With the value of volunteerism on the rise, repeat volunteers may be your nonprofit organization’s most important asset. Are your volunteers coming back?
As of 2018 around 85% of nonprofits rely solely on volunteers to staff their organization and achieve their mission. Over the past few years, volunteer retention has been on the decline. The importance of repeat volunteers has never been so great in the nonprofit industry. According to an Independent Sector study, volunteerism nationwide is worth about $171 billion dollars, a figure that continues to rise over time.
How is your organization encouraging and engaging repeat volunteers to continue to come back and fill opportunities? Are you providing volunteers with the right incentives to continue to devote their precious time to the cause? In today’s post, we will discuss several strategies that your nonprofit can implement to encourage volunteers to continue to give.
“Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time; they just have the heart!” Elizabeth Andrew
Repeat Volunteers Enjoy a Flexible Schedule
Most people today, including volunteers, have very busy schedules. Flexibility is a must if you want your organization to appeal to repeat volunteers. Between family, work, and additional obligations it can be challenging to find the time to volunteer.
Did you know that according to a study performed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American only allocates, on average, 5 hours a day for leisure?
This statistic stresses the importance of being flexible with your repeat volunteers and prospects.
Another recent study performed by Software Advice concluded that 27% of survey participants found convenience and flexibility to be their number one most attractive reason to return to an organization.
So how can your nonprofit be flexible with supporters?
Here are a few tips:
- Offer supporters the ability to fill volunteer opportunities online.
- Make the volunteer registration process easy.
- If possible, offer virtual volunteer opportunities to supporters.
- Encourage volunteers to bring friends and families to fill multiple roles.
- Offer volunteers weekend opportunities with your organization.
- Provide options for short schedules (few hour opportunities)
Repeat Volunteers Want Career Training Opportunities
Many volunteers are looking for opportunities to grow professionally while providing their skills to a good cause. Nonprofits around the world are looking for skill-based volunteers. Did you know that 92% of nonprofits across the nation believe they do not have enough skilled pro-bono support?
Finding volunteers with a particular skill set can be a challenging feat, however, the desire is there. According to LinkedIn, over 4 million members want to volunteer their skills for good.
A great way to appeal to skill-based volunteers and prospects that desire a particular set of skills is to offer supporters career development opportunities.
Career development opportunities enrich volunteers lives by:
- Helping them build their resume for jobs in their field.
- Offering them opportunities to build leadership skills.
- Helping to develop their personal network and connections.
- Providing a cost-efficient way of building new skills to use in their professional life.
Your nonprofit can provide volunteer career development opportunities by:
- Providing volunteers with on-going training to enhance their volunteer experience and skill-set.
- Offering volunteers the opportunity to pursue new desired roles.
- Providing volunteers with mentorship.
- Allowing volunteers to move out of their comfort zone.
Volunteer Incentives are Appealing to Repeat Volunteers
One strategy that has been working well for many years is to offer volunteers with incentives in exchange for their time. The Software Advice survey found that 12% of survey participants believe discounts at local businesses is the best incentive for repeat volunteers. Even though volunteerism is an unpaid form of service many volunteers still want to receive something in exchange for their time.
Your nonprofit organization should consider partnering with local businesses to provide these types of incentives to volunteers. Providing volunteers with incentives does not need to be costly. Many times, a free provided meal is incentive enough for volunteers.
If your nonprofit wants to increase incentives for volunteers your organization should also consider a rewards and recognition program. Gamification is a great way to make the process of volunteerism fun and rewarding for all of your organizational supporters.
Repeat volunteers continue to be one of the most valuable resources for nonprofit organizations around the world. Retaining them and continuing to earn their support does not need to be challenging. Your organization should make an effort to provide volunteers with scheduling flexibility, provide opportunities for career development, and consider offering incentives in exchange for their time.