Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Virtual Volunteering

As we all know, non-profits compete with each other for several resources including volunteers. It is therefore essential that organizations try new ways to recruit and manage them.

Much like time was defined by the growth of factories as the Industrial Age or the repression of information as the Dark Ages, today's world is defined by the ubiquity of the internet. It's everywhere. It should be; it's the World Wide Web. We have progessed from the Stone Age to the Information Age, and it is essential that organizations make the transition also.

This is not to say that charities are blind to the internet and its usefulness. It just means that they're not using it to its fullest potential. We'll go back to the volunteering issue. It is, after all, what this post is about. In addition to soliciting help at a job fair setting or through regular mail, non-profits could be using sites such as which have over 60,000 member organizations people can volunteer with. (I give full credit to fellow classmate Andrea for giving me the idea to reference the site. You rock!) Sites such as this foster a sense of community in a world that is increasingly disconnected from itself.

Another use for the web includes the management of volunteers. Because these rather helpful people can do a host of non-labor intensive tasks from anywhere in the world--tasks such as research and making phone calls--it would be useful to be able to coordinate everyone's efforts via website, e-mail, social networking sites, etc. These new fangled contraptions shouldn't be forced upon anyone, though. They should not be a condition of their volunteering. More "conventional" methods of contact should still be utilized. Let's not forget--a computer can not really replace the type of interaction a person can get through actual human contact. Some profit centered businesses are building advertising strategies based on that concept.
Cable One commercial

Relationships with volunteers are just like any other relationship in life. They require compromise. It is almost a requirement to use the internet in any number of industries, but one must never forget that that use is still a choice. An organization must maintain a balance of the old and new, traditional and cutting edge--you get the idea.

*references also include and The Virtual Volunteering Project

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Profit for non-profits (and other benefits)

Non-profits or charities face the challenges of fund-raising everyday. Traditional means are still useful, but are giving way to other methods.

For example, corporate partnerships are an incredibly effective way to boost a charity's bottom line.,0,w
Instead of relying on patrons to send in donations directly to their main office, many non-profits are allowing donations to go through companies like Wal-Mart or General Mills. This is a way for the non-profit to get and keep their message and name out there without absorbing the full cost of marketing. This not only benefits, say, the Red Cross; it also gives their corporate partners a boost.

Let's face it. If a company is not socially responsible, or even worse--socially irresponsible, than the chances of them rising to the top drops. If given a choice between two companies selling the same thing at the same price, most would choose the one acting in the best interests of the community. Social irresponsibility makes good relationships with the public a struggle, at the very least. Remember the Exxon/Valdez catastropohe, anyone?

Beyond that is still the issue of money. As mentioned earlier, mailed in donations are decreasing. Therefore, other methods must be on the rise. Online donations directly through non-profit websites as well as links from their corporate partners' sites are increasing.
Race for the Cure
Other ways to raise money through corporate sponsors are employee donations (perhaps through paycheck deductions) and donations for every kind of a certain product sold.

In the end, the partnership between charities and for profit businesses is a winning situation for all involved.