Imagine you called your bank and they did not answer.
What if you dropped off your car for service and they did not tell you when the car was done?
Could you imagine submitting an insurance claim and receiving no response?
If that happened to me, I would be shopping for a new bank, car dealer, and insurance company.
Yet, when we give to a non-profit that is exactly what happens. We do not get a response, nor do we expect one. We treat our contribution as one-way communication.
But what if we got one?
What if the non-profit called us up later and told us just how our contribution was used? I think I would feel pretty awesome.
But for now I will not know that feeling.
Today I volunteered at sparked.com. Along with several others, I gave my advice on how to increase traffic to their blog. Even if I get a thank you I probably will not ever know what changes they made. I will not know if I made an impact.
Realizing an opportunity might have arisen, I dashed off an email to sparked.com with my thoughts.
I asked them, “Help the non-profits give the volunteers feedback.” It could be a week later, or maybe a month, but help us know more.
We will see if I get a response.
Gave some blogging advice to the Tennyson Center For Children through the awesome website sparked.com. Then followed up with sparked about making it easier for the non-profits to give volunteers more feedback on the impact they are making.
Nonprofits can thank and follow up with volunteers. And we encourage them to keep in touch with older projects. How would you suggest we do this better?
Hi Jacob, thanks for the … response 🙂 Here’s a few ideas.
1. Make it easier to give feedback by considering a form response option based on the category. I know canned responses can be cheesy, but an unexpected follow-up two weeks after I volunteer might be good enough to overcome the cheese factor. And a non-profit might find it easier to respond in a more structured way than the ever-intimidating free form text field.
2. Make connections on a more personal level. If I micro volunteer for “Foo” and get an award from them, I might be more likely to volunteer for them again if sparked tells me about their challenges. Similarly, if a non-profit loved my response wouldn’t they like to have their next challenge sent directly to me? Sparked.com becomes the connection facilitator.
3. Help non-profits recognize the value of their volunteers. I’m not sure what you give to non-profits as far as “guides from sparked.” But I could see a weekly, “tip from sparked” to increase volunteer retention. That might be a value to a non-profit.
4. Employ ancient technology. A phone call to some of your regular non-profit challenge creators might give you insight into what non-profits are capable of w.r.t. responding to volunteers.
5. When you send out your reminders to the non-profits to follow-up on projects, do you ask them to provide something like “we changed this specific thing because of you”. A lot of the success stories I read are wonderful thank you’s, but lack much depth. I realize that measuring the value of a new logo is not easy but sometimes the success or change can be measured. And that could be fed back.
6. The pleasant surprise factor. The first time I got an award from Sparked, I was pleasantly surprised. When I got a request for my feedback from the CEO because I had gotten a few awards, I was pleasantly surprised. It made me want to give back more. … Can you pleasantly surprise your non-profits with something meaningful?
Those are some thoughts.
Apologies if you do some of these already and I just missed them.
Fantastic ideas, Eric. I absolutely agree. I have volunteered on sparked too and while sometimes you hear back, often there isn’t much response at all and you do often wonder what they did and how it worked out. I think that feedback would help other not for profits aswell, as they can learn from the experience of others.
I sometimes wonder if this kind of feedback is also a kind of thank you. Maybe a deeper, more meaningful kind. Thanks for the input Cat!