December 6, 2010

VolunteerSpot: Tips to spur offline actions

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JD LasicaI‘ve been impressed every time I’ve stopped by VolunteerSpot, a tool that makes it easy for anyone to coordinate and organize volunteers.

At BlogWorld Expo, I got to chat with founder Karen Bantuveris shortly after she appeared on a panel about fueling real world action through social media.

“Just by making it easier to volunteer,” she says, “we find that 20 percent more people show up to volunteer, and what we call the flake rate — people who don’t show up — drops to almost nothing, because we give them reminders and we give them a chance to change their commitments.”

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Steps to spur offline actions

How can nonprofits and cause organizations spur supporters to take real-world actions, whether it’s a fundraising action or volunteer action? Other participants in the BlogWorld session tackling the topic were Jessica Kirkwood, VP of Social Media, HandsOn Network, Kerala Taylor of KaBOOM and Robert Wolfe of Crowdrise.

Karen offered some quick tips:

1. Ask people to make small, specific commitments. “So instead of asking in a broad way, say, ‘Can you help me Friday at 2 pm clean up the lot on the corner?'”

2. Next, move those smaller actions toward generating a larger goal, like building a playground.

3. Start with your immediate social networks that contain people — friends and family members who are already engaged — and then solicit those communities to engage their friends.

4. Use social media to publicly thank the people who are supporting you and your cause.

At the Hands On blog, Jessica has some additional ideas:

• Make a personal appeal.

• Tell a compelling story.

• Make folks feel part of something larger than themselves.

• and several other suggestions.

The Real World Action Challenge, by the four panelists, is a great game to use for social media training

VolunteerSpot is one of the nonprofits profiled on our Cause organizations page.

A production note: My Panasonic HD camcorder went absolutely haywire with the auto white balance halfway through the interview, and I couldn’t figure out how to solve it, so tried my best in Final Cut Pro post-production.

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JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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