It’s that time of year when the holidays just start barrel rolling into one another and before you know it, they’re over and it’s 2012. So before all that happens, I wanted to share an amazing Client story from the Food Bank For New York City (FBNYC). Thanksgiving is obviously a busy time of year for food banks. With over 1.5 million New Yorkers who rely on FBNYC’s programs and services, Thanksgiving is always a large initiative. Each year, FBNYC distributes turkeys, chicken roasters, vegetables, and other nutritious food items to those in need during the Thanksgiving holiday. Knowing whether or not a food assistance program receives state funding, has a freezer or not, and what type of program they are – not to mention the fact that certain individuals work at soup kitchens AND food pantries – communicating with their network about how to order can obviously be very complicated. In the past, FBNYC would send an email that would print 10 pages long. Network members would then have to sift through the order categories to find the instructions that apply to their programs. Everyone would get a single email loaded with information that didn’t pertain to them.
Using the Convio database, FBNYC is now able to segment their emails so that food assistance programs receive only the instructions relevant to them. Utilizing the database, the Food Bank can identify whether a contact is from a soup kitchen, food pantry, low-income day centers; whether they receive state funding; if they have a freezer; etc. Thanks to a system of fully-imbedded conditionals, the men and women who are on the ground, providing healthy meals on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the year, can easily learn what they need to do to be fully prepared for the holiday. “Donors are now given just the message that they need,” explained Daniel Buckley, Senior Online Communications Manager at FBNYC. “Not a 10 page email that includes 4-5 different options.” Convio’s database enabled FBNYC to store information in different ways, allowing them to effectively communicate to different segments.
“These are the people that are the soul of our mission. They are on the frontlines. And being able to communicate to them effectively is key.”
This year FBNYC was able to distribute over 10,000 turkeys and chicken roasters as well as thousands of pounds of potatoes, carrots, onions and apples. Thanks to the support of their donors and volunteers, families in need throughout the five boroughs in New York City had a warm, nutritious meal with their friends and family on Thanksgiving. Be sure to check out the organization's blog to get a close and personal report on the hunger front lines of Thanksgiving Day.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the only thing on the news on August 2, 1990. That’s the day Iraq invaded Kuwait, an event that would start a domino effect that has lasted more than 20 years. I was just 19 at the time and not really sure what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t college material (back then) but knew I wanted adventure so two days later on August 4th I enlisted in the Army as an Infantryman. By August 19th I was in the front-leaning-rest position on Sand Hill in the pine wood chips of Ft. Benning, Georgia with an ominous Drill Sergeant Davies yelling at me like I had just stolen his life savings.
I loved every minute of being a soldier. I loved the patriotism, splendor, hard work, discipline, team environment, commitment, willingness to die for the man/woman next to you and especially the service to humanity. It was exciting! I got to repel out of helicopters from 100 feet, bound through building windows, sleep wherever our unit stopped for the night, and shoot some of the military’s best weapons. But most of all I met some of the most amazing people I will ever know like: Private Curtis Strange from Baltimore; Private Dana Gordon from New York; PFC Kurt Feurst from Illinois and the list goes on.
I’m now 40 years old and had it not been for a bad car wreck in 1996 that ended my career in 1999, this past August could have been my 21st year in the military. I felt my opportunity was cut short, but unlike the more than 1.2 million US soldiers who have lost their lives on the battlefields of the world, I get to wake up and kiss my wife and kids in the morning, complain about a bad call against my favorite football team, watch my hair turn gray and simply grow old. And while I’m enjoying those every day miracles, I’m proud not only to have served my country as a soldier but to continue serving my community through you – the many nonprofit organizations and causes that do so much important work at home and abroad.
I know that since I am a veteran that I have a unique appreciation for Veterans Day. I know of the personal and family sacrifices that military men and women have to make but fortunately I am here today because I didn’t have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
I hope you will take time today to remember those who have fallen, those who have sacrificed, those amazing men and women who wear and have worn jingling dog tags, who proudly stand guard so in your neighborhood there is peace. Take time today to say “thank you” to a veteran.
On behalf of everyone at Convio I want to say “THANK YOU!” to all those who have served and continue to serve our country. You will never be thanked enough. You will never be forgotten.
Former Sgt. Michael K. Gilliam
U.S. Army | 1990 - 1999
At the risk of preaching to the choir…volunteer programs are a great way for your organization to engage constituents and achieve your mission.
A recent study by The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) states that overall US volunteers served 8.1 billion hours in 2010, valued at an estimated $173 billion, with volunteers providing 52 hours of service per year. With the budget challenges you may face, can you imagine the impact to your organization if you had a volunteer force giving an hour a week of service for a full year! On top of the time dedicated to your organization, volunteers also donate 10 times more money to nonprofits than non-volunteers.
Not that you really needed extra convincing on the value of a volunteer program. What you might need though is tips and best practices for making that volunteer program simply fantastic.
Here’s three quick tips from our recent Volunteer Management Tipsheet.
For more tips and ideas, check out the full tipsheet.
Just like adding a current or past job, LinkedIn members can now add a current or past volunteer experience. The information for each listing includes the name of the organization, volunteer role, cause area (like human rights or children), dates and description.
Here's an example from my personal profile.
Right now, LinkedIn helps members by suggesting oganizations as you type but doesn’t connect it back to the organization’s LinkedIn page.* I anticipate that changing in the near future. (It just makes sense if you ask me.) And if I’m right about that change then you are going to want to spruce up your org’s LinkedIn company page in advance.
In addition to a volunteer experience, members can also add broad causes they are interested in. While I don’t see any search functionality related to these causes at the moment, I’m curious to if we’ll see that in the future. Imagine if you could search for people who care about “arts and culture” in “Indianapolis” or who care about "poverty alleviation" in "Portland" to find potential volunteers, donors and even employees.
It’s a new and growing feature on LinkedIn and I see great value add potential for nonprofits. However where the value really is at this moment is for your volunteers. You and your volunteer coordinator probably know and discuss the professional benefits of volunteerism on a regular basis. Volunteering with your organization provides your constituents with the opportunities to build skills they might not be able to nurture in the workplace. Fundraising, fiscal oversight, record keeping and public speaking are just a few of the many that come to mind.
Now LinkedIn is giving them the perfect place to add those skills and experiences to their online resume. In the current economy, and really at any time, volunteer experiences can add a differentiator to a job hunter’s resume. In fact according to the LinkedIn blog “new research from LinkedIn shows that one out of every five hiring managers in the U.S. agree they have hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience.” It’s good for the volunteer and good for your organization and volunteer retention.
OK - we’ve covered the basics and now I have four action items for you and your organization.
What other action items or insights should we add?
*Update 9/16/11: When I first wrote this post it did not appear that the organization's name was connected to the organization's LinkedIn page. This blog post I read today said that they did so I investigated. I now have three volunteer experiences listed and here's what I found. 1) The very small org that lacks a LinkedIn page doesn't link back to anything. No surprise. 2) The small org that has a LinkedIn page but that may or may not be claimed by the org doesn't link back. 3) The national organization with a robust LinkedIn page is linked back to. All that said, I'm not exactly sure what the criteria is to link back to organizations' pages but it does appear to happen for at least some.
I'd like to keep it simple today and encourage you to do a little exercise in motivation inspired by a couple of recent Seth Godin blog posts, particularly one from today. While I had plans to post on a case study, this morning while thumbing through my emails I came across a call to action from Seth to do something very specific on End Malaria Day, today. It made me stop to think more about why we are all here at this particular web address and why do we want to read about online fundraising. In short, I think the readers and contributors of this blog in some way want to do something great to change the world for the better. Well, today is your day to start or to perhaps reevaluate how you are making that happen.
Seth urges his readers to do three things that will spread the word and help support funding for nets. Simply put, he said:"What would happen if you did that? What would happen if you stepped up and spent a few dollars? Here's what would happen: someone wouldn't die."
Today, I'd like you to take out a post-it note. Write this on it: Today is my day. Each day is your day to do a little more, to make a little more progress.
Take that with you everywhere you go. Post it up on your monitor, on your bathroom mirror, on your car steering wheel. Put it simply, like Seth. If people take action - simple action - for the cause you are passionate then about what will happen? Will a life be saved, will a child learn how to read, will a hungry man be fed?
Be clear with your constituents and keep it simple. Remind them that today is their day as well.
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