Strategically matching volunteers with assignments that allow them to excel can increase retention, improve engagement, and help your organization achieve its mission.
It is amazing how well a volunteer program can perform when an organization leverages the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) of volunteers. Effectively utilizing your volunteer workforce can increase retention, improve engagement, and help your organization reach its mission. Did you know that according to a recent national volunteer experience survey, one of the most cited reasons that volunteers quit is lack of leadership? Strategically matching volunteers with opportunities is all about leadership and taking your volunteer program to the next level. In fact, effective leadership can improve performance by 20%.
The most successful volunteers posses the traits below:
- They are passionate about the greater good.
- They are eager to take initiative.
- They operate with integrity.
- They are creative and innovative.
- They care about others.
When matching volunteers with opportunities there are a few things your organization should consider.
Be Mindful of a Volunteer’s Time
One of the main reasons why people do not volunteer is lack of time. According to a study, performed by the UK Civil Society, 14% of people cite “lack of time” as their main reason for not actively volunteering. The same study found that 59% of people stop volunteering because of other obligations. When matching volunteers with opportunities, it is crucial to identify how much time volunteer prospects, and existing volunteers, can devote towards volunteerism.
Each volunteer is unique and so are their obligations outside of volunteering. Keep in mind that the average person only has 5 hours of free time available per day. Because of varying schedules, your organization should match volunteers to opportunities that fit into their availability and lifestyle.
One of the best ways to match time-crunched volunteers to opportunities is by offering micro-volunteering. Micro-volunteer opportunities are short shifts that usually span from 15 minutes to an hour. By providing both standard volunteer opportunities and micro-volunteer opportunities your organization can appeal to a wide-range of volunteer prospects.
Develop Existing Skills / Create New Skills
One of the main reasons people volunteer, outside of altruism, is to develop existing skills and create new ones. Learning more about your volunteers and their motivations will help your organization put them in a position for growth. According to a “Learning to Be Employable” article, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, volunteering can represent an important opportunity for exploration, growth, and the development of social and transferable skills.
By matching volunteers with skill-development opportunities you can ensure you are providing them with value in exchange for their time.
Learn a Volunteer’s Must-Haves
Opinions aside, it is important to ask volunteers about their must-haves and non-negotiables. In other words, what kind of volunteer assignments do they want to fulfill. Find out exactly what excites each volunteer and their motivations for pursuing volunteerism. Focusing on a volunteer’s must-haves can help you get to know them, better understand their comfort zone, and create a personalized plan for them. Creating a personalized experience can increase engagement by as much as 55%.
Create Qualifications for Each Role
Providing volunteers with a description, desired outcomes, and qualifications needed for each opportunity is a must. Including this information will help your organization reach the best candidates and match volunteers to assignments based on pre-determined criteria. For example, some volunteer opportunities may require volunteer prospects to sign a waiver or be over the age of 18. Some opportunities may require volunteers to be able to lift a certain amount of weight to be successful. Make sure that your existing volunteers and volunteer prospects understand what is required for each opportunity.
Check out how you can use VolunteerHub to promote your volunteer opportunities.
Finding qualified volunteers, matching them to opportunities, and retaining them is challenging. The best approach is to match volunteers to opportunities by providing information about each assignment, establishing expectations and qualifications, identifying must-haves for each volunteer, and creating opportunities for skill-development.
Investing in volunteer management software, like VolunteerHub, can help your organization reach, engage, and retain volunteers.