Like many nonprofit supporting organizations, the NH Center for Nonprofits organizes the state’s nonprofit “Gives” day, helping to raise and distribute funds to support New Hampshire’s nonprofits. Deborah Clark, who manages the NH Gives Day, received a call in spring 2020 after COVID-19 caused the cancellation of many other community events including those at the NH Charitable Foundation. The Foundation reached out and offered to deploy one of its employees to help with NH Gives Day. Shortly thereafter, a local businesswoman with experience in marketing and branding offer to help since her business pipeline had shifted due to COVID.

With two lead volunteers, Deborah had a team (not to mention an opportunity to put into practice all the strategies that VQ Volunteer Strategies and the Center had shared with four different cohorts of participants in our High Impact Volunteer Engagement Initiative). The marketing and branding expert helped to enhance the branding of the NH Gives Day campaign, managed the recording of videos by nonprofits, and arranged a college to manage the livestreaming of the event. Meanwhile, the contact from the Charitable Foundation secured $250,000 in matching funds and provided event planning expertise.

The results were notable. “Prior to 2020,” reported Deborah, “We wouldn’t have dared to dream of raising $1million. But, in 2020, we raised more than $3 million!”

In 2021, the team grew – and so did the results, with two celebrity hosts, the local PBS station broadcasting the livestream, and a tech support team helping to secure prerecorded videos from 130 nonprofits!

And today? Deborah shares, “The 2022 season has kicked off and I have a powerhouse team of 13 skilled volunteers. I have the owners of four companies, a few vice presidents, and even directors. These strategy volunteers add brainpower to the planning process. My dream team is divided into project teams to focus on various aspects of the project (e.g., social media planning, livestream planning, pre-recorded content planning) and I’m tapping one person to lead each team.”

With returning leadership, she has built in continuity along with the fresh ideas from new volunteers. With such a brain trust, it will be wonderful to see how this year’s NH Gives Day pans out.

Interested in engaging skills-based and leadership volunteers? Here are a few tips:

1. Know and define your needs; Engage pro bono resources proactively, according to your organization’s priorities.

2. Get the right resource for the job; Align people, process, and scope to address specific needs.

3. Be realistic about deadlines; Be thoughtful about which projects you choose – even small tasks can take longer than expected and pro bono is rarely a good solution for urgent needs.

4. Learning goes both ways; A skills-based volunteer involves partnership – you supply knowledge of your organization while the skills-based volunteer brings functional expertise.