Tag Archives: Nashville nonprofit

Six new GeekCause Starter Kits make it easy for nonprofits to tackle tech questions

Jason Shelton, HON’s Skilled Volunteerism Program Manager

This month Hands On Nashville’s GeekCause program launches its Starter Kit projects meant to help nonprofits get started assessing and maximizing their tech usage and skills. Jason Shelton, our Skilled Volunteerism Program Manager, answered some questions about the Starter Kits and how they can help any agency with any budget. 

Q: What are GeekCause Starter Kits and how do they differ from other projects?  

A: We came up with the idea for GeekCause Starter Kits because so many of our nonprofit community partners have no idea where to start when it comes to improving their engagement with technology. We wanted to give our partners an easy way to engage with the program and our incredible GeekCause volunteers, on topics we know every partner needs to be thinking about at regular intervals.  

We think Starter Kit projects will lead partners to ask better questions, which in turn will lead to more specific projects that will make a huge difference in each organization’s capacity to fulfill their missions. Less time spent fighting with tech that doesn’t work for you means more time engaging in direct service! 

Q: Why are these six specific types of projects in the Starter Kit menu?  

A: The Starter Kit covers the basics that every organization needs to be thinking about every few years. As your organization grows and your needs change, you probably find that the technology platforms that used to work well for you are starting to fall short.  

  • Do you have a complete picture of the hardware and software your organization is using? And a plan to replace/upgrade your tech? An IT Assessment is key to not getting caught off guard when your tech inevitably becomes out of date.  
  • Nonprofits are often easy targets for hackers and spammers looking to sow chaos. Have you had a security review recently? How are you protecting your data – especially your donor’s data?  
  • Maybe your website that was pretty great five years ago is looking a little dated, or just isn’t up to standards when it comes to performance and accessibility.  
  • Perhaps you’re looking for ways to present data for grants and funders but the process for getting it together is simply taking too many hours of staff time.  
  • And where does that data come from? Excel sheets and notebook paper might have been just fine when your organization was starting out, but now you’re wondering if there’s a database solution that’s right for your needs (and your budget!).  
  • Social media is key to staying engaged with the communities we serve, and it’s changing all the time. A social media strategy review will help you keep up.  

Q: Say an organization is interested in the Database/CRM Review Starter Kit. What will that process look and feel like for the organization? 

A: All GeekCause projects start with a consultation call. The nonprofit partner fills out a simple form on the hon.org site, and indicates that they want to do a Database/CRM Review. We’ll set up a call to talk through your organization’s needs, get a clear snapshot of the scope of the project, and get to work finding a GeekCause volunteer who’s a good fit for the project.  

Once the volunteer is on board we set up a kickoff call, and the volunteer and the nonprofit make a plan for their work. Volunteers vary widely in their availability, so having a plan for engagement is key to meeting everyone’s expectations and timeline. The volunteer then does a thorough review of current data tracking processes, assesses areas for possible improvement, and does the necessary research to come back with suggestions for solutions that fit the organization’s needs and budget.  

If that process leads to another project (like maybe having volunteer help to implement a new database solution and migrate old data into the new system), then we can talk about setting that up as a new, custom implementation project.  

Q: What if an organization isn’t sure whether the Starter Kit projects are a good fit for them? 

A: Send me an email and we can explore that! Starter Kit projects are really just that — a place to start. But if you’re ready for something more we’re excited to talk with you about that, too. Just choose Custom Project on the Consultation Request form, and tell us a little more about what you have in mind. We’ll go from there! 

2020 volunteerism by the numbers

In spite of — and because of — all the challenges of 2020, Nashville volunteers made a strong showing in 2020. The numbers below reflect a community that shows up for its neighbors. We are grateful for you. See you in 2021!  

OVERVIEW 

Volunteers who signed up to serve: 52,000+ 

New hon.org volunteer registrations: 34,000+ 

Projects on the calendar: 6,600+ 

Virtual or remote projects: 440+ 

New long-term or flexibly scheduled projects: 160+ 

Economic value volunteers created for community partners: $2.29 million 

SKILLS-BASED AND LONG-TERM SERVICE 

• HON placed 23 AmeriCorps members at 13 local nonprofits for a yearlong term of service. 

• HON’s GeekCause volunteers completed 24 tech projects, which saved our community partners $169,773

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT 

• The corporate engagement team enlisted 1,265 volunteers who donated 6,100+ hours of their time to support 13 local nonprofits. 

• Several employee teams utilized new at-home and kit-based project models to create 5,000+ care packages for teachers, students, veterans, individuals experiencing homelessness, and seniors. Those at-home projects allowed many to engage their families in their volunteer activities.

DISASTER RESPONSE   

• Individuals who signed up to help with disaster relief: 35,000+ 

• Individuals who volunteered at a disaster-relief project (some many times): 11,200+  

• Disaster-relief projects completed since March: 2,300+ 

Resolve to Serve Stories: Nonprofit Committee Opportunities

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at a nonprofit.

Fundraising, marketing, programming, outreach — all fueling the important business of serving clients and meeting needs in the community.

To make it all work, some Nashville nonprofits look to volunteers for help as committee members. These folks get a seat at the table — literally — to carve out the direction of the nonprofit and its programs.

Mary Margaret Randall, CEO of One Voice Nashville, says committee volunteers are crucial to OVN’s success and growth.

“We’re just two years old as a nonprofit,” Randall says. “The committees really do help expand our reach. They help us think through strategically how we can grow as an organization.”

Randall notes that many people with nine-to-five job commitments find committee membership works well with their schedule. OVN committees meet once a month for an hour, then individuals can work independently on assignments between meetings.

Jim Hawk, Executive Director of Neighbor 2 Neighbor, says his organization is similarly looking for volunteers who can move his agency and its programming forward through independent — but collaborative — committee work. This is especially true for their Marketing & Fundraising Committee and Good Neighbor Day Festival Committees.

“For people who are entrepreneurial, the sky is the limit,” Hawk says. “We’ve had people just blow their component out of the water and after they’re done, we’re like, ‘Wow! We never knew it could be this good,’ because they took it to the next level.”

Valeri Otey-Nellis, Leadership Development Specialist at N2N, says joining a committee is a great way to meet people in the city whose paths you otherwise might not cross.

“[You] get an opportunity to interact with neighborhood folks from around the city,” she says. “The network is really positive.”

Hawk agrees: “One of the things about our community is that we’re pretty diverse. You’re going to meet people who aren’t like you.”

One Voice Nashville and N2N are currently looking for volunteers to join committees, as are other Nashville nonprofits. Throughout the year, HON’s Community Partners post committee slots as they come open. Assignments include fundraising, marketing, event planning, strategy, and more. For some nonprofits, committee membership is a pathway to joining the organization’s board of directors.

Click here to see where you could make an impact as part of a nonprofit committee.

One Voice Nashville builds bridges and closes gaps by valuing all voices through storytelling and narrative journalism. To see all available OVN volunteer opportunities, click here.

Neighbor 2 Neighbor’s mission is to equip residents and neighborhood organizations with the tools they need to build safer and more vibrant neighborhoods. To see all available N2N volunteer opportunities, click here.

Resolve to Serve Stories: Doing Good

For nonprofits, the quest to get professional, effective brand messages out to the community takes time and resources that are sometimes hard to come by. That’s where Doing Good comes in.

Doing Good, founded in 2014 by Megan McInnis, pairs media-savvy volunteers with nonprofits in need of communications tools and resources. The organization is powered by volunteers with experience in marketing, public relations, and other skilled fields.

“Long-term volunteers are incredibly valued at Doing Good,” said McInnis, who serves as the organization’s president. “We try to match our volunteers with how Doing Good can benefit them.”

One volunteer, Charley Arrigo, joined Doing Good as a social media volunteer. Arrigo was also working as a courier and trying to figure out his career. He developed into Doing Good’s “Twitter Guru,” McInnis said, and organically increased the organization’s following to more than 1,200 from 200.

Arrigo had such a positive experience as a Doing Good volunteer that he decided to pursue a career in social media and marketing. He has since moved to Washington, D.C., where he landed a full-time job in marketing.

McInnis said that some volunteers, like Arrigo, come to Doing Good seeking résumé-building experience, while others are more interested in finding out about the variety of nonprofits in Middle Tennessee.

“Some want to use their talents for good, some simply want to give back, and others want to meet like-minded people,” McInnis said.

Some creative long-term roles at Doing Good include graphic designer, marketing committee member, video producer, public relations consultant, and grant writer.

“Doing Good spends time up front with each volunteer to talk about what they are looking for and how Doing Good can help,” McInnis said. When the volunteer is better matched up front, she said, the volunteer, nonprofit, and community benefit.

 

Marketing PR Conference for Nonprofits

Doing Good is hosting a marketing and PR conference for nonprofits.

When: Oct. 11 from 1-5 p.m.

Where: TBD

To register: Sign up here or email director@doinggood.tv for details

Doing Good’s mission is to educate and engage communities by promoting and celebrating “Doing Good” through volunteerism. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Doing Good here. 

Photos courtesy of Doing Good.