Every nonprofit professional knows that an organization’s volunteer base is one of the most valuable resources it has. Your volunteers offer their time and effort, for free, to make sure that your nonprofit can continue supporting its mission.
Your volunteers deserve the world—so how can you make sure that they feel engaged and appreciated while working with your organization?
One facet of a nonprofit’s volunteer management strategy that is constantly overlooked is web design. Web design, when properly used, can help strengthen the connection between an organization and its volunteers.
So how can you make sure that your nonprofit’s web design is supporting engagement with your volunteers? Here are some suggestions:
- Use your website to match volunteer skills with assignments.
- Acknowledge and recognize the work of your volunteers.
- Keep an updated calendar for volunteers to use.
- Include volunteer-centric resources on your website.
Make sure your volunteers feel connected and supported both on and off the job by optimizing your web design for their engagement. Read on to learn more!
1. Use your website to match volunteer skills with assignments.
Your organization is probably tracking all sorts of nonprofit analytics, from conversion rates to donor retention rates, but how can you use those data-driven strategies to improve your volunteer engagement?
The tasks and projects that your volunteers take on will vary wildly depending on the size and focus of your nonprofit, but something that all nonprofits need to do is ensure that their volunteers are matched up with the most appropriate tasks.
What does this mean in practice?
By matching volunteers with the most appropriate tasks, your nonprofit and your volunteers can both benefit more from the relationship. Your nonprofit gets to leverage your volunteers’ experience and education, and your volunteer gets to use their passions in new ways.
Some real-world examples of matching skills with assignments include:
- Asking business professionals for assistance with financial decisions or marketing.
- Asking lawyers for pro bono legal counsel.
- Asking volunteers with management experience to take on leadership roles.
- Asking creative volunteers with graphic design and marketing.
- Asking younger volunteers with social media platforms to run your accounts.
It’s not possible for a single person to understand the personal background of every volunteer in your nonprofit, especially for larger nonprofits. This is where smart web design comes in.
Odds are that you already have a contact or sign-up form for volunteers on your website.If not, your organization is probably missing out on opportunity. Is your organizations website pushing potential prospects away??
Consider what skills are necessary for different volunteer tasks. Then add those as options on your volunteer form, so volunteers can check off which skills they have when indicating their interest.
Another way to strengthen engagement through the web design of your nonprofit’s volunteer form is simply giving them options to pick from when they indicate what they’re interested in doing. An up-and-coming event planner may want to help with your fun runs, for example.
Creating a smarter online sign-up form to better understand your volunteers is a strong first step towards boosting your engagement.
2. Acknowledge and recognize the work of your volunteers.
Everyone likes to feel as though their work is seen and valued, and your volunteers are no exception! Thanking them is vital to a strong relationship, especially since they do their work for free.
When designing your website, don’t forget to feature your volunteers’ work prominently and express gratitude for their efforts.
Some easy ways to demonstrate your organization’s appreciation for its volunteers online are:
- Keep an updated list of volunteers’ names and photos on a dedicated “thank you” page.
- Acknowledge especially dedicated volunteers in central locations on your website.
- Include number of hours worked alongside volunteers’ names when applicable.
- Give them a shoutout in your nonprofit email newsletter, so that everyone on your email list sees how dedicated your volunteers are.
If you feel so inspired, highlight the stories of some of your volunteers online. Ask them to write a brief article about their experiences with your nonprofit, and then post it on your website for the world to see.
Reaching out to them to provide content for the website will make them feel your organization’s appreciation for all their hard work.
You don’t have to feature your beautiful volunteers on just your website: feature them on your social media platforms, as well, so they can share your posts with their friends and family to demonstrate the good that they do.
Don’t forget to privately thank your volunteers, as well. Send them personalized emails or notes after certain benchmarks or after big events.
When volunteers feel like their time and effort is appreciated, they are more likely to continue working with and supporting your organization.
3. Keep an updated calendar for volunteers to use.
It’s important for your volunteers to be able to easily access the dates and times of different events or activities, especially if they’re not in your office daily.
To ensure that your volunteers are able to know about important upcoming opportunities, host a volunteer calendar on your website.
This calendar should include:
- Training days or educational programs.
- All of the available volunteer opportunities.
- Fundraising events.
- Any team bonding events that your nonprofit might hold.
Your nonprofit has a lot going on, so make sure that you remember to keep your website reflective of the information posted on your social media platforms, as well.
If your website builder allows it, consider hosting your volunteer coordinator’s Google calendar on your website so that you’re sure it’s completely up-to-date. This is also helpful because it can be shared with your volunteers’ calendars as well.
If you’re not sure what your website builder can do, or you’re considering switching to a new provider, check out this guide to top nonprofit website builders from DNL OmniMedia for some suggestions.
Make sure that your volunteer calendar works on mobile, as well! If someone needs to check the time of an event on the fly, they’re going to go to your website first.
There are many different ways to ensure that your volunteers know about and use the calendar. Consider the following options:
- Offer an email opt-in, so that they’re subscribed to your nonprofit email newsletter and receive the calendar in their inbox.
- Invite your volunteers to add the volunteer calendar events to their own Google calendar.
- Segment your constituent data to create a volunteer-specific email blast.
Using your website to keep your community up to date on volunteer opportunities is a key strategy for boosting engagement.
4. Include volunteer-centric resources on your website.
Your website is probably designed to encourage visitors to donate and educate readers about your organization and mission. But what about educating your volunteers?
In addition to educational articles about the cause your nonprofit serves, consider hosting articles that are specifically related to volunteers and their experiences. Some examples of content like this are:
- Articles about how vital volunteers are to an organization. Posting content that helps volunteers see the bigger picture of their efforts can help them remain engaged with your organization and get inspired to help more.
- Resources on fighting volunteer fatigue and promoting a healthy work-life balance. Ensuring that your volunteers are emotionally supported is crucial to maintaining a long-term relationship between them and your organization.
- Information about corporate philanthropy and how volunteers can take advantage of it. Many companies offer volunteer grant programs, where they donate money to an organization that their employee volunteers for, but many people don’t know about these programs!
Empowering your volunteers to learn about work-life balance and self-care also has the added bonus of giving them the ability to use those skills in their careers, as well!
Educating volunteers about different ways to keep themselves healthy and make the most of their volunteer efforts (who doesn’t want to donate to their organization without having to pay for it?) can strengthen your engagement efforts and ensure that your volunteers can have a long relationship with your organization.
Volunteer engagement is crucial for any nonprofit’s mission, so make sure that you’re using all the tools in your arsenal to keep your volunteers happy. With some simple tweaks to your web design, you can support your volunteers and boost their engagement and satisfaction with your nonprofit.
Carl Diesing, Managing Director – Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals.
As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.