Volunteering, Why?

Why do people volunteer? There’s a myriad of reasons people opt to volunteer in their community.

The reason can range from giving something back to the community, giving time to an organisation that has helped them either personally or may have offered assistance to a family member.

Others volunteer to feel valued and part of a community; or to perhaps learn new skills.

There are cases where people may be directed to offer service in the community; often this is something ordered by a court. However, there are also times when a person who is receiving a form of Government assistance (benefit) may be asked to give time to a community organisation; in this instance, it is more than likely so as the person can gain a new skill and to add something to their CV.

I have even heard that some people volunteer as a way to do something different, to give them a break from their job. There’s some in this group who volunteer to bring their business/career skills to an organisation (pro bono).

Some people volunteer because they feel alone in their life, so a chance to volunteer gives them the chance to meet new people and a chance to socialise. And, if they are new to an area it allows them the chance to get to know others in their community.

Volunteering has been seen too as a way to improve on mental and physical well being.

Do you volunteer, if you do why?

Old Pugilist beat up

It’s not often I rant about an issue per se here, but after reading what Bob Jones had to say in the media yesterday (Tuesday 17 Jan 2017) I just can’t hold my tongue, or should that be my fingers.

Bob Jones, said in a report to media, as reported in the NZHerald that homeless people were essentially scum and worthless lazy buggers, sadly he doesn’t understand the reality and perhaps before he rants he should take timeout and sat and talked with some of the people sitting on streets asking for money.

I’ve spent many an hour speaking with homeless and beggars, not all homeless are beggars and not all beggars are homeless, they each have their own reason (story) for why they are where they are.

People like Bob Jones, and others who only want to moan, rant and say that people sitting on streets asking for money are scum and, more recently that begging should be banned, need to get their arses off their leather seats, and walk a mile (ok, a few metres) in the shoes of some people living off the street.

Unless we understand the whys of why people are living on and “off” the street then we can truly know what’s happening and how we can help.

We can all help, even if it is simply saying hello – don’t judge lest thee be judged.

There are people living on the streets who want to work, but because they don’t have a fixed address they can’t get jobs, because they haven’t been able to get a job for a few years they can’t get a job … drugs and alcohol are not the only reason, race is certainly an issue, but not the issue they are where they are at, the reason they are where they are at where they are is because of their race .. sadly we are still a racist country.

Yes, I’m angry, I’m angry because people like Bob Jones get to vent about people less fortunate but less fortunate people don’t have a voice, we need to be their voice, we need to sit and listen to them, to hear their stories and help where we can, they’ve been beaten down enough..

We need, nay, we must help lift those in need, we need to put our hands out, open our hearts do what we can to help.

 

 

 

Who’s in Your Advertising

We’ve seen it recently, and no doubt we’ll see it again, a community group using images that portray the peeople they support – yet, doesn’t actually use their images in promotional material, instead opting to use either stock photos or models.

Is it right or is it wrong?

We don’t see models being used for breast cancer campaigns, we see the real people. We don’t see models being used for promotional material of children suffering in far flung places, we see the real children.

So why, in the latest case models used in adverts for homeless charity a ‘kick in the guts’ has this organisation chosen not to use the real faces, the real people they are there to assist? Was it too hard, was it perhaps seen as possibly demeaning to use the real people; who knows. I’m sure they will have some spin out soon as to why, but for now all we can do is specualte as to their reasoning.

On the day the article appeared I heard homeless people talking about it, saying they felt cheated, that they are the real face of homelessness yet were being sidestepped, and they want answers.

I’m picking Lifewise will being getting a few visits from their clients asking why.
When you run your next campaign, will you use people representative of, from your organisation or will you get online and secure stock images, or call an agency for some models to portray the work you do?

If you opt to use people other than those you actually work with, be prepared for some flack, and possibly egg on your face when people start talking about it. And, sadly some of this talk will potentially end with your supporters voting with their wallets, taking their support elsewhere. Can you afford the gamble?

Giving Circles

Not something I have come across in New Zealand, although perhaps Rotary Clubs, Churches could almost be seen as a form of Giving Circle.

For those unfamiliar with what a Giving Circles is, this from an artiles on Nonprofit Quarterly sums what they are quite well.

Giving circles are voluntary groups that enable individuals to pool their money (and sometimes their time as volunteers) to support organizations of mutual interest. They also provide opportunities for education and engagement among participants about philanthropy and social change, connecting them to charities, their communities, and each other.

Have a read of the full article, Could Giving Circles Rebuild Philanthropy from the Bottom Up?

I feel there’s room for organisations to look at how they could help people to understand Giving Circles and use them to help build awareness of the work done of their organisation and, yes gain support.

Do you know of any Giving Circles in your area?

We can all help make a difference

On Sunday I spotted a post on Facebook asking people of the could help make Christmas brighter for people in need, by helping the Auckland City Mission.

As we all know not everyine has it easy at this time of year, the rent, phone, power still needs to he paid. Add to this the added needs of having children home from school, an expectation of Christmas presents, and families struggle.

In comes the Mission to offer what they can to help alleviate some of the added burden, but they can’t do it on their own, we need to help them.

And this is where the post I saw was aiming to help make it easier for the Mission and thier clients.

A simple request, essentially asking people to give what they could and a trip would be made to the supermarket to get items the Mission needed for their food parcels.

Well, it was a huge success, a read of how it unfolded, and while reading imagine if we all did something like this to help make the lives of others that little bit easier.

One Facebook Post Helps Over Thirty Families in Need

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m doing what many others are: Making a coffee, and browsing through Facebook.

In sharp contrast to the usual mundane nature of such things, a very special post appeared in my feed… An example of what one person putting the word out can achieve.

Earlier in the week, Reporter Megan Schoultz (NZ Herald) had written about The Auckland City Mission, and it’s challenges in coping with the demand from struggling kiwis, Nathan Elder saw for himself the shocking queues  made by the families in need, as he passed the Hobson St. drop-in centre last Thursday.

Read the full story here

Next time you see people asking if you can help, will you?

Building Blocks of Strong Nonprofit Brands

A while ago I wrote Branding; when a refresh is in order and had some interesting feedback, with many saying it’s important to look at a refresh of an organisation’s brand from time to time, but that often people are afraid to refresh as it can be seen as a waste of time, money and other resources.

I came across The Eight Building Blocks of Strong Nonprofit Brands on Nonprofit Quarterly and thought it was a great piece and wanted to share it.

“To some, the very idea of nonprofit branding is a vulgar topic. No doubt, the nonprofit sector should be about mission, about performance, about excellence. We all want nonprofits to get the support they deserve, and we may sincerely wish that effectiveness were the coin of the realm—but it rarely is. Not only are measures of performance imprecise in many fields, the metrics we do have are incommensurable across fields. For all the talk of social investing and venture philanthropy, the reality is that brands still dominate the capital markets in the nonprofit sector. Decisions about support are a function of what the public thinks a nonprofit is doing far more than what it actually knows about what the organization is accomplishing.

“So, what is a brand? It is the construct that stakeholders hold about the identity, including the character, of a nonprofit organization. It is the sum total of perceptions about what a nonprofit stands for, what it does, and how much social impact it is thought to achieve. Brands are connected to reputations, in that recognizable brands are often, though not always, associated with good reputations. Brands can be tarnished and reputations ruined after scandals or bad press—and in that case, the brand may endure in the awareness of stakeholders but it will no longer be able to contribute to the organization’s ability to pursue its goals. Should one be fortunate enough to have a great brand, protecting it becomes an absolute organizational priority. Arguably, it is the most valuable asset in the nonprofit sector, because it is the gateway to all other assets, both human and financial.

Read the full article here

Are They Unregistered and Fundraising

Have only come across this a couple of times, but it may happen more than I’ve seen.

Actually, from memory there have been times where people have been seen out on the street with buckets or clipboards asking for support for some charitable cause; only for it to be later discovered that it was for a group/organisation that had no charitable status (they stated that they were a registered charity).

If you’re approached by someone saying they’re fundraising or seeking support in other ways for a charitable cause; make sure they are registered, ask for proof, if they’re out in public they are meant to have certain information with them – and one piece of information should be proof of their charitable status i.e. charity number. If they don’t have this – walk away.

Recently I have seen an organisation seeking support and, also talking about the support that have gained; in their “storytelling” they have said that they are a Charitable Trust, but in looking they have no charitable status with Charity Services.

I know that this organisation has no registration, they applied to be registered but withdrew or cancelled their registration for some reason.

Not only can “organisations” acting in this way have the potential to impact negatively on the charity sector as a whole, it can impact on those who “endorse” them.

When an organisation trots out people or businesses saying that they are ambassadors or the like; and have those people front for it, the potential for them to have their “brand” tarnished is real.

So, if a word of or two of caution:

Check the charitable status of any organisation that approaches you for support.

Ask for details about how your support will help, who benefits, what it costs for them to administer their organisation.

If you’re approached to be an ambassador, or show your support for an organisation, do the above, but also check what visibility the organisation has, do some background checks.

What’s been in the media about the organisation, has there been any negative articles published?

Check the Trustees, who are they, what do they do apart from being a name with the organisation, you can easily use LinkedIn, Facebook etc for this.

Ask around, ask people you know if they know anything about the organisation, it’s Trustees etc.

So, keep alert, ask questions before supporting.

Remember it only takes one bad apple to ruin the lot.

Wake Up

Ok, I have talked previously about knowing what’s going on the sector, what others in your same field are doing. But are you watching what people in general are talking about, issues, news items, documentaries and so on that have relevance to the work of your organisation?

It astounds me that there people in the sector who go to their office each day, do the work they feel needs doing; but aren’t aware of what people are talking about, what’s being shown and how this could be useful for their work.

Monitoring what’s happening is part of your job, well, I think it is. And for staff to only see their job as 9 to 5 is a little short sighted, especially when there’s so much competition for the charity dollar.

Staff should be encouraged to spend some part of their day looking at what people are talking about, someone in the organisation should be keeping an eye out for tv programmes etc that have some relevance to the work of your organisation. And, yes, someone should be monitoring FaceBook and the likes to see what others are talking and sharing that’s of relevance; and no cats are not really relevant unless they are at the core of what your organisation does.

So, who in your organisation is responsible for sharing news items, discussion papers etc? No one, tut tut, get someone onto this pronto, there’s likely gems you’re missing out on that could help you with your next fundraising campaign.

Remember, the people you are trying to gain as supporters are likely to have seen, read or talked about something that relates to your organisation, if you have seen something recently you can drop into a conversation or email; it could swing them to support you.

Who’s monitoring the social channels, again no one; no tuts this time, but please get someone to monitor, it won’t take them all day, just a few minutes each day is all that’s needed.

Ok, that’s a wee rant with some suggestions; so when you get back to your office, work out what you need to monitor and who the best person is to do this; unsure who – ask who would be interested, maybe someone is really keen but have been too shy to suggest that this is what you should be doing.

Now, get back to looking at what people are talking about in your sector.

Is it Slactivism or Something More – Commenting On or Liking …

We see them often, someone puts up a random update on social media, perhaps something on the lines of  “I have diarrhoea”, you make a comment and next thing you know you have a private message from them about how you shouldn’t have commented , “liked” or “Favourited” it.

There’s an expectation that you will now share something from a list they provide and that’s it’s all in aid/awareness of some cause.

I’ve avoided them, until the other night when someone said he’d been unwell and I made a comment, next thing I receive a private message instructing me to share something from a list of choices and, that it was all to raise awareness of a particular cause.

My first thought was … damn, I’ve fallen into a trap, then my mind went to how does this actually raise awareness of anything?

Actually, I guess it does raise awareness, as in the private message you get told what “cause” it is for, and in your sharing and others commenting etc on it they will receive a message telling them about the “trap” they have fallen into … so yes, I guess it raises awareness.

But, is this passive or positive awareness, can it help make a difference?

I wonder that it could actually have a negative effect, especially if people who get “caught” into this “trap” are already supportive of and share information about causes close to their heart do this; it could actually turn people of should the person sharing later share something important about a cause that needs immediate help.

Have you been caught out, have you participated or would it be something you would run a mile from?

Would you participate or would you run from it?

Some people have when I made mention about my friends diarrhoea, cottoned on to it immediately and I had some say it’s a pointless exercise, with others saying they would stop following or unfriend me should I do it again.

Is there a benefit to the “cause” or could it backfire and turn people off when you or the organisation has something important to say?

Please share this post – it will help save Unicorns, if you don’t you won’t win the lottery.