Volunteer Best Practices

The Johns Hopkins University and Medicine network of leadership volunteers consists of more than 2,000 (and counting) extremely talented and dedicated individuals, ranging from members of boards of trustees, to divisional and departmental advisory boards and council representatives, to alumni leaders, and more. Although the specific needs and purpose of each board or council may vary based on the school, division, or community it supports — and acknowledging individuals who serve in multiple volunteer capacities — there are some basic steps volunteers can take to get the most out of their roles while still supporting the mission and priorities of Johns Hopkins. 


  • Learn more. Gain knowledge about the area of Johns Hopkins your advisory board or council supports; then, take an interest to learn more about Johns Hopkins overall. Familiarize yourself with general information about University and Medicine. Follow relevant social media accounts, such as Johns Hopkins Giving and ones related to the area of Hopkins your role supports. Participate in virtual events and meetings. There is always something more to learn, and the more you know, the more effective a volunteer you will be! 
  • It’s okay to say no. Conduct a self-check before saying “yes” to a new opportunity. Understand the minimum expectations for fulfilling a new role and ask yourself if you can fully commit to seeing the commitment through. Do you have the time? The capacity? The interest? 
  • Engage meaningfully. Participate in volunteer activities with enthusiasm and professionalism. As a volunteer, you have a choice about the level to which you engage with Johns Hopkins. We realize motivations and capacities for volunteering are a very personal matter. Contributing in ways that are most meaningful to you will ultimately make the most impact on Johns Hopkins. If you’d like to get more involved with a particular area, ask! We want to ensure we are making the most use of your time, energy, and talents. 
  • Be a constant champion. Take pride and be an advocate for Johns Hopkins. Help spread the word about the positive impact Johns Hopkins makes in our communities and across the world. 
  • Provide counsel. Use your role as a volunteer to assist Johns Hopkins leaders in realizing their goals and vision for their respective school, department, center, or other initiative. You represent the audience that Johns Hopkins serves, and your perspectives and advice are meaningful and valuable assets in helping us achieve our goals. 
  • Give back. Provide philanthropic support to the area affiliated with your volunteer role. Our goal is to achieve 100% annual giving participation from those serving on volunteer boards and councils. Consider annual gift contributions; a stretch gift at a financial level of personal significance; support for campaign goals and initiatives (when in a fundraising campaign); and/or a planned gift. 

As volunteer leaders — through supporting Johns Hopkins through philanthropy, providing professional insight and expertise, and serving as compelling advocates — you are helping to extend and strengthen our philanthropic reach through your networks.  Your participation and partnership are essential to the current and future successes of our institution. We are thankful for your service and look forward to growing and succeeding together. 

The Johns Hopkins University and Medicine volunteer network consists of more than 2,000 extremely talented and dedicated individuals, ranging from boards of trustees, to divisional advisory boards and councils, to alumni groups, student support services, and more. Although the specific need and purpose of each volunteer community may vary based on the school or division it supports, all of our volunteer leaders come together to share one common goal: to advance the mission and goals of the institution through counsel, advocacy, and financial support.  

Having such an expansive volunteer community allows each individual to contribute in ways that are most meaningful to them, creating a collaborative and supportive environment where volunteers combine their unique talents for maximum impact. As such, there are several ways volunteers can advance the priorities of the institution: 

  • Providing professional insight and expertise to institutional leaders, faculty, and students. 
  • Serving as compelling advocates and representatives. 
  • Extending and strengthening the institution’s philanthropic reach through personal and/or professional networks. 
  • Actively supporting the institution philanthropically through: 
    • annual gifts; 
    • stretch gift(s) at a financial level of personal significance;  
    • supporting campaign goals and initiatives (when in a fundraising campaign); 
    • and/or considering a planned gift. 
  • Participating in fundraising initiatives, such as: 
    • soliciting gifts; 
    • prospect identification and introduction to Development and Alumni Relations staff; 
    • thanking and recognition of gifts. 
  • Hosting and participating in meetings, dinners, events, etc. 
  • Attending and participating in advisory board/council meetings; coming prepared to meetings by reviewing agenda and any reading materials to further engage in meaningful discussion with fellow members and leadership. 
  • Networking with fellow Hopkins volunteers to expand knowledge of institutional programs and initiatives and broaden areas of interest. 
  • Review and embrace the “Volunteer Code of Conduct and Confidentiality Agreement.”

Three main categories of volunteers:  

Volunteer: Any individual, not employed by the institution, who gives of their time, effort, or talent in support of Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.  

Alumni Volunteer: Degree or certificate holders of any of the institution’s academic programs who are valued advocates and connectors for Johns Hopkins. Alumni volunteers work closely with school and institutional leaders to connect with students, serve as conveners of alums across the globe, plan reunions for alumni, and are representatives for the institution.  

*Some schools also include faculty fellow and house staff in their alumni population. 

Leadership Volunteer: Those volunteers who sit on philanthropic advisory boards and councils across Johns Hopkins and support the institution through philanthropy, providing professional insight and expertise, and/or serving as a compelling advocate —extending and strengthening our philanthropic reach through their networks.  

Johns Hopkins volunteers can serve in multiple capacities across the institution and are not confined into just one category. 

Best practices when sharing existing content. 

  • Follow Johns Hopkins social media accounts to stay up to date on news, events, and announcements. You can find DAR’s Johns Hopkins Giving accounts in the footer of this webpage. 
  • Like, retweet, comment, and share content from Johns Hopkins accounts to amplify post impressions.  
  • When retweeting or sharing, include a personal message in your post about why the particular content is important to you. 

Create engaging original content. 

  • Take photos when attending a Johns Hopkins sponsored event/function. Candid photos work best.  
  • Action shots are great, but aren’t as effective if blurry. Your smart phone is capable of taking great action shots, especially on ‘live/motion mode’, so don’t be afraid to try. 
  • Horizontal pictures are preferred over vertical photos. The best ones are those that can potentially be cropped into a square (keep the focus in the center of the frame). 
  • Tag official Johns Hopkins social media accounts in your posts. By tagging Johns Hopkins accounts, we can easily identify your posts and potentially share your content. 
  • Use Johns Hopkins hashtags (#) when appropriate. By using event-specific or well-known Hopkins hashtags, supporters and staff can easily find and share posts pertaining to Hopkins content. You can monitor Hopkins social media accounts to pick up on popular usage. Examples include #gohop, #jhu, #jhureunion, #facultyfriday, #hopkinsathome, #hopkinsaction. 
  • Refrain from using inappropriate or profane language in your posts.  

Third-party or community fundraising events are primarily organized, driven, and executed by volunteers, donors, and affiliates with proceeds benefitting Johns Hopkins. They are a fantastic way to promote the work of Johns Hopkins to your personal networks while also garnering support for important causes. You can use these events to honor or remember a loved one, share your story, or raise awareness for a certain cause — anything that is most meaningful to you.

When organizing a third-party fundraising event, take advantage of these best practices to ensure its success:

  • Speak with Johns Hopkins Development prior to the planning process. To ensure your event aligns with institutional policies, reach out to your divisional office to receive approval before proceeding with the planning process. They will provide valuable resources, guidelines, and permissions for events, such as proper use of Johns Hopkins branding, tax ID and deductibility information, and ways to give. They can also identify an appropriate fund for contributions to be allocated, develop talking points for how the money will be used, and provide event collateral materials and advice. Additional support varies by division.
  • Choose a meaningful activity. What types of activities do you enjoy? What types of activities will your audience respond to? Add a fundraising component and make it fun – put the FUN in fundraising! Some examples may include a bake sale, car wash, walk-a-thons, fun-runs, sport tournament, auctions, etc.
  • Plan and set goals. What are you hoping to achieve with your event? Do you plan to personally match funds or identify a donor or company who may match funds? Work with Development to establish a reasonable monetary goal considering your activity and target audience. What will be your volunteer staffing needs? What supplies do you need? You should consider these important elements in order to set expectations for yourself and donors.
  • Promote your event. Give your event a name. Set the date, time, and site details. Make it clear that your event is not a Johns Hopkins-sponsored event, but emphasize that all proceeds will be used to benefit Johns Hopkins. Use social media, flyers, or personally solicit sponsors or potential donors and volunteers. Your development office can help to create appropriate and effective language and may also be able to assist in additional promotional efforts.
  • Capture impact. Track the number of donors, dollars raised, and impact the proceeds will have. What if you don’t reach your fundraising goal? That’s ok – every dollar contributes to the meaningful work supported by your event.
  • Thank. After successful completion of a fundraising event, thank your donors and supporters for their contributions. Ask your Development representative about how they can help in the acknowledgment process.

If you are interested in holding your own third-party fundraising event, check out coverage from these successful campaigns:

 For more examples on third-party fundraising, see these sample guidelines from across Johns Hopkins:

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