What steps is your organization taking to improve volunteer experience for supporters?

The value of volunteerism has been on the rise for many years now. According to an Independent Sector Study, the value has increased 2.5% between 2016 and 2017 ($24.14 hour) and is expected to continue to rise in the future. This figure does not include the increased value and need for skill-based volunteerism year after year.  Volunteers are becoming increasingly important for nonprofit organizations to reach their goals and overall mission. Many nonprofits are starting to diversify their offering for volunteers in order to fulfill this growing need. Organizations are creating additional value for supporters in exchange for their valuable time. Some of these incentives include volunteer career development opportunities, virtual volunteering, flexible scheduling options, and much more.

Providing incentives in a great way to increase volunteer recruitment success. Another great way to entice volunteers to fulfill opportunities and continue to volunteer in the future is by providing a great experience. It may sound easier said than done but there are many ways that your organization can improve volunteer experience for each of your supporters.

Today, we will provide 6 ways to quickly improve volunteer experience.

Improve volunteer experience by enhancing communication

Providing a quality communication experience is a key aspect of volunteer engagement. Nonprofits that provide supporters with multiple communication outlets, on-going updates and insights into new organizational opportunities can drastically improve both retention and recruitment rates.

According to a recent study, 88% of nonprofits said that their most important communication tools were email and their marketing website. Nonprofits are also utilizing social media as a way to communicate with volunteers and donors. The same study found that the top social networks in the nonprofit space are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Creating segmented email campaigns that leverage personalization and utilizing social media are two great ways to enhance volunteer communication. There are many additional ways that the communication experience can be improved for organizational supporters.

Here are a few additional tactics nonprofit organizations should implement and test for success:

  1. Communicate important messages with volunteers in real time using text message notifications.
  2. Send reminder and follow-up emails to volunteers who sign up and fulfill opportunities.
  3. Communicate special announcements, organizational changes, new opportunity details with volunteers on a weekly basis.
  4. Ask volunteers to provide feedback about their favorite communication methods.
  5. Use the power of a phone call to check in with volunteer’s time to time.
  6. Use social media to create a volunteer centric community that provides opportunities for supporters to share their experiences.

Regardless of what channels nonprofits utilize for communication, it is key that an organizations target audience is considered and data is strategically used to guide the path to success.

Improve volunteer experience by leveraging volunteer insights

The old saying “if you build it, they will come” does not apply in the nonprofit world. Organizations today need to understand and make adjustments to their strategy based on organizational insights. Nonprofits can collect and analyze data about their volunteer program by creating a volunteer satisfaction survey to provide supporters at the end of each fulfilled opportunity. Data can help a nonprofit understand what components of a program are viewed as positive and which components volunteers do not like.

A satisfaction survey can provide insights about:

  1. The recruitment process: How volunteers found an opportunity and what their experience was like during onboarding.
  2. Volunteer motivations: Why volunteers decided to commit their time and fulfill an organization’s need.
  3. Communication process: How did volunteers perceive overall communication with a nonprofit.
  4. Future Behavior: Do supporters have the intent of fulfilling future opportunities with an organization.

Offer volunteers incentives that matter

Nonprofits can greatly improve the experience for their supporters by providing incentives in exchange for commitment. Implementing a volunteer incentive program does not need to be challenging or costly for an organization. A recent Software Advice study found that making a few organizational changes is enough of an incentive for most prospects.

Here are a few of the top incentives the study highlighted:

  1. Convenient scheduling
  2. Proof of work’s impact
  3. Professional development
  4. Social/networking events
  5. Discounts at local businesses

Here are a few additional incentive ideas to test:

  1. Provide volunteers with food when they fill an opportunity.
  2. Invite volunteers to share stories on blog/website /newsletter.
  3. Deploy gamification to make the act of volunteerism more fun and challenging.
  4. Send volunteers thank-you notes after they fulfill roles.
  5. Provide volunteers with on-going training to enhance their personal skillsets.

Improve volunteer experience by making a good first impression

Did you know that a large percentage of prospects volunteer because they were asked to do so? Nonprofits today need to do whatever they can to make a good first impression to all prospects. A volunteer’s perception of an organization begins at first contact and an organization does not have a second chance to make a great first impression. How can a nonprofit create value during these critical first interactions?

Here are a few strategic ways:

  1. Communicate the mission of the nonprofit in all correspondence with prospects. Demonstrate that decisions are made with the mission always in mind.
  2. Create and deploy a website that targets emotions and shares stories of change and growth.
  3. Thank prospects for their consideration of an opportunity or commitment.
  4. Demonstrate the value of process to volunteers.
  5. Treat volunteers as important as they are at all times.

Create a social environment for supporters

It is natural for people to gravitate towards socializing with others. Nonprofits today should make socialization a key component of a supporter’s experience. Socialization is the process that a person takes to learn what an organization is and how it works. Creating opportunities for socialization offers a nonprofit the main benefit of developing more connected volunteers. Connected volunteers are more likely to become lifelong supporters and potentially evolve giving to also include financial contributions. There are many ways that organizations can leverage and create new social environments for prospects and volunteers.

Here are a few ways to use socialization to improve volunteer experience:

  1. Provide volunteers and prospects an opportunity to inject their input into the program.
  2. Create a digital presence where supporters like to spend their time.
  3. Start conversations with volunteers and prospects with the goal of getting to know them.
  4. Provide volunteers with a mentor.
  5. Create volunteer teams to promote social experiences.
  6. Encourage volunteers to engage by providing multiple ways to do so.

Invest in volunteer management software to improve experiences

Volunteer management software can help a nonprofit streamline their outreach, capture data about their program, reach new volunteers, and retain existing ones. Effective volunteer management has also been shown to free up volunteer coordinators time to focus on building relationships. Finding the best volunteer management starts but understanding what to look for in a solution.

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