Most high school students and those already in the workforce understand the importance
of volunteer experience on their resumes when interviewing for a job. In fact, a 2016 Deloitte Impact Survey found that 82% of over 2500+ hiring managers prefer candidates who have volunteering experience. After spending a week interviewing high school students for a summer internship position, I noticed one striking commonality among nearly all of their resumes: each candidate listed substantial volunteer experience, but it was hidden among seemingly less important extracurricular activities. When I started to dig deeper with each candidate during the interview, many had interesting experiences in their volunteer work that correlate well to the business world, but these experiences were not well conveyed simply through the formatting on their resumes. So how do those new to the work force effectively write about volunteering on their resume?
Oftentimes, people who are new to the work force think that volunteer experience should be separate from work experience on their resumes. They decide to list it generally within their extra-curricular activities, and it becomes perceived by the interviewer as something you might have participated in a couple of times along with your other clubs and hobbies. However, you should use your volunteer experience to highlight the skills that you have. Your volunteer experience can go in your experience section, or if your work experience section is lengthy, then you can list it in its own dedicated volunteer-work section. If you are going to list your volunteer experience in your experience section, try your best to not list every single volunteer experience you have in that section. Rather, chose to list those opportunities that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. If your volunteer experiences aren’t relevant to the job you’re applying for, you should list them in a separate section labeled “volunteer experience”.
Once you have decided which section your volunteer work will go, you can use the general job description formatting that you would use in a work experience section. Here is an example:
While having volunteer experience is necessary for a resume, what is even more critical is displaying the work that you did as a volunteer in a way that shows the type of worker you are. This can be extremely beneficial for high school students as it is likely that they might have more volunteer experience than work experience. When you format your volunteer experiences the same way that you would your work experiences, it shows that you take every position seriously. This simple tip can separate you from the rest of your peers interviewing for the same position.
Most nonprofit organizations have come to understand the value of social media. These platforms enable you to share an inside look at what your nonprofit is doing and the mission you are serving. Social media is also a tool that can be utilized to increase your donor base and to connect with more volunteers. Many nonprofit organizations are increasing their engagement on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even TikTok, but they are missing out on arguably one of the most important ones: LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the world; there are over 690 million active members across the entire globe. The purpose of LinkedIn as a professional networking site is to help people make business connections, share their experiences and resumes, and learn from thought leaders across various industries in the business world. LinkedIn is similar to other popular social media platforms in the sense that it has a continuous feed of content, but LinkedIn’s content centers around business rather than personal matters. What also differentiates LinkedIn from other social media platforms is that less than 1% of users are posting content to their LinkedIn pages on a regular basis. This means that LinkedIn is not oversaturated with content like many platforms are. While most nonprofits maintain a social media strategy on Instagram and Facebook, their strategy undervalues the benefits of utilizing a professional networking platform that can help make connections with prospective partners while also communicating their mission to the greater business world.
LinkedIn is a valuable tool for nonprofit organizations because your content is more likely to be seen, but it is also more likely to be seen by the right people. According to research on the platform’s users, LinkedIn members are 56% more likely than the average internet user to donate to charities. This means that being active on LinkedIn allows you to connect with people who likely have disposable income and are more inclined to contribute their time or money than the average user on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Because LinkedIn is underutilized by many nonprofits, now is the time to start prioritizing the platform in your social media strategy to give yourself an edge from the rest of the competition. Here are some tips for how to work LinkedIn in the best way to get visibility for your nonprofit.
Having spent the last year working at a non-profit organization, I know first hand the importance of donors and volunteers - these are the people that make it all happen. Not only do they provide the funding and resources to continue to drive the mission, but they bring a passion and energy that ignites my colleagues and I. In the midst of trying to grow an organization, many leaders of nonprofits get so busy with other things and they forget to prioritize their relationships with their donors and volunteers. A strong relationship with the people who donate their time and money to help your nonprofit is vital to the growth and longevity of your organization.
So how can you strengthen your relationship with your donors and volunteers? First, you need to understand what motivates your donors and volunteers and what does not. Why do these people spend their time or give a significant amount of money to your organization?
At large, people donate to or volunteer at nonprofit organizations because doing good makes them feel good. Scientific studies have actually proven that generosity stimulates dopamine, which creates similar brain activity in the regions connected to the experience of pleasure and reward. However, other things contribute to this want to donate time and money. Oftentimes, your donors and volunteers are mission-driven; they see the need for the work of your nonprofit in their community, and they feel compelled to help. Other times, donors and volunteers have a personal connection to your cause; For example, if your nonprofit organization supports cancer research, maybe a donor or volunteer has been touched personally by the devastating disease and that is why they feel compelled to help.
On the flip-side, it is important to determine the reasoning as to why donors and volunteers stop giving their time and money. The number one reason why donors stop giving is because they do not know how their money is being used. If someone decides to donate a significant amount of money to your organization, they want to know that it is being used to serve the mission. In fact, a study from the Millennial Impact Report claimed that 77% of donors would be likely to stop giving to a nonprofit if they did not feel like the donation was making an impact. Transparency is key, so make sure that your nonprofit organization is sharing where exactly the donor’s money is going.
So what are some ways you can build and maintain your relationship with your donor and volunteer base? Here are a few ideas:
1. Say THANK YOU - Write a handwritten thank you note to your donors and volunteers. While it may be a small gesture, a handwritten note can go a long way. Make sure your donors know that you appreciate their time and contributions.
2. Utilize Social Media - Social Media is a powerful tool that should be used by all nonprofit organizations. Use different platforms to showcase the awesome things your organization is doing. If donors and volunteers want transparency to where their money is going, then use the power of social media to show photos and videos of what your organization is up to.
3. Ask your donors and volunteers questions - Your donor and volunteer base obviously care about your organization, so give them the opportunity to provide their insight into what they think your organization could be doing better or ways that you could improve.
Most importantly though, remember that your donors and volunteers are more than just a name on a check and a participant in a charitable activity; they see the vision of your mission and they want your nonprofit organization to succeed. Author Tom Ahern said it best: “Donors are not ATM machines. I don't think successful fundraising is about keeping the staff paid and the lights burning. It’s far more about giving your donors a vivid sense that they’re changing the world.”
Corporate Social Responsibility has become an increasingly contentious debate throughout the business world. Should businesses focus solely on scaling to drive profits? Or do businesses have a moral obligation to better their communities?
If you are unfamiliar with the term, Corporate Social Responsibility is defined as a self-regulating business model that helps a company to be socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. CSR ensures that a company is operating in a way that enhances society and the environment rather than contributing negatively to it. Businesses and corporations can engage in CSR by giving their employees opportunities to volunteer, implementing environmentally safe processes, or by sponsoring a nonprofit organization.
While this may seem surprising, there is a camp of people who do not think Corporate Social Responsibility is necessary for companies; most notably in this camp is Milton Friedman. Milton Friedman is a famous economist and staunch advocate of free market capitalism. Friedman’s view on Corporate Social Responsibility is most evident in his famous New York Times article titled “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.” Milton was vehemently opposed to the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility as he believed that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays in the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition, without deception or fraud.” Friedman argues that the sole focus of business owners and executives should be to provide their shareholders with an increasing return on investment - anything besides this is a waste of time and a detriment to the business. Ultimately, Friedman believed that companies who prioritize CPS will be negatively impacted as shareholders will tend to avoid investing in companies that act socially responsible.
Friedman’s views have received fierce opposition from many throughout the business world. Contrary to Friedman’s economic driven model of CSR, the socioeconomic model argues that corporations and businesses are morally obligated to contribute positively to society. The backbone of the socioeconomic school of thought comes from the Iron Law of Responsibility: “In the long run, those who do not use power in a manner that society considers responsible will tend to lose it.” Milton Friedman wildly undervalued the benefits of CSR as the socioeconomic camp is backed up by significant data that shows that corporations who participate and prioritize Corporate Social Responsibility excel over those who don't. For example, a survey of over 30,000 people from NielsenIQ states that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible companies.
This approach to Corporate Social Responsibility has a number of positive implications for companies. First off, a commitment to CSR often leads to increased employee satisfaction. Prioritizing Corporate Social Responsibility shows your employees that you care about the greater community. Through volunteering or sponsoring a non-profit organization, a sense of camaraderie can be built among your employees in the sense that they are working toward something greater than the company and its profits. Secondarily, a byproduct of CSR is a favorable public image. Through social media and public relations, a company's public image can be either a positive or negative asset to a business. By committing to Corporate Social Responsibility, your company will develop a favorable public image that will only help build the brand. Third, CSR leads to increased customer loyalty. Customers are more likely to be loyal to your brand if your corporate values align with their personal ones.
There are a number of companies that have placed an emphasis on CSR and it has added tremendous value to their company. For example, the LEGO Group invested $400 million in September of 2020 to support their social responsibility and sustainability efforts. The company recently signed an agreement to set up its first-ever carbon neutral plant in Vietnam. Additionally, the LEGO Group announced that the LEGO Foundation has committed to a three-year partnership with UNICEF that will invest $2.5 million in providing resources to community based family support programs.
When a corporation makes an honest effort to better themselves and the surrounding community, it adds tremendous value to the company. Triangles Cares is a resource for businesses and corporations in the Triangle area to enhance their Corporate Social Responsibility. Triangle Cares offers opportunities for businesses to work with nonprofits, whether it be by physically mobilizing employees to volunteer throughout the community, or by donating to a specific nonprofit organization. If you think your company needs to step up your commitment to the community, check out our website for more information.
Does your non-profit have SMART goals?
Brian Tracy once said, “A goal without a plan is merely a dream.” Goal setting is an important practice to help people grow in their personal and professional life. Many people set goals, but oftentimes lack a strategy to help them achieve those goals. That’s where SMART goals come into play. SMART is an acronym that can help guide you through your goal setting process. The purpose of SMART goals are to help clarify what you want to achieve, focus your efforts, utilize your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of success. Because nonprofit organizations are created with the goal of serving a particular mission, SMART goals are an effective strategy for nonprofits to achieve these goals to better serve their mission.
So what does SMART stand for?
In order to demonstrate how SMART goals are an effective strategy for nonprofit organizations, let’s use Backpack Buddies as an example moving forward. Backpack Buddies is a Wake County based program from the Inner Faith Food Shuttle designed to provide children experiencing food insecurity with nutritious, kid-friendly, pre-packed meals for the weekend.
Your goal should be SPECIFIC.
Your goal should be detailed and precise. The specificity should explain what exactly your nonprofit is hoping to achieve to help serve your mission.
Currently, Backpack Buddies serves a limited amount of schools in the Wake County school district; however, a specific goal for this organization could be to expand their reach to offer the Backpack Buddies program to all of the schools in the Wake County system.
Your goal should be MEASURABLE.
Your goal should be measurable so that you can evaluate your progress and stay accountable.
Backpack Buddies serves 20 schools in the Wake County School System. In order to serve more schools, Backpack Buddies can have a measurable goal of increasing their outreach by adding two additional schools each month.
Your goal should be ATTAINABLE.
Your goal should be attainable so that you are setting your non-profit up for success. Sometimes, people and organizations set unrealistic goals and ultimately set themselves up for failure. When considering goals for your nonprofit, you need to be ambitious while also being realistic with the resources and capabilities that your organization currently has.
The team at Backpack buddies must decide if this is an attainable goal for the organization. Do we have the resources and volunteers necessary to add 2 schools to our program each month?
Your goal should be RELEVANT.
Your goal should complement and align itself with the priorities of your organization.
Another question the Inner Faith Food Shuttle must consider is: Is the timing right? Does this align with our broader mission?
Your goal should be TIME BOUND.
Your goal should have a target date so that you have something to work toward and a deadline to keep you on track.
For example: By the end of 2022, Backpack Buddies will serve over 30 schools in the Wake County school system ensuring that hundreds of students are provided with food over the weekends.
As the summer approaches and more people have more time for volunteering, non-profit organizations can benefit from meeting collectively as a team to reevaluate their goals. SMART goal setting is a practice that can help enhance and refocus your vision as a non-profit organization. Goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound will help to guide your organization to milestones in your mission of serving the community.
When I graduated from Boston College in May 2021, I, like many other recent graduates, was unsure of the career path I wanted to pursue. As I attempted to navigate this unmapped journey, I began volunteering at Durham Nativity School, an independent all-boys private school in downtown Durham serving low-income students in grades 5 through 8 with the mission of “provid[ing] an excellent education for young men, empowering them to make a difference in the world.” I hoped that my time spent volunteering at DNS would offer me some sort of direction in deicing what career path I wanted to choose. As it turns out, it did. I so enjoyed my time volunteering, and in turn, I took a job at the school as the Student Life Coordinator.
My experience at DNS thus far has been nothing short of incredible. Through small class sizes and an extended school day, I have been lucky enough to get to know each student: they tell me about their story, hobbies, passions, and life at home. My biggest take away has been that although these kids are under-privileged; many of them from single parent households, 88% on the federal meal assistance program, and many whose parents work multiple jobs to try and make ends meet, they are just kids at heart. They love to play, to joke around with one another, to learn, to be creative, to sing and dance. Yet, while these students are just like every other child, they lack the resources and support system necessary to succeed in school and beyond. DNS aims to provide these resources and support system and does so through the establishment of a strong relationship with the student and family.
What differentiates Durham Nativity School from other private middle schools is that when a student enrolls at DNS, a long-term relationship begins and will last well beyond the middle school years. During 8th grade, the Director of Graduate Support guides each student through the high school application process. In addition, DNS assists in any gaps in high school scholarship and tuition that the family may be unable to afford. Upon graduation from middle school, DNS helps with the transition to high school, monitors their progress, and acts as a supportive resource for each student during uncertain times. This relationship between the school and the students then continues throughout the transition to college and beyond. Durham Nativity School even offers career coaching and mentorship for DNS alumni after graduation from college. DNS has incredibly high success rates where 95% of students attend private preparatory high schools and 91% of graduates from DNS (the vast majority of whom are first generation college students) go to college.
Durham Nativity School is similar to other non-profits in the sense that the school needs volunteers to enhance the learning experience and support the mission of DNS, but does not have the time or resources for community outreach. That’s where Triangle Cares comes into play.
So how can you volunteer at Durham Nativity School?
1. Become a tutor - commit to coming to the school each week to provide 1 on 1 assistance to the boys who need help in subjects they may struggle with.
2. Donate school supplies and sports equipment - DNS is always appreciative of these kinds of items to make sure the students have everything they need in the classroom and on the sports field.
3. Become a counselor at the Summer Reading Camp - Each summer, DNS holds a summer reading camp to make sure the boys stay caught up to their grade reading level and to provide support to the students' parents who need someone to watch their children as they work.
4. Volunteer as a club mentor - Is there a certain sport or niche that you are passionate about? DNS is looking to grow its selection of extracurricular clubs to enhance the learning experience, so commit to coming once a week to teach the boys.
DNS is often referred to by the head of school, Mr. Vince Vincent, as a hidden gem in Durham; his goal is to make DNS a more well-known organization throughout the community and beyond. Triangle Cares can assist in achieving this goal by bringing volunteers, awareness, and excitement to such an amazing organization in the triangle. By volunteering at DNS, you can be a part of inspiring, motivating, and pushing these students to their full potential as leaders of the next generation.
What is an unlimited resource that nonprofits are always looking to acquire and increase in amount? Volunteers! Volunteers are the most valuable element of community service, and nonprofit organizations are constantly searching for ways to improve their community outreach to recruit more individuals. Sometimes, however, volunteers can be a difficult commodity to come by; during busier times of the year, it is difficult for organizations to get in touch with potential volunteers. Fortunately, there are many strategies for nonprofits to utilize in order to improve volunteer recruitment. Here are four ways for nonprofit organizations to effectively enhance their recruitment tactics:
Community service is an environment built on interpersonal relationships, emotional understanding, honesty, and diligence. Nonprofit organizations that recognize this and strive to build stronger connections with their volunteers will experience successful volunteer recruitment in no time!
Securing a corporate sponsorship is a mutually beneficial opportunity for both businesses and nonprofits. Not only do businesses provide financial and social support for nonprofit organizations, but companies gain a valuable boost in their brand.
While most commonly utilized for financial benefit, a corporate sponsorship also raises awareness for the cause of the nonprofit, and boosts both volunteer numbers and overall visibility and credibility. Choosing a business to approach for a sponsorship may seem daunting for any nonprofit, but searching locally is a great start. A company likes to see the immediate impacts of their giving, and a local business can remain more in touch with the nonprofit and its cause. Looking for a corporate partner that aligns with your nonprofit’s mission is essential, and can lead to forming an established and meaningful connection.
Consumers want socially responsible businesses, and a business can look more appealing with corporate sponsorships. Aligning a brand with a cause allows a company to increase profitability while bettering society and working to be more transparent and responsible. Giving back in the workplace engages employees and increases productivity, and a corporate-nonprofit partnership is attractive to workers who want to feel connected to their community.
Holding the top spot of listed corporate sponsors, Wells Fargo offers both volunteer grants and matching gifts, sponsoring 2.89% of nonprofit organizations in the US. Stating they were motivated to “address complex societal issues,” Wells Fargo provides financial stability by “serving and supporting those in need throughout the United States (Wells Fargo Community Giving Page).”
The Allstate Foundation emphasizes partnerships with both national organizations and local nonprofits in the form of grants, to “create innovative, long-term solutions for those in need (Allstate Foundation), and matches employee donations 1:1.
So how can a nonprofit acquire corporate sponsorships? Simply ask! Once you have done sufficient research on possible partners that match the mission of the nonprofit, explain to a prospective partner the contributions your nonprofit can offer and show interest in bringing value to the partnership. It is important to remember, though, to maintain the relationships you have cultivated by continuing to recognize and work with your sponsor, so that both parties are able to reap the benefits of the partnership.
Shaped and influenced by the culture and societal structures of their times, each generation has their own unique set of values, beliefs, and motivations. The variations in each generations’ mindsets promote differences in the workplace, online, and even in community service. When it comes to volunteering, each generation has different schedules, abilities, and values, which influences the types of service opportunities that they will pursue. There are currently five generations that can volunteer: The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.
The Silent Generation: Born from 1928 to 1945, the twenty-three million remaining members of the Silent Generation in America value resilience, determination, tradition, and work ethic. Growing up during the Great Depression, as well as through two World Wars, members of the Silent Generation learned the importance of self-sacrifice and selflessness. When volunteering, the Silent Generation prefers to have an organized work structure managed by a clear figure of authority. Patient and loyal, Silents will remain with an organization for years, dedicating themselves to its mission. To best engage a member of the Silent Generation in a volunteer opportunity, make sure to remind them that their work is appreciated and valued.
Baby Boomers: Born from 1946 to 1964, the Baby Boomer generation is the most career-driven of the generations. They value ambition, commitment, and prosperity, and to them, volunteering is seen as a career path opportunity. When volunteering, Baby Boomers like to network, forming new personal relationships, and they are known to apply common business practices to their service work. Because they are so career-driven, Baby Boomers appreciate when nonprofits are collaborative, goal-oriented, and efficient. To best engage a member of the Baby Boomer Generation in a volunteer opportunity, make sure to emphasize the mission of the nonprofit and how they are working to better the community.
Generation X: Born from 1965 to 1980, Generation X is currently the smallest of the five generations; however, they are statistically the most likely to participate in volunteering. Valuing independence, ingenuity, and flexibility, Generation X is not afraid to take on new responsibilities in the workplace. Like the generation before them, Generation X sees volunteering like a business and applies their career skills into service. They appreciate volunteer opportunities that grant them the freedom to participate when and how they please. To best engage a member of Generation X, make sure the volunteer experience is both personal and efficient, allowing individuals to feel highly accomplished when they are finished.
Millennials: Born from 1981 to 1996, Millennials are the largest of the five generations, outnumbering even the Baby Boomers at nearly eighty-three million individuals. They value honesty, compassion, and social activity, and, because they grew up with the internet, they are very technologically knowledgeable. When it comes to volunteering, Millennials care most about the mission of the nonprofit organization; to fully connect with a nonprofit, they need to understand the cause and impact of the volunteer work. To best engage a member of the Millennial generation, make sure that the volunteer work is meaningful for them, and make sure that there are group service opportunities available.
Generation Z: Lastly, born from 1997 to 2012, Generation Z is the youngest and most diverse generation. Growing up completely surrounded by technology, Generation Z finds importance in social media as a way of connecting with people in their community, as well as around the world. Members of Generation Z value respect, honesty, and equity, and, similarly to Millennials, they expect a nonprofit organization to be transparent with them about their mission. Because Generation Z is still young, it is difficult to determine the most effective ways in engaging them in volunteer opportunities. However, many nonprofits have observed how Generation Z connects with nonprofits through social media, using the platforms to donate or show support.
Overall, the different generations all have contrasting values, and this is important to take into consideration in the world of nonprofits. Volunteering may be a unique experience for everyone, but there are many noticeable patterns in the mannerisms of the five age demographics. To achieve an optimal level of volunteering recruits, nonprofits should look to incorporate as many of the generations’ values into their mission as possible, ensuring that everyone will be satisfied with their service work.
In the current socio-economic climate of the nation, which has been influenced heavily by the pandemic, many businesses and organizations have faced difficulty in filling their employee positions. Nonprofits are no different; in recent years, nonprofit organizations have not had a substantial number of volunteers to perform all of their necessary service responsibilities. In order to maintain a strong community, it is imperative that we, as potential volunteers, find a way to break this vicious cycle of understaffing.
According to the National Council of Nonprofits, there are a variety of reasons why nonprofit organizations have had an increase in vacant volunteer positions lately. Almost eighty percent of nonprofits identified salary competition as the critical factor that impeded satisfactory employment rates within their organizations. Additionally, twenty-three percent of nonprofits announced that the reason why they were struggling with recruitment was because potential volunteers were unable to find child care; therefore, they were unable to find an opportunity to serve. Another nineteen percent of nonprofit organizations claimed that vaccination policies had diminished their volunteer staffing, and organizations stated a variety of other affecting factors, such as “burnout,” government workplace policies, and the appeal of remote working.
The detrimental effects of these factors are present in the statistics of volunteer vacancies of nonprofits nationwide. Overall, sixteen percent of nonprofits have observed that thirty percent or more of their positions remain vacant, and another twenty-six percent stated that they have observed job vacancies between twenty and twenty-nine percent. With so few volunteers, nonprofits begin to slip into what is known as the “Nonprofit Starvation Cycle.” Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) determines that this cycle is produced when a nonprofit is subject to too high expectations while simultaneously spending too little on overhead and infrastructure. In this volunteer recession, nonprofit organizations are spending ever less on overhead, placing the nonprofit in financial jeopardy. This makes it much more difficult for them to fulfill their mission and help their community, which undermines the very nature of the nonprofit.
There are solutions that nonprofits and volunteers alike can take to aid this troubling situation. The National Council of Nonprofits suggests that nonprofit organizations engage directly with funders in order to “embrace the need for a cultural and systemic shift in attitudes about the values of the services charitable nonprofits provide.” They also recommend that nonprofits listen to marginalized communities in order to best determine how to utilize their resources to benefit the community, even when they are in a volunteer shortage. Lastly, nonprofit organizations are urged to restore the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) to extend and improve the employee incentive in 2022. In terms of volunteers, the best way to help out is simple: volunteer. If you are able and willing to serve your community, search for a volunteer opportunity that suits your interests.
At Triangle Cares, we provide dozens of nonprofit opportunities in the Triangle area that are always in need of new volunteers. On our website, you can browse these options in order to find an organization whose mission you personally connect with.