By: Melissa Hill-Dees, Founding Partner of HandsOn Connect Cloud Solutions
In 2008, the Points of Light Foundation and the Salesforce Foundation conceived HandsOn Connect — a native Salesforce application designed specifically to make volunteering easier for employees and nonprofits — in a series of whiteboard sessions in San Francisco. The app was initially launched with Points of Light affiliates across the U.S. In 2015, HandsOn Connect became available on the AppExchange.
HandsOn Connect has an intuitive, user-friendly interface that provides volunteers access to search, filter, register and sign up for volunteer opportunities. For nonprofits, HandsOn Connect automates what can be automated, so nonprofit staff can devote their time to the things that can’t be automated.
And, because HandsOn Connect is built on Salesforce, it can be configured and extended to meet the specific needs of the nonprofit, including the all important reporting for stakeholders, grants, and federal programs. Salesforce nonprofit customers around the world are leveraging HandsOn Connect to manage over 42,000 volunteer shifts, both in person and virtual, impacting areas as varied as food insecurity, vaccine distribution, and the environment.
For this week’s National Volunteer Week, we’re launching the next phase of our partnership with Salesforce.org. This new phase brings thousands of new volunteer opportunities to Philanthropy Cloud, with more being added in real-time as they are created by nonprofits. To celebrate the power of connecting volunteers with communities that need their support, we’re highlighting three organizations that are rallying thousands of volunteers to tackle issues like food insecurity, climate change, and mass vaccinations.
Serving Food and Friendship During Lockdown
When lockdowns hit the U.K. last April, FoodCycle’s mission of supporting people who are hungry and lonely by serving tasty lunches and dinners was immediately impacted. No longer able to gather folks together for a shared meal, they pivoted to a Cook-and-Collect takeaway service to continue providing hot, nutritious meals created by volunteer teams. In addition to food insecurity, many people were also struggling with loneliness and feeling isolated due to the pandemic restrictions.
Foodcycle worked with the team at HandsOn Connect to launch their virtual check-in and chat service, where volunteers call guests for a “weekly natter”. What did all this adaption mean to FoodCycle’s core goals in 2020? It meant that 775,644 meals were handed out; 359 tonnes of surplus food was saved; and 1.2M minutes were spent nattering. Plus the check-in and chat app was extended to other HandsOn Connect customers to deploy virtual volunteers and reduce loneliness and isolation in their communities.
Vaccination Volunteering in Phoenix
HandsOn Greater Phoenix has been engaging and deploying volunteers with HandsOn Connect since 2011. In March of 2021, they were tasked with recruiting and managing volunteers for the 24/7 mass vaccine clinics in partnership with Arizona State University.
The shifts were eight hours long, some overnight, and thousands of volunteers were needed. Within minutes, every single shift was filled, and so was the waitlist. The effort would not have been possible without the scale and robust capabilities of a volunteering system that could handle the demand.
As part of HandsOn Connect’s commitment to Pledge 1%, the organization focuses on donating expertise to nonprofits involved in disaster deployments. Whether it’s the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, tornadoes in Nashville, or the pandemic response in Phoenix, HandsOn Connect works to smooth the way for more volunteers to help. The result of these efforts in March 2021 alone was astronomical.
Giving Mother Earth Some TLC on Earth Day
Founded in 1969, SOLVE brings Oregonians together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship. Over the course of the last year, the great outdoors provided safety and a much-needed reprieve from the heaviness of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of this widespread and newfound appreciation for nature, SOLVE is introducing a new way to celebrate Earth Day this year with a statewide event offering opportunities to clean up rivers, parks, trails, and cities. In 2018, SOLVE used HandsOn Connect to engage over 30,000 volunteers who signed up for 1,000+ projects and removed 145 tons of trash from Oregon — and this year, they aim to make their impact even greater. If you’re feeling inspired this Earth Day to give Mother Earth some much-needed TLC, you can create your own projects for you and your friends or for your corporate group.
These stories of the many ways that customers are rallying scores of volunteers everyday are the driving motivation behind everything the HandsOn Connect team does. We are dedicated to helping nonprofits leverage technology to make the world a better place for all of us — whether that’s during National Volunteer Week or any other week that you and your team are inspired to make change in your own backyard.
In partnership with Salesforce.org, these and thousands of other local, national, and virtual volunteering opportunities can now be found within Philanthropy Cloud, making it easier than ever for employees, companies and nonprofits to come together to serve their communities.
To learn more about how you can boost employee volunteerism at your company, contact us directly. Learn more about the HandsOn Connect volunteer recruitment and management solutions.
About the Author
Melissa is a founding partner of HandsOn Connect Cloud Solutions, Salesforce MVP, and is completing an MBA in Digital Entrepreneurship. She’s 5X Salesforce certified with 15 years experience as a nonprofit executive. Her goal is to automate what can be automated so nonprofits have more time to do what can’t be automated. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Medium, and Twitter.
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