Businesses like to say time is money.
One brilliant piece of financial advice is that time is your greatest asset.
Volunteers provide their valuable time to your Non-Profit organization to achieve mission goals. Is it an overstatement to say that volunteer management can directly impact the success of your program? We think not. What’s more? Volunteers give a lot more to Non-Profits. This includes new ideas, increased organic reach, a diverse set of skills and opinions, knowledge, experience to solve problems in innovative ways, donations, and a lot more.
Volunteer management involves recruiting, training, and utilizing volunteers to achieve the mission goals. To do volunteer management effectively, Non-Profit leaders must take good care of the volunteers. And how can that be done? Well, there are no shortcuts. But there are best practices and methods to keep them engaged with the cause you are striving for.
In this blog, we will break down volunteer management into three parts:
- How to go about volunteer recruiting;
- How to plan volunteer training programs;
- How to create a win-win situation by improving volunteer engagement.
When crafting your volunteer recruitment strategy, the first thing to do is to get clarity on what your requirements are. You need to know what you are looking for before you start looking for volunteers. Identify areas, programs and projects that require volunteer support. Make a list of the number of volunteers that will be needed to execute those tasks. Then list out the skills, knowledge and experience expected from your volunteers. This is the most essential step so tread with care. The common places to look for volunteers include volunteer recruitment platforms, word of mouth outreach, social media announcement, schools and colleges, partnerships with civic groups or companies offering volunteer time offs, etc. Find out 5 innovative ways to boost your volunteer recruitment plan.
Prepare a few elevator pitches that speak directly of the volunteer’s motivations to join your volunteer program. To do this, you must have information backed by data collected from your existing or past volunteers on demographics, volunteer feedback by way of survey forms, drivers for volunteer motivation, etc. Try to build a diverse group of volunteers. This can broaden the range of ideas and perspectives to provide novel ways of problem-solving and meeting program goals.
In the case of new volunteers, the first step would be to plan their onboarding program. Onboarding requires before, during and after steps. Pre-onboarding steps include your role in better understanding the volunteer, their motivations, evaluating if they will be a culture fit in your non-profit organization, etc. Provide new volunteers with an outline of the organization, policies, organization structure, etc. Provide a clear picture of the tasks and expectations from the volunteers.
Depending on the size of the organization, you may want to consider assigning a buddy/mentor to the newly joined volunteers. This makes the first few days easier for the recruits and makes them feel cared for.
Training and utilizing volunteer capabilities go hand in hand. It helps to conduct volunteer management more effectively. When creating a training program, the first step is to identify volunteer learning or performance gaps that are essential for achieving your mission goals. This could be skill, knowledge, communication, or motivation gaps. Then you must align measurable learning goals to bridge these gaps. The success of your training program should be directly aligned to the benefits it will bring to the volunteers to achieve the Non-Profit goals.
Chalk out the financial requirements to organize the training. This includes trainer fees, rental space, food and beverage arrangement, etc. Then comes the delivery method. Training delivery can be in-person or virtual. Webinars, quizzes, e-learning sessions, in–person classroom training, and so on. Depending on the medium, you will need to manage the logistics involved in the training execution. Develop a communication plan to formally inform the volunteers of the training and what they can expect from it. Keep the window of communication open for views or suggestions from your volunteers.
Engaging with your volunteers is a long-term strategy. Developing an on-boarding and training program contributes to volunteer engagement. But it is important to have a structure to volunteer engagement. Because an engaged volunteer will not only stay with you for the long haul but also rope in friends or family to help support your organization and become your donors.
Creating a volunteer engagement strategy is hard work. Start by collecting information about your existing volunteers. Besides details on demographics, invest some time to understand their motivations and goals as a volunteer. Try to give them roles and responsibilities that are aligned with their motivations to support your cause. Maintain open channels of communication and do not hesitate to ask for feedback. When asked for feedback, they feel their inputs are valued and they could provide some innovative solutions to the problems you are aiming to address.
People want to know how their effort is making a difference. The impact reporting module of GiveLife365 helps you to tell a story about the result of the volunteer effort and time. Some steps to keep in mind are:
- Identify the right performance indicators of your program to map the quantitative and qualitative results of their contribution to your organization.
- Set out clear expectations for them and recognize their efforts.
- Recognize their contribution by way of verbal encouragement, formal gestures such as a gift or formal announcement in your community or social media channels
The idea is to keep them involved in your mission. This will help to develop a reliable team that will contribute to creating a sort of engagement that is personally rewarding for your volunteers and also amplify your organization’s mission.