Episode #037: Our Top 10 Nonprofit Blog Posts of 2022

Welcome to the Volunteer Nation Podcast, bringing you practical tips and big ideas on how to build, grow, and scale volunteer talent. I’m your host, Tobi Johnson. And if you rely on volunteers to fuel your charity, cause, membership, or movement, I made this podcast just for you.   

Hey everybody. Welcome to the Volunteer Nation. I’m your host, Tobi Johnson, and today I’m gonna talk about our top 10 nonprofit blog posts for 2022. You know, in addition to producing two podcasts, both Volunteer Nation and the Time+Talent Podcast, we also post a weekly blog on our VolunteerPro website.  

There are literally hundreds of in-depth posts with a wealth of information. We also have hundreds of posts on our Tobijohnson.com website where you’ll find this podcast. And as a holiday gift to you, I thought I would curate our top 10 fan faves for 2022 from both websites, both our VolunteerPro website, volpro.net, and our Tobi Johnson and Associates website, Tobijohnson.com. 

Now, not to worry. If you go to the show notes for this podcast, episode 37, you will find a list of all these with links to each and every blog post. So if something sounds good, piques your interest, you think would help you get some traction in a certain part of your community engagement or volunteer engagement strategy, this is a great place to look. 

So you just go to Tobijohnson.com and click on “podcast” at the top of the page. So let’s get started. I think these will be high value to you because they were top fan faves and most visited for our followers. In this countdown, I’m also gonna share key takeaways and some freebies you might find on some of these blog pages. 

So it’s like a little bit of a gift extravaganza. And why not? We’re in the holidays, right? So this should be fun. So let’s start with the nonprofit blog number 10. 10th on our list of top fan phases for 2022. 5 Unappreciated Reasons Why Volunteers Quit.  

Now, this was a fun blog post to write because I helped our readers really think about what are the differences between paid and unpaid workers, because their satisfaction is a different thing. You know, they’re different.  

Paid employees are different than volunteers, and what drives their satisfaction and may make them leave their role will be different. I talk about five key drivers of volunteer retention. And in each of these top 10 blog posts, I thought I’d give you a little bit of nugget, a wisdom nugget. 

So this, here’s our first wisdom nugget for nonprofit blog number 10, 5 Unappreciated Reasons Why Volunteers Quit. So five key drivers of volunteer retention. One is competency. So do volunteers feel confident in their roles and prepared? If they don’t, they’ll end up quitting.  

Participation efficacy. So are they making a difference in their minds? Sometimes they’re making a difference and they don’t realize it. So you’ve gotta communicate that to them. So that’s the second key driver of volunteer retention.  

Another one is group integration. So do they feel like they belong to the group? Belonging is more important than ever for our volunteers. So that’s an area that if people don’t feel like they belong, they’re gonna go find a volunteer opportunity where they do feel like they belong.  

Organizational support. So do they feel supported by their supervisors? Do they feel championed? Do they have the resources that they need? Are barriers being removed? Those kinds of things.  

And then also, there’s some other research that’s really interesting on the perception of the volunteer voice. And what we mean by this is, do volunteers believe they have a say in things that impact them directly?  

And so this is really about making sure volunteers have a place, an avenue to add their voice to your decision-making process. And when that doesn’t happen, volunteers tend to leave. So those are some tidbits from that nonprofit blog, the 10th one in our list: 5 Unappreciated Reasons Why Volunteers Quit. 

One other fun little thing I wanna add, we have a free worksheet on that blog, the Ultimate Volunteer Experience Roadmap, where I help walk you through step by step how to analyze each step of the volunteer’s journey so that you can make improvements and increase your retention rates and decrease your turnover. 

So that’s a pretty awesome free takeaway that if you check out that blog, you will be able to find it. Okay, nonprofit blog number nine, How to Crush Your Next Recognition Speech with These Volunteer Appreciation Quotes.  

Now, our list of volunteer quotes and service quotes are super popular. They’re sort of perennial favorites and I think because people are often researching and they find us on Google and they’re like, oh yeah, these are the quotes I need. 

Instead of just giving you a bunch of quotes, we actually organize them into five key areas of volunteer motivation based on research. So we make it a little bit easy. If you know the primary motivations of your volunteers, you can choose quotes from our lists that actually really resonate with your team. 

You know, I’m gonna quickly run down these. I’ve talked about these before and I train a lot about these in my VolunteerPro community and also in our Fundamental Certificate course because they’ve been tried and true. They’ve been researched and validated around the world, and so there are things we can hang our hat on in terms of research. 

And these should sound familiar to you because if you’re leading volunteers, you know what’s motivating your volunteers. So let’s talk about these five motivations, and then you can go to the blog post and grab quotes for each of these.  

So one is protective motives, a way of protecting the ego from the difficulties of life. Sometimes people are volunteering to become more resilient, or to bounce back from some adversity.  

If you think about people bouncing back from Covid, this is a really interesting way that some volunteers are utilizing volunteerism to reduce sense of isolation, to get involved in their community again, to kind of get over the trauma, right? So protective motives, I think, are big right now for people, even if they don’t consciously recognize that.  

Values. This is our number one motivation. A way to express one’s altruistic and humanitarian values. So we often hear volunteers tell us, yes, I believe in this cause. It’s the right thing to do to support it. 

Career, a way to improve career prospects. Often a big motivator for our students and younger volunteers.  

Social, a way to develop and strengthen social ties, not only with our fellow volunteers, but also with other people in our life who believe that volunteering is important, and so we’re strengthening our ties with those folks, those loved ones when we volunteer.  

Understanding is another motivation for volunteers, a way to gain knowledge, skills, and abilities. So volunteers often have a voracious appetite for learning new things, and those types of volunteers are motivated by understanding. 

And then enhancement. A way to help the ego grow and develop. Enhancement is often for our volunteer leaders. They are motivated by levels of enhancement.  

So these are fantastic ways to think about the different motivations of your volunteers, and then to choose, you know, which are the top one or two, and then choose quotes from our list to share with those volunteers because they’re gonna resonate and make sense to them. 

This is another blog post where we share how do we create a recognition speech. So we give a step by step on how to write a good recognition speech as well. So if you have a volunteer event coming up, this is gonna be a really good blog post for you.  

Okay, so let’s go on to nonprofit blog number eight in our countdown, How to Write Powerful, Targeted Volunteer Recruitment Ads. So this is a blog post that really helps you make the connection between your strategic plan and your volunteer recruitment ask. 

You know, your strategic plan leads into your strategic volunteer plan, which leads into your marketing plan, which leads into your recruitment ads. So we help you make the connection between what happens in your recruitment ads to fostering and supporting your overall agency’s big goals.  

You know, we also wanna make sure our ads have purpose. You know, if we don’t have purpose in our ads, we confuse our potential volunteers with mixed messages and unclear calls to action. So one of the things we wanna do is think about what is the purpose of our ads?  

So putting purpose and audience at the top of post, of our minds when we’re writing a post, sets the tone for a strategic message and leaves an intentional call to action with your potential volunteers.  

In this blog post, we also post some questions for you to think about as you’re writing your next volunteer recruitment ad. So check that blog out. I think it’ll be super helpful.  

Okay, nonprofit blog number seven in our countdown: How to Give Meaningful Volunteer Gifts that Volunteers Will Love. Volunteer recognition is all about making our volunteers feel loved on, making our volunteers feel like we value their work, but also doing something that has meaning for them. 

So we actually take the contrary view in this blog and talk about what meaningful recognition really looks like. And it’s not always, or often really, plaques and pins.  

It’s more about encouraging mastery. So helping make sure volunteers feel confident and are learning, providing a little autonomy, so giving them some sense of co-producing plans and being part of the decision-making process. 

Now, this should sound familiar, right? I just talked about some of our retention research earlier in this podcast. So you know, one of our earlier nonprofit blogs talked about this. The research is reinforcing itself, right?  

And then reinforcing purpose. So making sure that the work of the volunteers is connected to the organization’s goals and mission. And you know, we need to make that clear to volunteers sometimes. Sometimes they don’t see the connections and don’t connect the dots.  

And then cultivating relatedness. Again, it’s that social connection and that feeling of belonging. So in this blog post, How to Give Meaningful Volunteer Gifts that Volunteers Will Love, we give an alternate view of what meaning might look like when you’re giving gratitude to your volunteers.  

However, because we know you like to give gifts, we include a list of vendors to purchase gifts from, but we also recommend that you look for vendors in your local area to support your local economy. And they may, if you come to them with your online prices and you ask them to beat them, they may be able to beat your online prices.  

And this is a blog post that has a freebie, You can find free ebook, Volunteer Appreciation: 50 Simple Ways to Show Your Love. And that ebook also is separated by categories, so it will really help you think through different appreciation ideas beyond just simply gift giving. 

You know, gifts aren’t a bad thing, but you can have a very poorly run volunteer culture. You can have an absolutely awful volunteer experience and you can give people lots of gifts and they’re not gonna come back.  

It’s not the gifts that made the difference, it’s the experience. The gifts are just extra perks, right? So I always wanna remind people about that.  

All right, moving on to nonprofit blog number six, How to Recruit Volunteers Online with Powerful Calls to Action. Here’s another recruitment blog post that we wrote. And we want to talk about how we work with human nature, not against it. This is something I like to talk about a lot. 

You know, we’re working with people’s emotions when they raise their hand and say, yes, I want to help your organization. And so we wanna make sure that we’re designing purposeful calls to action. And that’s what this blog post is all about.  

It gives you a better chance at writing the momentum of the brain’s natural processes. Our brains are all relatively the same around the world. Doesn’t matter our culture, doesn’t matter our country, doesn’t matter our language…our brains basically do the same thing, more or less.  

So we want to create recruitment ads that have a higher chance of being clicked, read, responded to in a positive way. And we do that by working with human nature, not against it.  

So in the blog, we actually help you with five copywriting triggers that will help your reader’s brain to act, and we give you some examples. I’m gonna give you the questions here. You’ll need to go to the blog post to get the examples.  

So question number one, what do you want them to do? This helps you focus on action. Action. You wanna create a recruitment post that volunteers can, that you know what they’re supposed to be doing, so that you keep yourself focused.  

Question number two, what’s in it for them? What are they gonna get out of volunteering? And again, it’s not just about gifts, y’all. It’s not just about free parking, but what are they gonna help change in the world? What transformation are they gonna bring about? 

Question number three, why are they resistant or what are their barriers to volunteering? You want to nip these in the bud and actually address them early on because a lot of times a volunteer’s objection can be overcome, or their barrier can be overcome with your help.  

Question four, what difference will they make? So again, what’s that transformation? What happens when volunteers are around, versus what happens when they’re not around? That’s a good way to think about it. 

And then question five, why do they need to act right now? If they act right now, what’s different than waiting six months from now? People need a sense of urgency so that they don’t procrastinate.  

So you want to check that out and think that through as you write your recruitment ads, but you wanna go check out that blog post, How to Recruit Volunteers Online with Powerful Calls to Action to get more details on this.  

There’s also a freebie with this blog post. I’m sensing a theme here. I think our blog posts with freebies tend to get more action. I don’t know, I’m just saying! But there is a free e-course, Better Volunteer Recruitment in Six Easy Steps. It’s super simple and it just delivers it to your email inbox. It’s super simple, so check that out on that nonprofit blog.  

All right, so we’ve gone through five of our top nonprofit blogs, our fan faves for 2022. We’re gonna take a quick break and when we get back we’re gonna finish off the five. We got more goodies to come y’all, so stay with me. 

If you enjoyed this week’s episode of Volunteer Nation, we invite you to check out the VolunteerPro Premium Membership. This community is the most comprehensive resource for attracting, engaging, and supporting dedicated high-impact volunteer talent for your good cause.  

VolunteerPro Premium Membership helps you build or renovate an effective what’s-working-now volunteer program with less stress and more joy, so that you can ditch the overwhelm and confidently carry your vision forward.  

It is the only implementation of its kind that helps your organization build maturity across five phases of our proprietary system, the Volunteer Strategy Success Path™. If you’re interested in learning more, visit volpro.net/join. 

Okay, we’re back with my countdown of our top 10 nonprofit blogs of 2022. Both from VolunteerPro website, volpro.net, and our Tobi Johnson and Associates website, Tobijohnson.com. I went and researched both sides of our house and pulled out our top 10 blogs.  

So these are sure to give you value and there’s lots of freebies in these blogs, so you wanna check ’em out. Now, where do you find these blogs? Just to remind you, if you go to Tobijohnson.com and visit our podcast, just click “podcast” at the top of the page and go to episode 37.  

That’s this episode that you’re listening to right now. There’s a list of these links in that episode in the show notes, and you can read each and every one of these blogs. All right, so let’s get to nonprofit blog number five.  

We are running down our list to the top blog of the year, 10 Must Haves for a Well-Crafted Volunteer Job Description. Now I’m gonna preface this by letting you know that we prefer to use the term position description for volunteers.  

You know, a lot of people will use job description, volunteer job description, but because volunteers aren’t paid, we prefer to use the word position description. So people may ask, well, why did you use the word job description in this blog post?  

Well, because when we do our search engine optimization research, we look for keywords that you all as our audience are posting in Google to find information. And more people use job description, volunteer job description, than they do volunteer position description. 

So we’ve gotta connect with you first, and then convince you to use a new term. Our new term we wanna use is position description, if you can. So, let’s talk about what, that’s just a little caveat to kick us off for this nonprofit blog number five, 10 Must Haves for a Well-Crafted Volunteer Job (AKA Position) Description, right? 

So we talk about 10 essential items to include in that position description to help create an informative and inspiring document. It’s not just about a laundry list of things you need volunteers to do, that’s not really what it is. It’s a marketing piece. So you want to inspire your readers when you create your volunteer position descriptions. 

So there’s a couple of things I’m gonna mention right now, but you wanna go to that blog post to get our entire list of 10. But here are two that I think help strengthen your messaging and also attract the right volunteers, right?  

So one is team values. When you include information about the values that you expect from your team or that your organization follows, you allow the right person to find the right position or find the right organization.  

People can assess well, do those values align with my values? Right? And so you wanna make sure that you have that upfront and center. A short bullet list is all it takes to communicate to your audience what your values are. 

So you might say, “We believe…” or “We believe in…” and then include some values at the top of your position description. I just think it’s a very empowering way to help your reader decide very quickly whether or not they align with you. 

And people who don’t align with your values, that’s okay. They need to find an organization with whom their values align perfectly because those people are going to stay, they’re gonna stick. Second area that you might, item you might wanna include in your volunteer job description, is the impact of the role.  

So what have other people, other volunteers achieved through this role? How does the work affect the community of people served by your organization or program? What does it matter within the scope of your mission to have this role occupied and productive?  

You know, by including what volunteers in this role are already doing or achieving, you’re adding momentum to your reader by showing what’s possible. So it’s really powerful to both include team values, but also the impact of the role at some point in your volunteer position description.  

Now, my goal for you isn’t to create a position description that’s five pages long. It’s best to keep it at two pages. So front and back, you can print it out if you wanna hand it out or post it online, but you really wanna keep it down to two pages. 

So these are short bullets. This is not, you’re not asking for a laundry list of things. Those are two things that we talk about of the ten in 10 Must Haves for a Well-Crafted Volunteer Job Description. So check out that blog post for the full list and it will help you really boost the power of your volunteer position descriptions. 

Okay, we’re down to nonprofit blog number four in our countdown, 101 Quotes for Volunteers: Inspire Your Team to Reach for the Stars. Now, like I said…didn’t I say earlier that quotes are something that is popular for our readers? Absolutely!  

So we have 101 quotes. They are split up by category, and we offer suggestions on where to post quotes. So a lot of our readers will be searching on Google, looking for volunteer quotes.  

They’ll find this, and then we help them actually sift through and figure out which quotes will work and also where they might use ’em, because they probably haven’t considered all the different ways you can use inspirational quotes. 

So we have a pretty good laundry list of places to post. I’m just gonna share three of my top favs from the list just for fun. Now, this list, there’s 101, so you definitely wanna go and print out and save this blog post, but I’m gonna share three of my favs.  

So one is, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” Oscar Wilde. Isn’t that fantastic? It is true. The tiniest gift of kindness is something that people remember.  

Okay, my second favorite from the our list of 101, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman. 

Now who can’t be inspired by Harriet Tubman? She ran our Underground Railroad. She was helpful in helping thousands of enslaved people escape their situation. And what an incredibly brave person. 

And also just an inspiration to us all to overcome our fears and do things that sometimes are hard, but make a real difference in people’s lives. So I love her quote. I think she’s great. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.” We wanna encourage our volunteers to dream.  

Okay, one more quote. “There’s no time like the present, no present like time.” Georgia Byng. Isn’t that a cute one? I like some of these quotes that are a play on words. It’s just kind of fun.  

So “there’s no time like the present, no present like time.” It’s all about the time and talent your volunteers contribute to your organization. There are a full 98 additional quotes in that blog post, 101 Quotes for Volunteers. So check it out.  

Okay. Let’s move on to nonprofit blog number three, This is How to Write the Perfect Volunteer Thank You Letter. So there’s a lot about appreciation in our faves.  

So in this blog post we talk about why – this is a little inspiration for you, a little challenge to you – why writing thank you notes to volunteers is more important than how busy you are. Check that out, right? Why writing thank you notes to volunteers is more important than how busy you are.  

I’m serious. It is important and can do a lot of work for you. We talk about the six characteristics of a perfect thank you letter, how to make it easy and stress-free to include writing thank you notes each week on your calendar of tasks. 

And of course we have a free cheat sheet. A volunteer thank you letter sample. So our power thank you in four steps. So definitely go to that blog and download that cheat sheet, and use it anytime you’re writing handwritten thank yous.  

If you think about it, how many handwritten thank you notes do you get in the mail in any given month? Not very many. It is a true way to stand out, but your thank you notes need to be written in a way that’s not just a broad brushstroke. 

Really needs to be specific to the person, so we share in our cheat sheet how to do that. All right, so happy writing in 2023. All right, we’re down to our last two top nonprofit blog posts for 2022, our top fan faves. 

This is number two, Volunteer Stipends, Interns and Employee Volunteers: Some Important Things to Know. Now, this is a very helpful topic, a popular topic because I think not everybody knows the law.  

Now in this blog post, it’s mostly focused on the law in the United States. However, you can look at your own labor departments in your own countries and quickly figure out similar policies that align. So it’ll help you get started thinking.  

And then you’ll need to go, if you live in another country, you’ll need to go to your own Labor Department’s rules, but it provides a really good framework. So we talk about the legal definition of a “volunteer.”  

And gang, it doesn’t matter how your organization defines it, there are laws around this, and we talk about why it’s important to know what the law is in terms of how volunteers are defined by law. We also talk about whether or not to offer stipends and what it can impact. 

And aka, it can in impact, I’m just telling you, I’m gonna drop it right now. volunteer taxes and whether or not those volunteers are considered an employee. So depending on the amount of stipend you offer a volunteer, that can kick in things that impact both a volunteer and impact your organization.  

So, you know, even our gift cards can be considered taxable income. So if you’re giving volunteers gift cards, that can impact their own taxes. So I want you to take a look at this blog post, Nonprofit Stipends, Interns and Employee Volunteers. 

You can find it using the link that we post in the show notes for this podcast. Plus, we have an ebook that’s a board general, The Essential Guide to Managing Volunteers at your Nonprofit, that you’ll wanna check out as well.  

It’s a great ebook. You can download it, multiple pages of great wisdom to help you move forward in 2023. So that’s an awesome value-packed blog post that you’re gonna wanna check out.  

Okay, we are down to nonprofit blog number one, the most popular blog post on both of our websites. This blog post had over 5,600 views in 2022. It is really popular. So what do you think it is? I’m wondering what do you think it is? 

Think for a minute. What do you think it is? All right, I’m gonna tell you. So nonprofit blog number one – drum roll please! National Volunteer Week 2022: Resources and Ideas for Your Nonprofit. It’s a super practical blog post!  

Now you’re probably thinking, well, National Volunteer Week is already over, or we have a different national volunteer week in our country versus in the US where we are in, where I’m recording this blog post right now and where I live.  

That’s okay. This blog post can help you think ahead and plan for your next National Volunteer Week, or your next volunteer celebration, or your next Giving Tuesday or your next whatever time of the year where you’re celebrating volunteers, this blog post can help give you some frameworks.  

In this blog post, I offer some prompts, so I thought I would share three prompts for thinking about your strategy for approaching these types of celebrations. Just gonna offer three of some of the prompts that I offer.  

One: how can you rebuild a sense of community in your lapsed volunteers through celebrations during this time? We often think of our current existing volunteers, but we don’t often think of our lapsed volunteers. So that’s an idea.  

Who can you partner with in your community to leverage this week as a time to raise the profile of volunteerism and make the case for service in your community? So it’s not only about celebrating volunteers inside your organization, it’s about creating a full community-wide effort. Could you do that next time?  

Third prompt for thinking: how can you rebuild moments and excitement within the hearts of volunteers, coworkers, and leadership, about the power and potential volunteerism by getting everyone involved in your National Volunteer Week or your week of celebration? 

So those are some prompts to get you thinking, but I have more in this blog post as well. There’s also a list of dates and links that you can just go to those links and find out what the dates are for 2023.  

So, we’ve got some dates around the world for different organizations and different types of celebrations, so go check those out. We also, in this blog post, talk about how to get buy-in for resources and activities for these types of celebrations. 

You know, sometimes you’ve gotta get approval or a budget or whatever. So we wanna give you some tips for that as well. So check out that blog post that will give you all kinds of information around how to do this.  

So that’s what we got for our top 10 blog posts from both of our websites, volunteer Pro and Tobi Johnson and Associates for 2022. As we’re wrapping up 2022, I encourage you to take a look for a little inspiration.  

I encourage you to think about how 2023 is going to rock, how you are gonna bring more and more volunteer supporters into your organization, how you’re gonna partner and expand throughout the community, and how you’re gonna have some fun because, you know, we’ve had a hard couple years. 

But you know, 2023 is a new day, so it’s time to think about how we’re gonna start having fun and really leaning into the good times and the privilege it is to work in the field that we do. So that’s our show for this week. I hope this episode has helped you pinpoint some nonprofit blogs that you might want to read that maybe you didn’t get your hands on this year, earlier this year. 

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Volunteer Nation. We appreciate our audience so much and we are so grateful that you’re tuning in to listen. And if you like this episode, please share it with a colleague who might be inspired as well.  

And if you get a chance, rate and review and leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you in your favorite podcast platform. So I hope to see you next week. Same time, same place for another episode of The Volunteer Nation. Take care everybody. 

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Volunteer Nation podcast. If you enjoyed it, please be sure to subscribe, rate, and review so we can reach people like you who want to improve the impact of their good cause.  

For more tips and notes from the show, check us out at TobiJohnson.com. We’ll see you next week for another installment of Volunteer Nation.