Ron Buff is the owner of Buff Sales, a marketing consulting firm based in Northville, Michigan founded in 1979. Ron Buff assists his customers in preparing, selling and merchandising their products. Furthermore, he represents large multi-national corporations and start-up inventors in various product lines such as electronics, appliances, home furnishings pet supplies, HBA and many more.
Happy Friday, all–we hope you had a fantastic week! Check out the links below for announcements, stories, and new stuff from our Travel Buddies–and have a great weekend!
Volunteer Global’s Front Page Photo Contest is underway. Vote for your favorite or enter your own volunteer and community service picture today for a chance to have it on our front page!
Sarah started off the week with this new article about using social networks to recruit, retain, and engage your volunteers–this week’s focus was Facebook. Check out part 1 of the series here!
Our good friend Tom at MindsAbroad published this guest post about the pros and cons of volunteering abroad solo or with a group. Which one do you prefer?
We uploaded this new 60 Seconds to Serve video–this week’s featured Travel Buddy is GoEco!
Steph told you all about volunteering for historic preservation–what you can do, how to get there, and some highlights from historic preservation projects.
ARCHELON has a new profile page–take a gander at this amazing program protecting sea turtles in Greece!
Africa & Asia Venture has a new and improved profile page as well–learn more about these guys and their wonderful work in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
The Bimini Biological Field Station invites you to volunteer, intern, or research sharks and other marine life in the Bahamas.
Global Volunteer Network invites you to choose from their many volunteer programs worldwide.
And ARCAS Guatemala would love to have you visit their wildlife refuge!
Historic preservation is a commonly used buzzword in the realm of volunteering that includes a great variety of different tasks and endeavors.
Typically, it can be defined as the processes of preserving, conserving, and protecting things from the past that are of historic importance, such as objects or artifacts, buildings, and structures—generally man-made and considered valuable. Perhaps the most famous example of historic preservation in the United States is the decision to maintain Mount Vernon, George Washington’s homestead, in its original condition rather than demolishing the property shortly after his death.
Most work done in the name of historic preservation is through nonprofit organizations; however, heavy government involvement has been noted around the world, particularly in regards to protecting archeological sites—from pyramids and fortresses to digs of ancient dwellings.
The aim of historic preservation is generally to protect the memory and pay homage to the advancements of past generations, preserving information about cultures that no longer exist or have diversified greatly, and to better understand the past—whether from a social or scientific perspective.
Volunteering for historic preservation typically includes two different types of projects: advocacy for the protection of sites—particularly houses and other buildings set to be destroyed in the name of modernism—and the recovery and protection of artifacts and sites.
Career paths for those interested in historic preservation are as bountiful as volunteer projects, and include positions at any degree level. Examples include architectural historians, historic preservation planners, traditional trade practitioners, and preservation engineers, as well as many others in both the non-profit and government sectors. Professional organizations include the American Institute for Conservation, American Planning Association, International Council on Monuments and Sites, UNESCO, and more.
If you’re interested in volunteer or career opportunities in the field of historic preservation, be sure to check out your local preservation organizations or the State and/or Local Preservation Office, or a nearby National Trust Historic site, which always have volunteer opportunities available.
Here is just one awesome organization to check out if you’re interested in volunteering for historic preservation anywhere in the world!
Adventures in Preservation
Adventures in Preservation, formerly known as the Heritage Conservation Network, was founded in 2001 in an effort to connect people and preservation through providing programs for volunteers that foster community sustainability and protecting heritage.
Originally their work was based in the United States, but word soon got out about their mission and great volunteer opportunities, and has spread around the world to help communities in their preservation initiatives that promote environmental and economic sustainability for communities. In particular, Adventures in Preservation aims to conserve architecture that is distinct of an area that defines its history and culture, and allow current communities to enjoy them as well. Projects provide service as well as educational and cultural exchange opportunities for volunteers.
Volunteers take on a number of tasks, depending on the project that is the focus of the adventure. Volunteers typically serve for a week or more on one project, and are given specific instruction and education to assist them in the tasks they are to complete during their service. In just a few of the past adventures, volunteers had opportunities such as restoring windows of the Bellanca Air Hangar in New Castle, Delaware, interior conservation of the Babameto House—a World Heritage site—in Albania, masonry and correcting past repair work to a 17th century cottage in Slovenia, and creating affordable housing from restored shotgun-style houses in Illinois.
Upcoming adventures in 2012 and 2013 include trips to Italy to save underground churches, saving tower houses dating back to the Ottoman Empire in Albania, and archeology and preservation work at a plantation in Virginia dating back to 1694!
All skill and education levels are welcome—volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. Family workshops are also available!
For more information, check out www.adventuresinpreservation.org.
Photos courtesy of the author and Wikimedia Commons.
This week’s Featured Travel Buddy is GoEco. Founded in 2005, GoEco’s projects span the globe from the Americas to Africa to Australia, and can focus on wildlife, conservation, development, healthcare, teaching, and more. Learn more in our newest 60 Seconds To Serve video below!
Count the number of green stars in this photo, and you’ll have your answer.
(Hint: It’s the highest possible ranking.)
Today’s article is brought to you by Tom Hopkins. Tom is Editor in Chief for Minds Abroad, your informed counselor for study abroad and travel programs in China. Learn Mandarin in China and enrich your cross-cultural experience. For more posts and information on places of cultural and historical interest that we take our students to, visit www.mindsabroad.com.
Volunteering overseas has been a popular part of gap year programs and student travel for years. You can travel individually or in groups to countries to help with volunteer projects, and of late, China in particular has been a popular destination both for study abroad and gap year programs.
When planning a trip abroad for a gap year or for academic credit, students usually opt for volunteering worldwide. These programs help students interact with locals and get an immersive perspective of culture and lifestyle. But the big question remains: should you travel alone or in a group?
The answer depends entirely on the individual or group traveling—the following points highlight the benefits of both!
Solo Travel Benefits
There are many factors to take into account before you opt for an individual trip or group tour to China or other volunteer destinations. Someone who has traveled to foreign countries alone may be confident enough to volunteer abroad in a new place on his own—therefore, those with the adventurous spirit can easily sign up for volunteering programs individually.
While traveling with a group, there can be many constraints as the whole group manages projects assigned collectively. An individual trip, however, would allow more control over your day-to-day activities. You can plan daily outings after work, weekly trips, and more—entirely depending on your own needs.
During free time, you can explore the city you are in at your own pace. Depending on your social skills, there are opportunities to interact with locals and help understand the lifestyle and culture better. Such unbridled exploration is otherwise not possible with a group.
And finally, of the most important factors of individual travel is that the trip can be customized entirely in accordance to your needs. You can take up tasks that are best suited to your own volunteering skills. As well, for individual volunteers, you get to work in a team that in all likelihood will comprise of people from different nations or states. Therefore, the global interaction possibility widens considerably.
Group Travel Benefits
Group tours have other benefits that can’t be gained from individual travel experiences. Those planning to go on volunteer abroad trips for the first time would benefit from group travel.
These trips are well structured and, with reputable organizations, optimized in accordance to the needs of the group. So, there are no surprises in store and the group can handle any minor unforeseen circumstances easily. This is a perfect solution for school students who are travelling together.
For those who cannot handle a lot of stress, group travel easily allows division of labor, and all tasks become relatively easier. You can work comfortably with people you know, and sharing your experiences becomes easy.
Usually group trips comprise of people from the same institution or community—therefore you get to bond with people you might not have known well earlier and continue to socialize, forming long-term relationships and lasting friendships.
It can be clearly seen that volunteering abroad can be a great learning opportunity both for novices and experienced students—now, how do you prefer to travel?
Photo courtesy of khalzuri.
Welcome the second of our five-part series on recruiting, retaining, and engaging volunteers through social networking!
In last week’s article, I introduced you to the difference between networking as an individual and networking as a business. In today’s post, we’ll go over networking through Facebook from the latter perspective. Stay tuned throughout this month for our follow-up posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!
Facebook is one of the most popular websites in the world. Not in the U.S., not the U.K.—the world. My Dutch fiance’s 80+ grandfather has a Facebook account. My 8-year-old American cousin has a Facebook account. Everybody’s on it, and it’s unbelievably useful for recruiting, retaining, and engaging your volunteers.
You need it to recruit new volunteers—by having your current fans share and comment on your posts, you’ll increase visibility and gain more like-minded fans that may become future volunteers.
Facebook is an incredible tool to keep your current volunteers engaged—post their photos from the field, give updates about your projects worldwide, and let them know the impact of their work.
And finally—what I believe is the most overlooked aspect of volunteer support—you can absolutely use Facebook to retain and engage your alumni! Volunteer alumni arguably are your largest support base, and yet volunteers around the world express time and again their concerns that they feel cast off after their work is done.
As mentioned in the first part of this series, I saw this firsthand in my previous job at one of the largest volunteer agencies in the world. My particular office worked with returned volunteer support, and of an agency with more than 800 employees at headquarters, our staff took up only 15 of those positions and less than 1% of the agency’s budget. The focus was on recruitment, not retention and alumni involvement.
And it’s one reason I decided to work full-time on Volunteer Global—because volunteers aren’t just a revolving door of well-intentioned help. Get them involved after service, let them know just how important they are to your mission, and your company will grow exponentially.
Don’t post too much and too often
Your volunteers, friends, and networks will at best let their eyes slide off the page when you post too much, and at worst they’ll unlike your page because they think it’s too spammy.
Don’t post too little and too late
Not posting enough, on the other hand, doesn’t help your cause either. Whether it’s to get volunteers involved with your group, to fundraise for your projects, or to build a support network—your page will be forgotten, turn stagnant, and your volunteers and networks won’t engage with you the way you’ll want them to.
Don’t post only about yourself
Think of it this way—when you have a friend that only talks about himself, you get annoyed pretty quickly. You want to have a conversation, not a “me-me-me” update. Facebook works the same way!
A great way to find engaging, interesting content to add daily from your page is to find news articles, events, or announcements from other sources that relate to the spirit of your page. If you want to recruit and retain volunteers, then find articles that talk about how to choose a great program, top 10 volunteer destinations worldwide, or even holidays and celebrations from your host country.
Ask questions or do something different to help your volunteers interact with you and with one another
In addition to posting announcements and articles, ask your fans questions, start a photo contest, or even post a giveaway! Informative articles are great, but even news agencies post polls and contests from time to time—and their job is to get the news out there.
Pay attention to Insights
Brittany Edwardes is a star. Have I told you that? Part of her job as a Volunteer Global team member is to write Facebook reports every month, with information on what we posted, what was popular (in all the ways it can be, either by virality, by comments, by reach, and so on), and how to change our strategies.
By paying attention to the built-in Facebook Insights—and understanding what they are—our page went from a stagnant article dump to a robust, engaging one that’s grown by hundreds of members in the past few months. Of course we’re not to 1,000 or 10,000 yet, but that’s not the point. The point is, we’re paying attention to what our fans like and what they want to know, and not “How to get a million followers in one week.”
And for the love of pete, don’t repost the “Oh my word, Facebook is only showing our posts to 15% of our fans!” thing. It’s always done that—you just didn’t know it because those insights weren’t there. And hey, 15% isn’t a terrible thing! Your email blasts won’t be read 100% of the time, your flyers won’t catch the attention of everyone that passes by, and your phone calls won’t always be met with a happy voice on the other end of the line. Facebook is no different; keep with your mission and get your message out to the 15% that will see the post, and the friends of friends that’ll see it if you learn to post fantastic content!
The goal for you today is to understand that Facebook—while an impersonal site in many ways—provides much more personal approach to engaging with your community and networks than you might think. Give your volunteers a reason to like your page and a reason for them to tell their friends to like it too.
Now, how have you used Facebook to engage your volunteers and friends? Post your best practices and ideas below!
Photo courtesy of Jared Tarbell, Creative Commons.
Older givers are increasingly going online to make charitable donations, with religious and arts charities the major beneficiaries. Check out our infographic below to find out how older donors fueling a boom in online giving. To find out more about how organisations can benefit from giving online, check out our charities homepage.
Well, what have we got here! Our very first front page photo contest–click here to learn more and enter!
And we just released our very first Newsletter for Volunteers, Friends, and Fans. Add your email to the box on the right side of this page to sign up for our future monthly issues!
Sarah introduced you to the first of her five-part series on using social networks to recruit, retain, and engage volunteers.
Brittany helped you figure out how to assess popular philanthropy trends–that is, to know whether the cause of the week is legitimate or just a flashy marketing scheme.
We welcomed World Computer Exchange as our Travel Buddy of the Week in this new 60 Seconds to Serve video.
Plus, Steph told you all about volunteering abroad in Zimbabwe–with a specific focus on the Victoria Falls region. Beautiful!
Worldwide Experience joined our Travel Buddy program–check out their brand-new profile page!
- While donating money, goods or services is the top way adults have gotten involved in social change in the past six months (50%, on average), donating money is also where adults are most likely to cut back when economic conditions are bad (37%, on average).
- In seven of the eight countries surveyed, nonprofits are among the top two ways adults are most likely to get involved in social change.
- Adults in the U.S. and Canada are most likely to say being involved in social change is important because they want to help those less fortunate than themselves (64% each).
- Adults in Brazil and India say social change is important because it makes them feel good (70% and 72%, respectively).
- Adults in China, Germany and Jordan say it is a moral responsibility (80%, 56% and 55%, respectively).
- In Mexico, adults are most likely to say it is because they want to be part of the solution and not just benefit from the actions of others and also because they want to improve life for themselves and their families (64% each).