Having a team of enthusiastic volunteers provides a tremendous amount of value to an organization. Volunteers offer their time in exchange for an opportunity to make a difference in your community. Investing in a strategic volunteer management process is essential to offering a successful volunteer program and creating a memorable experience for your hardworking team.
Volunteer management is the process of recruiting, onboarding, managing, engaging, recognizing, and retaining volunteers. With an effective volunteer management process in place, you can develop an engaged team of volunteers that provides ongoing support for your organization’s mission.
Here are our top tips for managing volunteers effectively:
- Create a strategic recruitment process.
- Assign volunteers to roles that align with their interests and skills.
- Offer a thorough training process.
- Make your volunteer communications a two-way street.
- Show appreciation for volunteers frequently.
As InitLive’s volunteer statistics page shows, one hour of volunteer work's estimated value is $25.43. With a strategic volunteer management strategy in place, your organization can continue having access to this valuable support to help push your mission forward.
Create a strategic recruitment process.
Finding and retaining talented volunteers is important to the success of most nonprofit organizations. As a volunteer manager, you want to follow an effective recruitment process that allows you to find qualified volunteers who want to be integral members of your organization.
You can promote your opportunities by creating a public website page with the important information prospective volunteers need to know. You can also incorporate a sign-up page on your website and promote it on different social media platforms to boost registrations. If you have any new upcoming volunteer opportunities, be sure to announce them by email for all your supporters to save your information and go back to it easily.
Promote your opportunities using the platforms that are most popular among your target audience. These might include:
- Social media - As the popularity of social media rises, with 56.8% of the world's population being active every day, it is now seen as an important information resource. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn can be used as recruitment tools to attract a larger pool of potential volunteers.
- Email - Emails allow you to grab your potential volunteers' attention with a colorful, exciting, personalized message. Personalized emails are 29% more likely to be opened than those that are not. They also allow your target audience to easily save and go back to your messages whenever they want.
- Your website - Many organizations and nonprofits find it easier to recruit volunteers online. You can incorporate a registration page on your website or use volunteer management software that automatically recommends opportunities based on the skills and interests of your volunteers.
Remember, a good volunteer recruitment process starts with identifying your needs and preparing your role descriptions based on them. Then, create your recruitment plan by strategizing the best ways to get the word out based on your target audience’s communication preferences.
Assign volunteers to roles that align with their interests and skills.
Volunteers will be more engaged in your cause when they know their skills are making a significant impact, which is why assigning volunteers to roles that support their strengths is essential. Determine your volunteers’ capabilities, skills, interests, and preferences during the registration process.
For instance, if you’re hosting a Giving Day event, your volunteer roles may include creating direct mail materials, promoting your fundraising page on digital platforms like email, and sharing your posts on social media. Ask your volunteers which roles they prefer to provide a rewarding and meaningful experience that satisfies their needs.
Store this information using your volunteer management software tools to reference for future opportunities. While keeping track of what your volunteers are good at, you can also ask them if they’re open to other opportunities to learn new skills. Every volunteer will come in with their own distinct strengths, but allowing them to take on new challenges will help them grow.
Offer a thorough training process.
The purpose of offering an effective volunteer training process is to support volunteers in accomplishing their roles successfully and confidently.
Monitor the training process by assigning training shifts, tracking trainees’ progress, and asking them for their feedback. You can use short videos and interactive assignments to keep your volunteers engaged. Use volunteer scheduling software to start assigning shifts immediately after volunteers complete their training. Re:Charity’s volunteer management guide offers many more training tips in helping your volunteers thrive.
Since your training program is one of the first interactions you have with your volunteers, you want to make it count! Here are a few steps you can follow to execute a great training program:
- Assess training needs - The first step is to identify and assess which skill areas to focus on. Outline the roles or tasks your organization needs volunteer help to complete. From there, you can put together a vision of what training will look like to ensure the success of your volunteers’ contributions.
- Create a welcoming atmosphere - Make your volunteers feel at home by providing a welcoming environment from the moment you first interact. This can increase satisfaction and retention rates. Consider offering an introductory event where your volunteers can talk and share their experiences to get the conversation started.
- Offer multiple learning platforms - Every volunteer will have their own preferred way of learning. Some like hands-on training, while some may prefer online learning. Depending on the material your volunteers have to learn, consider offering different learning platforms and methods to create an engaging educational experience.
- Celebrate learning accomplishments - Even though learning is an ongoing process, celebrating milestones can make your volunteers feel accomplished and excited to start volunteering. You can throw a party or post social media shoutouts once your volunteers have completed their training program.
- Evaluate and assess - You want your volunteers to be a part of your team for a long time, so it’s important to create an environment where there is room for growth and development. Evaluating your volunteers and communicating your observations will strengthen your relationships with them and also help them grow.
Be sure to ask for feedback from your volunteers as it ensures that your training program is working and lets you know what can be improved.
Make your volunteer communications a two-way street.
As a volunteer coordinator, you want to offer the best experience possible for your volunteers, which is why you must ensure your communications are a two-way street. It’s essential for you and your volunteers to communicate and listen to each other, gather information, and be willing to make changes to work in harmony.
One way to do this is by creating a volunteer experience survey to ask volunteers for their feedback. This shows volunteers that you respect and value their input. Send the survey using your email platform or social media networks.
Engaging your volunteers for ideas and decision-making makes them feel like they are an important part of your team to accomplish their mission. The more important you make your volunteers feel, the longer they will want to stay, increasing volunteer retention rates.
Following an effective communication process results in many benefits for you, your volunteers, and your nonprofit’s program as a whole. One top benefit is having the ability to increase volunteer engagement! Here are some additional communication tips you can follow to boost engagement levels among your volunteers:
- Talk about what success looks like - Have conversations with your volunteers about where their talents lie and how those talents can help achieve your goals. Let your volunteers know what success looks like and how it can be achieved.
- Host group meetings or get-togethers - Periodically organize group meetings, whether virtual or in-person. This allows your volunteers to give their feedback and communicate on a personal level.
- Use different methods of communication - Texting, calling, and posting on social media are some of the many ways you can communicate with your volunteers. It’s crucial to determine how your message can be sent efficiently with the appropriate communication medium.
- Invest in a volunteer management app - Having mobile communication access during volunteer shifts through an app will make your communication much easier. Investing in a volunteer management app with all the right tools and features in one will allow you to send urgent messages, alerts, and important emails efficiently.
Show appreciation for volunteers frequently.
One of the last but most important steps of the volunteer management process is expressing appreciation for volunteers. When volunteers are recognized and thanked for their work, they feel like their contributions actually matter and make a significant impact on your nonprofit. This helps encourage them to return to your volunteer opportunities again.
Expressing your appreciation will go a long way, and there are many ways to do it! For example, you can send a personal letter to thank them for their outstanding hard work after an event. You can also go the extra mile and talk about what exactly they did that made your event a success — this will inspire them to help again.
Also, consider using email recognition to share details of all the volunteers who contributed to making a positive impact. For instance, let’s say your volunteers helped out at a fundraising event where your organization surpassed its donation amount goal. In your volunteer recognition email, you should mention your specific fundraising results and highlight how volunteers helped reach your goal.
Posting a social media shoutout also allows good news to travel fast. No matter what communication platform you choose, be sure to be genuine with your appreciation messages since volunteers are the heart of your organization.
Following a thorough and well-developed plan for volunteer management will allow you to reach more supporters, offer various opportunities, and keep them engaged with your work. This will allow you to build a strong foundation of support for any future events and programs.
Remember to stay in touch with your volunteers through effective communication methods to ensure they are satisfied with your program and feel empowered to complete tasks efficiently.