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September 24, 2014
The week of Make A Difference Day (MDD) is just one month away and I wanted to take this opportunity to share some insights I have learned over the 3 years I have been involved in United Way of Larimer County's Make A Difference Day efforts. Here are some ways to ensure that you have a successful project:
1. Estimate the number of volunteers and time needed to complete your project as accurately as possible. This is easier said than done, but if you set a 4-hour shift, your volunteers expect to be busy for 4 hours. Make sure you have enough work to keep them busy for the full shift.
2. Have a backup project ready! This is true for whether you have an outdoor project or an indoor one. First, you should plan ahead for possible weather concerns that could affect your project. Additionally, you should plan ahead for volunteers completing the work you give them faster than you anticipate—brainstorm additional tasks they could help with ahead of time so that you can keep them busy. Do whatever you can in advance to avoid having to cancel your project. Your volunteers have set aside their time to be there and expect to be there.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate! It's wise to contact your volunteers as soon as they sign up for your project to ensure that they signed up for the right shift and understand what they will be doing. Continue to communicate with your volunteers leading up to your project date to ensure that they understand where they need to go, what they should bring, what they should expect, etc. This helps you to establish a relationship with your volunteers prior to meeting them and sets the tone for a mutually beneficial project day.
4. Help promote your project! United Way of Larimer County does our best to get the word out about the available MDD projects, but we can only do so much and cannot guarantee that every project will be filled with volunteers. Consider reaching out to your contacts (phone calls can be very helpful!), include information about MDD in your email signature, and promote your project on social media to ensure that you have volunteers for your project!
5. Orient volunteers when they arrive and explain what your organization does. Many MDD volunteers may be first-time volunteers at your organization and may not know anything about what you do. Consider this your chance to convert these one-time volunteers into ongoing volunteers, donors, or supporters of your organization.
6. Explain the “WHY” of your project. Volunteers want to understand why what they're doing is important and how it's helping your organization and/or the community. After you explain what your organization does, it's helpful to tie what the volunteers will be doing into how that is helping your mission.
7. Give volunteers a tour of your facilities and/or introduce them to your staff. This further puts a “face” to your organization and helps volunteers better understand who they are helping and why.
Visit the Project Host section of the Make A Difference Day website for more information about hosting a project.
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