National Volunteer Week is less than one month away: April 10 – 16, 2011.  Are you ready? 

Established in 1974, the goal of National Volunteer Week is to inspire, recognize and encourage citizens to find ways to help their communities . . . to strengthen communities.

This is not only an opportunity for charities, but also for associations and companies.  Below are ideas and resources to help all three make the most of this special week.

Associations
If your association members are scattered across the country, give them resources on where they can go to volunteer.  Help them find charities.  And suggest causes that have some connection or relevance to your association if at all possible.  Go here for help in organizing your members for National Volunteer Week

Don’t stop there.  Make it easy for them to tell you what they’re doing (e.g., send an email or post a comment on a blog).  Encourage them (maybe even give them an incentive) to take photos and send them in to you.  Publicize what your members have done via a press release, email to members, and on your website.

Companies
Today companies of all sizes are seeking ways to expand their community service contributions.  As a charity, reach out to local businesses and invite them to participate.  And this link has resources to help companies get things rolling on their own

Charity Promotional Campaign Highlights
Your direct mail letter is probably about to drop if it hasn’t already been mailed.  Perhaps you’re even sending a postcard in a few weeks as a reminder in addition to email campaigns.

And naturally you have a dedicated area on your Facebook page about your activities, how people can sign-up, and how they can spread the word to their networks.  You are also busy publishing periodic updates and reminders on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media site.

There’s also a spot on your website home page – ideally above the fold – with an eye-catching headline or graphic.  Visitors click and are redirected to a dedicated landing page with all the details of your 2011 volunteer week opportunities.

Already have a mobile list?  Then send out text messages to your list.  Promote your volunteer event and get them to sign up.  Include text message reminders just before the event kicks off.

Also give thought to advertising your volunteer event(s) on the web and the mobile web.  And at the events, grow your lists by making it easy for people to opt-in to your email and mobile lists.

Don’t forget to consider how you’ll engage people too far away to attend an event! 

For example: Your organization is a senior care facility and you have supporters half-way across the country.  Encourage them to record short stories and send them to you in an .mp3 file that residents of your facility can listen to.  Any donor who paints, draws, or is a skilled photographer can send a framed picture they created to hang on the wall of a senior’s room.  Give supporters several ideas that require “time” and not merely purchasing something to send.  Maintain the volunteer spirit.

Finally, do your best to get some publicity.

Issue a press release in advance of National Volunteer Week with your plans and how people can learn more (link to unique landing page on your website). 

– Take video of people volunteering during the week.  Collect comments from volunteers AND from those directly benefiting from the work.  Then combine the two and publish a short video on your YouTube channel and your website after day 2 of National Volunteer Week.  Also publish another press release. Perhaps you’ll get more volunteers as a result of the additional publicity.  In any case it will help raise awareness of your cause.

– Create another video after the week is over.  Publish this “wrap up” video along with a story in your newsletter, article on your website and link to it in an email, and send out a final press release.  Include an invitation to volunteer again in 2012!

More Resources
Need ideas?  The National Service Resources organization has lots of ideas on their website. 

For example: Perhaps you’re a veteran and you want to help other vets in need.  Or you have a deep appreciation for the sacrifices veterans make and you want to give something back to them or their families . . . this page has many ways you can help veterans

Located in the USA?  The Points of Light Institute and the HandsOn Network are resources to tap as you plan and execute your volunteer activities.  The HandsOn Network is considered by many as the country’s leading volunteer organization.  They offer training, resources and networking opportunities to help your organization or company give volunteers meaningful service opportunities.

Nonprofits and government agencies: Explore this section of the HandsOn Network website.

Located in Canada?  The Volunteer Canada website is the resource for you.
 

Make the most of National Volunteer Week 2011.  It’s worth the effort because high percentages of volunteers convert to donors if you cultivate and nurture the relationship right.  Volunteer activities don’t have to be elaborate.  Just do something to engage volunteers.