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6 Strategies to Engage Volunteers on the Go

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It’s one thing to be able to engage with your organization’s volunteers when you have them right in front of you. They’re attentive, present, and ready to get involved while they’re participating in your latest volunteer opportunity.

But what about when they’re on the move? When they’re no longer volunteering?

That’s when it’s especially crucial to have a bevy of mobile engagement strategies for your volunteers.

Here are 6 strategies that will take your volunteer engagement to the next level.

#1. Spice up your events.
#2. Update your social media strategy.
#3. Segment your volunteer database.
#4. Look into text-to-give technology.
#5. Try peer-to-peer fundraising.
#6. Go above and beyond to acknowledge your volunteers.

There’s no time to waste; let’s get started with these 6 strategies.

#1. Spice up your events.

Spicing up your events might not seem like the most applicable strategy when it comes to engaging volunteers on the go.

But it’s actually been proven that increased engagement at events leads to more prolonged involvement over time.

If you think about it, the psychology behind this notion is pretty easily understandable. Your volunteers have a great time at your event. They’re inspired by the passion for your cause that emanates from your event staff and their fellow volunteers.

They leave the event with an overwhelmingly positive feeling toward your organization.

That kind of positive association leads them to:

  • Respond to your call-to-action.
  • Donate their time and money.
  • Continue their relationship with your organization.

In the end, the steps you take to engage with your volunteers while they’re in your presence have a substantial impact on how they relate to you when they’re on the go.

So what are some simple measures you can take to improve your upcoming events?

How about adding a theme to your event? Themes encourage creativity and foster fun.

You can also try:

  • Creating a fun, branded event registration website.
  • Combining two separate events into one.

If you’ve been hosting the same volunteer or fundraising events for years, it may be time to take a step back and reassess where you could imbue them with more pizzazz.

To drive more engagement while volunteers are on the go, it’s important to inspire them while they’re at your events.

#2. Update your social media strategy.

With more than 60% of people checking at least one social media account a day, it’s no wonder that it’s an integral part of engaging with volunteers on the go.

That being said, striking the right balance with social media engagement can be incredibly difficult (not to mention, frustrating).

Luckily, we’ve got some of the best practices for nonprofit social media engagement.

We’ve broken them down by the top four most popular sites:

Facebook

  1. Give your most active and involved volunteers shout-outs. Because you can tag your “friends” (volunteers) on Facebook, it makes it easier to craft personalized acknowledgments in the form of shout-outs.
  2. Make sure you share volunteers’ pictures within 48 hours. Facebook has created an even greater need for instant gratification. Satisfy your volunteers’ need for immediacy by uploading photos of the event as soon as possible.
  3. Start engaging conversations by asking questions in your posts. When you ask thought-provoking questions of your volunteers, they’re bound to strike up a healthy dialogue. The more they interact with your page, the more your page will show up in their newsfeeds.

Instagram

  1. Host contests on your nonprofit’s Instagram. Few things drive engagement more than the possibility of prizes and/or positive reinforcement. For the first 10 (or however many) Instagram followers that sign up for your next volunteer event, award a special prize or a shout-out.
  2. Include a link to your event registration page in your bio. Since you can’t link directly in any of your individual posts, it’s important to keep your bio updated with your latest event registration page link.
  3. Tell a story with your photos. Instagram is a predominantly visual site, and therefore, it provides users the unique opportunity to tell their stories through pictures. Take advantage of this fact by sharing meaningful photos that will be sure to touch the hearts of your volunteers.

Snapchat

  1. Encourage volunteers to take snaps during events. Snapchat is great for documenting the here and now. In order to engage with your volunteers who are present (and even those that aren’t), encourage event attendees to take videos and pictures via Snapchat.
  2. Use geotags and local filters. When your volunteers see that you’re actively involved in the local culture, they’ll be more inclined to give back themselves. To show them that you’re invested in your community, be sure to geotag (mark and promote your location) and use local filters (location-based overlays).
  3. Start a specific Snapchat campaign. Several nonprofits have launched themed campaigns using Snapchat. Your nonprofit can, too. In order to engage volunteers, decide on a theme and upload snaps that are consistent with it for a given period of time.

Twitter

  1. Register your very own #NonprofitHashtag. Did you know that you can register a hashtag? That’s right: you can create your very own #hashtag that’s unique to your cause. This can help you can track volunteer engagement with your nonprofit on Twitter and across other social media sites that use tags.
  2. Tweet relevant pictures. Pictures are incredibly useful tools for telling your nonprofit’s story. People are able to process images up to 60,000 times faster than they can words, so your nonprofit’s volunteers are far more likely to engage with content that’s visual than with 140-character tweets.
  3. Set up a Twitter contest. Just like you can create an Instagram contest, you can also easily set up a Twitter competition where the prize is your nonprofit’s branded merchandise. Implementing a photo caption contest can drive a significant amount of engagement.

There are an infinite number of ways that your social media strategy can be improved. In order to effectively engage with your volunteers wherever they are, it’s important to up your game.

#3. Segment your volunteer database.

Studies have proven that your volunteers are far more likely than anyone else to contribute a great deal of money (in addition to time) to your organization.

Digging a bit deeper into your volunteers before, during, and after service opportunities should shed light on how to better communicate with them.

How do you get to that point, though?

It starts with segmenting your volunteer or donor database and inevitably involves prospect research.

To begin segmenting your database, you must first split your constituents into two main categories:

  1. Those who have given time or money within the past two years.
  2. Volunteers who have not participated in the past two years.

Of course, you’ll want to try reaching out to the latter category at some point, but your true focus should be on your more recently active volunteers.

Once you’ve broken your volunteers into these two major groups, you can begin to run prospect screenings on them to learn more about their:

  • Philanthropic interests
  • Wealth indicators
  • Past giving
  • Real estate holdings  

It never hurts to learn more about your volunteers and donors. The more you know, the better you’re able to relate to them in the long run.

If you want to get more granular about it, you can separate your volunteers into smaller and more specific groups until you feel that you have a variety of solid, mutually exclusive groups.

For instance, you can break your volunteers down into several categories, such as:

  • Volunteers who have worked a registration table before.
  • Those who have previously worked a bike-a-thon.
  • Advocates who have worked at educational events.

With VolunteerHub’s event groups feature, your nonprofit can keep track of planning your events and engaging with specific volunteers based on their previous relationship with your organization.

Imagine that it’s the day before a major volunteer event. You suddenly realize that there is no one registered to set up the tents.

Luckily, you’ve segmented your volunteers and can access information about them on your phone, tablet, or computer.

You can filter out anyone who’s not involved with the event and communicate more effectively and efficiently from wherever you are.

Segmenting your volunteer database will not only help you better organize your events, it will also help you systematically target your volunteer communications on the go.

#4. Look into text-to-give technology.

It’s hard to ignore mobile fundraising while discussing engaging with volunteers on the go.

One of the top mobile giving avenues for nonprofits and faith-based organizations alike is texting to give.

Text-to-give technology allows your nonprofit to accept donations from volunteers and donors no matter where they are or when they submit donations.

A volunteer could be halfway across the world, but when they pull out their mobile phone, all they have to do is shoot a quick text.

As soon as that transaction is processed, your nonprofit can put those funds to good use. No longer does your organization have to wait for a third party cell service provider to process bills and dole out only half of what donors intended to give.

That’s right: traditional text-to-give providers would have to go through cell service giants who would, in turn, shave off 20-50% of the donations off the top for “service fees.”

Fortunately for your nonprofit, industry-leading text-to-give technology platforms process donations directly. This means that you receive the full amount quickly.

But how does this revolutionary donation method help you engage with volunteers on the go?

It’s actually quite simple. Your volunteers want to stay involved with your nonprofit.

Obviously they care about your cause, otherwise they wouldn’t invest their time, talent, and energy into it.

In an ideal world, they would have 25 hours, 8 days a week to spare and spend with your nonprofit. But sadly, there are other obligations in people’s lives, and there isn’t enough time in the day or week.

For those times when a volunteer wants to show that they care, but they hardly have time to put dinner on the table, there’s texting to donate.

Text-to-give is:

  • Swift
  • Simple
  • Secure

It’s the perfect solution for volunteers who are always on the move.

To further engage with your volunteers while they’re out and about, look into text-to-give as a way to raise funds and foster relationships.

#5. Try peer-to-peer fundraising.  

In the same vein as text-to-give technology, peer-to-peer fundraising is a solution that kills two birds with one stone. Peer-to-peer fundraising:

  1. Increases engagement and a sense of accomplishment within volunteers.
  2. Helps your organization raise money for your cause.

How, exactly, does it help engage volunteers, though?

To put it simply, peer-to-peer fundraising elevates your existing donors and volunteers to fundraiser level.

They’re promoted to work alongside your staff with the common goal of raising awareness and money for their favorite nonprofit (that’s you).

Your nonprofit need to give your volunteers the appropriate tools in order to raise money on your behalf.

You can give them such tools as:

  • Their own personal crowdfunding pages.
  • Pre-written copy for social media and more.
  • Talking points and other useful guidance.

With these tools, they are fully equipped to send fundraising emails, post on social media, and generally reach out to their connections.

In this process, not only will your organization be engaging with existing volunteers by giving them more responsibility, but you’ll also be leveraging those relationships to expand your network.

The more volunteers you have out in the field, spreading the word about your cause, the more potential donors and volunteers you’ll end up with.

Because these new volunteers and donors will have heard about you from people they trust (their friends and families), they’ll immediately have a more positive and a closer relationship with your organization.

It really is a win-win scenario.

If you want to engage with your mobile donors and volunteers, give them the opportunity to take the reins with peer-to-peer fundraising.

#6. Go above and beyond to acknowledge your volunteers.

It’s a fundamental truth that thanking your volunteers will keep them invested in your organization.

But how do you effectively acknowledge volunteers who are always on the move?

It’s actually not as difficult as it may seem.

With many mobile giving technology platforms, your organization can automatically thank donors for their contributions.

You can also send out immediate, thoughtful acknowledgements via email to your volunteers.

The key is to send out a thank you within 48 hours after a contribution has been made or a volunteer has served.

It also never hurts to thank your volunteers more than once. After you’ve sent out your initial thank you, you might consider following up with a more personal acknowledgement like a letter or a phone call.

In the end, as long as you’re reaching out and showing you care about your supporters, you’re bound to have longer-lasting, more meaningful relationships with your volunteers, even the ones who are too busy to stop spinning plates.

You can never thank your volunteers too many times or in too many ways. Take the time to send one acknowledgement as quickly as you can, and be sure to follow up with a more personalized thank you afterward.

From spicing up your volunteer events to segmenting your database, all the way to thanking your volunteers, there is a vast array of strategies your nonprofit can employ to engage with your supporters.

Try one of them, or try all of them. At the end of the day, the real reason your volunteers and donors continue to come back to you is your cause.

As long as your cause is always at the heart of your efforts, you’re bound to find success.

Headshot of Eric Griego

About Eric Griego

Eric Griego is the Director of Business Development at @Pay, a simple and secure giving platform that provides donors a seamless way to give on a mobile device. He has implemented effective fundraising strategies for hundreds of Nonprofit & Church organizations.

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