Looking for a gift for someone working at a nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO), charity, school or government initiative that involves volunteers?
Whether the volunteers are working in groups onsite, in traditional face-to-face roles, in remote locations, or any other way, anyone working with volunteers will find The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook helpful – or, at least, interesting. This book, which I co-wrote with Susan J. Ellis, is our attempt to document all of the best practices for using the Internet to support and involve volunteers from the more than three decades that this has been happening. The book is available both in traditional print form and in digital version.
I think the book would also make a good gift for a student studying nonprofit management or community engagement, and anyone managing a corporate volunteering / philanthropy program.
If you read the book, or have already read it, I would so appreciate it if you could write and post a review of it on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble web sites (you can write the same review on both sites). If you could also review it on GoodReads as well, that would be terrific!
The rush began weeks ago: people calling soup kitchens, homeless shelters, Meals on Wheels, hospices, animal shelters and other places providing meals and shelter for people (and others) in need, asking if they can help serve food in November and December, specifically on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Look on the Community Service board on YahooAnswers and you will see messages from various people, teens in particular, trying to line up a simple volunteering gig for the winter holidays — one that will take just two or three hours to do, and not clash with their own Thanksgiving meal.
The vast majority of these potential volunteers will be turned away, because of the extreme popularity of short-term, fell-good volunteering activities at Thanksgiving and Christmas — there simply is not enough of these kinds of non-critical, easy tasks for all interested volunteers to do.
The reality is this:
Organizations that serve food to groups have their openings for volunteers during the holidays booked months in advance.
Most economically or socially-disadvantaged people in the USA find family to be with during the holidays. Most people staying in homeless shelters go to a family members home on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day (varies from shelter to shelter, but overall, this is, indeed, the case). That means that many shelters and soup kitchens don’t serve hoards of people on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Most organizations don’t have activities available that people can waltz in, do in two or three hours, and leave, never to volunteer again until next Thanksgiving. Just as with for-profit businesses, there are few assignments “laying around” at nonprofits, waiting for just anyone who might have some time to do; tasks that need to be done at nonprofit organizations require capable people who are properly supported and supervised, to ensure work is of the highest quality; nonprofits and those they serve deserve nothing less!
For nonprofits: You know more than anyone that it’s very difficult to develop a one-time, non-critical, just-show-up volunteer activity that is worth all the time expense, particularly during November and December. But developing these activities can be worth doing if you can focus the activity on cultivating support for your organization and its work beyond the just-show-up-for-a-few-hours task (micro-volunteering). Think of an environmental organization that sponsors a beach clean up: yes, there’s a clean beach at the end of the day, but there is also a database full of contact information for people who are potential financial donors and volunteers for more substantial, critical activities. Looking at this resource for volunteers can help you think about developing a simple activity for volunteers during the holiday you can leverage to cultivate longer term volunteers and donors — or, at least, to educate more people about the work your organization does and its impact in the community.