Mission-based organizations - nonprofits, government agencies, schools, etc. - launch all sorts of online activities and services for remote staff and volunteers, for clients, and/or for the general public. For instance, they may have online discussion groups, an intranet where staff and volunteers can share profiles about themselves and updates about their work with each other, an online service that is promoted as central to the organization's mission and identity, or an app that somehow reflects the goals of their initiative.
They also post lots of information, even launch specific campaigns, on social media - on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, etc.
But is your staff showing leadership in using these online tools themselves? Are they "Walking the Talk" regarding your organization's online activities? Are they "liking" and sharing your social media posts with their own networks?
If staff at your headquarters aren't using your intranet, for instance, why should your field staff? If staff members aren't checking in regularly to your public online services, how can they promote it to potential funders and to others? If senior staff aren't using an app, why should mid-level staff? If they haven't shared a post your organization made on Facebook, why should anyone else?
For those who use the Net to teach students in remote locations: are the online profiles of your staff, teachers and tutors all up-to-date, for easy access by the students? If your staff and instructors aren't using your online services, why should your students?
Are you a "techno-hypocrite"? Is your organization promoting online tools that your staff doesn't use themselves?
One of my favorite under-utilized tools at most organizations is their intranet - that collaborative space that's private, that's only for staff and volunteers, where collaboration and information-sharing is supposed to happen. If your organization is to use an intranet successfully, regularly sharing information, regularly updating it, regularly relying on it, etc., all staff must embrace it. From the person who answers your phone to your executive director, everyone at your organization should have FIRST HAND experience using such, and this use should be tracked and evaluated regularly. Their pictures and profiles should be updated regularly. The latest and most important information from individual offices should be posted on the intranet. If this is not the case, you need to do a better job emphasizing to staff that this is a REQUIREMENT, not an option. You may even want to tie use of these online forums to individual staff performance evaluations. A good way to compel staff to use the Internet: don't email a person the information he or she is looking for, but, rather, send them the link to such on the Intranet.
Let's look at online discussion groups next: if your organization has an online discussion group, ALL staff should be logging in at least monthly and appropriate staff should be regularly responding to posts. There are ways to track online use via computer, but a better way might be asking staff members regularly what has been most interesting to them on the online forums lately; if they can't answer, they aren't looking.
Let's look at social media: have all employees, consultants and volunteers been invited to "like" your organization's Facebook page? Are they regularly encouraged (but never required) to share your organization's Facebook status updates? Is your senior staff and board members taking leadership roles online, "liking" most, if not all, of your organization's status updates, and even commenting occasionally?"Walk the Talk" regarding your tech use. Don't be a "techno-hypocrite."
Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
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