Building a Mission-Driven Team

Communities are like living organisms — constantly growing, evolving, and trying to survive. People identify with these living, breathing communities. They’re also self-organizing, and each community has its own set of morals and issues they feel strongly about. Can you think of communities that you’re a part of? Your neighborhood? A book club? Sharing a love for a particular sports teams? What about your non-profit?

 
How do you break into a community, and make your mission as a volunteer coordinator/organization THEIR mission?

 

The first step, believe it or not, is to make sure you have a clear, well-articulated mission. Common mistakes are making mission statements that are too long, full of big words, and ultimately not easy for people to align themselves with. We really like the general formula of:

  • Our Cause (Who? What? Where?)
  • Our Actions (What we do; How?)
  • Our Impact (Changes for the better)

 

For instance, this great example from Nonprofit Hub is clear and to-the-point: “We’re a nonprofit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries.”

  • The cause (Who?): People in developing countries
  • The actions: Bringing clean, safe drinking water
  • The impact: Clean, safe drinking water

 

Next — share it! Make sure your mission is out there for the world to see. Use social media, your website, and ground troops to put your cause out in front of those who might want to join our community. Pro-tip: have an easy way for interested volunteers to get involved immediately. If you catch someone’s attention, you want to capitalize it!

 

Finally, keep your community alive and well.

 

Your mission is what brought your community together, so it must be nurtured to survive.

 

Make sure your community stays centered and true to what brought it together in the first place, and don’t be afraid to shed members who no longer fit in with the group. Have you been in a group or organization where one toxic individual completely brought everyone else down? Don’t let this happen! :) Building a strong, vibrant community takes time and effort but it’s well worth it in the long run!

 

 

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Introducing: Your VolunteerLocal Demo Team

Megan Dial-Lapcewich

Tiffin, IA

“I am an outgoing introvert. I get my energy from being alone, but I love spending time out and about with my close friends.”

 

 

Beth Hicks

Des Moines, IA

“I hosted the first ever backyard chicken bike tour in Des Moines for two years in a row.”

 

 

 

Paige Pennigar

Nashville, TN

“I deeply value experiences that expose me to new cultures.”

 

 

 

Sommer Sharon

Iowa

“I’m a long-time business owner, have worked in event management, and understand the needs of both!”

 

 

Emily Steele

Des Moines, Iowa

“I’m enthusiastic. 90% of the time.”

 

 

 

Zach Steele

Des Moines, Iowa

“I love a good road race.  I’ve completed three marathons and there’s definitely a power in the enthusiasm of the crowds that come out to cheer on total strangers.”

 

 

 

 

 

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VolunteerLocal Demo Team Member: Paige Pennigar

Paige Pennigar

Paige is thrilled to be part of the VolunteerLocal demo team. She’s originally from Durham, NC, but has bounced around between Iowa, Mississippi, and Tennessee over the last ten years. She is currently in her 6th year teaching high school English in Nashville, TN, where she lives with her 1.5 yo lab mix named Ari.

 

Where are you from?   

Durham, NC

Where do you live currently?

Nashville, TN

What is your favorite hobby outside of work?

Camping and hiking with my dog, Ari!

Who is your favorite musical artist?  

Lake Street Dive

What are you passionate about? 

Education, social justice, improv, fitness, & travel

What types of events do you love the most? Any special experiences you’d like to share?

I deeply value experiences that expose me to new cultures. Nashville is home to a large immigrant community, which has enriched the culture of our city. I have absolutely loved attending various multicultural festivals offered since moving to TN four years ago. My students represent 21 different countries, so I’m constantly soaking up new information that makes me a stronger educator.

What is one thing our customers should know about you?

I’m a leftie!

 

 

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VolunteerLocal Demo Team Member: Megan Dial-Lapcewich

Megan Dial-Lapcewich

Megan was born and raised Iowan, and is so proud to call the land of corn her home. She earned a BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa in 2012 and followed that up with a couple years of work as a Fellow at the University of Iowa Foundation and then an AmeriCorps VISTA in New London, Connecticut. Megan left the east coast to go back to school at the University of Iowa and earned her MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs in 2016. She worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with first-year students before realizing her true passion is for academic libraries. Megan is now back at the University of Iowa again, earning another Master’s, this time in Library and Information Science. In her free time she loves to read, write, and spend time with her wonderful husband and their adorable two-year old pomsky puppy.

 

Where are you from?   

Shenandoah, IA

Where do you live currently?

Tiffin, IA

What is your favorite hobby outside of work?

Reading

Who is your favorite musical artist?  

Not an artist – but the entire Greatest Showman soundtrack

What are you passionate about? 

Running & competing in triathlons and just in general sharing information about living a healthy, mostly-balanced life with people

What types of events do you love the most? Any special experiences you’d like to share?

Triathlons! From both a competing and volunteering standpoint because there is so much emotion at these events. Many times I have raced in a half or full Ironman and been just blown away by the kindness of the volunteers, which has made me want to give back and volunteer at races I’m not competing in.

What is one thing our customers should know about you?

I am an outgoing introvert. I get my energy from being alone, but I love spending time out and about with my close friends.

 

 

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VolunteerLocal Demo Team Member: Zach Steele

Zach Steele

Zach Steele is the Vice President for US Projects for the Solidarity Foundation. In this role he is responsible for maintaining existing savings groups in Des Moines and Omaha and also develops and implements new groups throughout the country. Steele also teaches job training classes in the prison system in Iowa, helping incarcerated students develop the competences to obtain employment in the logistics sector upon their release.

In 2016 Zach founded Big Map Travel which provides international travel planning services to customers. He holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa and a Master’s in Public Administration from Drake University. In his free time he enjoys biking and traveling with his wife.

 

Where are you from?   

Adel, Iowa

Where do you live currently?

Des Moines

What is your favorite hobby outside of work?

Being active in any way, whether that’s biking, hiking or playing rec-league kickball or basketball.

Who is your favorite musical artist?  

TV on the Radio

What are you passionate about? 

Travel- I reluctantly studied abroad in Costa Rica my final semester of college and it completely changed my outlook.  It was my first time leaving the country and in the decade since I’ve made new experiences and locations a big part of my life, whether that’s exploring other countries or finding adventures close to home.

What types of events do you love the most? Any special experiences you’d like to share?

I love a good road race.  I’ve completed three marathons and there’s definitely a power in the enthusiasm of the crowds that come out to cheer on total strangers.

What is one thing our customers should know about you?

I love the Volunteer Local platform because it can work for so many types of events, big and small.  I’m looking forward to learning more about your organization and your events.

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VolunteerLocal Demo Team Member: Sommer Sharon

Sommer Sharon

Sommer has a digital marketing and writing/journalism background. She’s worked primarily with small businesses, startups and nonprofits. She is also an ever budding entrepreneur and the host of a music-focused feminist podcast. Environmental and social issues are deeply important to her, and drive much of her entrepreneurial aspirations.

 

Where are you from? 

Iowa

Where do you live currently?

Iowa

What is your favorite hobby outside of work?

Hugely passionate about music, including listening to, attending events, reading about,
and learning/talking about music.

Who is your favorite musical artist?  

Many! — my taste is wide and varied

What are you passionate about? 

Besides music, environmental and societal issues

What types of events do you love the most? Any special experiences you’d like to share?

Music events. As a past promoter I’ve had the opportunity to work on everything from small
club shows to larger festivals.

What is one thing our customers should know about you?

I’m a long-time business owner, have worked in event management, and understand the needs of both!

 

 

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VolunteerLocal Demo Team Spotlight: Emily Steele

Emily Steele

Emily Steele is community builder and is on a mission to help communities and businesses create movements and genuine connection with their customers.

Where are you from?   

Pella, Iowa

Where do you live currently?

Des Moines, Iowa

What is your favorite hobby outside of work?

I love traveling and exploring my city via bike or walking!

Who is your favorite musical artist?  

Taylor Swift (I know… don’t judge)

What are you passionate about? 

I’m passionate about building community and helping people be community advocates.

What types of events do you love the most? Any special experiences you’d like to share?

I host an event every year called The Water Ride to support clean water and education projects in Ghana. We’ve built three wells, a school, and now teachers are funded. It’s amazing to see the event grow and literally transform lives across the globe.

What is one thing our customers should know about you?

I’m enthusiastic. 90% of the time.

 

 

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VolunteerLocal Demo Team Spotlight: Beth Hicks

Beth Hicks

Beth is a business owner and consultant with more than 25 years experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Most recently she’s served as a community coach with Keep Iowa Beautiful and on the project management team for the Viva East Bank! coalition that is revitalizing three Des Moines neighborhoods.

Beth founded Urban Community Concepts, a business venture that provides project management, grant writing and educational programming services to organizations and businesses. Previously, she was a program manager with Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines and the director of advancement services for Keep Iowa Beautiful. She has also worked in project and health/safety management positions for an environmental engineering firm; managed “Buy Recycled” and industrial waste audit programs for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources; and served as board president and employee for a Wisconsin recycling nonprofit. Beth is a co-founder of Center on Sustainable Communities (COSC) and serves on its board of directors.

Originally from the Chicago area, she graduated from Drake University with a B.S. in
Biology and a Masters in Public Administration. She received her Master Gardeners
certification in Fall 2012.

 

Where are you from?   

Plainfield, IL

Where do you live currently?

Des Moines, IA

What is your favorite hobby outside of work?

Reading and gardening

Who is your favorite musical artist?

Emily Kinney (Aka Beth on “The Walking Dead”)

What are you passionate about? 

The environment; giving people voice (especially those who are vulnerable); connecting people with resources to make a difference in our community

What types of events do you love the most? Any special experiences you’d like to share?

Intimate get-togethers, especially with music

What is one thing our customers should know about you?

I hosted the first ever backyard chicken bike tour in Des Moines for two years in a row.

 

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Interpreting Volunteer Data: Key Metrics To Track After Your Event

The event is over – you made it! You are now left with your volunteer data: their information, the jobs that were completely filled, the shifts you couldn’t find anyone to cover, the number of families who volunteered together and so much more. How do you interpret this data and integrate the outcomes of your event into your consideration for best practices for next year?

There are so many ways to tackle this question and the important metrics will vary by organization and event. Here we’ll discuss one way to interpret data as it relates to volunteer data.

 

Identify Your Goals & Success Metrics

First, before you export any reports from your volunteer management system, determine what a successful event looks like for your organization. What are some things you want to be able to refer back to? It’s okay if it takes you a few events to nail down exactly what this looks like. Pro tip: collecting too much information is better than not collecting enough – you can always adjust down the road.

 

Save The Numbers

Okay, I get it – this might sound a little obvious, but after you identify what is important for you to know about your event results, assigning a quantitative value to each goal will allow you to compare to past and future events, create trends, and ultimately save you some guesswork before your next event. Again, these data points will vary based on your specific goals, but here are some we have found helpful:

  1. Total number of event volunteers
  2. Total number of volunteers per station
  3. Total volunteer hours used

 

Track Your Volunteer Value & Return On Investment

Now that you have these data points, you can determine bigger picture value such as:

  1. Monetary value of volunteer hours donated (number of volunteer hours multiplied by hourly wage of a paid employee)
  2. Number of paid staff hours saved by volunteer coverage
  3. Average revenue earned per volunteer hour worked

 

Project For The Next Event & Beyond

Event tallies can be useful on their own for trend tracking as well as big picture value. After a few events pass, you can use your tracked data points to project for future events and adjust volunteer recruitment as needed. Volunteer data not only reveals areas for growth, but also areas that are redundant or can use less emphasis in the future. Consider keeping track of 

1. Average number of volunteers per event

2. Average volunteer hours per event

3. Percent of volunteer hours over-projected or under-projected

4. Percent of event attendance growth per year

 

Data can seem overwhelming at first, but the beauty of data is in its versatility. The more you make it a habit of recording and reflecting on volunteer data, the easier it will get and the more useful it will be.

 

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Two Little Words

 

 

A little thank you goes a long way. As a volunteer coordinator you understand how important those two little words can be to someone donating their time and working hard to make an event special. It’s easy to run out of ideas on ways to let your volunteers know you’re happy to have them and appreciate their hard work. Here are 6 creative ideas to help keep your thank you’s fresh!

 

Party Times!

Maybe not the most original idea in the world, but it is great for big or little groups. If it’s a small group try something like escape rooms or go-karting. If it’s a big group look for a nice party room with games or outdoor space where you can bring your own. Something that has activities for everyone to interact with each other is a great way to have fun and build your community.

 

Crafts

Handmade gifts are a great way to say thank you. They show that you put time into thinking of a nice idea and into making the actual product. Pinterest is a great resource for quick and clever ideas (thanks a latte!).

 

Word Cloud

This is great for a smaller group of volunteers. There are a few ways to use the word cloud. Our favorite is to have the group of volunteers take time to write down 3 positive words about each other. Then, you take those words and enter them on this website: https://www.wordclouds.com/ . A word cloud is created and you can print one off and frame it for each person.

 

Mix Tape

Jump forward a few decades and make a custom playlist through Spotify (or another music provider). No need to specialize it for each person as long as you create something that goes across different music tastes. Send it out to your team and let them know you’re thinking of them.

 

Make a Video

If you’re hosting a big event and there’s a kick-off night, think about making a video that shows how much their time means. Talk to the people going to the event, or members of the community that need their help to make that event successful. It will give you a way to show your appreciation, and help get them pumped up for the coming day(s).

 

Send an Email

Are you thinking, this doesn’t really seem creative? Sometimes you don’t have the luxury to come up with a genius idea to tell your volunteers how important they are, but that’s okay. An email might be just the thing. Be honest and lay out how the event couldn’t happen without them.

 

No matter what you decide remember that any thank you, however big or small, makes a difference. If you are sincere it will come through whether you say thank you in a creative or traditional way. And thank you, for all the work you do coordinating your volunteers!  

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