It is time to celebrate and thank your volunteers! For 40 years, National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, has been about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to serve their communities. In addition to the thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week, it is also the perfect time to promote your cause and recognize your volunteers. Here's a few tools to help get your organization started:
- National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, 2017, is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities.
- It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.
- National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.
- Points of Light, which spearheads National Volunteer Week, is the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages
- 2 Million Volunteers in Virginia last year!
Media Outreach Tips
Here’s how to use the media to recognize your volunteers and volunteer leaders:
- We encourage organizations to contact local broadcast (TV/radio), print (newspapers/magazines) and online (blogs/social media pages) outlets.
- Research the relevant outlets and reporters/editors in your market who have covered your organization or similar charities and nonprofits. Seek out journalists or bloggers who might be interested in your National Volunteer Week programming, and compile an up-to-date media list. Google News, news.google.com, is a great tool for finding reporters.
- If you think your National Volunteer Week program would fit nicely in a certain column or correspond with a recent article you read, suggest that to the reporter, showing you have done your homework. If you call the front desk of any outlet, the receptionist will be able to provide you with the phone numbers and email addresses of the journalists you’re looking for. You can also ask, “Who covers philanthropy and nonprofit organizations?” and they will direct your call.
- Target local online publications and blogs to announce the National Volunteer Week program and recruit volunteers. Try a Google search using keywords such as “services,” “volunteerism” or “charities” coupled with the name of your market. Check local websites (e.g., Richmond.com for the Richmond area, etc.) When reaching out to relevant bloggers, pitch to them as you would pitch to a reporter. Remember to always be transparent and identify yourself as someone representing your organization, not just an interested citizen.
- Your affiliated chapters or sponsors in your region could also be a powerful ally in this effort. Be sure to brief them and find out if you can work jointly to release the press materials and contact the media. They may also be able to provide a copy of their media contacts and help act as spokespeople. Be sure to invite them to your Nationa Volunteer Week recognition event.
- Print: The best way to initially reach the print Beginning in March publications is through email. We recommend you send a short pitch (see press release pitch below), along with the press release copied and pasted into the body of the email. As a general rule, do not include attachments or embed the logos in your email. Start this process in March – many media are planning their National Volunteer Week stories. You should follow up with journalists with a 1st week of April phone call, waiting a day or two after you send your email. A conversation may go like this:
"Hi, this is [name] from [organization]. We are holding an event to celebrate National Volunteer Week, April 10-16. [State number of volunteers attending what activity.] I sent you an email about this earlier and was wondering if you’d be interested in joining us for the event, or telling your readers about it."
- Photo Desk: Sometimes news outlets run photos with 1st week of April captions instead of full-blown stories. These could serve as valuable pieces of media coverage. Send your media advisory to photo editors (some outlets don’t have them) the week leading up to your activity, again the day before and early on the morning of your event.
- Broadcast: The broadcast media work a bit differently from March and April print. We recommend you send them a media alert via email, and start talking to them in April. This media segment still uses faxes, so call the front desks of your local radio and news stations and ask for their newsroom fax numbers. Fax and email the alert. Follow up with phone calls.
- Online: Online media loves emails. Start talking to March and April editors/bloggers in March and send them your pitch letter and release in April.
Social Media Tips
Use social media and social networks to recognize your volunteers and volunteer leaders. Here are a few ways:
Post to Facebook:
- Create a Facebook event and invite your Facebook friends to join you by serving with you on your project. (Be sure to follow up individually with everyone who says they will join you, as the no-show rate can be higher with Facebook RSVPs.)
- Share the link to this National Volunteer Week Resource Guide (http://www.pointsoflight.org/signature-events/national-volunteer-week) and ask your friends in other towns to start their own projects.
- Mention Points of Light on your Facebook page and we will be sure to “like,” “share” and comment on your post. (To mention us so we will see it, first “like” the Points of
- Light Facebook page. Then, in your wall post, type “@PointsofLight” and you should see a drop-down menu with the name. Select Points of Light from the drop-down menu. This action creates a hotlink in your wall post directly to our wall, so we will be sure to see your post.)
- Share the link to this National Volunteer Week Resource Guide (http://www.pointsoflight.org/signature-events/national-volunteer-week) and ask your
- Twitter followers to start their own projects.
- Share the details of your project with your followers.
- The hashtag for National Volunteer Week 2016 is #NVW2017. (If you mention @PointsofLight, we will retweet it and/or @reply.)
- Write a post about why National Volunteer Week is important to you and your volunteers.
- Include a profile of the person you are recognizing for your readers. How did his/her service change the community?
- Send a link to your blog post to email@example.com for possible promotion on the Points of Light blog, www.pointsoflight.org/blog.
Upload to YouTube
- Record a video (even from your phone or tablet) that explains why National Volunteer Week is important to you and your volunteers.
- Upload the video to your YouTube page and share it with your Facebook and/or Twitter friends. Encourage them to share it, too.
- Send a link to your video to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will link to it from the Points of Light YouTube channel.