Originally published on Nonprofit Pro here

If your organization is looking for new ways to recruit and engage virtual volunteers, here are 4 tips that can help create a smooth process for both your organization and volunteers transitioning to a remote setting.

According to Independent Sector, the value of a volunteer hour in 2021 is $28.54 and that figure continues to climb. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way organizations recruit, manage, and engage volunteers, and many nonprofits, just like yours, have transitioned to offering virtual volunteer opportunities for supporters. Offering virtual volunteer opportunities allows your organization to utilize the skill-set of volunteers while eliminating or limiting face-to-face contact. Even if your nonprofit needs face-to-face volunteers to achieve its mission, now is still a great time to consider adding virtual volunteer opportunities for tasks such as administrative support, marketing, volunteer management, and fundraising.

According to Forbes, virtual volunteerism shows no sign of slowing down, even after the pandemic has subsided. Creating a strategy for virtual volunteerism, now, will help your nonprofit prepare for the future and the changing expectations of volunteers. If your organization is investing in a virtual volunteerism strategy for 2021 and beyond, here are 4 strategic tips for recruiting and engaging remote volunteers.

Leverage Technology

Having the right technology solutions in place is essential when deploying a virtual volunteerism strategy. How will your organization promote, recruit, register, train, communicate with, and engage virtual volunteers? Is there a software solution that can make the process easier and more streamlined? These are questions to consider when exploring technology to support your virtual volunteer initiatives. One technology solution that your organization may want to consider is volunteer management software. Volunteer management software can be used to recruit, manage, and engage virtual volunteers and data can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.

Some volunteer management solutions can also integrate with your nonprofit’s CRM system to provide in-depth details about supporters and bridge the gap between volunteers and donors.

Finally, training is key when recruiting virtual volunteers. If your organization wants to deliver a virtual experience to volunteers, investing in a Learning Management System (LMS) will help. Your organization can use LMS to create, deliver, and track online education and training programs.

Promote Your Virtual Volunteer Opportunities

Once you have developed a list of virtual volunteer opportunities, invested in technology to support the initiative, and have a process for onboarding, it is time to promote these remote roles. One of the best ways to promote virtual volunteer opportunities is by leveraging your existing volunteer database. Chances are, your organization has volunteers who are not comfortable volunteering face-to-face in 2021, but would be open to volunteering virtually.

Another best practice is to use your organization’s communication channels, such as email, text messaging, and social media channels, to get the word out about virtual volunteer opportunities.

Here are some additional tips for promoting volunteer opportunities on social media channels.

Finally, if your organization uses a volunteer management system to list volunteer opportunities, make sure that prospects can easily differentiate between “in-person” and “virtual” roles.

Thank Virtual Volunteers, Provide Incentives & Share Success Stories

Thanking virtual volunteers is a great way to engage them. Focusing on rewards and recognition can provide your organization with a low-cost way to increase retention and create value for volunteers at the same time. Some organizations, just like yours, are taking recognition even further and are providing volunteers with rewards in exchange for their time. For example, Gateway Pet Guardians assign a point value to each volunteer opportunity and allow volunteers to exchange accumulated points for merchandise, pet products and services, and more. Gateway Pet Guardian volunteers also have the ability to donate points to others in need.

Last but not least, make sure your organization shares virtual volunteer success stories. Sharing success stories is a great way to showcase the efforts of current volunteers and compel others to volunteer in the future.

Here are some tips from Nonprofit Pro on volunteer appreciation and retention

Collect Feedback

Creating a process and strategy for virtual volunteers can be challenging. Requesting and collecting feedback from virtual volunteers is a great way to remove barriers and optimize your virtual volunteer program long-term. Most volunteers would be willing to share their feedback about your existing program and provide valuable information about how the program can be improved.

Final Thoughts

There has never been a more important time to consider including virtual opportunities in your organization’s volunteer program. When planning your program remember to leverage technology, actively promote virtual opportunities through a variety of mediums, thank volunteers, provide incentives, share success stories, and collect feedback.

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