New Year’s Resolution Making Cheat

[Editor's note: As we wrap up January, you only have a few more days to call this a new year. Read Jonathan's take on doing good this year! Check out Jonathan's profile here and follow him, he's VID 82!]

My 2015 New Year’s Resolution is to practice blogging more… BAM, think I’m off to a good start. Ok, truth be told I kinda knew this blogging thing was going to be coming up this year, thus my little cheat in making that one of my resolutions. I’m not big into the “NYR” making and upholding, so I tend to be the type to make funny resolutions to make people laugh or to make “cheat” resolutions that are simply too foreseeable and/or enjoyable not to accomplish within the year, such as my buddy’s resolution to “eat more BBQ this year” or mine to blog.

I recently came across an article while browsing social media the first few days of this year that mentioned “New Year’s Resolutions are often times made more for others than yourself,” which only fueled my excuses and nonfulfillment to the famed January question of “did you make any resolutions this year?” However, the fact is that I do enjoy being social — not a “party pooper” — and partake in fun conversation. So that could be why I probably put just as much thought, if not more, into coming up with entertaining or “cheat” resolutions. Oh, and they’re way easier to uphold and tick off the list. I guess I’m guilty of doing this more for others than myself, but what if we could use our New Year’s Resolutions for more than fun? What if we could use them for good? To help others?

So I’d like to propose a resolution that is simple and fun and borderlines being a “cheat” because it’s that enjoyable. Make a New Year’s Resolution to “get more involved in the community and or causes that are important (to you)”. It may sound a bit ambitious, but finding some local volunteer opportunities that align with your interest can be quite easy, enjoyable, and addicting.
Sound like an enticing resolution idea yet? It doesn’t need to be a coastal clean up (though I always enjoy a day at the beach). You can get involved by doing anything from face painting to being an ambassador and attendee at a festival (think music, food, wine) to helping at food and clothing drives to even hanging out in the Giants’ dugout to help with a fundraiser event for local causes (I personally got to do that this year, it was awesome).

So what do you think of my resolution for 2015? If you like this cheat, please do use it! Below are a few of my picks to check out and get involved with but, you can browse through hundreds of opportunities [govoluntr.com/events] and organizations that match your likes or area and then claim that resolutions to make a difference this year.

Spring Pick- Silicon Valley Tour de Cure
Summer Pick- San Jose Jazz’s Summer Fest
Autumn Pick- Guadalupe River Park’s Rose Garden
Winter Pick- Christmas In The Park

A New(ish)comer

[Editor's Note: This blog post comes from one of our newest GoVoluntr team members, Natalie Files (VID 8684).  Want to contribute to our blog?  Get in touch.]

Today was the day… the day that I get my lazy butt up and back in the saddle. I used to be so much more active in the world of volunteering; working in food kitchens, helping out at elementary schools, and even planting trees!

What happened to me? I guess I am really good at giving myself excuses:

“I am too busy with work”

or “I only get two days off to myself; I want to spend them with my family!”

or my most pathetic and ever popular “My feet literally hurt too much from wearing stupid heels all day to move.”

Then one day something amazing happened! It was a day like any other day, when a man looking to purchase a shirt for his wedding came into the clothing store I worked for. While making small talk he told me about his line of work; he told me about his startup company called GoVoluntr.

He seemed nice… a real Do-Goodr type, but I had no idea the impact he was about to make. I did know however, that his idea interested me and I definitely needed to learn more.

A business card and two cups of coffee later… I was hooked!

How cool was this company?! They do good themselves by volunteering A LOT all over the Bay Area, work on encouraging others to do the same, and reward them for their acts! I needed in.

Now I am helping these guys any way I can. My goal is to make as many people aware of these Do Goodrs as possible. I must admit there were some selfish reasons as well…

I was in a funk. I knew I wanted to do something new. I wanted to use my talents for something good. To be honest, I needed something that made me feel like I was helping.

It seemed like destiny! This was the push that I needed to get back in

the game and make the world a better place. Sure it can be a little scary… meeting people you don’t know and stepping out of your comfort zone, but after you volunteer I can guarantee you wont regret it.

Why you ask?

Volunteering makes you feel good. It makes you feel fulfilled and like you are doing something that has great value to other people…not just yourself. The truth is: you get addicted and lucky for me I have the perfect platform of GoVoluntr to feed it!

So here I am… taking that first step again, ignoring all my exceedingly lame excuses. I am helping my older than dirt (but handsomer than George Clooney) border collie, into my car to be whisked away to help me volunteer for the Palo Alto Humane Society.

Now my challenge to you friends is to take that initial step… quit being lazy, grab a friend, (or as in my case a dog), or even go solo, and do some good in the world! I will guarantee you that your time is better spent there than watching another rerun of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and eating a Big Mac on the couch. And yes, I also love F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Big Macs… so I know it’s challenging… but trust me on this one! GoVoluntr!!!

- Natalie Files, VID 8685
nataliefiles

Yelp Helps! 2014 Recap

This year GoVoluntr teamed up with Yelp again for Yelp Helps! 2014.  The rules were simple: volunteer at least 3 hours between February 15 and March 15.  All Do Goodrs who participated in Yelp Helps! 2014 got an exclusive invite to Yelp Helps! Appreciation Prom on March 28!

Check out the numbers to see the collective impact of our Do Goodrs during the Yelp Helps volunteer campaign.  (there were additional hours not included at the time this infographic was released… Do Goodrs actually ended up doing OVER 1400 HOURS! Good job!  You all are rockstars!)

unnamed

We were so happy to get to meet Do Goodrs at Yelp Prom!

Note to all: If you didn’t already know, if you take photos of yourself and GoVoluntr shwag, or even better — with the GoVoluntr team, you’ll earn a special Paparazzi VPin!  Thanks for being awesome rockstars & we look forward to doing more good with you!

Work hard, play hard, GoVoluntr hardest!

Case Study: San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2013

[San Jose Jazz currently has open volunteer spots for Winter Fest 2014.  Check out their GoVoluntr profile here and register for Winter Fest!]

In 2012, Tracey Ferraro started her position as volunteer coordinator with San Jose Jazz, a small nonprofit of six staff members that hosts some of San Jose’s largest music festivals. Their banner event, Summer Fest, is the official jazz festival of San Jose, complete with a star studded lineup, 11 stages of live entertainment, and tens of thousands of festival goers. With such a small staff dedicated to coordinating and planning the event, they’re reliant on hundreds of volunteers to power the three day festival.

san-jose-jazz-summerfest

When Tracey inherited the event, volunteer recruitment consisted of antiquated software, complex spreadsheets, and lots of back-and-forth dialogue to fill spots. Tracey set out to bring San Jose Jazz into the modern age. Utilizing GoVoluntr’s positions and shifts feature, in tandem with some social media marketing assistance from the GoVoluntr team, Tracey’s initiative to digitize and streamline volunteer recruitment ended with staggering results.

“From June 1st to the first week of August, I averaged less than 20 hours a week on volunteer recruitment activities–an approximate 50% decrease from last year. I believe it is possible these hours could be reduced even further as I continue to streamline processes.”

And by saving herself a lot of time and hassle, she was able to delve into other critical tasks.

“With less time needed to focus on actual schedule creation, I was able to better-engage our Summer Fest volunteers; Hobee’s Pruneyard sponsored and hosted a Meet’n Greet, and we held two well-attended orientations. “

Not only was Tracey able to save time and reallocate resources, but using an online resource to source and manage her volunteers boosted her numbers. The outcome with GoVoluntr? 700 volunteers providing over 2500 hours of service. And since she used GoVoluntr all of her volunteers received recognition and rewards that didn’t cost SJ Jazz a single cent.

Want to learn more about how GoVoluntr can help you find and reward volunteers at no cost? Click here to get started. Learn more about San Jose Jazz by visiting their website.

sjjazz

Connecting with Millennial Do Goodrs

[ The following blog post is a summary and list of tips based on the 2012 Millennial Impact Report.  This is to help provide insight to nonprofits and other social good organizations looking to recruit and retain Millennial Do Goodrs ]

The 2012 Millennial Impact Report was released and the findings show that Millennials are engaged and want to act on that engagement. They want to give, they want to serve, they want to learn, and they want to teach. Millennial Do Goodrs can be the undiscovered talent that remain overlooked until they are connected with the right organizations and opportunities.

For non-profits the big question is, “How do we tap into that undiscovered talent and connect with our Millennial Do Goodrs?” The suggestions below will help you engage Millennials in their preferred methods.

The-Millennial-Impact-Report-2012-Key-Findings_0

CONNECT
When learning about a nonprofit, Millennials’ top preferences are: Website, Social Media, and E-Newsletter.

Website Tips:
• Make sure your website is user-friendly; becoming mobile-friendly can also be beneficial. Navigation should be seamless and information easily accessible.
• Make sure your organization’s mission statement is purposeful and succinct.
• Photos and images help show your stories instead of telling them.

Social Media Tips:
• Use each social media network for their intended purpose and play on each of their strengths. Scheduling auto-posts from one source to all your social networks can overlook relevant tagging, hashtags, and engagement with each networks’ users.
• Be genuine with the content you post and realize that engagement is more than just disseminating information. It’s about having an actual conversation or creating relationships with your audience.

E-Newsletter Tips:
• Make sure your newsletters are either informative or calling Do Goodrs to action. Be concise with your words.
• Use bulleted lists to summarize organization news and include upcoming events or volunteer opportunities. Including visuals and images can keep readers engaged to read on.
• Make sure you link back to your website in some way in order to help gain traffic.

INVOLVE
63% of Millennials volunteered in 2011 and 41% of them stated they would volunteer more in 2012. Of those, volunteers prefer short-term, ongoing, and intensive volunteer opportunities and a majority prefer to learn about volunteering through peers.

Tips to Increase Volunteer Involvement:
• Provide one-time and long-term volunteer opportunities (GoVoluntr just added this search option on our site! Make sure to select the proper options for your next event).
• Make sure you provide a wide array of opportunities and time frames. Even one hour helps make a difference. But make sure you are clear about the time commitment and duties.
• Put volunteers in a place they want to be and can utilize their talents. Volunteering isn’t just about what your organization needs, it’s about where can people’s skills can be most beneficial and where people can feel a connection. Show how each and every volunteer benefits the organization. Happy volunteers are returning volunteers!

GIVE
Although 47% of Millennials would give time and 16% would give money, 37% said they would give time AND money. Monetary gifts have potential to grow; 27% of respondents said they give larger amounts to a few organizations they care about. Recently, the trend of philanthropic crowdfunding sites have been growing.

You might want to check out a few philanthropic sites that put a twist on giving. They’re doing it and doing it right:

• Fundly

Givkwik

PhilAMthropy

Corduro

Listing Opportunities via XML

Today we’re going to talk about something a bit more techy than usual – because we have something exciting to announce: Opportunity data is now available from GoVoluntr in a XML feed! So what does this mean for those of you who are building web or mobile applications? Well it means you now have access to our database of volunteer opportunities in a format that you can use in your websites or applications. We’ve already been using this internally for building pages specific to zipcodes or certain organizations and now we’re ready to open it up to you.

We’re going to continue making more information available via XML and will be launching a guide on all the properties, but today I wanted to give you just a brief overview of how to begin using the feed to integrate into your projects. So, let’s create a page that pulls all the opportunities from a specific zipcode.

To get started, you may want to take a look at the raw feed. If you do this in a browser like Chrome or Safari, it could auto-format it for you too. The feed can be found at http://govoluntr.com/events.xml.

So, let’s import that feed into our file. I’m using php today, but really you could use any language you want.

   $opp = simplexml_load_file('https://govoluntr.com/events.xml');

Ok, so this line will pull the feed in and set it to a variable. Then we should put a simple foreach loop together that will go through each opportunity and pull out the details we want.

  foreach ($opp->VolunteerOpportunity as $event):
       $category=$event->Categories->Category->CategoryID;
     if ($zip=$event->Locations->Location->ZipOrPostalCode == 95134 || $zip=$event->Locations->Location->ZipOrPostalCode == 95110) {
         $id=$event->LocalID;
         $title=$event->Title;
         $address=$event->Locations->Location->Name;
          $zip=$event->Locations->Location->ZipOrPostalCode;
          $startdate=$event->OpportunityDates->StartDate;
          $enddate=$event->OpportunityDates->EndDate;
          $image=$event->LogoURL;
          $url=$event->DetailURL;
?>

Now you should also note that I am checking for certain zip codes before pulling the data. It’s this line right here:

if ($zip=$event->Locations->Location->ZipOrPostalCode == 95134 || $zip=$event->Locations->Location->ZipOrPostalCode == 94301)

You can of course filter by any of the properties and can have multiple if you wish as shown in this example. Great, so we’ve got the information parsed from the feed, now we just need to display it. You can, of course, display it in any format you’d like, but it would look something like this:

<div>
   <?php echo $startdate;
      if ($enddate != "") {
         echo " to " . $enddate;
   } ?>
</div>

Then, once you’ve set up the display for each opportunity, be sure to end your foreach loop.

endforeach; ?>

That’s it! Take a look at the feed to see what information is available and leave a comment below if you have any questions or requests for other data you want to see available through XML.

Keep doing good!

Kevin

 

Do Good, Be Good

Innov8Social asks our co-founder, Young Han, the vital questions about how well business and volunteering mix.

Find out what Young has to say when asked, “Do ‘social’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ mix—-or does it create more challenges for the social entrepreneur?”

Check out his live interview with Innov8Social here.

4 Tips for Volunteer Succession Planning

Summer is just getting underway and the Bay Area is buzzing with volunteer activity. This time of year the GoVoluntr team is continuously recruiting volunteers for some of the largest summertime events around – local 4th of July festivities, art and wine festivals, and music fests to name a few. I’m always impressed by the sheer number of Do Goodrs that are early to rise and lend a hand at these events, but I’ve got to give major props to the volunteer coordinators and planning committees that work tirelessly behind the scenes to bring the whole event together.

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Rookie Rugby with AYRU!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

Back in April, American Youth Rugby Union teamed up with USA Rugby and posted a “Rookie Rugby” volunteer event on GoVoluntr.  We blogged about AYRU back in November 2011 and were excited about this new type of volunteer opportunity.  This opportunity was to teach volunteers about rugby and a few practice drills in order for volunteers to go into schools and give PE demos to youth.

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