5 Volunteer Management Strategies That Can Make The Difference

Some of the most common problems that crop up when you are managing your volunteers include:

  • Getting people interested in volunteering for you.
  • Aligning volunteer skill sets with roles.
  • Retaining volunteers once you have them.

Whether you’re launching a brand new volunteer management program or looking to make an existing one better, these tips will help you overcome those challenges, by:

  • Perfecting your recruitment messaging.
  • Finding channels to recruit new volunteers.
  • Training new volunteers.
  • Establishing communication channels.
  • Streamlining volunteer management with tech.

Making your requirements specific

It’s clear that your volunteer recruitment copy needs to be able to inspire prospects to get involved in your cause. The other thing that you need to be aware of is specificity. It’s an easy mistake to make. A vague call-to-action (“Volunteer here!”) leads to volunteers who are less likely to stick around down the line.

Making it clear what exactly you want from your volunteers will help both you and them. You can do that by answering the following questions:

  • What role are they expected to fill?
  • What kind of skills are you looking for?
  • How much of their time do you need?
  • Why should they be interested in volunteering for you?
  • How can they apply?

End by providing a contact number that they can reach if they have any further questions.

Finding new volunteers

Once you have the messaging for your volunteer call-to-action ready, you can repurpose it for different recruitment channels. If you’re looking for new volunteers, try:

  • Volunteer recruitment websites – Websites like Mobilize, Idealist, Volunteer Match, and Create the Good let you connect with folks who are looking for volunteer opportunities online.
  • Ads and SEO optimization – Make sure your cause shows up on search engines when prospective volunteers are looking for opportunities.
  • Posters and flyers – If you’re looking for local volunteers, physical posters and volunteer recruitment brochures are a good bet.

If you’re looking for volunteers among your existing supporters:

  • Emails and texts to supporters – Reach out to the supporters in your contact lists through personalized emails and text messages.
  • Social media recruitment – Keep your social media feed updated with volunteer openings.

The next step is training your pipeline of willing volunteers for specialized roles.

Assessing and training volunteers

In addition to general evaluation, talk to each prospective volunteer in order to understand the skill sets that they have to offer your campaign (i.e. if they have a natural aptitude towards a particular role).

Note which area of volunteering they would be best suited towards. All the information you get during this stage will come in handy once you are running further outreach campaigns to supporters who have expressed interest in volunteering. In addition, understanding your volunteer aptitudes can help you:

  • Better understand your current volunteer capabilities and requirements.
  • Provide specialized training (by focusing on areas where they need help).
  • Better allocate your volunteer resources for different roles.

For example, some volunteers may be comfortable speaking to potential donors and soliciting funds, making them ideal candidates for field fundraising efforts. With your volunteers assigned their roles, it’s time to keep them in the loop when it comes to tasks.

Establishing communication channels

Create channels for two-way communication between you and your volunteers. This helps you build a stronger relationship with your volunteers, and it’s especially important if they are helping you remotely, or on the ground.

  • Introduce new volunteers to key staff members.
  • Include them in staff memos/email correspondence.
  • Make time to check-in with your volunteers and have dedicated staff for volunteer coordination.
  • Offer a feedback form – let volunteers tell you about their experience with your campaign.
  • Tailored communication – Some volunteers might prefer you keep them up to date through text. Others, through email.

Simplifying volunteer management with tech

Chances are, you’re already using software for parts of your volunteer management process (a CRM, for example). If you are, you already know how digital tools ease the volunteer management process.

For example:

  • Volunteer registration: A simple volunteer registration form, be it on your website, or a third party provider, is an efficient alternative to pen and paper signups.
  • Volunteer tracking: A volunteer management CRM will help you keep track of volunteer assignments and create and manage volunteer shifts.
  • Communication: Communication is often as simple as segmenting your required lists of volunteers and scheduling a campaign to them with your calling, texting or email software.
  • Analytics and reporting: Keep track of how your volunteer outreach campaigns are doing.

Obviously, if you are running a smaller operation, with fewer required volunteers, implementing everything listed above can be time consuming (and frankly, unnecessary). Adopt volunteer management strategies based on your needs. For example:

  • If you have a group of willing volunteers, make it easier for them to communicate with you by providing feedback forms or a contact number.
  • If you’re short on time, reach out to volunteers who have participated in the past.
  • Adopt a text broadcast tool to send out updates to volunteers en masse.

Incremental improvements to your volunteer management process is often more feasible than a complete overhaul.

This post was written by Mukundan Sivaraj. Mukundan is a writer at CallHub, an outreach platform that connects nonprofits with their supporters through voice and text messages. Mukundan’s focus on nonprofit technology and communication helps him show organizations big and small how technology can help elevate their cause.