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Welcome to the world of WiFi-enabled coffee shops, automated ticket sales and cash-free, card-free transactions at the register. It’s the land of double-ya double-ya double-ya dot, the era of Google, the age of Aquarius (let the sun shiiiiine!)–you get the picture. Sometimes all this technology can leave us feeling (more than a little) confused. So let’s clear the smoke and get down to business. Here are the top five “trade secrets” to volunteer management that we’d like to share with you, trusty event coordinators! Sit back, relax, and let’s get digital.
Ready, Set, Go Public!
One of our most commonly asked questions is: what’s the difference between a “private” and a “public” event on VolunteerLocal? Quite simply, a public event gets listed on an organization’s Default Landing Page, while private events can only be found at a specific URL. Although VolunteerLocal automatically sets each new event created as “private,” you can make your events public by checking the “Public Event” setting under the “Event Detail” page (“Events”–>”Your Events”–>”Event Detail”).
Why go public?
Consider your options. For organizations that have multiple events throughout the year, the public event setting is beneficial because all those events can be found under one URL (the Default Landing Page). So, instead of continuing to send out updated URLs for each individual event, you can direct your volunteers to the same page every time: the Default Landing Page. It will automatically update itself with new, public events when you create them.
To find your Default Landing Page URL, click “Account”–>”Settings.”
Each year, around 1,000 men, women and children are diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a life-threatening condition that has no cure…yet. One organization hopes to change all that–as well as to improve the quality of life for those living with CF today. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a donor-supported nonprofit that supports the development of new drugs and provides pharmaceuticals and care centers for those affected by CF. Their ultimate goal? To find a cure.
“We are here to advocate for people affected by Cystic Fibrosis. We are here to support them,” says Mitch Allen, the Logistics Specialist for the Iowa Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Originally from California, Mitch moved to Iowa to champion the cause of CF families and friends through the Iowa Chapter. “Our organization as a whole believes in hope,” says Mitch. “Our chapter is only one of over 70 chapters nationally, but we are all part of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Therefore, we all follow the same guidelines, and we are not the only chapter focused on attacking the issues of CF.”
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the world’s leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis. The Foundation funds more CF research than any other organization, and nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of Foundation support. Based in Bethesda, Md., the Foundation also supports and accredits a national care center network that has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a model of care for a chronic disease. The CF Foundation is a donor-supported nonprofit organization. For more information, please go to www.cff.org.
Currently, there are around 30,000 people nationally and 70,000 worldwide who are living with Cystic Fibrosis. “Relatively speaking, not that many people have it,” says Mitch. Because of this, the CFF doesn’t receive any federal funding. “We are truly successful because of our donors and their families.” Some of the organization’s big fundraisers include the Great Strides state-wide awareness walks, wine and cuisine galas, and the Aptalis Cycle for Life event. The CFF is grass-roots driven; they’ve garnered support by weaving their cause into the fabric of many Iowa communities.
“We want to be the best steward we can be with the money that’s donated,” says Mitch. “We brag about how efficient we are.” He laughs, but they certainly do have something to brag about. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has some of the lowest overhead costs in the nation, and they consistently reach back to their donors to update them with recent pharmaceutical breakthroughs.
Before they began using VolunteerLocal, these crucial fundraising events (which require at least 750 volunteers annually) were managed with Word documents, email chains and–you guessed it–excel spreadsheets. “It was haphazard at best,” says Mitch. “VolunteerLocal has worked very well for us. Our good friends at the Iowa Craft Brew Tent said ‘you have to try this software!’ and we’re glad we did. We rely heavily on our volunteers. I would absolutely recommend VolunteerLocal to other organizations.”
Everyday, thousands of Americans face this disease with bravery, hope and optimism. We’re proud to stand alongside the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to improve the quality of their lives until a cure is found.
“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…” This iconic mantra, paired with three clicks of some seriously fashion-forward heels, boughtlead character
Dorothy her one-way ticket back to Kansas in the movie The Wizard of Oz. Tiny dog in tow, Dorothy finally returned to her former life after a brief stint in a technicolor dream world of yellow bricks, emotionally expired robots and yes, flying monkeys. You can imagine her relief when she returned to the farm: a place where Dorothy felt safe and loved. A place that provided for her a sense of familiarity and security. In other words, her home.
The Wizard of Oz was a landmark film for many reasons, but it survives the test of time because of the universality and transcendent nature of it’s message: there’s no place like home.
Perhaps no one understands this better than the creators, volunteers and supporters of Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. While most volunteers walk away from a shift-well-done with a free t-shirt, perhaps some new friends and those invariably awesome “altruistic fuzzies,” Habitat volunteers walkaway from their hard work with a little more than that–they leave behind a real home for a family in need.
“It’s a great feeling,” says Danielle Corsaut, Volunteer Manager for Habitat. “Knowing that we play a part in helping families accomplish their goal of homeownership by bringing members of the community together.” Corsaut manages about 9,000 volunteers each year through Habitat, a number that is quickly growing. “We build year-round,” she adds. “We use VolunteerLocal for our everyday needs, as well as special builds, projects, ReStore opportunities and events.”
Before VolunteerLocal, Habitat relied heavily on e-mails, phone calls and internet forms. “There was a lot of back and forth,” says Corsaut. “Now, we’re hoping to have all online volunteer registration by the beginning of next year!” Because when it comes to making volunteers and their coordinators feel happy, safe. and loved–there’s no place like VolunteerLocal.
Cue the confetti, the rumble of drums and the clear, high trumpets from down the street. You know the scene: lawn chairs line the curb as children chatter excitedly, empty grocery bags in hand. The music gets louder as the parade slowly approaches: ornately decorated floats, dancers and Model T’s, the marching band and impending Snickers grenades. That’s right–it’s Suwanee Day. Each year, this parade kicks off what is truly a unique and inspiring town festival.
“Suwanee Day is a celebration of community,” says Pascha Dudley, Volunteer Coordinator for the annual event. “We celebrate our likenesses, differences, and enjoy coming together to show just how great it is to be in Suwanee, Georgia.” From bounce houses to story tellers, flash mobs to local musicians–we have to agree: it does sound pretty great to be in Suwanee, Georgia! We’re not alone: this year’s celebration attracted nearly 58,000 attendees.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, planning for the Suwanee Day festival begins one year in advance, and the actual day of the event calls for over 260 volunteers. “When I joined the board, we had a volunteer database on our website,” says Pascha. “I’m not a techie, but I’m savvy. I said, ‘No. There is a better way to do this.’” The Suwanee team signed up for VolunteerLocal in early May, and began promoting open volunteer positions in September. “It was great. I could just click buttons to organize all my volunteers, whereas before I had to organize it all on excel. It saved me days of work,” she says. “Days!”
This year’s celebration ended with a bang–a chorus of fireworks ushered the festivities from the town center back to the drawing board for next year’s planning committee. “We’ve already met to discuss the turnout and what we’d like to change for next year,” says Pascha. “We’re absolutely going to use VolunteerLocal again.” Online volunteer management: just one more tradition for a festival that began before even the first stop light was installed in Suwanee, Georgia.