Posts Tagged ‘Article’


Soup from the Heart (by Alice Edwards)

June 21, 2012

ImageOne of my favorite and most memorable volunteer experiences was volunteering for a soup kitchen in Orange County. The soup kitchen was run out of a mobile trailer and the “pantry” was a recycled metal shipping crate. The volunteers were friendly and welcoming and really made me feel part of the group – wanted and appreciated – which is what kept me coming back to volunteer several times each month.

At the soup kitchen, we served donated salad, pies, and pastries as well as fresh soup that we made from scratch each week. The soup was magical – somehow, from all the random canned goods and nearly expired fresh vegetables and donated meat, the main soup cook consistently created a tasty and filling soup.  It was so good that I would even go back for seconds after we finished serving the crowd who came to eat.

While I think friendliness of the serving staff is what really impacted me the most, there was a secondary benefit to my service at that soup kitchen.  Before I volunteered there, I was never good at making soup, but some of the kitchen’s magic must have rubbed off on me and, to this day, I can make a tasty soup from whatever random items I have around!

If you would like to help the homeless and hungry of southern Nevada, please visit for more volunteer opportunities.


The Benefits of Volunteering

June 6, 2012

Perhaps the first and biggest benefit people get from volunteering is the satisfaction of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community and country. The intangible benefits alone—such as pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment—are worthwhile reasons to serve. In addition, when we share our time and talents we:

  • Solve problems
  • Strengthen communities
  • Improve lives
  • Connect to others
  • Transform our own lives

The Corporation of National & Community Service (CNCS) has prepared a report on the Health Benefits of Volunteering. Some of the highlights include benefits like “lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression”.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and volunteer now. To find an opportunity visit United Way of Southern Nevada’s Volunteer Center.


Your Circle of Resources

March 5, 2012

Volunteer Recruitment (and Membership Development) Book, Third Edition by Susan J. Ellis

One of my favorite suggestions for volunteer recruitment is also one of the simplest: start with the resources in closest proximity to your agency. What untapped treasures might be across the street or on the next block?

Picture your facility as the center of a bull’s eye, with concentric circles around it. Now do the following. If you are in an urban area, walk out your front door with a clipboard and pen (take along a volunteer for company). If you are more rural, do this by driving. The point is to walk completely around the block (or drive in a tight circle) and write down everything you see: stores, businesses, parking lots, churches, apartment houses, schools, etc.

It is vital to actually do this action physically, even if you feel reasonably sure that you know what is in your neighborhood. Why? Because you will soon discover that:

1) you tend to be aware only of the things that are present in the one direction that you take to work every day;

2) after a while you no longer see what you are looking at; and

3) some of the things you see may not be identifiable.

An example of this last point is passing a company with the name “Mighty Corporation” emblazoned on a large sign. Do you know from that name what work this company does? Probably not.

After you have inventoried everything on your street, the two side streets, and the street in back of you, move on to a two-block radius and do the same. As time permits, keep going in widening concentric circles. If you are driving, keep taking right (or left!) turns and inventory a quarter-mile radius, then a half-mile radius, etc. Note that if your offices are in a high-rise building, your first task is to take the elevator to each floor and see who your neighbors are above and below you.

You may be skeptical about this recommendation, but I assure you that you will find a number of “neighbors” that you did not know you had. And this means potential resources…

Making contact with your neighbors is much easier than approaching resources across town. After all, it is always legitimate to make the acquaintance of folks nearby. Develop a special flyer or letter introducing your agency and address it to: “Our neighbors.” Explain the services you offer (include a brochure if you have one) and, if appropriate, welcome visitors. Depending on your comfort level and on the culture of your neighborhood, mail the materials in small batches and follow up within a week by phone, or go in person to deliver the material.

Do not feel that these are “cold calls.” As a representative of your organization, you want to spread the word about the good work that you do. It will be of benefit to your neighbors to be better informed about an agency in such close proximity. And, for both sides, there is great potential to share resources. Your opening line is: “Hi. Do you realize that we can see your top floor from our backyard?” Or some variation on that theme.

Express as much genuine interest in your neighbors as you wish them to show in you. Ask questions about their work and constituents. Perhaps there is some help that you can offer to them. Maybe a collaborative effort can help everyone. Is there something you can barter or exchange? What goes around, comes around. When you demonstrate good neighborliness, it sets the tone for future relationships.


To Tweet, or Not to Tweet

September 14, 2011

By Tiegen Kosiak

At my previous nonprofit organization in Alabama, we rarely checked our email.  Well, we did, a little bit, to correspond with partner agencies and donors and whatnot, but none of our clients used it, proper email that is.  You see, our clients were high school students that slept with their smart phones as if they were stuffed animals.    These students loved to volunteer, but they hated dedicating the time to checking an actual email account.  However, they were, currently are, and will continue to become more addicted to Facebook and Twitter, the social media sites that have blown up in our instant gratification, short attention span culture.

According to Tim Elmore, author of Habitudes and Generation iY, Millennials—people born between 1984 and 2002—are the country’s largest growing volunteer base.  These young people love to be involved with causes that “make a difference” even if it just involves buying a pair of shoes.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the awesome growth of the seemingly nonprofit company TOMS Shoes, which in fact does turn an incredible profit from kids that want to help other kids by wearing trendy footwear.

However, Millennials aren’t just into volunteerism for appearance sake.  They believe in it, and they’re good at it!  They’re strong-backed, energetic, technologically savvy, and idealistic, which makes them perfect for volunteer opportunities many adults are far too jaded and/or overworked to accept.

So how do you reach this wellspring of volunteer power?  You open a Twitter account and link it to your Facebook!  You @EveryoneYouKnow and become really familiar with #hashtags.  You keep things short and sweet, and you provide a lot of links.  It’s important to make it easy for people to follow along so that they, in turn, follow through with volunteerism, board participation, etc. 

And trust, this campaign isn’t only for those under twenty-seven.  Where youth goes, the masses will follow; they have to.  The Millennial generation challenges the Baby Boomers in size, so to stay in touch with our changing economy and our booming technology, we must adapt to this emerging workforce that, as I said earlier, is obsessed with Twitter and Facebook! #andthatsafact

For a great book on how to best utilize your social media sites, check out The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith (with Carlyle Adler


5 Tips for Writing an Awesome Volunteer Position Description

August 23, 2011

Highlight the benefits.

Volunteering has a lot of benefits. Of course there’s the great feeling you get while you’re volunteering, but there are a lot of other benefits people get from volunteering.

Volunteering can give you an opportunity to build a network, learn new skills, it can help give your resume a boost. You can meet new people and make a difference in someone’s life.

Try highlighting these things in your volunteer position description. Take a few minutes to think about what else your organization offers volunteers.

Make the position description fun.

How many volunteer position descriptions have you seen that have the word “volunteer” in them? While “Office Volunteer” might give someone a fairly good idea about what they’ll be doing, think about being a bit more creative with the title.

Don’t stop at the title, though. Do you need a crew of construction volunteers that have four arms so they can get all of the work done in half the time? Why not ask for it? What about someone to help socialize dogs that can be stretched in two different directions when one dog gets really interested in a rock, and another gets interested in a squirrel.

Don’t forget to revise them!

Your volunteer needs may change over time, and you want to make sure that your position descriptions reflect those changing needs. You don’t want your position descriptions to attract the perfect volunteer only to have them find out that they won’t be doing the kind of work they thought they’d be doing.

At least once a quarter take some time to look at your volunteer position descriptions to check that they’re still asking for the things that you need.

Take just a little bit of time to be serious.

Sure, one of the tips was to have fun with the position descriptions, but it’s important to take a moment to be serious, too. Make sure to include a list of the types of skills you want a volunteer to have, or that you can teach a volunteer, so they can be great volunteers for your organization. Don’t forget to include specific information about how to contact your organization (like a contact person’s name) so they can volunteer.

Include a call to action!

Volunteering is a pretty big action, but if a prospective volunteer is looking to give their time, why not ask them to engage in another way? Do you have a Facebook page? How about a Twitter account? Do you have microvolunteer projects available? What about a donation page? Include a link to these at the end of the listing for the volunteer opportunity.

The HandsOn Nevada staff is always here to help you craft your volunteer descriptions. Please let us know how we can help you.

For more information visit


Five Tips for Making Your Volunteer Program Part of Your Brand

August 23, 2011


Dan Pallotta writes about nonprofit issues for the Harvard Business Review. He recently wrote about the difference between a logo and a brand. A logo is something that is easily recognizable while a brand is something that permeates everything that your organization does. Your brand is even part of your volunteer program.

Your call to action in your volunteer program. It may seem obvious to have a call to action built into your volunteer program, but how does what you’re asking volunteers to do relate to your organization’s overall call to action? An animal welfare organization may have multiple volunteer positions, but if it can’t articulate how each of the positions relates to its mission, some of the positions may be harder to fill than others. Being able to demonstrate how each volunteer position supports the organization’s goal makes them more attractive to volunteers who support your organization’s mission.

Customer service in your volunteer program. You might not think of customer service when it comes to volunteer recruitment and retention, but it’s an important part of any volunteer program. From having an easy way to move from being interested in volunteering to being a volunteer, to knowing when to show up to volunteer, to simply being available to ask questions about volunteering, good customer service helps to support your volunteer program. Volunteers who have a a positive experience volunteering will tell their friends about their experience and be an advocate for your cause. Volunteers who have a negative experience volunteering will tell their friends, too.

How you talk about your volunteer program. How you talk about your volunteer program reflects on your organization. If your volunteer program is mentioned as an afterthought, then it affects how people outside of your program look at the program. It also affects how your volunteers look at the program. Highlight the work of volunteers whenever you can to show what an important part of the organization they are.

Your people in your volunteer program. The volunteers that serve with your organization are as public as any other part of your organization. Your volunteer program shouldn’t have an ‘any warm body’ approach to volunteer recruitment. There should be a screening process that ensures that you recruit volunteers that are passionate about your cause and are able to do the tasks that are asked of them. If they don’t know how to do the task, make sure you’re able to teach them how to do it well.

Your home for your volunteer program. Where your organization’s volunteer program lives reflects on your program and the organization. Do you ask your volunteers to work together with staff, or is there a “volunteer office” in a corner somewhere that staff don’t normally go? Is the volunteer office really a storage closet?


Volunteering During High School Matters

August 16, 2011

Volunteering during High School Matters

High School is a time of socializing, learning, and exploring. These four years can have a great impact on the future lives of students. A great way to explore, learn and socialize is through volunteering. Volunteering allows students to explore different career fields, learn new skills and meet new people. It is easy to volunteer and there are opportunities throughout southern Nevada to participate in. There are also many other benefits of volunteering.

Studies show that students who are active while in high school make better grades, are less likely to be involved in negative behaviors, and are more likely to be successful later in life (The Case for High School Activities). Additionally, we know that colleges and universities look highly at meaningful volunteer experience during the admissions process. While it may not be as important as GPA or entrance exam scores, it is often the deciding factor between two students who have the same GPA and/or entrance exam score. This meaningful volunteer experience can also be added to the resume. Employers like to see diverse experiences and skills. Finally, volunteering fulfills needs in our community. Now more than ever our community is in need of individuals who volunteer their time and energy to make southern Nevada a better place.

Visit the HandsOn Nevada website at to find opportunities to make a difference, meet new people and to gain new skills. Also, be on the lookout for more opportunities for high school students to volunteer.