Leadership and The Workplace

Nonprofit Spark

Renee McGivern

Nonprofit Spark – Nonprofit Best Practices in Volunteer Communication – 04/09/12

April is National Volunteers Month so I want to revisit the topic of volunteer management. Earlier this year, I had Susan Ellis of Energize, Inc, on the show, and she made an excellent Case for strategic volunteerism in nonprofits. That interview aired the week of January 23, 2012. Now here’s a new twist: Have you ever heard of an NFL team that manages some 6,000 volunteers for local nonprofits? That’s what the Miami Dolphins organization does for nonprofits in South Florida. Last April, I had them on the show to talk about the one-year anniversary of what they call the Miami Dolphins Special Teams by Chevy program.

The Dolphins organization initiated the volunteer management program in 2010 after they heard the news that South Florida ranked last in the nation in percentage of volunteers, and volunteer hours per capita. They developed an online system that lists volunteer opportunities in the area, and makes it easy for residents to sign up for them. And then the staff sends out the confirmations and instructions, and afterward, thank yous. They also track volunteer hours and offer incentives for philanthropic volunteering.

On this week’s show, I speak with Leslie Nixon, manager of volunteers for the Miami Dolphins, who predicts a two-year total of 100,000 hours of donated time by the end of this month. Leslie describes in detail how the Special Teams staff communicates with nonprofits and volunteers so they keep coming back and spreading the word about their good experiences. She and her staff have volunteer management down to a science. I love this program.