Amberlee (my VA) and I have been working together since January 2018 and I couldn’t be happier. She’s not my first VA and she won’t be my last. I found her via Upwork and manage all payments and logistics through their site.
Working with Amberlee has been simple, easy, and straightforward. She has skills that I lack and is completely focused on her tasks and goals for the week.
If your organization is looking to hire a staff member you should absolutely consider hiring a Virtual Assistant.
And here’s why.
Nonprofits often struggle with hiring staff. It can be difficult to offer employees a competitive salary on a limited budget. Equally, it can be hard to find qualified employees in small towns or rural locations.
Enter the Virtual Assistant.
Virtual Assistants are independent contractors who work for you remotely. They don’t come in to your office. They do not even need to live in the same state as you. In my opinion, the benefits of hiring a Virtual Assistant cannot be ignored.
There’s a Virtual Assistant for every task. They can help you respond to emails, create content for your blog or website, monitor and run your social media accounts, attend meetings (virtually), write grants, create solicitation letters, crunch data, etc.
If there’s a task you want to outsource, there’s a freelancer who can handle it.
Outsourcing the tasks your employees and volunteers normally do will free them up to spend more time cultivating donors, fundraising, and doing the actual work your nonprofit does in the community.
Virtual Assistants can fill the holes in your skill set. If, like me, you are not the best writer and writing feels more like a chore to you than anything, consider hiring a freelancer who specializes in writing. Maintaining a constant stream of content on your blog and social media pages is really important. Hiring a freelancer who can create the content with you, and take care of publishing it, can free up hours and hours of your week, not to mention increase your visibility and social media presence.
Virtual Assistants can keep you on track. If your brain works a mile a minute and you have trouble keeping yourself organized or following a task to completion, having a person around to hold you accountable makes a huge difference to your own productivity. And you’ve got a second pair of eyes helping to make sure projects don’t get forgotten.
Virtual Assistants often work on a per project basis. This means you can hire them for a one-time project instead of committing to a long-term contract. Some freelancers accept payment per project or task, others prefer to be paid hourly for their time. With so much variety you are sure to find someone who fits your needs.
Virtual Assistants will save your organization money. Because they work remotely, your organization does not have any overhead admin costs when hiring a Virtual Assistant. You don’t have to provide them with an office, computer, phone, etc. You don’t have to provide insurance, paid time off, or other benefits.
Keep in Mind...
Here are some tips for fostering a healthy working relationship with your next Virtual Assistant, straight from mine.
Have a purpose for hiring. Know exactly what you want from your freelancer. Are you open to a variety of roles they might fill or do you need someone specifically to stay on top of scheduling and emails? Be honest with yourself about what you need and what you are looking for. If you aren’t honest with yourself, you won’t find the best person for you.
Many freelancers specialize in certain areas. Me? I’m a writer and editor. When hiring a freelancer, look for someone who specializes in what you need. Don’t hire a graphic designer and expect them to also take care of your scheduling and emails.
You get what you pay for. Freelancers who charge a shockingly low rate are not going to provide the same level of service as those who charge more. They just aren’t. Even though you are hiring an independent contractor, you should still expect to pay them a decent rate for their time and expertise.
We’re not mind readers. Don’t expect your Virtual Assistant to nail everything on the first day. You will need to provide clear direction and training for them, just as you would any other employee or volunteer.
Similarly, if we’re not doing something correctly, tell us! Most of us want to do our best work for each and every client.
We’re people too. Sure, we don’t have traditional office jobs (and hey, we might have one of those too!), but most of us have a lot of other stuff going on. Respect our time like we respect yours. If your freelancer gives you set hours during which they are available, honor that schedule. Don’t email them at 2:00 a.m. and expect them to turn something around for you in an hour.
It all boils down to communication. Be upfront and honest when interviewing prospective hires. Let them know exactly what you’re looking for and what is expected of them. Really listen to any concerns they have about scheduling, pay, and workload. Then keep that line of communication open going forward. Honest conversation will ensure that you have a healthy, mutually beneficial working relationship with your Virtual Assistant or contractor from the beginning.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant can be a boon to your nonprofit organization. Start small. Hire your first freelancer to complete a single project or to work for you for five hours a week. Communicate openly and honestly with them, and give them the tools they need to do the job you are requesting. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference outsourcing tasks and exposing your team to the expertise of others can make to your nonprofit.