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Spring Brings Out the Best. Especially Volunteers.


Volunteers give their time because it makes them happy. How do you keep them that way?

What Do Volunteers Want?
Nonprofit Charitable Orgs Spotlight10

How a Food Bank Keeps Volunteers Happy and Coming Back for More

Tuesday April 15, 2014
Happy volunteers at the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado.

If you stumble upon the Facebook Page for the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, you might be amazed that it is so active, with over 4,000 likes, 28 talking about, and 463 "were here."

I'd guess that it's because this food bank has a loyal cadre of volunteers that provided more than 30,000 hours of service last year. The food bank is proud of that number and has put it front and center of its FB Page and its website this month.

"The Chronicle of Philanthropy" was also impressed enough to use this organization as a case study recently as it trained its eye on effective volunteer management.

The Care and Share Food Bank is enjoying volunteer success for several reasons.

First, the issue is hot. Hunger has become a headliner in the press. Consequently, more people than ever want to help, either by donating or volunteering, or both.

The Care and Share Food Bank only has 40 employees, but an increasing number of people who want to volunteer. Coloradans are also very familiar with disasters such as wildfires and floods, where the work of organizations like the Food Bank are important.

In fact, this food bank went from a little over 4,000 volunteers in 2010 to 8,500 in 2013. Those volunteers helped the Food Bank deliver 18.6 million pounds of food in 2013, up from 11.5 million just a few years before. More than 100,000 people were helped last year by the Food Bank.

Second, the Care and Share Food Bank has embraced volunteers. It has an open arms policy and tries to place everyone who is willing to work. There are families with children who volunteer, students, people from civic groups and faith organization, as well as court-ordered volunteers. The Food Bank has also partnered with 67 corporations and their employee volunteer programs.

How do they do it? By placing volunteers at the center of the organization. For instance:


Best Links: Twitter Changes, Lessons from Letterman and Fallon, Data vs Relationships

Wednesday April 9, 2014
Jimmy Fallon writing one of his thank you notes.

Nonprofit Blog Carnival

The Work behind Our Work: Your Methods & Wants for Nonprofit Blog Carnival. We're all busier than ever! So how do we get so much done? Nancy Schwartz of Getting Attention! is in charge of the April Carnival. She wants your back story. Write about "productivity, planning, and/or getting great ideas out of your head and into action."

Fundraising, Marketing, and More

Get More Out of Your Fundraising Donation Page by Acting Like an Online Store - Christine Schaefer of Salsa Labs for Fundraising Success. Branding and price points are things commercial sites do very well. Schaefer has examples of nonprofit donation pages that take their cues from online stores and turn those elements to doing good.

3 Smart Strategies to Boost Your Online Fundraising - Joe Garecht for GuideStar Blog. Joe simplifies the confusion around online fundraising. If your head is spinning from all the possibilities and demands, do these three things for some rapid improvements.

Dr. Adrian Sargeant's 7 Principles of Donor Loyalty - Tom Ahern for Bloomerang. Revisit the basics of donor retention. Tom expands on the brilliant ideas of Adrian Sargeant and includes several links to supplemental information. Find out about the "big third dot" and why your "boilerplate" could be killing your donations. Ahern is in fine form here, bringing these classic principles to life.


If Volunteers Were Paid What They're Worth, We Couldn't Afford Them

Monday April 7, 2014
National Volunteer Week 2014 Logo Americorps volunteers on MLK Day, 2014

April is all about volunteers. It is not only National Volunteer Month, but this week is National Volunteer Week.

It seems that when the weather warms up, and the flowers start blooming, volunteers start moving.

Here are some facts about volunteers that you might not know:

There are an estimated 64.5 million volunteers in the US. That's more than a quarter of us adults. We gave 7.9 billion hours of service in 2012, worth about $175 billion. A recent report provides a break down of who does what and where.

The Independent Sector has reported that the value of volunteer time in 2013 reached $22.55 an hour. That's an average across the states. But still, it's a very impressive figure. In fact, if we had to pay volunteers, we couldn't afford them.

Where are the highs and lows of those estimates? Washington D.C. has the highest per hour volunteers at an eye-popping $38.69, while Arkansas has the lowest at $18.93.

But what is really interesting is how that per hour estimated volunteer wage has gone up over the years. In 1980, it was $7.46.

Independent Sector explains how these figures are calculated, and how a nonprofit might use them in financial statements, grant proposals and annual reports.

Given just how valuable, indeed, indispensable to your nonprofit volunteers are, and the economic value they bring, make sure you keep them happy, say thank you often, and make a special effort to get young people involved. They are the future of volunteering after all.

Image 1 - National Volunteer Week Logo courtesy of Points of Light. Image 2 - AmeriCorps members with Rebuilding Together in Pittsburgh, PA on MLK Day 2014. Photo by Henry Scott, courtesy of Corporation for National and Community Service.

It's a Deal! Your Unused Airline Miles for 10,000 Wishes

Wednesday April 2, 2014
A Make-a-Wish kid surfing.

It's a great bargain.

You've got unused frequent flier miles. Make-A-Wish has children with dreams.

You can donate your frequent flier miles to Make-A-Wish all year long, of course, but April is special. It's when kids with life-threatening medical conditions have dreamed their dreams and are making their summer travel plans.

That's why the beloved charity that fulfills more than 10,000 wishes a year with 2.5 billion donated air miles is pushing hard to get everyone "onboard" with their miles this month.

The Wishes in Flight program makes it easy to donate your unused or expiring frequent flier miles. An estimated 16 trillion frequent flier miles go unused each year. Plus, as many as 25 percent of us just let our miles lapse, or use them for magazine subscriptions or a one-time better seat on our next flight.

We can do so much better.

A Make-a-Wish kid on her way to NYC.

Make-A-Wish would like us all to equate frequent flier miles to wishes instead. To think about a child visiting Disney World, surfing in Hawaii, or making her first visit to New York City.


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