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How To: Online AV Testimonials For Volunteers

Online Volunteer Recruitment - How to Use Audio and Video Testimonials in Your Online Volunteer Recruitment Strategy (an Example Video)

Winnipeg, Canada, November 17, 2007 -- Yes, your online volunteers can communicate their support for your organization in a written testimonial. But allowing your Internet-based volunteers to communicate the rewards and benefits of volunteering online with your non-profit organization in an audio or video message can have more impact. Audio and video testimonials are more personal, and through identification, enable the potential virtual volunteer to more easily envision themselves performing a similar online volunteer role.

Current Technology Allows Your Online Volunteers to Easily Create Audio or Video Testimonials as Part of Your Online Volunteer Recruitment Strategy

Testimonials, mostly text-based, have long been used as part of a non-profit organization's volunteer recruitment strategy. In the not-so-distant past, if a non-profit was fortunate enough to have the resources, a third party (such as a production house) may have produced an audio or video testimonial-based volunteer recruitment message. Today, however, technology is available, at the consumer level, that will allow high-quality audio and video to be easily produced that would have been prohibitive to purchase only a few years ago. And a number of these consumers who have access to the equipment, software and skills to produce such testimonials, are your online volunteers.

How to Create Your Audio or Video Testimonial-Based Online Volunteer Recruitment Message

First, decide whether you want your online volunteers to produce audio or video testimonials, and whether you will use the audio (or video) testimonials alone or as part of a combined video recruitment message.

From your list of (productive and satisfied) Internet volunteers, aim to generate a diverse group (e.g., age, race, gender, roles performed) that have the skills, knowledge, software and equipment (or access to equipment) to produce either an audio or video testimonial.

Send a personalized invitation, either via e-mail, audio message, video message, VoIP (e.g., Skype), to each online volunteer that outlines the purpose of the testimonial (e.g., an invitation to provide a testimonial can be seen as both a form of recognition and as a tool to assist you in your online volunteer recruitment efforts), where you plan to use their testimonial, how you plan to use and for what duration (and a statement that articulates the submission of a testimonial indicates their authorization to use as you have described). Contingent upon your organizational culture and/or other concerns, a formal release form may be indicated. Guidelines for producing the (audio or video) testimonial should also be included.

General content guidelines should enable a range of benefits and rewards to be revealed in your online volunteers' testimonials; on the other hand, to ensure consistent quality, audio and video production guidelines should allow less latitude. For example, audio for further editing (e.g., to be included in a video) should be provided to you as an uncompressed wav or aif file, whereas an audio testimonial that will not be further edited or used in a video can be provided to you as an mp3 file (using final output parameters such as: mp3 format at 64 kbps, 44 kHz, 16 bit, mono).

Creating an acceptable audio quality message can be achieved with minimal equipment and software: a USB-based headset (approximately $50.00) and an audio editing application (such as the free/open source Audacity) are all that is required. In the same context, a video testimonial (that will be used alone) can be produced with a USB-based Web camera using the capture software that usually comes with the Web camera, or a Web-based service where desktop installed capture software is not required.

A video testimonial, with higher production quality, can be easily created using one of the many suitable digital camcorders available today (the newer camcorders having the capability to capture video directly to the camcorder's hard drive, DVD or memory card instead of tape) along with a desktop video editing application (such as, iMovie or MovieMaker, which come pre-installed on recent Macs and Windows-based computers, respectively).

Of course this asynchronous method of producing such testimonials is just one of the many ways currently available. For example, audio or video interviews could be conducted via a VoIP application (such as Skype) and recorded in real time.

An Example of Online Volunteer Audio Testimonials Used in Recruitment

Macdonald Youth Services (MYS), a Canadian charitable organization based in Winnipeg, has been utilizing online volunteers from around the globe since 1998 to assist them in fulfilling their mission. As part of their online volunteer recruitment strategy, virtual volunteers were invited to submit audio testimonials. Recently, these original audio testimonials were utilized to produce an approximate 4.5 video entitled "The Rewards and Benefits of Online Volunteering with MYS - Some Testimonials" (also created by an MYS Internet volunteer). The video, featuring five Internet-based volunteers, communicates the benefits and rewards of online volunteering with MYS (as experienced by these volunteers).

To view MYS's testimonial-based recruitment (NTSC) video, which is available in Flash (SWF and Projector versions), iPod compatible MPG4 (320x240 and 640x480 resolutions) and DivX (720x480) formats, as well as an audio only (mp3) version, please visit the following URL now:

http://www.mys.ca/aov

ENDS

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