Effective volunteer management is evolving! Is your nonprofit ready?
Volunteer management best practices have changed as volunteer expectations and the reach of nonprofit organizations evolve. That said, the ultimate goal has always been, and will always be, to provide great experiences to volunteers and impact the community in an organized and efficient way. Organizations that have successful leverage trends, utilize technology and adjust to changes have the best chance of recruiting volunteers, retaining them, making a bigger impact and positively touching the bottom line. In today's post, we will discuss five volunteer management best practices that are important in 2018. We will also discuss how to measure ROI of your volunteer management strategy
Let’s start with the most basic best practice first!
1. A Great Volunteer Management Strategy Starts by Setting Program Goals to Solve Problems
The first volunteer management best practice has been a key component of effective management from the start. Determining your organizational goals and the problem (or problems) that volunteer management will solve. Without carefully planning your volunteer management goals, how will your organization be able to determine success or shortfalls in the future?
Here are 10 of the problems that an effective volunteer management strategy can address and solve (remember your problems may be different—use data to determine):
- Retention rates that need to be improved.
- Acquisition goals are not being achieved via current recruitment process.
- Volunteer satisfaction is suffering due to organizational processes and pitfalls in communication.
- Volunteers are not being converted to donors and vice versa.
- The current manual process is causing inefficiencies and record-keeping errors.
- Your current process does not actively measure the impact volunteers have on your organizational goals.
- Volunteers are not being engaged.
- Volunteer coordinators and internal staff are being underutilized due to the current process.
- Opportunity costs are too high
- Volunteer data cannot be easily accessed off-site.
Effective volunteer management can deliver a tangible ROI! .
2. Focus on Transforming Volunteers Into Life-Long Supporters
One of the top goals for nonprofit organizations today is improving volunteer retention rates. Organizations want to increase the overall lifetime value of each of their supporters to make an impact on the bottom-line. There are several ways that nonprofits can transform volunteers into supporters and entice them to make the biggest impact possible.
Here are eight ways:
- Organizations should make training (onboarding and ongoing) a key component and differentiator of their program.
- Nonprofits should provide volunteers with incentives that will make a positive impact on their life such as skill-development opportunities and leadership roles.
- Organizations should become more involved in their supporters’ lives by encouraging volunteers to get their friends and family involved in the mission.
- Organizations should make the fulfillment of opportunities fun by creating an environment of friendly competition (gamification).
- Nonprofits should focus on telling the right stories that resonate with their current volunteer base and drive prospects to commit to the cause.
- Organizations should make changes to their program based on the input of their volunteers and supporters (on-going optimization is crucial).
- Nonprofits should create an environment that is welcoming to volunteers.
- Train internal staff to work with volunteers (believe it or not only 19 percent of organizations do).
3. Use Volunteer Management as an Opportunity to Covert Volunteers to Donors
Many nonprofits forget that their volunteers are often the same people who are donating financially to their organization. Research has shown that about two-thirds of volunteers also donate monetarily to the same cause. Nonprofits that are not using their volunteer management process to understand the correlation between time-donors and financial-donors are missing out on a huge opportunity.
Organizations can use volunteer management to cross-pollinate by:
- Integrating volunteer-management data with donor-data and CRM.
- Using volunteer management data and volunteer contacts as an opportunity to communicate fundraising opportunities.
- Using a volunteer management software solution to free up internal staff’s time to focus on building relationships and converting volunteers to donors through networking.
4. Make Recognition a Priority
The process of recognition has become a key volunteer management best practice in 2018. As mentioned earlier in the post, volunteers of today want to feel as though a nonprofit values their time and commitment. Providing a recognition program for volunteers is a great way to communicate that efforts are not unnoticed. The good news for nonprofits is that the creation and implementation of a rewards program does not need to substantially increase costs. Here are a few budget-friendly ways to incorporate rewards and recognition into an organizations program:
- Track and acknowledge volunteers for reaching determined milestones.
- Send volunteers personalized communications that celebrate personal events (birthday, volunteer anniversary)
- Develop a volunteer of the month program.
- Share volunteer success stories and goal attainment on social media channels.
- Invite top supporters to attend special networking events.
- Provide volunteers with local gift cards and coupons in exchange for their time.
The act of volunteerism continues to evolve as the world around us changes with time. Volunteers today want to see that organizations care about the time they are providing and the goals they are helping to obtain. Creating a volunteer management strategy that sets volunteers and their experience as the foundation is the best way to grow and maintain a volunteer program in 2018.