Communicating Your Launch and Program
- Goals, Objectives, and Reporting
- Getting the Word Out to Employees - Communications Plans
- Kick-Off Events
Best Practices and Storytelling
Part I, Getting Started
Who We Are
VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by connecting good people with good causes.
Our online services connect non-profit agencies with the volunteers they need, and volunteers with the causes that interest them the most. Over 100,000 agencies list their opportunities with us and since 1998 we have made over 13 million volunteer matches. Protecting the Earth, working to end poverty, helping the homeless—the list of ways to make an impact in the world is endless.
By working with us, your company commits to help employees make volunteering and service a part of their lives, tailored to the goals of your program, and the interests and skills of the volunteer.
Welcome. Let’s get started.
How It Works
We work with you to create a website that matches your branding, focus, culture and volunteerism values. Volunteers simply enter a location, keywords and/or interest area to find an opportunity and record their hours. Administrators and volunteer leaders engage and manage volunteers through the site's features.
Whether you want to keep it basic or create and communicate company-wide volunteering initiatives, our tools help you make it happen. We work with you to define your needs and then give you the tools to help you make your goals reality.
And not just because your employees are making a difference. With our tracking and reporting functions, you can measure the results of your efforts. Easy to use, comprehensive tools enable you to slice and dice the numbers that define when, where, and how often your users are volunteering. Plus, we give you detailed quarterly reports that include benchmark numbers, so you can see how your efforts stack up in the employee volunteering community.
You can’t do it alone. And we don’t want you to. We provide you with an assigned Client Relations Member, a closely monitored help desk, and a comprehensive help center to ensure the success of your program. Together, we create a plan to build, implement and communicate your project—before, during and after launch. And, if you choose, we help you develop a strategy to keep it relevant for the long-term.
Because if your objectives aren’t met, neither are ours.
Project Scope – Components of a Successful Program
Building something new is exciting, stimulating and fun. Overwhelming, daunting and scary don’t have to be part of the equation, too. It is our priority that your program is filled with success, optimism, and good experiences. Here are the ingredients needed to make that happen:
1. Well-Defined Goals And Objectives
Your company may have developed its giving and volunteering strategies and goals. Or you may just be getting started. Either way, you are best positioned for success if you start this project by defining where you want to go. This is a fundamental part of your process—and we’re here to help. More below in: “Goals, Objectives and Reporting.”
2. A Prelaunch Communications Plan and a Long-Term Communications Plan
You need both; the first to help you launch with a splash, and the second to keep your program fresh and sustainable. We sit down with you and your team to help you create plans for pre-launch, launch and the long-term. We offer samples, templates and this help center to make the development of the materials more straightforward. Then you and your team write, design and distribute the individual parts of the plan according to defined timing parameters. More below in: “Getting the Word out to Your Employees.”
3. A Great Kick-Off Event
Good news deserves to be marked with an occasion. By creating a dynamic event either onsite or online that communicates what is happening and why you are sending the message to your employees that this is something they want to know more about. There are lots of ways to do this, and they all have one thing in common: a good kick-off event provokes the interest, curiosity, and energy to learn more about doing good in the world. We help you with ideas. More below in: “Kick-off Events.”
4. A Smart, Engaging VolunteerMatch Website
A successful VolunteerMatch website should be prominently linked to your intranet and places online your employees go to access information. We work with you to create a site that reflects your company brand and culture. Stories, photos and opportunities invite your volunteers to take action–and you learn to keep it lively and fresh so that they keep on doing so. More below in: “How to Make Your Website Sing.”
Project Plan – Making it Happen
Your goals are defined and the components for success are clear. Together, we’re ready to get to work and create a great volunteer program. Here’s a high-level view of how that happens.
1. Create a Project Plan – Includes welcome meeting
- Discuss in detail your company’s volunteer initiatives and strategies.
- Share and define goals and objectives.
- Define roles and responsibilities.
- List what we need from you in order to start building your site (logo, subdomain name, data feed, IT feedback for SSO).
- Leave with an outlined plan including action steps, owners, and timing.
2. Build Site Infrastructure + Content – Includes site training
- You send us the pre-defined items we need (logo, subdomain names, screenshots, photoshop file for Gold branding).
- We create a stage site for your review.
- We go over the site together—show you how to use it, answer your questions, and note necessary changes and refinements.
- We go through a second round of edits and reviews, if necessary.
- The site is ready and content is added.
- A final round of edits and reviews as necessary.
3. Create and Execute Pre-Launch and Long-Term Communications Plans – Includes communications review meeting
- Together we discuss two detailed plans that will act as maps to create excitement prior to launch and keep the success going after the launch. We will provide you with ideas, samples, best practices, and templates. Plan to include your communications team to this meeting. You use your current methods of communication to share the news and information with employees about this new resource.
- Review communications channels: newsletter, email, internal website, voicemail, posters, presentations, etc.
- Define communications goals and objectives.
- Evaluate content and decide on messaging.
- Create Pre-Launch Plan: integrate content and delivery with a timeline and owners.
- Produce Long-Term Plan: integrate content and delivery with a timeline and owners.
- You and your team develop and distribute communications as reflected in these plans.
4. LAUNCH! Your site is ready to go live! You are ready with:
- Communication(s) decided upon in the plan.
- Resources for employees.
- Kick-off Event.
Part II, More On…
Goals, Objectives, and Reporting
By starting with specific goals, your program will be more robust. After all, when you start out on a journey, it’s good to know where you want to end up, and that affects all that you do along the way.
A few measurements to consider including in your objectives:
- Give x number of annual events.
- Engage x number of departments in team building opportunities.
- Roll out x number of communications (remember your Long-Term Plan!).
- Number of non-profits impacted.
- Volunteer hours; total and per employee.
- Percentage of employees participating.
Getting the Word Out To Employees
Knowledge is power. And the more your employees know about your volunteer program the more effective it will become.
Key your success are two communication plans—your Pre-Launch Communications Plan and your Long-Term Communications Plan. Both outline the means, content, and timing of your messages to employees. They help define your process and keep you on track so you meet the goals you’ve outlined.
So get the word out–before, during and especially after your launch. Here are ideas to consider including in both of your plans:
- Create a main call to action and use it in a variety of messages to bring the program forward in different ways. Stories, nonprofit partners, group benefits, company goals, upcoming campaigns and projects, employee recognition, etc. Make it real, make it human, and people will engage.
- Remember your defined goals and objectives and state them at the top of your plans. Each action item you include should point directly towards your goals.
- Define existing communication channels in your company and provide the content owners with concise, snappy descriptions of your program and the call to action to join. Newsletters, emails, payroll stubs, social media, your intranet (more on this later) are good places to start.
- Create new, creative communications avenues to round out your plans–postcards, business cards, inter-office memos, internal press releases, lobby kiosk, etc.
- Define internal stakeholders whose support could make the most impact and do what it takes to get their support. Presentations, meetings, concise marketing materials can all be effective.
- Make sure you consider all levels of your company—hourly, entry-level, management, and executive–and create communications that target and include everyone. Target Human Resources staff, and encourage them to view volunteerism as a way for employees to develop skills outside of the office.
- Communications from key executives–emails, voicemails, and letters are a powerful way to make sure employees hear the message.
- Gain traction early on by asking for a few minutes at different department meetings to present the program.
- People love free stuff. Create and distribute giveaways—magnets, key chains, post its—that are branded with VolunteerMatch information and a call to action. Make sure you build in specific ways for these products to make it from the box into the hands of future volunteers.
- QuickStart your employees. By pre-creating accounts, employees no longer need to visit the site and self-register. Instead, they receive a custom email announcing the site and your program and simply click a provided link to verify their information.
- Links to the VolunteerMatch site should be inserted liberally into your internal website. Calendar of events, bulletin boards, home page—links put your employees a click away from engagement.
- Send monthly or quarterly emails to all employees that include information about the service, projects, and specific organizations that need help. Make it real.
- Whenever you can, tell stories about employees. Boast about the impact that your employees have made on the causes they are involved with and the differences that specific organizations make. Stories are the currency of the heart and they illustrate the connections between us all—the whole point of this work!
- Webcast! Especially effective if you can enlist a key executive to appear and promote.
- Kiosk! A permanent kiosk that features your VolunteerMatch site at the entrance or lobby of your building is a daily reminder to your employees, visitors, and clients that your company is committed to social change.
- Events create team building, camaraderie, and pride. Work closely with department heads to arrange fun, engaging, special events to promote specific campaign or non-profits.
A kick-off event sends the message that your company values the Employee Volunteer Program. First impressions count—and people are attracted to what’s fresh and new. This is your first and best opportunity to connect with your team members and invite them to step into a new relationship with giving.
The event you hold can run the gamut—just keep in mind your objective to rouse a lively interest in what is being offered to your employees: the chance to change lives...including their own.
Here are some ideas to make a great impression:
- Use an actual volunteer event as the kick-off announcement. Organize a food drive, collect warm clothing, or put together back-to-school backpacks for disadvantaged youth.
- Make it a celebration! Set up tables in the lobby or cafeteria and serve ice-cream sundaes.
- Emblazon the bowls with the VolunteerMatch URL (on the outside!) so that after the ice cream is gone, the bowls can be used on desks for paperclips, rubber bands, etc.
- Organize a team of stakeholders to sweep through every department with balloons, promotional items, and a great looking invitation for every team member.
- Set up a coffee table in the morning and send your co-workers to their desks with warm coffee in a really great mug (with the link inscribed of course). Have collateral or other promotional items as well—and don’t forget to communicate a short, sweet and heartfelt
description of the program as you hand over that cup of joe.
Whatever you do, be sure to:
- Communicate your enthusiasm
- Provide plenty of collateral and promotional materials
- Follow up your event with an email invitation that includes a signup link
- Consider a kiosk at the event and permanently in the lobby of another central location to show how it works.
Part III, Best Practices and Storytelling
How to Make Your Website Sing (Or At Least Whistle a Tune)
The presence of your Volunteer Program on the company intranet is your direct link to employees. It has to be hip, relevant, appealing and clear. It’s a virtual garden, and it is up to you to plant and tend it.
Here are some ways to make that happen.
- Make sure that there is a PROMINENT LINK to your VolunteerMatch site on the homepage of your internal website. It can be a direct link, or we can provide a search widget so that employees can enter their location right on your homepage and get a list of opportunities right off the bat. Instant gratification.
- Photos and images are key—in the 12 nanoseconds you have to capture the reader’s attention, a photo communicates that a human story is there—not just dry technical information.
- Deliver the goods—stories. Short, sweet and snappy stories about people. How volunteering at a homeless shelter changed the way Linda in Accounting looked at the people she saw out the bus window every morning. What John in Legal saw in the eyes of his children when they reprioritized their spending money so they could Adopt-A-Family during the holidays. (And you didn’t even know John HAD four children!) Stories—they’re all around us. Use them to invite your co-workers to create some of their own.
- Feature and celebrate specific non-profit organizations supported by your company.
- Keep your homepage information and news up to date—put it in your calendar to create new content weekly.
- Create and prominently feature special events and company sponsored opportunities.
- Invite employees and department heads to volunteer as a team—show them how to select “Great for Groups” when searching for opportunities. This is an incomparable way to build trust and connection within teams of people working together. Good for everyone… including the bottom line.
Extra, Extra: Stories That Inspire
Stories are everywhere—each time that one of your employees volunteer, they are building a narrative that could inspire another handful of employees to get engaged. The question is: how do you collect these stories? And more importantly, how do you use them to inspire others to get involved?
Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Create an annual award for volunteerism! Have individuals nominate a stellar volunteering coworker. In the nomination form, collect information about what makes the volunteer inspirational—ask for a powerful moment, why they get involved, what motivates them, etc.
- Distribute a survey. You’ll get a snapshot of what percentage of your employees volunteer and what they are most interested in. Plus, you’ll have the chance to collect interesting stories.
- Display monthly volunteer profiles on your VolunteerMatch website—encourage your employees to submit their stories. Everybody loves to be in the spotlight!
- Using your VolunteerMatch site, ask questions during hours tracking that collect small stories about their experiences. This way, you’re not just getting data, you know who to call for some great stories.
- Challenge your departments to be creative. Give them each a volunteering challenge such as “Brainstorm and plan an environmentally-inspired project.” Require that the team reports back on how they made it into a project. You can define your program and still leave room for creativity.
- Every time a department or team holds a volunteer event, ask them to send photos and a few paragraphs about the experience. Post the stories in your news section so others can see what they’re doing!
- Ask your nonprofit partners to tell their story—interview them, or have them write a thank you letter or a short article for you to share with the company.
- For a larger event, hire a camera crew to come in and shoot footage. Add in a quick clip of your executives talking about the importance of volunteering and cut it down to a short video to post on your intranet.
However you collect and tell your tales, remember that the human connection makes people want to give back. Get inspiring stories out there and your program will prosper.
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