Creating Better, More Engaging Volunteer Programs for Nonprofits

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Apart from their paid staff, nonprofit organizations consider volunteers to be among their greatest assets. Some nonprofits consider volunteers to be their key to success, while others think they are the organization’s actual backbone. But it can’t be argued that volunteers are needed more than ever for an underserved community and a nonprofit with declined revenue.

Addressing the importance of these people and supporting them all throughout are the first two things any nonprofit should consider. But the process of finding volunteers, bringing them on board, and ensuring they are happy can be challenging. This is where your volunteers’ proper handling comes in, or some might call this volunteer management. This involves creating standards and systems for recruitment, administration, engagement, and more. Below are a number of strategies to help you develop a successful volunteer program for your nonprofit.

1. Set a realistic goal

Creating a clear goal for your volunteer program will make it easier for you to know how to recruit or manage the people along the way. Just like with any goal, it should be SMART. For example, if you’re struggling to make volunteers stay in the organization, your goal is to minimize attrition.

This requires several steps such as determining what measures must be taken to attract the right people, how to have better communication, and how to create smarter training for volunteers. Plan out clear and achievable goals for the program, structure your best practices around them, and stay on track.

2. Go digital

Traditional strategies such as handing out brochures or flyers are things of the past. They are good but not good enough to help you find and attract the right volunteers. Overlooking digital advantages such as social media is a huge mistake you surely don’t want to make.

For instance, investing in growing and monetizing your Facebook Page can readily establish your nonprofit’s online visibility. This helps you reach thousands of people who can see your volunteer program’s launching and even your fundraising events. If you have no idea how to monetize Facebook page, seek the help of experts.

Taking advantage of social media channels can make it easier and faster to appeal to the best prospects and communicate with them right away. This also creates more eyeballs on any of your organization’s ads for the program.

people doing volunteer work

3. Incorporate technology

Using the right technology, from devices to software, can help you streamline your volunteer program’s management. Incorporating an excellent system can create personalized engagement and communication between your entire team, especially the new volunteers. You can keep track of your recruitment process and optimize the training process.

Having the right system in place can help you monitor your volunteers’ activities, from their achievements, strengths, to weaknesses. What’s more, you also get to store and organize volunteer data and complete projects and tasks on time. Some types of software you can invest in are CRM, volunteer management system, accounting or financial software, cloud-based solutions, and other community platforms.

4. Give regular volunteer recognition

One of the best practices for nonprofits running volunteer programs is to thank the volunteers at all times. Showing your volunteers that you appreciate and you’re thankful for their service is a genuine way to improve engagement and retention. Just like any paid staff, volunteers want to know and feel that their hard work is valued and impactful in the program. Deepen your relationship with them and give them a reason to continue their involvement.

In volunteer recognition, make sure to go beyond giving a weekly thank-you note. You can create more engaging acknowledgments by sharing their impact and achievements to your local community and all over the world. You can broadcast it and post volunteer shout-outs on your Twitter or Facebook page, or even dedicate an entire page on your site to highlight the top volunteers of your nonprofit.

While online recognition is an amazing idea, there’s nothing better than recognizing your volunteers’ service in person. You can organize and host an exciting appreciation event to show gratitude for the hard work of your loyal volunteers, whether it’s a simple monthly BBQ or dinner. You can also give out awards or gifts for outstanding volunteers and encourage them to continue their essential work.

The value of volunteers for running a successful nonprofit organization can’t be stress enough. They can you with operations, administrative tasks, and most of all, in any fundraising you’ll be creating. They can act like brand ambassadors spreading about your organization’s mission. By following these key strategies, you can develop an amazing program that can make your volunteers feel appreciated and recognized.

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