For many nonprofit organizations, volunteers are an essential part of the day-to-day operations. In some ways, volunteers can prove to be just as vital as donors, if not more. You may have the resources to offer a service, but volunteers are your means of properly executing that service. Whether your nonprofit is small or large, any exempt organization can benefit from having volunteers. But are your volunteers benefiting from your organization?
Do your volunteers know what to do once they arrive to help? Are they showing up during a set schedule, or are they allowed to come and go? Do they regularly feel that there’s nothing to do, or are they unsure what to work on next? The experience your volunteers have with your organization can greatly impact future volunteering, monetary support, and even your nonprofit’s reputation.
Here are a few ways you can easily enhance the experience of your organization’s volunteers:
It all starts by getting volunteer information to those who are interested. As soon as a viewer enters your web page, they should be able to get that information effortlessly. Your volunteer registration form should ask the following information:
- Contact name/info
- Reason for volunteering
- Any physical constraints
- Education or special training
- Professional/volunteer experience
- Personal interest or hobbies
What may seem like extraneous information will actually help you give volunteers tasks based on their set of skills. When the volunteer is excited with what they’re doing, it’s more likely they’ll continue with their support. But signing up isn’t the only important thing. Make sure your website displays volunteering impact, available opportunities, coordinator contact info, guidelines, and release forms. Videos, photos, or testimonials from previous volunteers would be a nice touch as well.
Schedule, Communicate, & Prepare
After your volunteer has registered, communicate with them on a regular basis. They should know where to be, what to bring, and what to expect. You can personally ensure that your volunteers understand the guidelines, know their schedules, and are aware of their duties and responsibilities.
Volunteer Day (V-Day)
The most critical part of the entire experience – this should be no different than the first day of a new employee, board member, or important donor. Here a some suggested guidelines:
- Provide distinct instruction and expectation before volunteers arrive
- Have a leadership member greet volunteers and escort them to the volunteering area (room, section, hub, etc.)
- Have the volunteer coordinator share details of the organization – including the need for volunteers
- Demonstrate what volunteers will be doing over the course of their scheduled time
- Let volunteers work
- Allow the necessary work breaks
- Take a photo or video of volunteers working
- Allow the volunteers to mitigate back in the volunteer area
- Inquire about today’s experience, thank volunteers for their time, and let them leave
Recognition – The Follow-Up
Within 24 hours, you should follow up with your volunteers with either a “Thank You” call or email. Any photos or videos can be posted on social media along with public acknowledgement of the group and volunteer support. Even if you already asked, you may still want to inquire about their experience. Sending electronic surveys to your volunteers can provide feedback or insight.
Follow-ups can also be used to request donations. Studies have shown that volunteers give ten times more in donations than non-volunteers – a reason why your volunteer experience should be top-notch to begin with. Any volunteering program your organization has in place should be as crucial as bringing in new donors. Not only does it reflect upon your organization’s reputation, but those volunteers could become your next major donors. And while you’re focused on that, let us make filing your tax-exempt returns as easy as possible.
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