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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 93
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

2011 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

A warm welcome to all volunteer managers-those of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.

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In This Issue
  1. Featured Article: Using the Social Media to Recruit and Mobilize Volunteers
  2. News You Can Use: New Study by Pew Research Center About Those Who Volunteer
  3. Articles That You Can Use: We have reorganized and updated many of our articles that are available for you to use - FREE
Featured Article: Using the Social Media to Recruit and Mobilize Volunteers
Did you know that 82% social network users and 85% of Twitter users are active in some kind of volunteer group (see next article below-New Study by Pew Research Center about Those Who Volunteer)? Not only did I find this report insightful, but it raised a very important question for those of us who are always looking for more volunteers.

Question: How do I tap into the over 80% of people who watch Youtube videos and use Facebook and Twitter to get involved in my organization?

I am often asked questions about how to really use the social media to recruit and mobilize volunteers. Over the holidays I read a very exciting fast read that will help you answer this question. The book is The Dragonfly Effect, by husband and wife team, Stanford Professor Jennifer Aaker and marketing expert Andy Smith, and it is a must for non-profits because of the practical and entertaining insights on how to create change through the social media.

Aaker gives several examples of viral campaigns that were successful. My favorite example that she shared in her lecture, "How Ideas Take Flight" to Stanford students is a case study on Coca Cola's Global, Viral Campaign. If you want a good laugh, watch this two minute Youtube video produced by Coke--"happiness machine"). Aker writes,

In 2009, Coke was looking for a new way to connect to young consumers. They knew that spending on traditional media wasn't unexpected enough to grab attention, so they needed to try something new. Just before final exams, Coke delivered a vending machine to a university cafeteria. But this was no ordinary vending machine: when a student paid for one Coke, she got ten, and others got special treats as well: flowers, a pizza, balloon animals, and even a ten-foot-long sandwich.

The students in the cafeteria were delighted by the surprises and as they shared the treats with fellow students, the good will was tangible. Coke posted the video of the machine in action on YouTube and promoted it with a single tweet. Within two weeks, the video had been watched 2 million times. It concludes: where will happiness strike next?

Although traditional Coke ads would reach a larger audience, Coke's initial data suggest that the Happiness Machine has had a much more meaningful impact with consumers. Coke spent less than $50,000 on the video and proved the power of surprise as a means to establishing a deep emotional connection.

The Dragonfly Effect is not just another marketing book. Aaker and Smith focus on psychological research and give volunteer groups practical tools and strategies to get off the ground and running with easy steps and key principles to create change by using the internet.

Maybe you are thinking, like I did, "But I don't have a $50,000 budget like COKE to make a Youtube video." Aaker's main example is powerful. She tells the story of how teams of volunteers ran a viral campaign without the $50,000 budget. It's a powerful story. In her own words,

Sameer Bhatia was always good with numbers. When he was in his twenties, the Stanford grad came up with an innovative algorithm that formed the foundation of his popular barter website, MonkeyBin. By age 31, the newly married Silicon Valley entrepreneur was running a hot mobile gaming company - he had everything going for him. Then, on a routine business trip to Mumbai, he started to feel sick. He lost his appetite and had trouble breathing. Sameer chalked it up to the 100-degree weather and unbearable humidity, but a doctor's visit found that his white blood cell count was wildly out of whack. Sameer was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer that starts in the blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow. The diagnosis seemed unreal.

His friends, a tight-knit group of young and driven entrepreneurs and professionals, decided they would attack his sickness as they would any business challenge. If the doctors said that the odds to find a match were 1 in 20,000, all they had to do was get 20,000 South Asian individuals into the bone marrow registry. The only problem was that they had just weeks to get this done.

With focus, efficiency, and hyper-utilization of social media, Team Sameer and Team Vinay used web 2.0 services like Facebook, Google Docs, and YouTube to mobilize and empower others to organize bone marrow drives all over the country. In 11 weeks, Sameer and Vinay's supporters registered 24,611 South Asians into the bone marrow registry and found a match for both. And the 7,500 people they registered in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Sameer lived, yielded 80 matches for other leukemia patients - an unintended but celebrated consequence.

Sameer received a transplant, as did Vinay. Tragically, both passed away some months later, succumbing to AML. The changes they effected did not end with their deaths, however. The potential lives saved in the past two years because of the 24,611 South Asians now in the registry numbers over 250.

Bottom line is that the two teams graphically illustrate how we can use the internet to create change in any area. Is there some mystery involved in using social media to make messages spread contagiously? Yes. But it's not as difficult as you might think. A huge factor is simply framing issues in an inspiring, meaningful, and easily actionable way. The practical lessons in The Dragonfly Effect are a useful place to start.

News You Can Use: New Study by Pew Research Center About Those Who Volunteer
In November and December 2010 the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project conducted a survey and found that 75% of all American adults are active in some kind of voluntary group or organization and internet users are more likely than others to be active. The research revealed that 80% of internet users participate in groups, compared with 56% of non-internet users. And social media users (Facebook, Twitter) are even more likely to be active: 82% of social network users and 85% of Twitter users are group participants.

"One of the striking things in these data is how purposeful people are as they become active with groups," noted Kristen Purcell, the research director at Pew Internet and co-author of the report. "Many enjoy the social dimensions of involvement, but what they really want is to have impact. Most have felt proud of a group they belong to in the past year and just under half say they accomplished something they couldn't have accomplished on their own."

Aaron Smith, senior research specialist at Pew Internet and co-author of the report said, "It is important to note that 25% of American adults are not active in any of the groups we addressed. They often report they are time-stressed or have health or other issues that limit their ability to be involved. And about a fifth of them say that lack of access to the internet is a hindrance. Even in its absence, the internet seems to be a factor in the reality of how groups perform in the digital age." To read a summary report and a link to the complete report see the Social Side of the Internet.

Check This Out-Article you can use: We have updated and reorganized our articles for your use - FREE
To make it easier for you, so that you don't have to wade through the past newsletters, I have revised the articles page and updated the following information for you to use. Copy them and hand them out at your meetings for active discussion, training, or your newsletter. We only ask that you also print the "side bar" information about Volunteer Power at the end of the article.

The resources are listed under two major topics: Recruiting and Leadership. Each topic is linked to our articles page.

Recruiting Leadership

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