What’s in a name?
Think about all the ways you interact with your volunteers. What steps does your organization take to personalize the volunteer experience?
In this article, we’ll explore why it’s so important to personalize the volunteer experience – and what to do about it.
The Importance of Personalization
Think about your high school or college graduation ceremony. What happened? Well, if you participated in commencement activities, the dean probably called your name over the loud speaker and awarded you with a diploma. The diploma also prominently featured your full name, further documenting your achievement.
Your high school or university could have simply sent a form letter to all of its graduates. Instead, the institution chose to hold a special ceremony to publicly present you with a personalized award.
In other words, by acknowledging a person’s name, you are able to connect with them on a much deeper level. This can become mutually beneficial, in that both parties are able to strengthen the bond connecting them.
This is a very useful principle, especially when it comes to engaging volunteers. As we’ve documented before, a volunteer’s time is one of your organization’s most valuable assets. However, volunteer churn continues to be a big issue for many nonprofits. Even a small reduction in turnover could yield significant value for your organization. Let’s look at a few commonsense ways to do this.
Send Personalized Volunteer Event Reminder Emails
Most volunteers are busy people. As a result, people sometimes forget to show up for your events. Work, family, and personal commitments can take precedent, leaving your organization scrambling at the last minute.
One way to address this issue is by sending helpful email reminders to those who sign up for your events. Keep the message friendly and, of course, personal. Include the shift time and date, along with any special instructions or directions. Make sure you personalize the message by addressing the email to the volunteer’s first name.
If you manage a lot of events and volunteers, it may make sense to implement a volunteer management system, such as VolunteerHub. Personalized email reminders are automatically sent to your volunteers, minimizing the administrative burden.
Take Volunteer Info with You & Never Forget Another Name
On the day of your event, make sure you review your list of scheduled volunteers. For volunteers you’ve already met, refer to previous notes and volunteer records. Be ready to engage them on a personal level, and of course, use their first name when greeting them. For new volunteers, make sure that you introduce yourself and try to learn more about them. If time permits, capture notes about your volunteers’ preferences and motivations, which may be useful for future consideration.
When you’re running multi-faceted events, it may become impossible to personally engage all your volunteers. With VolunteerHub, you can access important volunteer information on the go from any smartphone or tablet device. With just a couple taps, you can instantly view volunteer details, history, and more.
[New Feature] Print Nametags On-Demand with VolunteerHub!
Another great way to personalize the volunteer experience is by utilizing nametags. Many nonprofits already do this, which certainly helps to keep things more personal.
If your organization already uses volunteer nametags, have you ever stopped to think about how much effort goes into this process? Most nonprofits follow one of the two workflows:
- Volunteers Create the Nametags – With this process, volunteers use markers to handwrite their names onto a peel-and-stick badge. There are several problems with this process. If you have a lot of volunteers for an event, handwriting name badges can really slow down the check-in process. Also, some volunteers have bad handwriting, which defeats the purpose of the nametag.
- Your Staff Creates the Nametags – By having your staff create the nametags in advance, you certainly bypass the problems associated with volunteer-created badges. However, new problems arise. First, your staff will have to find the time to create the badges. Once the day of the event arrives, someone will need to help volunteers find their badges among the sea of other nametags. Finally, think about all the wasted tags you’ll likely have. If you’re expecting 200 volunteers and only 150 show up, you’re left with 50 tags that must be discarded. Now, multiply this waste across all the events you have in a year, and you’ll really start to see how much money is being lost.
By using VolunteerHub, you gain access to our new on-demand nametag feature. Here’s an overview of how this feature works:
- Your volunteers arrive and self check-in using our virtual kiosk.
- VolunteerHub instantly prints a personalized volunteer nametag.
- The volunteer grabs the nametag, puts it on, and gets to work.
This allows organizations to personalize the volunteer experience without bogging down operations. To try VolunteerHub’s nametag feature, request a risk-free trial today.
Engage Through Personalization
Before you make any technology-related decisions, I would encourage your management team to review how you’re already personalizing the volunteer experience. Look for ways to expand on what’s already working. Once you’ve built a solid foundation, then look to new systems that can enhance efficiency.