Before we go back to some lighter Garden Club Salon material, I just wanted to touch on one last point the Volunteer Canada survey mentioned—that is their recommendation to expand an organization’s volunteer base and retain volunteers by making use of online communications.
How do you promote your organization, share its news, and communicate with each other? Is it by phone, e-mail, paper newsletters, online digital newsletters, blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, or texting? Or are you juggling a combination of the above?
It’s challenging to keep up with the options. Especially for the non-geeks among us, it can seem as complex and complicated a back-road journey as the image of this microchip depicts, right? Certainly begs the question—who in the organization is going to take it on and then how long can they be relied upon to do it?
Will your new media ventures be practical and effective? And, if you are already utilizing various media options—how do your readership numbers compare to the general population? Read more.
Before launching into added forms of media for the benefit of your organization, you might want to review the Pew Internet & American Life Project Social Side of the Internet report, dated January 18, 2011. The study set out to learn the overall impact of the internet on group activities. “How do volunteer groups perform in the digital age.”
The report’s conclusion was that “Use of the internet is having a wide-ranging impact on . . . general engagement with civic, social and religious groups . . . Internet users [participating in organizations] are more active participants in their groups than other adults, and are more likely to feel pride and a sense of accomplishment.”
And it was found that 4/5 of social media users [such as Facebook] and Twitter users are active voluntary group participants.
How many American adults are active in a voluntary group? 75%
(The report indicated that those not volunteering responded that they did not do so due to limiting time-stresses, health or other issues.)
Of internet users how many participate in groups? 80%
How many non-internet users participate in groups? 56%
Of users of Facebook and other social networks, 82% volunteer in organizations, 85% of Twitter users are group participants
41% of these internet-using active group members say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to organize activities for their groups
MEDIA USAGE OF GROUPS
What percentage of the interviewees’ groups maintain an organizational Facebook or similar page? 48%
30% of those who are active in groups say those groups have their own blog, 16% communicate with members through Twitter
59% of all respondants said that they believe the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to organize activities
53% who are active in groups and who are regular internet-users say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to keep up with news and information about their groups
62% of the internet users surveyed have used Facebook for group interaction, 12% of internet users used Twitter
How may internet-using active group members say the internet has had a major impact on their ability to find groups that match their interests? 33%
Kristen Purcell, research director at Pew Internet and co-author of the report goes on to say
One of the striking things in these data is how purposeful people are as they become active with groups. 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.
Take into consideration that these statistics are based on 2300 telephone interviews and asking 27 different kinds of groups. The reader might also take the study’s observations and apply them to the organization’s communications stance toward paying membership.
If an organization is going to consider greater internet participation while finding the time commitment balance, I strongly urge the reader to follow through and read the Pew Internet report in its longer version than excerpted here (link below).
As you make your organizational communications decisions, take into account the overall “culture” and size of your serviced community and organization, the demographic proportions of the various age ranges served, their access to the internet. Weigh that information with the amount of information to be communicated, immediacy needs of information and the manpower to accomplish it. And stay on top of ever-changing habits of the overall cultural habits of the population.
Nancy R. Peck
Other Garden Club Salon posts regarding volunteerism: