Tips for a Successful Training Program

Whether you’re inventing, innovating, or organizing a training program for your volunteers, having clear lines of communication will always be your best practice.

In essence, you’re training your volunteers to be  community ambassadors. The more prepared you are for them, the more prepared they’ll be for the field.

 

As you consider how to do these things, think of different learning styles and abilities. Be prepared to cover the same material in audio and visual ways.

 

Start by asking these questions:

  • What is the break-down of roles and how do they interact?
  • What kind of personalities fit each role?
  • What will they need to communicate?

 

The next set of questions to ask are:

  • What is the amount of time you will have to train each volunteer?
  • How complex is their role?

 

If given a short amount of time, the best thing that can be done is to have some sort of training video and a practice run before being thrown into the ring. Repetition is advantageous. The more your volunteers are able to practice, or imagine themselves in the role they will be managing, the better. Videos are not as efficient as hands-on experience, but are highly economical in their ability to suit all learning types.

 

Also crucial is making sure that lines of communication are clear to volunteers and that they have a reference for questions that may be fielded to them. Make a contact sheet that everyone can share with important contacts. Include maps and event schedules. It is up to you when you distribute all necessary information, but present the information in a digestible way. Be mindful of information overload.

 

Always leave room for error, expect the worst, and hope for the best. Find ways for your volunteers to put their best foot forward and they will.

 

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How To Use Community Events to Promote Your Event

So, your event is coming up and you’re wondering how to maximize your reach outside of social media. As in, The Real World.

 

Without the face-to-face connection how can you be sure that the people who have RSVP’d are actually coming? We all know that outside of a faithful crowd or following, only about 10% of people really show up and what it comes down to is word-of-mouth.

 

First, look at your local calendars. These can be found through the city website, arts organizations, etc. Maybe there’s a regular event you yourself go to and you think your fellows would like to know what you’re throwing.

 

As you do your research, you’ll find that most of these events charge a booth fee. The benefit, though, is that the public turnout is huge. If you have some volunteers to spare to work the crowd, you can get tremendous returns signing up volunteers or just raising awareness. Such events would be:

  • Farmer’s Markets – when the weather is fair these can be as often as twice a week on different days for different crowds.
  • Festivals & Fairs – One-time events with huge turn outs and long run-times, like state fairs.
  • Sports Events – Such as marathons or competitions can get a lot of media coverage.
  • Other expos – specialty crafts, cultural show-cases, auctions, etc.  

 

If you have a small budget and you can’t afford to purchase a space, look to organizations already dedicated to community building, ie:

  • Public Libraries –  libraries are all about getting people in libraries. Period. Think about how your event might be relevant to whatever programming they’ve got going on and have some ‘literature’ ready to hand out.
  • Engage public schools – this can be daunting as public school teachers have a lot to keep up with during the year, but there’s probably an after school club or program that would love to have you.
  • Small businesses – community awareness is crucial to the vitality of small business owners. By helping you, they help themselves.

 

Whatever you decide to do, make sure your materials themselves are engaging. Make stickers, make t-shirts, use fun colors and interesting fonts. Smile, be aware of body language and make your rap short and sweet. You never know who you might impress or where sponsors will come from!

 

 

 

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New Year, New Us! New Feature Recap

Check out the brand new functions we’ve added to each package upgrade in VolunteerLocal in 2018. These updates are made year-round, of course – if you’d like to be kept in-the-loop on new feature launches, join our “Features, Please!” newsletter.

For Everyone

Live Chat

We’ve integrated a live chat option under the “Support” tab inside all VolunteerLocal accounts. The live chat is available from 9a-5p CST Mon-Fri.If you miss us, leave a message (inside the live chat) and we’ll get back to you right away.

Event Logos

Add your logo to the event under Events->Your Events->Event Detail. These logos will also populate on the Public Landing Page (yourorganization.volunteerlocal.com).

Offline Preview

You can now preview your event without going online by using the [Offline Preview] link listed under your event’s URL (on the Your Events page).

Overlapping Shifts

You can allow volunteers to register for overlapping shifts, if you’d like (go to Events->Your Events->Event Detail).

Submit Button

You can change the wording on the Submit button at the bottom of your event page (go to Events->Your Events->Event Detail).

Uneditable Preview

When restricting admin users’ permissions, admins with limited access cannot click on any links that they have not been granted access to (i.e., the Jobs or Shifts link will be grayed out if they can’t Manage Events).

Confirmation Emails

If group registration is activated, additional volunteers can receive their own confirmation messages. These messages will include profile links, alongside job and shift summaries!

Linked Volunteers

Volunteers sharing an email address will be given their own profiles that are “linked,” and any messages sent will be sent to all volunteers to the same inbox but with their own names, registration info, shift summary, etc.

 

Grow Plan Features

 

Import Jobs/Shifts

Yes, you read that correctly. You can now import jobs, shifts, locations, and even shift descriptions into an event. We will provide a dedicated migration specialist to help you import this data into VolunteerLocal upon request and at no charge.

Check-In/Out Tool

Editing those time-stamps has never been easier. You can now include AM or PM designation, too!

Create Applications

Have you ever wished you could create an event without jobs or shifts? Now you can. Go to Events->Create a New Application to build registration forms without the scheduling component at the top. Volunteers will flow into a hidden “job” called  [Auto] Online Applicants inside the Report. From here, you can manually assign volunteers into special positions after reviewing their profile data and special qualifications.

Rolodex

You can now sort volunteers by last name inside the Report for any Application you’ve created. The Rolodex appears at the top of the Report when you expand the “job” called [Auto] Online Applicants.

Volunteer Profile Pictures

Volunteers can now upload profile pictures at the time of registration. These pictures populate inside each volunteer profile, and in thumbnail preview in your Report, under Volunteers->Report.

 

Conquer Plan Features

 

Leader/Captain Access

You can now restrict registration questions from Leader/Captain access. This data can be made visible but uneditable, visible and editable, or invisible (completely hidden). Go to Events->Your Events->Volunteer Information and you’ll see this new feature in-action underneath every question on the form. It’s called “Leader/Captain Access.”

Field Settings

Click on “Field Settings” at the top of the Report page (under Volunteers->Report) to determine which data points should be displayed underneath each volunteers’ name without requiring you to open each volunteer profile. Common fields to display include phone number, volunteer rating and birthdate.

T-Shirt Summary

You can now see a t-shirt summary by job with just one click. Inside the Report (under Volunteers->Report), click on the three-dots icon next to each job name. The summary will “unzip” underneath the job.

Responsive Questioning

Create questions that only appear when/if a certain job is selected. For example, you can require the volunteer to upload his/her medical certification, but only if that volunteer selected a shift within the job “Medical Tent” at the top of your sign-up page. This setting can be activated under Your Events->Volunteer Information.

Volunteer Name Badges

Customize unique templates for volunteer name badges inside VolunteerLocal. We’ll spin out your volunteer sign-ups into a PDF with die-cut lines for the printer. You can try it today under Volunteers->Export. Check the box that says, “Create printable name badges.”

 

Want to schedule a demo of anything you see here, or request a feature we should build in 2019? Contact us today at hello@volunteerlocal.com.

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Steps & Tips for Creating a Facebook Group for Volunteers


Facebook can be a phenomenal method for keeping volunteers connected. A simple Facebook provides a place for members to post photos, share tips, ask questions and meet other volunteers. So, wondering how you’d even get one of these started? We’ve got all the information you need below.

 

On the homepage of your Facebook account, select ‘Groups’ among the options on the left-hand side of the page under the “Explore” heading. On the top right corner, click the green button which says “+Create Group.” A window will pop-up for you to enter group information:

 

Name of Your Group
No need to get fancy or creative here, especially if the Facebook group is a recruiting tool, you’ll want it to be easily searchable. Which isn’t to say that niche groups of volunteers can’t have their own internal group for discussion with a more personalized name (ie IronMan Wolf-team Volunteers).

 

Add Some People
Start off by adding your volunteer team leaders & managers to the group and they can add their volunteer team. Definitely make sure to add only individuals who have made a commitment to the group, especially those who have an administrative role in managing. This will be determined largely by your privacy settings.

 

Select Privacy
A good way to decide which setting would be best: how much time do you have to manage the volunteer page? A sense of inactivity on a page can deter people from visiting.

  • Public—anyone can search for and join this group. Because this kind of group is so open, this kind of setting is recommended especially for large events which require a large volunteer base. This opens up content to be shared and also serves as a recruiting tool for the next event.
  • Closed—can be searched, but requires permission to join. More for internal use, and dissemination of information.
  • Secret—invite only. What is there to be said for secrets? They don’t make friends, but can keep them.

 

To change group information you can add more detail, description and the like by returning to the main “Groups” page. You will see the group you just created under “Groups You Manage”. There will be a wheel next to the group name where a sub-menu will let you change notification settings, group settings, favorites and last but not least, let you leave the group.
To add more people once the initial work has been done is simple. Visit the main page for the group and type in the names or e-mail addresses of those you wish to add in the designated window to the right of the group interface.

 

And there you have it. A step-by-step guide to creating your first Facebook group. So get out there, and start creating a community amongst your volunteers!

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Designing the Perfect Flyer

Your volunteer recruitment poster is your chance to go all out!

 

Catching the public’s eye through smart design is your number one goal. Though your instinct may be to load your flyer with information, you actually want to do the opposite – put the bare minimum to get your message across. A picture may be appropriate in some instances – for example, a sympathetic image of people of different generations interacting might attract some of your audience – but it’s not necessary.

 

If you have volunteers or staff who have studied design, ask for their input – and make sure somebody proofreads your copy. You can find information about complementary colors, design software, and more with a quick Google search. And the limitations of Microsoft Word don’t need to inhibit you – there are many free programs that allow you more flexibility.

 

Happy designing!

 

 

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New VolunteerLocal Team Member!

Hey there, everybody! Cece here, the newest member of the VolunteerLocal team. From a small town in Kansas to the big city of Chicago, I’ve taken a stroll down the yellow brick road (yes, a Wizard of Oz reference) starting in the world of hospitality as a concierge, then moving to the fast-paced tech space. I’m thrilled to be taking on this new adventure as your Account Manager!

To say I’m a fan of music would be a major understatement. When I’m not taking in as much live music as I am lucky enough to experience in this beautiful city, you can find me belting out the greatest hits while perfecting my cooking skills for my eventual MasterChef win. Occasionally, I’ll contemplate bringing my running shoes out of retirement, opting instead to kick my feet up and enjoy a much more leisurely lifestyle.

I cannot express enough how incredibly excited I am to be part of such a fantastic group of people. I look forward to the many ways in which we will all continue to grow. Send me a Tweet at @CeceKilat. We can exchange recipes and discuss if it’s actually possible to win Hamilton lottery tickets. :)

#HappyVolunteering

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