5 Ways to Engage Your Volunteers
I spent the early stages of my career working with many cherished volunteers. During that time, I think I learned a thing or two about how to effectively engage volunteers. Below are five ways that I've found helpful in engaging volunteers:
1. Build a relationship - When you come through the door as a new staff person with an already established volunteer base, you've gotta make a commitment to start building an authentic relationship with your volunteers. The best volunteers are those who actually trust you to lead them. Go the extra mile when it comes to making a connection with them. Trust me, it works!
2. Incentivize - Volunteers often volunteer because they love doing so, but it never hurts to provide good incentives. Find out what your volunteers like and surprise them from time to time. You don't have to break the bank. Something as simple as a box of chocolates can be just the right touch to brighten your volunteer's day.
3. Invest in good volunteer management software/tools - Ok, I know you're probably thinking that this is a waste of money, but just hear me out. Building a good volunteer base requires that you keep track of your volunteers. I personally think that tracking volunteers is just as important as tracking donors, so you certainly don't want to skimp in this area. Generally, you want a software or tool that helps you track specific data relative to each volunteer and you something that will assist you in maintaining consistent communication. There are a plethora of options to choose from and some are offered at a very low cost. A quick Google search is a good way to get started.
4. Develop a GOOD volunteer management plan - Good processes lead to good results. And this is precisely why you want to develop a volunteer management plan that fits the needs of your organization. Below, you'll find an excellent example of a solid volunteer management plan (courtesy of Giveffect). Once you develop the plan, stick with it! Before you know it, you'll have a great volunteer base and you'll have all the steps in place to maintain a steady flow of volunteer support.
5. Utilize your volunteers where they'll have the most impact - There is nothing worse than a bored volunteer. In fact, I can assure you that your bored volunteer will soon turn into an absent volunteer if you don't fix the issue. Building a relationship with your volunteer opens the door to knowing your volunteer. Knowing your volunteer gives you insight on their strengths and once you know their strengths, then you can leverage that to the advantage of your nonprofit organization AND the volunteer. Give your volunteer responsibilities that they actually enjoy. Volunteers who are interested and excited by their roles can have the greatest impact on your organization. For example, if you know that your volunteer isn't thrilled about event planning, then placing them as the lead/chair on the event planning committee isn't a very wise decision. Your volunteer will be bored or frustrated, and productivity will be low.
Ok guys, that's all I have for now! Please stay tuned for more and in the meantime, go out there and put these tips to good use!!