How to Showcase Your Volunteering Skills

Volunteering is beneficial in many different ways, but a common problem for volunteers is how to best showcase the skills that they’ve gained from it. We spoke to Melissa Mitchell, founder of VOLO Group, an online company devoted to creating social impact through volunteering, to get an expert’s viewpoint.

Melissa Mitchell is the founder of VOLO – an online platform that lets you track your volunteering activities along with the skills you develop from them, seamlessly integrating the data into your CV and LinkedIn profile.
Why is volunteering important?

“Volunteering is a great way to develop important soft skills such as initiative, leadership, communication and teamwork. It can be even more valuable than traditional internships.

While internships provide a great introduction to the working environment and business policies and procedures, they are usually quite structured and leave less opportunity to take on initiative and demonstrate high added value to a company.  Nonprofit organisations on the other hand, can be so resourced constrained that volunteers have the ability to take on more responsibility and make a huge impact through achieving actual results for the organisation.

Despite this, recruiters currently value internships over voluntary work because there is a level of validation around the work that has been completed. With trusted companies standing behind your abilities and ensuring a basic level of training, this provides more assurance to recruiters who receive high volumes of graduate applications and have to quickly differentiate between candidates.

“Volunteering is a great way to develop important soft skills such as initiative, leadership, communication and teamwork.”

Additionally, although many graduate opportunities list soft skills as important requirements for many roles, it has recently been reported that students are not adequately prepared with these skills upon leaving university. As a result, added pressure is now being put on universities to create programmes around developing soft skills. I believe that well-structured student volunteering programmes could aid in addressing this issue, while at the same time adding much needed support to the Third Sector.”

How can volunteering set someone apart when applying for jobs?

“Over the past seven years, I’ve done a lot of graduate hiring, and at this level, differentiation between candidates can be very difficult. Entry-level experience tends to be limited in scope and responsibility and can come across as nondescript. So when a candidate highlights their volunteer work in a way that quantifies not only how they made a difference in the community, but also how they added value to an organisation, this makes me want to speak with them.

Volunteering can definitely make you stand out to recruiters.  At the end of the day, recruiters are people and they can be touched by a meaningful personal story of volunteering, which can make them curious to learn more about you. When I read that someone has organised or led a group that made visible impact through volunteering, or that they’ve taken part in a programme that helped individuals in their community – that’s really interesting! I want to talk to them and find out more about what they did there. That type of impact can be so much more interesting to hear about than what someone did in an internship where they didn’t have any specific responsibility. If you leave the interviewer thinking ‘WOW I wish I’d done something like that at their age’, that can be very powerful. It can leave them with the impression that you are the kind of person that they’d want to see around the office and that can make a difference in their company.

“At the end of the day, recruiters are people and they can be touched by a meaningful personal story of volunteering.”

Volunteering also helps develop important soft skills that have long-term applicability to your career. Soft skills become more essential as you progress into upper levels of a company. In a management role, for instance, the bulk of your day-to-day work is achieved through using soft skills. People who come into an organisation with a strong soft skill base will need less training to move into a leadership role and therefore have the ability to progress more quickly through a company. That’s definitely something that is in the back of the mind of the recruiter. ‘How long is this person going to stay with us? How are they going to progress here?’

Volunteering can also say a lot about the values of a candidate and can help a recruiter evaluate if you’ll have a good ‘culture fit’ within their company. This is another important indicator as to how long an individual will stay in the company and that’s really important.”

How can I showcase the skills I’ve gained from volunteering on my CV?

“The key is to highlight how you’ve added value in the volunteering role and quantify the impact that you made. This can be anything from raising a certain amount of money to playing a leading role in an outreach project. Include concrete facts and figures around the impact you made and make sure the recruiter can easily deduce how this experience will help you succeed in the role that you are applying for. If you simply state which charities you’ve worked with and the tasks that you carried out, it won’t mean much to the employer.  This is mainly because people can complete the same volunteering activity but ‘add value’ in very different ways, so it’s essential to highlight your individual input and impact.

“The key is to highlight how you’ve added value in the volunteering role and quantify the impact that you made.”

If you’ve done a lot of volunteering, it will be very difficult to present the value you’ve added in each of these instances within the one page limitation of your CV. It’s crucial to highlight the key volunteering experiences that are relevant to the role for which you are applying, however by omitting all the other great work you’ve done, you can put yourself at a disadvantage.

There have been so many times when I’ve gotten into an interview with a candidate and they’ve told me about some amazing volunteer work they did that wasn’t listed on their CV. It makes me wonder how many people with similar valuable experiences didn’t make it to the interview stage, because they hadn’t included it on their CV. It’s hard to know what will resonate with the recruiter, so it’s good to capture all of that information somewhere.

VOLO can provide a great solution to making sure you don’t leave out an important experience that the recruiter might value. VOLO allows you to showcase all the skills that you’ve gained and the value that you’ve added while volunteering without taking up a lot of space on your CV.  By adding one line to your CV, a link to your VOLO profile, you can easily give recruiters a clear overview of the volunteer work you’ve done and the skills you’ve gained. The platform lists your experiences by soft skills developed and allows you to quantify the value you added in the role if the recruiter wants to know more. This helps to ensure that you won’t miss out on a great opportunity to highlight your skills.”

How would you showcase the skills gained from volunteering in a charity shop?

“Well it’s customer service isn’t it? In any role that you have customer service and sales are hugely important because it’s also the way you communicate with both colleagues and clients. Employers want to know that you have those qualities.

A lot of times I see on student CVs that they’ve worked in a bar. I actually value that a lot because I know that they can communicate with people really well and they can manage a lot of tasks coming at them at once. So there’s a lot of value in that and it’s the same working in a charity shop. It’s just a question of knowing how to show that.

For me, try and put numbers behind it too. If you increased efficiency, say by what percent if you can. If you designed a new process that increased sales, describe that. If you worked on an advertising campaign that brought in more donations or customers, talk about that. You can also tell them how many hours you do.

Tell them how you’re adding value. And if you’re not adding value, start doing it! And give yourself credit.”

VOLO is an online platform aimed at enhancing collaboration for social progress. It lets you track your volunteering activities along with the skills you develop from them, seamlessly integrating the data into your CV and LinkedIn profile.

Cool charity campaign: #BeanievsBobble

When it comes to being outside in the freezing cold, everybody loves to keep their head warm with a nice cosy hat. Now you can get that warm, fuzzy feeling from knowing your headwear is helping charity too.

The perfect place to buy your hat this winter is at Matalan. Not only will these hats be a great addition to your winter wardrobe – it’ll also make a difference to developing better, safer medicine for children within the UK.

This winter Matalan  is donating 100% of the profits from the hats to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital  to help provide funds to make the hospital a ‘truly world-class, patient-friendly hospital’. The funds will make a vital difference to the 275,000 patients and families who are cared for at Alder Hey every year. So, choose your side – are you a beanie or bobble?

Get involved with the charity campaign today, and join Will Ferrell, Judi Dench and Britney Spears to show your support for a great cause.


What Makes A Great Volunteer?

Charities rely on volunteers. Without these willing helpers they would be significantly restricted in what they can achieve.

But volunteers benefit too. As well as helping their community, they can meet new people, enjoy new experiences and grow their skill set to become more employable.

So what makes a great volunteer?

On 12th January our friends and partner charity The Royal London Society for Blind People held their annual Volunteer Awards. It was fun filled evening aimed at celebrating the outstanding contributions volunteers made to the organisation in 2015.

Volunteer Celebration
The awards night was an opportunity for volunteers to share their stories, have fun, and to have their dedication and hard work recognised.

Fresh from the awards we spoke with their Volunteer Manager, Alberta. Here’s what she believes makes a great volunteer!

Be honest

“It doesn’t matter what role or organisation you are signing up to, the key thing is to be honest about the time you have available, and the commitment you can make. It is always worth checking with the organisation about the level of commitment they are looking for.  If you know, for instance, that there is no way that you will be able to volunteer once a week as requested, but you know that you could offer once a fortnight, ask and find out if that will work for them.  And it goes without saying that if you do make a commitment, be reliable, and stick to it.”

Have a purpose

“Knowing what you want to get out of volunteering. If you have a clear reason for volunteering whether it be to build your CV and gain particular experience, or to grow your confidence in being in the workplace, or to understand more about living with disability and a desire to support others, or even just to have new experiences and meet new people, you are likely to get more out of it. Volunteering is about giving your time freely, but to work it really has to be a two way process – and volunteers need to get something out of it too.”

Speak up

Mark Lambert
Mark Lambert, volunteer: “If someone asked me about volunteering with RLSB, I would tell them to get involved straight away. Everyone is very friendly and what has really stood out for me is how supportive all the staff are and how much they value their volunteers.”

“If the role is different from what you feel you have been trained for, and isn’t meeting your expectations in some way, let the person who supports your volunteering know. Feedback is always valuable and good organisations will want to know about any issues that their volunteers are experiencing. Equally if things in your life change and you are struggling to fulfil your commitment let the organisation know. Perhaps you can take a break, or there is a role with a different commitment level.”

RLSB offer a wide range of volunteering opportunities from becoming a sighted guide or peer mentor to helping out at sporting events. To find out more about the organisation and how to get involved, click here.

And for more amazing volunteering options in London, click here.

Big impact in the big city

Living in London? Want to have a positive impact on the lives of others? Is volunteering on your list of 2016 resolutions? We’ve handpicked 5 charities that are making a big difference in the big city. Get involved!

Hebe Foundation

HebeFThe Hebe Foundation works with young people to help them discover and develop their talents. The focus of the organisation is to grow business and leadership skills amongst 13-20 year olds through projects such as Urban Debaters and London’s Next Top Role Model. They’re seriously passionate about helping young people and equipping them with the skills they need to have a bright future. Volunteers work directly with participants on short as well as long-term projects. So if you feel you could help inspire the younger generation and can spare just a few hours a month then get in touch with them!

Food Cycle

Food Cycle

At Food Cycle they don’t want anybody to go hungry. They’re completely committed to reducing food waste and fighting food poverty. How are they going about it? Well, they’ve got supermarkets to donate surplus food and volunteers take care of the rest. It’s proven to be a winning formula as hundreds of vulnerable people benefit from it every week. London hubs are in Wandsworth and West Norwood. Reckon you can cook or just want to lend a helping hand? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with them through their website.

Time Bank


Time Bank run projects across the country to tackle a wide variety of social problems. City Opportunities Mentoring is their London initiative which aims to help teens who are leaving care and guide them through a difficult transitional period. Volunteers work closely with participants and help them with anything from applying for jobs to navigating the universities’ application process. Mentoring is an extremely rewarding experience that enables you to have a positive impact on someone’s life. You’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process too so why not give it a go?

Mayhew Animal Home


In operation since 1886 the Mayhew Animal Home has helped thousands of animals escape from cruelty, abandonment and neglect. Last year alone over 500 pets were re-homed and many others were reunited with their owners thanks to this brilliant charity! From dog walking and kitten socialising to administration and foster homes inspections there are plenty of opportunities for animal lovers. What are you waiting for? Stop watching cute puppy videos and get involved!

Wide Horizons

Wide Horizons

Wide Horizons’ mission is to give children and teens a taste of ‘adventure’. At the core of this is their Environment Centre in South East London. This incredible nine-acre wildlife site allows young people from the city to get stuck into the great outdoors. Activities range from orienteering to team building challenges and everything in between so if you’re looking to help a worthy cause while getting a big dose of fresh air then this is the one for you!

Do you volunteer with a London charity which is making a big impact? Let us know!

5 Charities That Will Brighten Up Your Instagram

At Donative we believe that compelling and authentic imagery is key to understanding the struggles of other people. We’ve handpicked 5 of our favourite Instagram accounts which we think do a great job of showing the amazing work done by these charities!

  1. Médecins Sans Frontières

Médecins Sans Frontières provide medical support to war-torn and poverty-stricken areas across the globe.

From February in our 2016 countdown, we look to this joyous picture from Sierra Leone by Anna Surinyach. Bentu Sandy, an Ebola survivor who went on to work with MSF in Bo as a mental health counsellor, celebrates the release of Agustine. Agustine is a pharmacist who caught Ebola in the course of his work helping to fight the disease. Since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was officially declared on 22 March 2014 in Guinea, it has claimed more than 11,000 lives in the region. After 21 months, and despite the outbreak being declared over in Sierra Leone and Guinea, the virus is still present in Liberia. In the first year of our response, 2,403 people recovered from Ebola in our 15 management centres across the region. © Anna Surinyach #MSF #DoctorsWithoutBorders #Ebola #SierraLeone #Picoftheyear #2015

A photo posted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (@doctorswithoutborders) on

We love this picture, it captures so much happiness. MSF played a key role in the fight against Ebola and back in February last year they were delighted to announce that Sierra Leone was finally free of the disease.

We’re huge fans of MSF and their Instagram does a great job of promoting it!

The stunning photos manage to be thought-provoking without being overly explicit and the accompanying captions give a real insight into their daily work. A particular highlight for us was their 2016 countdown in which they listed the 12 best pictures from the last year!

  1. Wateraid

Wateraid’s mission is to transform the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people by improving their access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

We chose this picture because it shows how one clean water source can benefit an entire village.

Wateraid’s IG account is one of the most uplifting around!

You’ll find big smiles and raised hands in every post. The photography is breathtaking and does a great job of conveying the impact that clean water can have on people’s lives. Alongside photos of their projects building wells and sanitation facilities you’ll find powerful testimonies from people who have directly benefited from the organisation’s work.

  1. Amnesty International

Amnesty International’s aim is to end abuses of human rights around the world, focusing primarily on freedom of expression and discrimination.

This Humans of New York-style photo tells a very powerful story.

Amnesty have got their social media game down!

They combine great photography with powerful human rights stories from all over the world. As well as updating you on ongoing campaigns such as ‘Write for Rights‘, they will give you an emotional insight into the lives of individuals who face hardship on a daily basis. Give them a follow and stay updated with their progress!

  1. Charity Right

Charity Right are dedicated to fighting hunger, one person at a time. They do this mainly by providing food to schools, orphanages and refugee camps across Asia and Africa.

We love this picture because it shows that when children aren’t starving they can achieve so much.

It’s a fantastic cause and their Instagram shows just how they’re going about achieving it!

Hunger charities have received some negative press recently for guilt-tripping people into donating, but not Charity Right. Instead, they focus on positive stories to highlight the impact of their work. If this account doesn’t inspire you, we don’t know what will!

  1. Oxfam

Oxfam‘s goal is to eradicate poverty and they have played a crucial role in halving the world’s extreme poverty over the last 15 years.

Happy World Toilet Day! Pauline Mokaya, 13 stands outside a Freshlife toilet in Mukuru, Kenya. "If I was president of Kenya I would change things for people who live normal lives like me. I would make sure they live in clean environments, and I would make sure they have Freshlife toilets. I would help them because we all have the same blood, we are all the same" Oxfam partner Sanergy has installed Freshlife toilets to replace unsanitary pit latrines at Pauline's school in the Mukuru informal settlement, in Nairobi. Schools with Freshlife toilets in Mukuru have seen dramatically increased attendance, particularly of female students. April 2014 Photo – @sam7tarling #oxfam #worldtoiletday #superwoman #kenya #nairobi #toilet

A photo posted by Oxfam GB (@oxfamgb) on

No need to explain why we picked this one, the smile says it all.

What is there not to love about Oxfam’s Insta?!

As well as filling your feed with beautiful photos, this account enables you to donate to specific projects all around the world through SMS short codes. By hitting follow you’ll break the monotony of selfies and recycled quotes, and instead fill your IG with fascinating stories. It’s got that feel good factor and you’ll learn a lot too!

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favourite charity Instagram account and why?

More To Give – London’s Young Millennials’ Giving Report From City Philanthropy

City Philanthropy have released a follow up to their original report that profiled the giving habits of London’s young millennials. More To Give, compiled by CGAP at CASS, indicated that “a distinct millennial profile has emerged. The desire to get more involved in giving and volunteering is most positive for the younger, millennial generation of employees and declines consistently across the older age-groups. This particular age-trajectory, or age-linked trend, showing strongest and most positive results for younger employees, is repeated across almost all the other aspects of philanthropy studied.”

The follow up report, released last week, contains a call to action co-signed by well-established networks such as JCI London, alongside newer innovative organisations such as BeyondMeRaise Your Hands and BeMore,  to empower millennials to create social impact. They ask London’s HR departments to:

  • Encourage their firms’ social action and giving initiatives to develop ways of engaging the next generation of business leaders
  • Engage their millennial professionals in evolving corporate activities that match their passion and drive their performance
  • Embrace their role as an advocate for this type of social action whether they represent an entire corporation or they line manage millennial professionals.

The report also demonstrates that London’s millennials are keen to discover the impact of their giving. It identifies the ability to understand ‘what different gifts of time/money can achieve’ as the most important factor for respondents when assessing projects, closely followed by assessing ‘effectiveness or impact’.

Below is a helpful infographic, summarising some of the key findings of the original report. We have also pulled out some key statistics:

  • 35% of employee survey-respondents* aged under 35 want to give more money to charities than they do; this compares with 21% in the 35 and over group
  • 53% of under-35s working full time in London want to volunteer more than they do – this reaches 60% in the youngest 18-24 age group.
  • 27% say more information that their financial donation has had an impact on beneficiaries would encourage them to give more, rising to 48% for 18-24 year olds
  • Three-quarters of all full-time London employees (75%) agree giving back makes you happier, with little variation across the age-groups
  • Nearly half of under-35s agree that employees are looking for companies which aim for social and environmental value as well as business success and profit (46%), compared with 29% in the 35 and over group
  • Over a fifth (21%) of under-35s are interested in alternative ways of giving such as social investment, rising to 29% amongst 18-24 year olds.
  • London makes an estimated £5.6 billion cash contribution to giving in the UK, representing 29% of the nation’s total.

#more2give infographic from City Philanthropy report on London's young Millennials giving habits


Find out more about the two reports and City Philanthropy.

* The fieldwork was undertaken between 9th-17th April. The total sample size was 1007 adults, with 400 respondents aged between 18-34, of which 42 were in the 18-24 age band, and 607 respondents aged 35 and over. The largest single group of respondents worked in media/marketing/advertising/PR and sales (151), closely followed by the Financial Services sector (137).

10 Social Media Tips for Charities

It’s impossible to ignore the impact social media has on our society. Given that pretty much the entire planet show up on at least one platform daily, charities cannot ignore the value of social media in reaching their audience, getting donors and volunteers and generating awareness of the cause.

Cultivating an impactful social media strategy however can be overwhelming and with so many platforms, it’s often hard to know where to start and how to go about it.

Here are some key things for charities to think about when it comes to ensuring that social media is used to its full advantage and gets results.

1. Pick a platform

Adweek infographic of social network users by age
Source: Adweek

If you are a charity short on manpower and don’t have an entire team dedicated to social media, don’t underestimate how time consuming the process can be. Whilst there are some amazing tools that can help you automate your posts (such as Buffer and Hootsuite) being consistent with your social media accounts and posting valuable content regularly is still a big task.

Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to be everywhere. Instead, dedicate yourself to a few platforms and consistently post quality material there.

Figure out which platforms your audience are most likely to hang out on in the largest numbers and focus your attentions there.

Adweek created a great infographic for 2015 that breaks down numbers of users on each platform along with ages.

2. Use captivating images

Not only are articles that include an image much more likely to be viewed but a picture itself can tell a thousand words so use images that help tell a story and attract an audience. Whilst text gets information across, images are what bring the campaigns to life and drive real emotional engagement with supporters and volunteers.

Share images of events, the work the charity is doing how beneficiaries have benefitted. Use images to take the audience on a journey so that it gets a real feel of what the charity stands for and what its achievements have been so far.

Images can also be used to simplify more complex. Macmillan for example uses Pinterest images to share infographics that share vital statistics and key pieces of information. Having this information contained within an image works well as it is sometimes hard to digest this information when placed in the body of an article.

3. Utilize the power of the hashtag.

Michelle Obama #bringbackourgirls hashtag campaignEncourage a campaign to go viral by getting people to use and share a specific hashtag.


All these charity campaigns achieved huge success which was partly due to taking advantage of the humble hashtag.

A hashtag encourages people to get involved and to share their participation. It’s an easy way for someone to say, ‘I am on board’. Hashtags get issues trending and get people talking.

Create a call to action that asks people to post something to social media platform with the associated hashtag. Make the call to action something simple, as with the #nomakeupselfie, something that pretty much anyone can get involved with. Make it fun and quirky so people want to get involved.

Ensure that the hashtag isn’t too complicated but that it is memorable.

Creating and monitoring use of a hashtag allows the charity to then analyse how much attention a campaign is getting and who is jumping on board.

4. Create call to actions

Don’t expect your audience to automatically proceed to donate/volunteer after seeing your posts. It seems obvious but it can be easy to create emotive content that attracts and audience but then fail to let them know what you want them to do next.

Give a clear call to action by instructing them how they can help. Include clickable links where possible to direct them to the relevant websites.

Ask your audience to share your content or tag in a post someone they know who would relate with the cause. These are such simple things but often it’s easy to forget that people may not do these things automatically.

5. Engage in discussion

Social media isn’t about simply posting content and waiting for the results. A social media campaign isn’t a passive affair but is about engaging with your audience. Ask them questions, build discussion and cultivate their interest by launching thought provoking topics of conversation.

A picture posted on Instagram could be captioned with a question encouraging the audience to make comments whilst twitter chats are a good way to dive deep into a particular topic.

When coming up with topics for discussion, think about what issues are relevant to your charity and how your audience are affected by these issues.

6. Be relatable

A well-crafted social media campaign helps you to form a bond with your audience but in order for that audience to pay attention and trust you, your online presence needs to be relatable.

Use social media to humanize the charity by using a distinct voice and showing what happens behind the scenes. Respond to questions and ask questions back. Whilst you want to get your charities message across, always sticking to the guidelines can seem ‘robotic. What you post doesn’t always have to be ‘on topic’. Infiltrating your posts with other areas of conversation e.g. occasional tweet about the weather or cakes in the office, make the charity more relatable.

7. What are your audience already discussing and how can you add to that?

What discussions are your target audience already involved in online? What topics are trending and generating conversation? Get involved in these discussions. Be useful, be knowledgeable and your audience will take notice.

8. Use analytics

Twitter Analytics Dashboard ExampleEvery social media platform has free analytic tools so use these to figure out which posts are getting the most engagement and what people do/don’t respond to. Experiment by trying different types of posts at different times and across different platforms.

9. Look for interest indicators.

Look for likes, shares, retweets etc to see who your message is resonating with, then try and build on that relationship further (using direct messaging on twitter/Instagram is a good way to get in touch) Thank them for their support, provide them with more information and give them calls to action.

10. Reach out to influential people.

Finally, reach out to those on social media who already have a large following. Try and get them involved in some way – perhaps by doing a shout out on Instagram, retweeting one of your tweets or jumping on board with the hashtag. Getting in front of their large audience is probably one of the best ways to grow your own.

By Dani Watson
Founder, Believe & Be Awesome
A Business and Lifestyle Coaching Platform for Female Entrepreneurs

Charity Emoji Quiz Answers

Struggling to guess the answers to our charity emoji guessing game? Scroll down below the questions to see the answers!


  1. 🇬🇧 ❌
  2. 👑👪🔐 🐦🐥
  3. 💾 👶👶
  4. 😆😌
  5. 😀🚂
  6. 🇬🇧❤🏢
  7. 🏥😷🚫🚧
  8. 🌲✌
  9. 🐼
  10. 🏭 🐶🐶 🐱🐱 🏠
  11. 😇🚶🚑
  12. 🎯👉
  13. 🎡🚁🚑
  14. 💯🇬🇧
  15. 🐚🚵🚵🚵🚵🚵🚵🚵🚵


  1. British Red Cross 🇬🇧❌
  2. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds 👑👪🔐 🐦🐥
  3. Save the Children 💾 👶👶
  4. Comic Relief 😆😌
  5. Smile Train 😀🚂
  6. British Heart Foundation 🇬🇧❤🏢
  7. Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) 🏥😷🚫🚧
  8. Greenpeace 🌲✌
  9. WWF 🐼
  10. Battersea Cats & Dogs Home 🏭 🐶🐶 🐱🐱 🏠
  11. St John Ambulance 😇🚶🚑
  12. Centrepoint 🎯👉
  13. London Air Ambulance 🎡🚁🚑
  14. Age UK 💯🇬🇧
  15. Shelter 🐚🚵🚵🚵🚵🚵🚵🚵🚵

How many did you get? Leave a comment to let us know how you did!

Interview with Dana Igo, Social Media Manager at Liberty in North Korea | Donative

Liberty in North Korea is a California based non-profit dedicated to rescuing and resettling refugees from North Korea. In 2014 they managed to helped 108 people resettle in South Korea and the US. LiNK has achieved great success in communicating their message to Millennials in particular, and at converting them into donors and fundraisers. Their autumn campaign generated 979 peer fundraisers and 3,199 unique donors at an average donation size of $79.90, raising a total of over $500,000.

We spoke to Dana Igo, Social Media Manager at LiNK, to understand more about their work, how they approach Millennials and how they communicate the impact of their work to their supporters.

What’s your role at Liberty in North Korea and how did you get involved?

Dana Igo, Social Media Manager at Liberty in North KoreaMy official title is social media manager, but I have my hand in nearly every aspect of LiNK’s communication strategy, from Facebook, to emails, to blogs. I got involved after reading about LiNK’s work in Blaine Harden’s book “Escape from Camp 14” about Shin Dong-hyuk, a survivor of one of North Korea’s political prison camps. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of what was happening to the North Korean people before and I wanted to do what I could to help. I lived in Utah at the time, so I got involved by hosting a screening of their documentary “Danny from North Korea” in my city and my connection to the organization grew from there.

What are your objectives and how do you divide up your day to achieve them?

It depends on the time of year and what our campaign is, but for our current campaign my goal with social media is to drive conversions on our site for fundraising and donations. A typical day for me starts with monitoring activity on all of our socials, seeing what the conversations are, addressing any issues, and responding to supporter comments and questions. Once that is done, I do quite a bit of writing. Generally I’ll try to write out most of the content for our socials for the week on Monday and then spend the rest of my writing time for the week on longer form pieces for our blog or drafting subject lines and content for emails. I also do a fair bit of project management and work with members of our various departments to generate content for our different networks.

Which are the most valuable tools in your social media armoury?

LiNK's Social Media Trello BoardTrello 100%. It’s a project management system that enables you to work with your entire team in the cloud. It’s absolutely the most useful tool I have at my disposal. Other than that, I’d say Facebook Insights, Tweetdeck, and Iconosquare are essentials.

How did you reach your conclusions in terms of how to communicate on different platforms?

I pay very close attention to engagement on all of our platforms to determine whether a post is successful or not. Over the course of my time with LiNK, I’ve developed a pretty good understanding of what works and what doesn’t. For instance, our Facebook audience is receptive to inspirational content (quotes, success stories from North Koreans, etc) whereas our Instagram audience responds better to artistic photos. We did quite a bit of testing to see what works and what doesn’t.

What are the major differences when trying to appeal to Millennials as opposed to older generations?

Millennials are incredibly passionate and really want to DO something. I think that’s why peer-to-peer fundraising works so well. It gives them an action to take beyond simply opening their wallets. It enables them to communicate to their friends and family about why this cause is important to them and then utilize their own talents to raise the funds.

How do you communicate impact back to your supporters?

Eun Ji - North Korean Refugee
Eun Ji was born in North Korea so she had to keep her favorite pastimes—dancing and singing to South Korean pop music—secret. She was rescued and now lives in freedom.

We focus a lot on sharing the stories of the people whose lives they have impacted with their donations and support. For instance, when someone raises $3000 to rescue a North Korean refugee we match them with the person their funds have helped and send them a profile with a picture, a story, and sometimes a thank you note from the refugee.

How did your contact differ between donors and fundraisers?

A fundraiser and a donor are often very different types of people. We speak to donors as donors and fundraisers as fundraisers. We certainly communicate fundraising opportunities to our donors but, many times, our first ask to a new audience member is to fundraise. Those who are looking to dig in and really get involved will choose the fundraising experience over a quick donation.

What are your top tips be for any organisation trying to attract a younger demographic and create long term engagement with their supporters?

Be real and create experiences that engage and excite. Young people are not just passionate donors, they are also smart. They are looking for an in-depth, engaging experience with the cause they care about. They want to be involved and want to be doing something. This requires a different model than just looking for one-time donors. It’s not always easy to manage a growing base of people with a constant desire to be engaged with your organization, but that is a great problem to have!

Find out more about Liberty in North Korea at: