Engaging Techie Volunteers

From the TechSoup webinar, Managing IT Volunteers.

A techie can be ‘into social media’, an enthusiastic learner, or can be from the IT profession–with specific skills and interests. Since I’m engaging virtual volunteers, I’ve modified some of the in-person hardware/software type suggestions to include working with virtual tech volunteers, too.

Step 1: List tasks.
Ask staff, volunteers, & brainstorm. Ask first what staff need help with, and then if IT volunteers could possibly help.

Short-term IT volunteer task suggestions:
• Host a workshop or webinar on a particular social media tool for staff or other volunteers
• Updating (free) virus software on staff computers
• Set up a (free) survey online
• Create list of possible IT volunteer tasks
More from experienced volunteer management guru Jayne Cravens on tech volunteers here.

Long-term (with end date) IT volunteers can:
• Provide technical support for website
• Develop tech plan
• Developing a social media tool
• Measure social media usage
• Tech volunteer screener/interviewer
• On-call tech support for various hardware/software/social media areas

Step 2: Design volunteer positions.

Need written description. Define frequency, end date & benefits to both parties.
Before recruiting, define how you’re going to reply to and select candidates. Define tasks and end outcomes clearly so that volunteer can meet your needs–not all techies do all the same tech things!

Step 3: Recruit.
Don’t start worrying about finding the volunteers until you’ve defined your needs. You never know when someone who fits the bill might appear, and you’ll be ready.

Post to VolunteerMatch, Craigslist (if this is popular in your area), and local volunteer center (1-800-volunteer.org), college & university career/volunteer centers to recruit for interns (in August & January, particularly), businesses with IT departments in your neighborhood, and word of mouth with current volunteers & newsletters.

Step 4: Recognize.
Tech volunteers should be included in your regular volunteer recognition program. Online-only volunteers also need to be recognized, but be sure to ask how they like to be acknowledged–some would like to receive online recognition on social media, but others would like a simple online thank-you or periodic connection with other volunteers.

Now what?
To learn more, talk to folks in the tech arena. Ask them about possibilities and the proper language to use that appeals to techies.

To begin planning, see TechSoup’s manual for working with hardware/software tech volunteers which has some great specific worksheets. One is a questionnaire on tech skills (which helps those of us who don’t know, outside of general categories, what tech skills are out there!!) that would be a good point of discussion during a tech volunteer interview.

As your volunteer and tech volunteer program grows, recruit for ‘volunteer volunteer managers’ and ask them to manage ‘task teams’ of volunteers.

Investing your time in engaging tech volunteers could lead to better computer operation systems, but it could also lead to new corporate contacts, a wider network of supporters, younger volunteers and beginnings of a social media campaign.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Engaging Techie Volunteers

  1. Pingback: Add Tech Volunteers to Your Team | Wendy Biro-Pollard

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