google-76522_1280“I absolutely hate volunteering at your organization’s name.”

Has one of your volunteers ever said this about your nonprofit online? If you haven’t done an online search to find out in a while – or ever – it’s time!

There are a lot of suggestions out there on how organizations should be talking about themselves online, including using social media. But, just like an in-person conversation, it’s important to listen online as much as you talk – if not more. Understanding what volunteers are saying about their experiences – positive or negative – can help you create a stronger volunteer program.

One of my favorite ways to listen to what volunteers are saying online is to set up a Google Alert. I’ve had Google Alerts set up for my own name for over ten years, so it was a no-brainer when I got into volunteer management that I would set it up for my organization as well.

Want to know what volunteers are saying about your nonprofit online? Set up a Google Alert in three easy steps:

  1. Go Google Alerts
  2. Type in your search terms
  3. Click “Create Alert”

Tips for Google Alerts

  • Create an alert that includes your organization’s name and the word “volunteer.” Make sure to put your organization’s name in quotation marks; e.g., “Your County Animal Shelter,” not Your County Animal Shelter. When you put words in quotation marks, you’re ensuring that only results with those words, in that order, show up.
  • Customize the results by clicking on “Show options” or, after you’ve created the alert, by clicking on the little pencil icon. This will give you options for how often you want to be notified each time Google runs across something that matches your query. You can also select a geographic region and how you want to be notified when a match happens.

Doing a search every once in a while is a good start, but Google Alerts will keep you updated as things happen. Plus, it takes the pressure off of you to remember to do the search, and lets Google take care of it for you. I don’t know about you, but I could always use a bit more ease in my life!

About the Author

LizaJDyerLiza J Dyer, CVA, has worked in the nonprofit and public sectors for over 10 years and is currently a Program Coordinator in Volunteer Services at Multnomah County Library. Outside of work, Liza holds leadership positions with Northwest Oregon Volunteer Administrators Association, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Portland, and the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration. Connect with Liza on Twitter.