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Building a Team of Commando Volunteers

commando volunteers

A fantastic opportunity emerges during a planning meeting. It is a community-wide event that will give you the increased exposure you’ve been looking for. The only challenge is that it’s happening next weekend.

What are you going to do? Send an email blast to your entire database of supporters and pray that enough of them respond? Or are you going to individually call up your time-trusted, long-term, call-me-anytime commando volunteers?

That’s an easy choice – so much so that one of your main goals as an organization should be to create and build a stellar commando team. In this post, we’ll explore a few time-tested strategies for building your team.

Build a Conducive Culture for Repeat Volunteers

We all know that a volunteer hour is valued at $22, but what about the value of a repeat volunteer who is completely committed to your organization? If someone volunteers once a week for ten years, that translates to $11,440. Wouldn’t you love to know how to recruit and retain more repeat volunteers?

SoftwareAdvice recently released the results of a survey on What Motivates People to Become a Repeat Volunteer.

As noted in the slides above, 27% of respondents said convenient scheduling was their biggest motivator, making it the top answer in the survey. People have busy lives and they want to make a difference with the little time they have.

Also, take note that the second most frequent answer involves seeing proof that the work was meaningful. Volunteers want to know that the time they donate is making a difference. They want to hear the stories of the at-risk children your organization helps. They want to hear from the residents of the low-income community you support that your presence is really impacting their lives.

Start with the “Why”

The key here is storytelling. Everyone knows the power of a story, but it might be the single greatest thing you can do to create a team of commando volunteers. They say “yes” even to last minute requests because the story you are telling resonates deeply with them. It has become part of them.

As a leader, you need to think through three things in regards to your organization’s story:

  1. What is the story? It may seem obvious, but can you state the narrative of what your organization supports in one sentence? Are you all about second chances? Do you offer hope to those who had none? Do you take care of and celebrate the beauty around us? Define the unique story in which your organization plays a role.
  2. Who else already believes that story? This not only directs whom you approach to be a volunteer, but also donors. Finding the people who already buy into your narrative is a lot easier than trying to convince others that it matters.
  3. How can I reinforce the story? All of your communication with volunteers and donors should reinforce the same story. From your brochures to the automated email your volunteers get after they serve, everything tells the story over and over again.

As a nonprofit leader, your time is taken up with a lot. But your best tool to build a team of commando volunteers is to clearly identify your story and tell it in as many different ways as possible. And how do you know when someone has become one of your key volunteers? They tell the story on their own.

Before you do anything else, call up your commando volunteers, thank them, and give them a story they will love.

Headshot of Rob Cardosi

About Rob Cardosi

Prior to joining VolunteerHub as Director of Sales, Rob served as the Associate Director of Development at the University of Cincinnati Foundation and as the Associate Director of Annual Giving for the University of Kentucky.

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