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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

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!

 

 

Read More

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.

 

 

Read More

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.

Read More

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!

 

 

Read More

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.

 

 

Read More

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.

 

Read More

Winning Over the Reluctant Volunteer

While we’d all love to believe that any volunteer coming our way is in it for the good of the cause, every volunteer coordinator knows that’s just not always the case.

Whether it’s a sullen teenager, a court-ordered volunteer, or just a serious introvert, you know you need a way to win them over. We’ve collected some of our favorite ways to chip away at those reluctant volunteers.


Appeal to Their Interests

Even though your volunteer might have joined your crew out of duty (rather than passion), chances are you can probably find something for them to like about your organization. If your volunteer is a parent, maybe they’d love to find out that the work they’re doing is going to benefit kids. Maybe the crabby teen volunteering for your 5k is into music and would love to help you set up the speakers at the check-in booth. Who knows? Honestly, not us. Are teens still into music? It’s worth a try.


Give ‘em a Break

Every volunteer needs a break sometimes and a volunteer who doesn’t want to be there definitely does. Set clear times when your team can sneak a snack on the side or a quiet moment. Just the knowledge that a chance to rest is in the near future is a huge help in keeping unenthusiastic volunteers on the move.


Options

If a volunteer shows up to your event a little less than gung-ho, try giving them an option of what to do. While sitting in the break area with a bag of chips might not work, you might end up with a people-person who would love to do check-in, or a perfectionist who can make sure every single poster is straight. You might even get someone who’s obsessed with picking up trash and wants to be on garbage duty all day (we can dream).

 

And if all of that doesn’t work?

There are always snacks.

You can win anyone over with free snacks.

 

 

Read More

Building Community Among Your Volunteers

During an event, volunteers are a part of your team.

Creating a strong volunteer community can help retain and encourage them to do their best. Whether it’s offering perks or setting up group activities, fostering a close environment for volunteers could be the key to keeping them coming back. We’ve compiled some of our top ways to get your volunteers acquainted, engaged, and excited to be a part of the team.

 

Keep it Social
The first step to getting your volunteers “together” is to create a Facebook group for volunteers only. Not only does this offer an easy place to post updates and information about your event, but it also offers a spot for you and your volunteers to share photos of their experience.

 

#Volunteer
Creating a hashtag just for your volunteers is a great way to help them share their experiences and link up with others. Giving volunteers a way to share moments will not only help to build your community, but will also result in awesome, on-the-ground social media content for your event.

 

Backstage
Whether it’s a break from frozen toes or a moment to sit, sweat-drenched in front of a fan, everyone needs a minute to recoup – and we don’t mean the kind where you eat a sandwich behind the media tent. Designating a small area for volunteers is an easy way to make them feel like they’re valued members of the team. Throw some water bottles and a bag of chips in there and a small volunteer station is suddenly the volunteer VIP lounge.

 

And After the Party
Every volunteer knows that after a long day of helping out their favorite organization, they could probably benefit from a couple hours letting it all out on the dance floor. Why not treat your volunteers to the VIP experience with an after party? Snacks, beers, games, whatever, a little post-event party to blow off steam and talk about the day will have your volunteers remembering not only how great it was to help your organization, but how fun it was to party after.

Read More

Recognizing Volunteer Trends

Photo Credit: clipartimage.com

Volunteer coordinators are always looking for new team members – and volunteer trends are a good place to start. At VolunteerLocal, we’ve noticed a few trends that seem to be popping up more and more across the country. Below, we’ve listed some of the top trends we’re seeing that may help you find your next great volunteer.

Businesses are Getting Involved

More and more businesses are looking for ways to make a group outing a way of giving back to their community. Whether it’s a major corporation that just moved into town or a small business with 10 dedicated team members, there are so many opportunities to get help for your cause. Try reaching out to the HR team at the company with a bit about your organization, what kind of help you need and see if they might be interested. For this kind of outreach, offering an opportunity for a large group to come to help out all at once can be a great option.

Colleges are Looking for New Partners

Colleges offer a wealth of volunteers with varied schedules and a passion for changing the world. We’re seeing a growth in millennial activism and with that, there are plenty of willing volunteers walking around local campuses. With colleges, you can often reach out to a specific organization on campus that’s just right for your cause. Maybe the track and field team can help at your next marathon or students in the communications school are able to do social media outreach for your event.

Schools are Teaching Civic Duty

Volunteers aren’t just walking around college campuses these days; they’re also bounding through the halls of elementary schools. More and more primary education teachers are looking for ways to teach students about civic engagement. While high school kids are old enough to help with quite a lot, you’d be surprised what the little ones can do too. Stuffing envelopes and making signs are simple and fun ways to get younger kids involved.

So get out there and broaden your base! There are people of all ages looking to help, and keeping an eye out for volunteers in the places you might not normally think to look might just win you a lot of new volunteers.

Read More