Here are 15 strategic tips to manage volunteers effectively and create a successful volunteer program for your organization.

Strategy means everything when it comes to creating a process to manage volunteers successfully. Every component of a volunteer program should aim at appealing to volunteers, leveraging their strengths, and organizing data in an effort to reach mission attainment. How your organization manages volunteers can make or break your ability to reach program goals. We have compiled a list of 15 tips to help your nonprofit improve volunteer management and streamline your process.

Check out our top 15 tips below.

Understand the value of your volunteers: Volunteers can provide your nonprofit with substantial value. Volunteers fill roles that help your nonprofit improve efficiencies, increase productivity, and fulfill your mission. Most nonprofits would not be able to achieve community impact without the commitment of volunteers. On average a volunteer hour is worth $24.14 and is continuing to rise over time. Do not forget to assess how important volunteers are to your organization and the roles that they fill. Measuring volunteer impact will help your team make a case for more strategic volunteer management practices and program optimization.

Invest in the right tools to manage volunteers efficiently: Investing in resources that streamline the recruitment, engagement, communication, data collection, and analysis process for your organization will reduce manual management time and increase your organization’s ability to manage volunteers efficiently. Many nonprofits who invest in a volunteer management software solution, for example, are saving hundreds of hours a year in management time. Think about all of the goals your organization could reach if you had an extra hundred hours to commit to other aspects of your program.

Here are a few VolunteerHub case studies to support our claims.

Communicate authentically and often: Effective communication is arguably the most important aspect of a successful volunteer management strategy. Regular communication can increase volunteer recruitment, retention, engagement, and opportunity fulfillment. In order to make communication an impactful component of your volunteer program, it is key to be authentic and communicate often with supporters. Think of communication as a process for developing and building long-term relationships. Authenticity and frequency will get you there.

Always find new ways to engage: Engagement is the process of keeping volunteers committed to your organization’s cause. Focusing on engagement and deploying the right volunteer engagement strategies can help your organization entice supporters to continue to give. The most successful volunteer programs are consistently considering new ways to engage volunteers now and in the future.

Leverage the relationship between financial donors and volunteers: Several studies have shown that there is a thin line between financial donors and volunteers. These studies show that 2 out of 3 volunteers also provide organizations with monetary donations. The fact is volunteers represent individuals who are very committed to your cause. These individuals are the same people who are providing your organization with their financial resources. Leveraging this relationship can increase the value of volunteerism in new ways for your nonprofit.

Check out these 5 best practices for converting volunteers to donors on NpEngage.

Develop strategies to reach senior volunteers: Many nonprofits believe that technology is not an effective way to reach senior volunteers. This assumption is far from the truth. Seniors and their adaption to technology are growing at a faster pace than any other demographic. Close to 60% of seniors are comfortable using technology including the web, email, and social media. Seniors also make up a large percentage of people volunteering each year. In 2017, 20.7 Million older adults contributed more than 3.3 billion hours of service to their communities. Don’t forget to develop specific strategies to reach senior volunteers for your program. Segmentation is a key step to manage volunteers effectively.

Develop strategies to reach millennial volunteers: Another demographic that can provide nonprofits with tremendous value are millennial volunteers. Millennial supporters are typically tech-savvy and expect organizations to have a streamlined volunteer scheduling and recruitment process in place. Millennials need to feel connected to your cause, want to connect socially, and are looking for opportunities to practice their skills. Make sure your organization has a strategy to appeal to millennial volunteers and prospects.

Make the recruitment process effortless for volunteers: The easier the recruitment process is for volunteers and prospects the more opportunity fulfillments your organization will receive. A streamlined volunteer recruitment process should begin at first contact with supporters. This means allowing volunteers to complete registration online. A manual volunteer registration system can make your organization look disorganized and not up-to-date.

Connect your volunteer management platform with CRM:

Integrating your organization’s volunteer management solution with your CRM can provide greater insights into the relationship between volunteers and donors, make validation easier, and free up additional administrative time. If your current volunteer management platform does not offer CRM integration consider switching to a solution that does.

Learn more about VolunteerHub’s CRM integration features.

Leverage your existing volunteer pool for new opportunities: This is a pretty straightforward tip; however, it is easy to forget that your organization may already have access to talent to fill a specific role. Recruitment does not always mean finding new prospects and increasing your supporter base. Many organizations are using a volunteer management solution to identify opportunities with their current volunteer-base and leverage the skill-sets of their supporters to new levels.

Provide volunteers with purpose: The most common reason that people volunteer is to do good and find a sense of purpose. Your nonprofit should remind volunteers that their commitment to the cause matters and is making a substantial difference to the community. When is the last time your organization asked volunteers why they provide their time? This may be a good place to start in order to identify what volunteers hope to achieve. Remember, volunteers have personal goals for their commitment.

Reward and recognize volunteer regularly: Volunteers are making a selfless commitment to your organization’s cause. They deserve to be appreciated, recognized, and rewarded for this commitment. Creating a rewards and recognition program for volunteers does not need to be expensive or consume a lot of your nonprofits resources. Communicate your appreciation, create opportunities for volunteers to enhance skills, and regularly thanking volunteers is enough to have a positive lasting impact.

Invest in a consistent training process: If your nonprofit wants to retain supporters invest in a training process that sets them up for success. Volunteers should be able to perform their role to the best of their ability. It is challenging to do so without proper guidance and support. Your organization can use training as another opportunity to build relationships, communicate mission, and thank volunteers for providing their time.

Check out this post all about volunteer training.

Understand that too many spreadsheets can be counterproductive: A manual volunteer management process that relies heavily on spreadsheets can be counterproductive to your cause. This type of process is prone to error and will eat up all of your volunteer coordinators time and patience. Time that can be better spent on improving relationships internally and externally that push your program further. When considering the value proposition and ROI of volunteer management software it is key to value your coordinators time and the impact they could make if the process did not involve tedious data-entry.

Set tangible goals for your volunteer program: Always remember to make decisions based on your volunteer program and organizational goals. Making decisions outside of these goals can lead to mission creep and inefficiencies. Remember, that your mission is the foundation and goals should complement and drive your organization towards achieving it.

Learn how to set SMART goals for your organization.


Final thoughts on how to manage volunteers successfully

Developing and deploying a volunteer management process that recruits, retains, and engages volunteers can be challenging without effective tools in place that support it. How you manage volunteers can make a big impact on your nonprofits ability to reach goals. Focus on improving your program one inefficiency at a time.

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