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130 ONLINE ADVOCACY Increasing Prevalence of Web Forms versus Acceptance of E-mail Submissions Nonprofits should pay close attention to the shift by legislators to block e-mail and instead force constituents to submit information via Web site forms. More members of Congress are shifting from receiving constituent communications through e-mail to relying on Web-based forms: 66 U.S. senators and 226 representatives are not using public e-mail addresses, and are directing constituents to their Web sites to send messages.10 The aim is to reduce spam from nonconstituents and automated messages, and reduce the workload for internal staff. The challenge Web forms have created for nonprofit groups is that almost every Web form is different, so automating message delivery is difficult. However, advanced online advocacy tools solve this problem by automatically entering data into a legislator’s Web site in the correct format. This capability will become increasingly important to nonprofit organizations to ensure effective message delivery (see Exhibit 10.9 for an example of a legislative Web form used by the White House). EXHIBIT 10.9 White House Legislative Contact Form Source: https://sawho14.eop.gov/PERS?verified=1 Trends and Predictions 131 Measurement of Activist Participation, Segmentation, and Moves Management Most fundraisers actively measure or estimate the value of donors over their lifetime, based on a calculation of their average gift size, giving frequency, and years of support of the organization. Many fundraisers then group donors according to value segment and target communications accordingly to advance their relationships and increase donor value. Historically, advocacy functions have not measured the participation levels of individual activists en masse. Participation levels in a paper world are difficult to measure. Early online tools tracked aggregate response but yielded little to no information about individual constituent response profiles. Consequently, it was not very easy to actively advance advocate relationships through a sophisticated segmentation approach. New online advocacy and constituent relationship management tools make measuring constituent engagement much easier. Such tools allow an administrator to assign different “scores” to advocacy-related activities—such as taking action online, signing a petition or forwarding messages to friends—and correspondingly measure an advocate’s value. An organization then can use this information to create segments for differentiated communication. The American Humane Association has recently started an engagement measurement and rewards program for its activists. Every time an activist takes action, he or he accumulates points. This enables the association to track its best activists. Also it’s able to create rewards programs to encourage higher response rates or other actions. Divisions between Fundraising and Advocacy Will Be Eliminated Some nonprofit organizations are starting to break down the barriers between advocacy and development for list sharing and constituent communications. Although not every advocate wants to become a financial donor and vice versa, coordinating advocacy and fundraising efforts makes inordinate sense, and modern, integrated eCRM tools make that goal much easier to achieve. New approaches to measuring and managing constituent relationships in an integrated fashion greatly aid in crossmarketing from advocacy to giving, and vice versa. Leading online constituent relationship management tools allow nonprofits to target messages to constituents based on their profile (e.g., this person is a donor, but not yet an activist). New tools also allow a group to measure constituent engagement in a holistic fashion, ascribing value to both fundraising and advocacy contributions. Increased Reliance on and Automation of Peer-to-Peer Marketing Growing adoption of online grassroots advocacy has created a tremendous opportunity to reach new constituents and get them involved in supporting a cause. Viral marketing, which occurs when constituents distribute an organization’s messages to their friends and relatives, is already having a big impact. As consumers become inundated with electronic marketing messages and spam, expect to see more emphasis in this area because a message from a friend is more likely to be read. Specialized tools are being built to make it easier for activists to resend messages to their personal networks, and recruit other activists. One of the best illustrations of this concept in action today is actually a political example—the GOP Team Leader Web site by the Republican Party 132 ONLINE ADVOCACY (see Exhibit 10.10). The Democratic National Committee also has developed a similar capability called eCaptains. In both cases, the party rewards loyal activists with points for outreach and actions, and they can redeem the points for party merchandise. Building Activist Engagement through Community— Online and Offline Today’s progressive organizations are using the Internet to market to activists so they will take action and contact their friends. Increasingly, organizations will create opportunities for activists to interact directly to build communities and more powerful advocate networks. As activists have a chance to interact with each other through online community forums or physical meetings in the offline world, they become more engaged and passionate. Political campaigns and advocacy groups such as Dean for America and For Our Grandchildren, respectively, use online blogs, or online diaries, (see Exhibit 10.11), to build community. Many groups also are encouraging their activists to coalesce in person through services like Meetup.com. CONCLUSION The Internet has already transformed online advocacy for many nonprofit organizations. New advancements in online technology are only pushing the potential further. Nonprofit professionals in other functions aside from advocacy should not only be EXHIBIT 10.10 GOP Team Leader Peer-to-Peer Marketing System Source: http://www.gopteamleader.com/ 133 Summary EXHIBIT 10.11 Online Blog at For Our Grandchildren supportive of the role of online advocacy within the organization, but also should determine how to most effectively integrate efforts—key for maximizing the synergy between functions and, in turn, constituent involvement. New online tools now make the notion of measuring and managing constituent relationships in an integrated fashion (factoring advocacy and fundraising participation, for example) a real possibility. 134 ONLINE ADVOCACY ABOUT THE AUTHOR Vinay Bhagat, ePMT, is founder, chairman and chief strategy officer for Convio, Inc. Before founding Convio, Vinay was director of e-commerce at Trilogy Software where he shaped Fortune 500 customers’ thinking about developing their Internet strategies, and was the product visionary for customers facing e-commerce applications. Before Trilogy, Vinay was a consultant and team leader at Bain & Company, the leading strategy consulting firm. Vinay graduated from Harvard Business School with high distinction as a Baker Scholar. He holds an MS from Stanford in Engineering-Economic Systems, and MA from Cambridge University in Electrical and Information Sciences with first class honors. Vinay is also a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and a frequent speaker on eCommerce panels, and seminars on applying Internet technology to nonprofits. You can e-mail Vinay at vinay@convio.com. ENDNOTES 1. Interview with Stephen McConnell, senior vice president, Advocacy and Public Policy, Alzheimer’s Association (October 7, 2003). 2. Pew Internet and American Life Project, The Rise of the E-Citizen: How People Use Government Agencies’ Web sites, (April 3, 2002), http://www.pewinternet.org. 3. Interview with Carter Headrick, manager of Grassroots, Tobacco-Free Kids (October 2003). 4. Convio client data analysis—Million Mom March united with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 5. Convio client data analysis. 6. Convio client data analysis—regional advocacy/social services organization. 7. Michael Birkin, “Non-Profit Brands: Friend or Foe?” OnPhilanthropy.com newsletter (February 7, 2003). 8. Sarah Durst, “Target Analysis Group—Benchmarking Trends in Nonprofit Giving,” Target Analysis Year 2000 Cross-Industry Study. 9. Pew Internet and American Life Project, The Rise of the E-Citizen: How People Use Government Agencies’ Web sites. 10. Ibid. CHAPTER 11 Volunteer Recruitment and Management Alison Li, ePMT1 HJC New Media he online environment provides a rich range of services and resources to augment the volunteer recruitment and management activities of nonprofit organizations. E-mail and the Web provide many opportunities to recruit, train, support, manage, and recognize volunteers. Online tools are not just supplementing traditional methods of interacting with volunteers, however; they are challenging organizations to expand their conception of volunteers and volunteering activity. Volunteer managers can now find a wealth of online resources and services to support their work. Leading nonprofit organizations are not only using Internet tools to make existing volunteering programs more effective, but are developing innovative ways of reaching new constituencies and creating new forms of volunteer endeavor. An organization’s Web site is now often its first point of contact with members of the public, and is, therefore, an important means of reaching potential volunteers. A first step many organizations take in using their Web sites to foster volunteering is to provide an online form allowing visitors to offer to volunteer. Prospective volunteers can indicate their skills and interests as well as availability. Organizations can also post descriptions of specific volunteer opportunities. Nonprofits, however, can use the Web environment to go much further in connecting with prospective volunteers by vividly portraying what the volunteer experience might be like, from the sights and sounds these volunteers might encounter, to the social and emotional challenges they’ll face. The Global Citizens for Change Web site (http://www.citizens4change.org/virtual_tour.htm) provides personal stories and a virtual tour to help prospective volunteers understand what it might be like to serve overseas in a developing country (see Exhibit 11.1). The virtual tour helps interested visitors explore how they might prepare for their volunteer service and to consider how they might feel coming home after living abroad. T ONLINE VOLUNTEER MATCHING A very significant development in volunteer recruitment is the growth of online volunteer matching services. These services allow organizations to reach new prospective supporters beyond their usual geographic borders, and open up a wider range of 135 136 EXHIBIT 11.1 VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT AND MANAGEMENT Global Citizens for Change Web Site, Virtual Tour Source: http://www.citizens4change.org/virtual_tour.htm (March 28, 2004). possibilities to interested volunteers. Organizations can post information about their missions and volunteer needs. Prospective volunteers can search for opportunities by name of organization, location, mission, or other criteria. For example, in the United States, Youth Service America’s SERVEnet program provides a large database of more than 6,000 registered nonprofit organizations, 35,000+ service projects and more than 52 million volunteer opportunities available. At the SERVEnet site, prospective volunteers can enter their ZIP code, city, state, skills, interests, and availability and be matched with organizations needing help (see Exhibit 11.2). Visitors can also search for calendar events, job openings, service news, recommended books, and best practices.2 There are several well-established online volunteer matching services at the local, national, and international levels. These services include Action Without Borders, www.idealist.org (United States); VolunteerMatch, www.volunteermatch.org (United States); the Australian Volunteer Search, www.volunteersearch.gov.au (Australia); and Volunteer Opportunities Exchange, www.voe-reb.org (Canada). Many volunteer databases also exist at the local level, often as an offering of the local volunteer center. Other specialized databases focus on specific volunteer groups such as youth or seniors, or those with particular characteristics, such as those with technical skills. Others are targeted to specific causes; for example, AidsVolunteers.ca (site to be launched in 2004) will meet the volunteering needs of AIDS service organizations in Canada. The profiles of both the agencies and the volunteers, as well as the associated search function, are more closely tailored to the needs of AIDS volunteering than those found in a general volunteer matching service. Supporting materials include an online “AIDS 101” primer to help volunteers gain a familiarity with critical facts about AIDS and HIV.3 These online services allow volunteers interested in a particular cause to home in on the set of organizations that might provide these volunteering opportunities, potentially learning about organizations that they might not have known about or Expanding the Boundaries of Volunteering EXHIBIT 11.2 137 SERVEnet Web Site, Volunteer Profile Page Source: http://www.servenet.org/vltr/form_vltr_profl.cfm?register=new$orgid=Null thought of before. Online matching services are especially valuable to small nonprofits, some of which might not able to mount their own Web sites or which may not be sufficiently well known to attract potential volunteers directly to their own sites. EXPANDING THE BOUNDARIES OF VOLUNTEERING Nonprofits are looking for ways to reach volunteers who do not fit the traditional molds by virtue of age, disability, race or ethnicity, or availability. A number of Internet resources can help volunteer managers creatively rethink the way volunteers are recruited and managed. A number of matching services and informational Web sites are targeted to specific groups of volunteers or volunteer activity. The SERVEnet Web site is dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of volunteer opportunities for young people in the United States, ages 5 to 25, to serve locally, nationally, and globally.4 In the United Kingdom, RSVP (the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme of Community Service Volunteers) taps into the wide range of skills and experience of people aged 50 and over and puts them to work for the benefit of their local communities.5 138 VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT AND MANAGEMENT Web sites such as Familycares.org provide information and resources for family volunteering.6 Family volunteering offers an opportunity for organizations not only to increase the volunteer pool exponentially in the short-term, but also to help strengthen families and to cultivate volunteers for the future, since individuals who experience volunteering as part of their upbringing are more likely to volunteer as adults. To prospective volunteers who might not otherwise be able to incorporate volunteering into their lives, family volunteering gives individuals a chance to spend meaningful time with their family members while also giving back to their communities.7 Board membership is an area in which new online initiatives are making an important difference in challenging traditional perceptions of volunteering. As Volunteer Consulting Group’s Executive Director Brooke Mahoney explains, the public image of a board trustee is of someone who is “old, white, male, and rich.” Moreover, there was little awareness of how someone willing to serve on a board might offer their services, since the perception was that membership was based on “whom you know.” BoardnetUSA challenges these perceptions and encourages transparency in the process by providing means for nonprofit boards to reach beyond their existing networks. It also encourages talented individuals to assert themselves in seeking board membership and provides them with a broadly accessible channel by which they can connect with interested nonprofits (see Exhibit 11.3). It provides tips to help nonprofits analyze their board needs and court candidates. At the same time, it helps to cultivate board talent by answering the questions of prospective board members and providing information on such issues as the legal responsibilities of board members and a board career strategy.8 VIRTUAL VOLUNTEERING Nonprofits are also beginning to take advantage of the new types of volunteer services that individuals can offer in whole or in part via the Internet. Virtual volunteering offers opportunities to those who might otherwise not be able to contribute. This might include people with disabilities who find it difficult to volunteer in person, or those who, because of work or family responsibilities, are not available to come to an organization’s offices during regular hours. A recent study indicates that virtual volunteers are more likely to be people who want to commit a smaller amount of time and also are more likely to be new volunteers.9 Virtual volunteering activities can include such valuable contributions as peer counseling, mentoring, editing and translation of documents, Web design and other technical services, professional consulting, online marketing, and advocacy. Volunteers might complete some or all of their work on their home computers and communicate via e-mail and telephone. There are good indications that if a volunteer is matched with an organization through an online database rather than through traditional means, that volunteer, perhaps not surprisingly, is much more likely to undertake a virtual volunteering activity.10 The Virtual Volunteering Project Web site (www.serviceleader.org/vv) provides a rich set of resources for both volunteers and organizations interested in these new possibilities. Articles include information on how to establish a virtual volunteering program and how to make e-mail communications more effective; there is also a detailed guidebook to virtual volunteering by Susan Ellis and Jayne Cravens.11 Manage and Retain Volunteers EXHIBIT 11.3 139 BoardNetUSA Web Site Source: http://www.boardnetusa.org/ MANAGE AND RETAIN VOLUNTEERS Internet resources can also be used to improve management and communication between organizations and their volunteers. Online tools can allow volunteers, especially virtual volunteers, to schedule their work and log their hours via e-mail or using a secure online scheduling system. E-mail, newsletters, and online calendars, can all be put to use to allow volunteer managers to communicate with their volunteers in a convenient and economical fashion. Moreover, simple tools like listservs and bulletin boards allow communications to be more than a two-way discussion between an individual manager and a volunteer: They allow volunteers to communicate with each other, to exchange ideas and concerns and build community with those with whom they share a common cause. For board members, Intranets can provide spaces for discussion and collaborative work on documents. Intranets for volunteers can also be used to provide orientation manuals, tips, and other useful documents to volunteers. The online environment also enables interactive learning for those who are not able to attend sessions in person. These courses might combine written manuals with
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