your search. A lot of high schools mandate students complete a number of volunteer hours as a graduation requirement. Why not partner with local high schools to fill your volunteer needs? Ask the high school if you can hang banners or flyers advertising your need for volunteers and make a dedicated effort to meet and share your mission with Guidance or Career Counselors. Reaching out or meeting with community leaders and college officials are other ways to gain volunteers, depending on your volunteer age requirements. There are tons of “untapped” volunteers; they just have to be aware of your mission and message.

3. Speak Up

The nonprofit world operates at its own pace. Find a mentor in the field or ask other Volunteer Coordinators what works for them. Experiment with successful volunteer program models and model your initiative after those that are most successful in obtaining, placing and retaining volunteers. Don’t be afraid to create a small speakers bureau or post to sites that support volunteering such as Volunteer Match or Idealist.org. Nothing is wrong with covering your basis when it comes to building or restructuring your volunteer base. Make it easy for people to find you.

4. Show Diversity

Who wants to volunteer for a company where everyone has the same background and thought process? A truly remarkable volunteer program draws volunteers with a variety of racial, educational and economic backgrounds. Seeking volunteers from this prospective ensures you are hearing from a diverse group of people with verifying ideas and talents. For instance, UNICEF successfully launched The Tap Water Project in Houston using this formula. By engaging students, business owners, community leaders and concerned residents greater attention was given to the global water crisis. UNICEF’s success stemmed from having a diverse group of volunteers on board with their mission.

Minding your nonprofit does not have to be a daunting task. Mix it up and make it fun. Remember, you are highlighting a service and looking to attract volunteers, not run them away. Stay focused, stay current and offer an unparalleled nonprofit volunteer experience for the members in your community.

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Vannessa Wade

Vannessa Wade is the founder and CEO of Connect The Dots PR in Houston, Texas. An alumna of the University of Houston, Wade specializes in public relations and community development programming for nonprofit organizations and corporate businesses and has been featured in numerous newspaper, television and radio segments.

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