On a recent trip to Austin, TX, we met Karen Bantuveris, Founder and CEO of VolunteerSpot, a free and easy online coordination tool that makes it easy for anyone to organize volunteers at school, sports and in the community. With Earth Day (April 22), Arbor Day (April 30) and National Volunteer Week (April 18-24) all happening this month, VolunteerSpot has teamed up with The Arbor Day Foundation to promote earth-friendly service activities and honor those who volunteer in their communities.
So Karen, tell us what prompted the Give & Grow Together promotion?
At VolunteerSpot, we’re always looking for new ways to encourage local service and celebrate folks out there doing good. Our website offers a paperless way for grassroots leaders to coordinate their volunteers, and a huge number of our users are already planning eco-friendly activities, like planting community gardens, hosting school Earth Day festivals, or cleaning up local parks. So working with the Arbor Day Foundation seemed like a natural fit, so to speak! We hope our promotion will inspire folks, and make it easier for them, to take care of our Mother Earth in April and beyond.
Tell us a bit about how the Give & Grow Together promotion works.
It’s pretty simple, really. If you use VolunteerSpot to plan any local earth-friendly activity between now and the end of April and invite at least four volunteers, the Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree in your honor in a fire-damaged national forest. Sharing the promotion via social media (Facebook or Twitter) or trying a sample sign-up on VolunteerSpot also will earn a tree. You can visit our site and get all the details on the Give & Grow Together program and learn more details and get a few service ideas that will be fun for everyone in your family.
I’d also like to hear more about why you decided to launch VolunteerSpot. I’m guessing the fact that you’re a really busy working mom had something to do with it!
Exactly! I just kept seeing how frustrating it could be for parent volunteers at my daughter’s elementary school to sign up to help out. If we wanted to read to the class, work a booth at the carnival, or bring snacks to the end-of-year party, it meant putting up with “reply all” emails or illegible paper sign-up sheets just to get on the schedule. Well-intentioned folks were opting out of volunteering because of how they were being asked to help, and homeroom parents and volunteer leaders were getting overwhelmed with time-consuming busywork juggling the schedule. I wanted to make it easier for more people to participate – not just at school, in the community too. It turns out that local nonprofits and faith groups have similar challenges coordinating volunteers – getting people scheduled, signed up and reminded for their shifts can be surprisingly time intensive and frustrating for everyone involved – until now…
I’m very pleased to say that in a year since our launch we’ve grown mom-to-mom, group-to-group to nearly 200,000 people using our site! We get email every day from our volunteers and leaders thanking us for making it easy to serve. Because we simplify how people ask for help, more people are showing up to help! It’s enormously gratifying to know that VolunteerSpot is making it easier for that many people to give back to their communities – on Earth Day and every day. What’s most fun is learning about all the creative ways parents, teachers and local leaders are using VolunteerSpot – everything from coordinating classroom volunteers, to literacy programs, to neighborhood carnivals and fun-runs, to soccer snacks and tournament volunteers, to community gardens and farmer’s markets, to VBS, food drives and more.
Thanks, Karen, for joining us on the Daily Grommet blog today – and offering VolunteerSpot for free to local do-gooders and active parents!
If you give VolunteerSpot a try, or if you’re already a fan, hope you’ll stop back and let us know what you think – and keep telling us about more new products and services you’ve discovered!