Volunteer Engagement: Smarter Strategies, A Better Way to Be
Part 1: The Volunteer Management Plan
For many nonprofits, their greatest asset is their volunteer base. Volunteers are a special breed of supporters and advocates that do tons of work for a nonprofit organization, asking very little in return. They are the ones with the greatest stake in a nonprofit organization. They can help recruit new volunteers. And they can help an organization tell their brand story.
That’s why volunteer engagement is crucial to a nonprofit. The organization that prioritizes volunteer engagement and focuses resources on it gives itself a better chance at fulfilling the mission it set out to do. Any nonprofit organization has to show its volunteers that it cares about them, values them, and appreciates them. And that starts with creating a strong, consistent volunteer management plan.
Volunteer Engagement Strategy #1: Develop a Volunteer Management Plan
Before you can begin your volunteer engagement process, you’ll need to establish a clear strategy for volunteer management from end to end. Volunteers come with different personalities, different backgrounds and different experiences. This means you’re your approach to volunteer management has to be multifaceted and fluid. Volunteer management is a broad term that encompasses every step of the volunteer cycle, including:
- Recruiting volunteers.Your nonprofit will conduct volunteer outreach through a variety of channels, including your website’s volunteer page, email newsletters, direct mailings, and social media posts, its mobile app, and more.
- Processing volunteers.Once a prospect has completed your volunteer application, you’ll need to ensure all data is correctly transferred to your volunteer management system. Depending on the role, processing may also include a volunteer screening process, such as a background check or an interview.
- Onboarding volunteers.You’ll need to equip your volunteers with all the knowledge they need to effectively fill their role. Depending on the scope of their involvement, training might be a 15-minute session before the job starts, or it may entail a multi-week orientation process conducted by staff members.
- Communicating with volunteers.Keep volunteers in the loop by sending them volunteer sign-up confirmations, shift reminders, and details about their upcoming assignments. Most of this will be done online and via email, but you may also need to reach out on the phone. Communicate with your volunteers regularly.
- Supervising volunteers.During a volunteer’s shift, someone on your team should be onsite to monitor volunteers, answer questions, and ensure no issues arise. The more hands-on and personable your team is, the more comfortable your volunteers will be.
- Recognizing volunteers.After each shift, express your gratitude to volunteers. A simple acknowledgment email is a great start, but take the time to follow up more personally with those individuals who went above and beyond to support your organization.
Each of these elements is vital to the success of your volunteer program, so you’ll need to consider how you’ll go about each step, including what software you’ll utilize and how you’ll delegate tasks across your team.
If your nonprofit doesn’t have a dedicated volunteer coordinator to take the lead on outlining your volunteer management plan, now might be the right time to hire one. This staff member can organize a strategy that responds to your nonprofit’s specific volunteer needs and ensures a great experience for your volunteers.
What to Know: The first step of volunteer engagement is developing a volunteer management plan for handling all aspects of the volunteer cycle, from recruitment all the way to recognition.
And don’t forget: Giveffect gives you a full volunteer management solution. It allows for seamless recruitment and tracking of volunteers, the creation of a mobile device into a check-in kiosk, and the improved management of volunteer shifts in minutes, not days.
Next time, we will take a dive into finding the right volunteer management software.
Want to learn more about how the Giveffect all-in-one software system can help your nonprofit in its fundraising, volunteer management and web hosting efforts? Visit us online at www.giveffect.com.