How many of these 33 best practices for volunteer organizations are you deploying?

Running a successful nonprofit is challenging! These 33 best practices can help your organization make the most of volunteers, increase fundraising productivity, make better use of data, plan for the future and reach goals.

Volunteer Recruitment

1.) Fully understand the level of volunteer screening required for each opportunity your organization needs to fill. Consider background checks to avoid risk.

2.) Look for candidates that possess skillsets in-line with each opportunity your organization needs to fill.

3.) Do not rush the recruitment process. It is better to have an empty seat than the wrong volunteer for a role.

4.) Focus on a variety of channels when recruiting volunteers (test channels for quality applicants).

5.) Do not forget about your existing volunteer database (Do any of your current supporters fit the role?)

Volunteer Engagement

6.) Engage volunteers from the start by providing orientation, training, and requesting feedback.

7.) Communicate with volunteers quickly, often with the goal of providing value.

8.) Consider exploring gamification as an engagement strategy (more on gamification)

9.) Get as specific as possible when creating outreach strategies.

10.) Show volunteers appreciation on a regular basis.

(58% of leadership says appreciation is top engagement strategy).

Succession Planning

11.) Your nonprofits succession plan should include feedback from all senior management. (not just executive director).

12.) Have a written succession plan in place. (only 34% of nonprofits do.)

13.) Create a written emergency leadership transition plan.

14.) Evaluate and train future leaders in the event of a transition.

15.) Document the responsibilities of each organizational leadership position.


16.) Consider volunteers as one of your most convertible donor prospects. (convert volunteers to donors)

17.) Set optimistic goals for your fundraising campaigns and teams.

18.) Leverage supporters through P2P fundraising initiatives (1/3 of online donations come from P2P)

19.) Make it easy for donors to give (online options are good!)

20.) Accept donations of all monetary sizes (don’t restrict giving)

Volunteer Retention

21.) Survey your volunteers to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunity, and threats of your volunteer program.

22.) Ask your supporters to continue to fulfill new opportunities through effective communication.

23.) Allow supporters to commit to opportunities directly from your website.

24.) Track your organization’s volunteer management data.

25.) Active engagement will have an impact on retention (see above engagement best practices)

Nonprofit Marketing

26.) Make sure to use email for both broadcasting volunteer opportunities and fundraising. (28% of donors were motivated by email last year.)

27.) Create compelling content with an emphasis on storytelling. (stories elicit emotion)

28.) Have a plan for social media and identify the right channels (don’t just post to post)

29.) Make marketing decisions based on data. (Become a data-driven nonprofit)

30.) Use marketing channels as an opportunity to get to know your supporters (create brand ambassadors)

Volunteer Impact 

31.) Make sure to measure opportunity costs when monitoring impact.

32.) Decipher donations made by volunteers vs non-volunteers.

33.) Develop a plan for how your organization will measure volunteer impact (don’t overmeasure).

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