While volunteers keep your staffing needs minimal, and allow your nonprofit to focus on the next big project, are you really getting the most out of your volunteers?
Did you know that a disengaged volunteer is more likely to be a no-show or spend most of their volunteer hours socializing? This ultimately requires more staff in the field to babysitting, instead of working.
In contrast, an engaged volunteer is not only more reliable and self-sufficient, but is also more likely to work with your nonprofit in the future or become an advocate for your cause.
Here are our top 7 tips to engage your volunteers and turn them into nonprofit ambassadors:
A reward system is a great way to recognize dedicated volunteers and keep them engaged in your nonprofit's mission for the long run.
Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte County uses VolunteerConnect to track volunteer hours. When volunteers donate 1,000 hours to Habitat Charlotte, a celebration is in order.
Create leadership opportunities
When you are told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it all the time, any task or project starts to feel like a job. Rather than just assigning mediocre tasks to volunteers, put them in charge of the task.
Give the volunteer only the minimum amount of information they need to complete the task or project, and allow them to execute the task of their own accord. Autonomy is very empowering and gives the volunteer intrinsic value.
Don't you hate getting emails that don't apply to you? Or getting too many or too few updates from a business or organization you're interested in? Well volunteers feel the same way about all emails, even those from a nonprofit they volunteer for regularly.
Make sure mass-messages are targeted to only volunteers that have expressed interest in the message's topic, or are located within a reasonable distance of the next volunteer event.
The best way to identify these different audiences is to ask your volunteers. When a volunteer signs up with your organization, ask them what types of emails they want to receive and allow them to change their elections.
Focus on interests & skills
People become volunteers for many reasons, some are very personal reasons, and others are for very outward reasons, such as getting involved in their community, meeting new friends, or trying something new. Your organization might not always know why someone chose to volunteer for your nonprofit, but you can help them to achieve the outcome they want by identifying each volunteers' skills and interests.
Not only will your volunteer coordinators be able to easily organize groups or assign tasks, but your volunteers are more likely to fulfill their reasons for volunteering in the first place, and therefore more likely to return in the future.
Tailoring the experience to the individual not only shows appreciation for your volunteer's time, but motivates the volunteer to provide a greater work effort.
Potential volunteers are out there just waiting to find a cause they can easily engage with. In fact, 56% of supporters wanted to do more after reading a story on social media (Waggener Edstrom)
Keeping current volunteers engaged by sharing the results of their efforts on social media, or posting updates keeps your nonprofit on their minds in an unobtrusive way. Social media is also a great way to recognize volunteers and share their photos from your event or project.
Help your volunteers create memories by organizing teams. Each team member will meet new people and be able to contribute a unique skill or perspective that will make any project or task more successful.
From those with little to no technical skill to those that are gadget savvy, everyone knows how to open an email or log into a website. Allow your volunteers to connect to your organization through a centralized volunteer portal, where they can view their profile, volunteer hours, groups, and upcoming opportunities.
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Learn how to better manage your volunteers