Not only do volunteers help you get things done, but they also help spread the word about organizational mission— and why it’s worth supporting.
About 30% of Americans take the time to volunteer each year. Often times, your best volunteers are your best donors, so you’ll want to manage them in a way that keeps them happy and eager to help.
According to VolunteerHub, effective volunteer management can save your nonprofit time, increase engagement, and improve retention rates. Here are three key steps to keeping your volunteers actively engaged in your mission.
Not every person who raises a hand will be a good fit. In order to recruit volunteers effectively, you’ll want to put together a system that helps you find individuals with the right skills and background for the job.
Online volunteer registration systems are convenient for both volunteers and nonprofits. They’re available 24 hours a day on all kinds of devices, and they save your staff time on data entry. Even better if the information drops directly into your volunteer CRM. So easy! (Wondering how your volunteer CRM platform stacks up? Check out this handy comparison from Double the Donation.)
Volunteers represent your nonprofit in the community. The last thing you want is to find out that their actions don’t align with your values. This includes any behavior that is inappropriate, unethical, and/or illegal. To reduce organizational risk and protect the individuals you serve, work with a company that can conduct quick, effective volunteer background checks on all potential volunteers. This is a critical step in maintaining the safety and integrity of your cause.
Be sure to set some specific goals for volunteer recruitment and retention. Do you want to increase your number of volunteers by 10%? Recruit 50 new volunteers per quarter? Increase the number of weekly volunteer hours? If you’re not setting goals, you’ll never know if you’re meeting them and if your volunteer management strategies are working effectively.
The key to great volunteer management is great communication. Make sure your volunteers know exactly what they’re doing and why it matters.
Don’t leave your volunteers guessing. Give them all the details regarding what you need, how you need it done, when and where to show up, and any other information that will help them set expectations and be successful.
Don’t assume every volunteer opportunity will be a hit, and don’t assume that every volunteer will be willing to do it again. Instead, talk to your volunteers during and after their experiences and find out what was most rewarding and/or most frustrating to them. Volunteer surveys can also help you find out what’s working well and what isn’t.
Is your volunteer turnover higher than you think it should be? Are there subtle clues that something may be off? Now is the time to listen carefully. Don’t take it personally, but DO pay attention to what volunteers are saying and be willing to make adjustments.
While we appreciate volunteers and their willingness to serve without pay, it doesn’t mean they can’t be held accountable. Being too flexible with volunteer duties and deadlines can leave everyone feeling confused and disappointed. Volunteers need clear parameters, and you need results. Find ways to make sure goals are being met.
You know your volunteers are critical to your work, but do they know it?
In person. In writing. On a cake. On a t-shirt. However you choose to thank your volunteers, make sure they know how important they are and how much you value their time.
Your volunteers give you their time because they want to make a difference. It’s easy to overlook the day-to-day successes that contribute to your cause and help make the world a better place. Share these success stories with your volunteers to encourage and show them that they are making a difference! Sometimes, the little things can have the biggest impact.
Start making some small changes today so you can make a bigger difference tomorrow!
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