The Ultimate Guide to Successful Volunteer Involvement at Your Nonprofit

Volunteers are more than simply an extra pair of hands or a way to save money for nonprofits. They bring special skills, are trusted service delivery partners, and can extend your connections with diverse communities far beyond your agency’s doors.

The value of volunteers can’t be ignored. But, successful volunteer involvement doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a focus on the right tactics at the right time to fully realize the power of volunteer time and talent. With a little time and attention, nonprofits like yours can reap the true benefits of volunteerism and build a sustainable platform of support to ensure a successful future.

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Successful volunteer involvement should be a core focus of your nonprofits initiatives. Volunteers are more than simply an extra pair of hands or a way to save money for nonprofits. They bring special skills, are trusted service delivery partners, and can extend your connections with diverse communities far beyond your agency’s doors.

In addition, volunteers are donors and donors are volunteers. They are key financial contributors, donating ten times more than non-volunteers. Two-thirds (67%) of volunteers report they often donate to the same organization where they volunteer. Half of volunteers say that volunteering inspires them to give a larger donation. And, although 58% are more likely to donate before volunteering, two in five volunteer before they make a financial contribution.

Volunteers also generate a plethora of in-kind resources for organizations — such as meeting space, donations of materials and food, event raffle items and the fuel they use to drive to their volunteer assignments.

The value of volunteers can’t be ignored. But, successful volunteer involvement doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a focus on the right tactics at the right time to fully realize the power of volunteer time and talent.

With a little time and attention, nonprofits like yours can reap the true benefits of volunteerism and build a sustainable platform of support to ensure a successful future.

A Sneak Peak Into This Ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Successful Volunteer Involvement at Your Nonprofit

Before committing, take an inside look inside chapters in this ebook

Chapter 1: The Volunteer Engagement Cycle

Above is a graphic depiction of all of the human resources management activities throughout the volunteer lifecycle. Although organizations often focus solely on recruitment and recognition, all are important for creating an infrastructure of support where volunteers can be successful.

To set the stage for successful volunteer engagement, each step in the volunteer engagement cycle needs to be planned for. In addition, a paid staff person needs to be assigned to each step and who is expected to have ultimate responsibility for that phase. This means including this responsibility in their job description…

Chapter 2: Needs Analysis

Even if you have a current active volunteer corps, this step is important to undertake annually. If you’ve been involving volunteers in the same old ways, year after year, you’re probably missing out on some real opportunities for innovative, high-impact support.

To pinpoint your current needs, conduct a volunteer workforce needs analysis and then map the types of volunteer involvement throughout your organization in order to uncover gaps and unearth areas of real potential…

Chapter 3: Recruitment

Most of us weren’t born uber talented Mad Men marketers. But you can convert your volunteer recruitment postings from blah to bling with a little thoughtful planning. Use the following tips to inspire solid recruitment ideas and to write interesting and compelling ad copy for your next volunteer recruitment campaign.

The One Big Idea – Start by identifying your one big idea, your thesis. Your recruitment copy thesis is the one big argument you will make for the benefits of volunteering. It should describe one compelling reason that joining your cause makes sense for volunteers and will address…

Chapter 4: Screening

Although we often think about volunteer screening as a way to mitigate potential risk, this is also a unique opportunity to better understand the motivations of the volunteer applicant.

It’s really a two-way street. Screening activities not only help inform staff as to whether or not a volunteer may be a good fit, they also are an excellent time to identify and note down what might keep them motivated further on down the road…

Chapter 5: Placement

One way to ensure that you are matching volunteers with appropriate jobs within your organization is to develop a volunteer position description for each role. Create a set for existing roles, but don’t be afraid to amend them to better match volunteer needs and accountability. Flexibility in setting up the roles at the outset is fine. Try to accommodate where you can, but make sure there is clear agreement before you go any further.

Volunteer tasks and expectations should be written in a way that ignites their inner superheroes, not in a way that deflates their sense of what’s possible. Use the template below…

Chapter 6: Orientation/Training

Orienting volunteers to how your organization functions and their role within it is not the same as technical training about their role. Before they learn the “ins and outs” of the job they will undertake, volunteers need to know something about your organization so they are equipped to represent you to the public accurately. Also, they need to get familiar with your organizational culture and “how we do things around here.”

Orientation training is also a great time to dispel myths about volunteering and give new recruits a clear…

Chapter 7: Resourcing/Supervision

The key to successful volunteer supervision is delegation. Expanding the roles and responsibilities of volunteers, by enlisting their support for a wide array of tasks, can help you focus on the most critical parts of your job, all while growing volunteer skills and creating a more efficient team…

Chapter 8: Recognition

In the recruitment section earlier in this eBook, we mentioned six key, research-based volunteer motivations or needs. Not only does it make sense to focus your recruitment messaging around these needs, but to align recognition activities around them as well.

You can include these themes in all types of recognition communications such as talking points for speeches, thank you notes, appreciation signage, newsletter articles, etc.

Below are some general guidelines and a few specific ideas that apply to each of the six volunteer motivations…

Chapter 9: Retention

Sometimes we’re just plain stumped as to why volunteers join and don’t stay. To help you diagnose the problem, create a Volunteer Journey Map that will help with retention efforts…

Chapter 10: Evaluation

Finally, finding a way to track the results generated through volunteer effort may seem as elusive as a pink unicorn, but it’s not really that complicated.

By aligning the outcomes metrics of volunteers with the programs they are serving, you can simply and easily demonstrate why their contributions have value. Use the following as guidelines for developing outcome indicators that can help you track the progress of volunteer services and demonstrate accountability for results…

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