Friday, February 14, 2014

Professionally volunteering

Perhaps two weeks ago I got an email from the good folks at linked In- the website where professionals network, recommend each other and look for jobs. They were launching a new platform for nonprofits: and since I run one they were inviting me to a webinar presenting the program's functionality. Perhaps if it was some lesser known website I wouldn't be so eager to try it. Over the years I was invited to try a number of things designed for nonprofits, especially during the time I was working at the Jordan Klausner Foundation. We were for example selected for a free marketing campaign with a project called Wildfire that in theory was designed as a way for marketing students practicing their skills and doing something for the greater good. Oddly, these never got off the ground as soon as we made it clear that we wouldn't buy anything or otherwise invest. Not upfront at least, not blindly. It's hard to get excited about a new ad in my mailbox anymore and you always look at it and wonder- where's the catch.  But so far, I'm really happy I did. Turns out LinkedIn  not only designed this new website to help  charities recruit volunteers, but as a thank you for my participation I qualified for some free "volunteer job" postings. 100% off is an offer we really couldn't refuse. Linked In for Good is also intended to work as a tool to recruit new Board members. And those of us involved with the charity sector know what a difference in can make to have a qualified, competent person sit on the board to make connections, facilitate donations and set up fundraisers. Help with programs, marketing, PR and grant writing. Apparently Linked In data suggests that over 80% of their users, qualified professionals in their areas of expertise want to volunteer their time for greater good. And even big charities that have the money to spend still use volunteers to help them along. We of course need them, because we don't have the funding. But are goals are noble and with catching a little break we can make it work. Because someone needs to be talking about transforming the world to be more inclusive for people with disabilities and someone has to promote empathy. Understanding over sympathy which is not a productive emotion. So far we have been getting a few applications from all around the world and I'm quite surprised. This can actually work for us. We can make this crazy mission into a reality and now there's a chance. But we do need help and we must rely on volunteers. So far it was mostly students who came and left and as much as we appreciate them, sometimes we need more professional assistance in these limited areas.  Because nobody will work with us if it's not polished in all aspects, and those of us who come from the charity sector know that good intentions are never enough. What LinkedIn does with this new platform is linking us with people who want to make the difference and have the expertise that actually allows them to. And we do need help. With redesigning the website, grant writing, fundraising campaigns and events, getting the word out through PR, developing business plans and lastly, putting together the accessibility app I have been trying to get off the ground for months. Please check out some of our listings and apply if you can help. Linked In for Nonprofits are currently only available to US charities. The job postings are tied to an area zip code, meaning that looking for volunteers in other areas requires multiple postings.

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