What does your volunteer engagement program look like right now?
No matter what is happening around us, the key elements of a strong program are the same. Yet how you implement key elements during these challenging times may require different approaches. As we continue to adjust operations to the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic, now is a good time to review and focus on two key pieces of your volunteer program: training and engaging your volunteers.
Some people might think of engaging as just putting your volunteers to work on tasks that are meaningful to them and that help to move your mission forward. And that is important. But engaging also means regularly communicating and connecting with your volunteers in the same way you cultivate a donor beyond just sending a request for donations. It’s about building and maintaining the relationship.
So, how can you engage and train your volunteers—from your board members to your occasional volunteer? And how can you do that remotely during the pandemic?
Unsure where to start? Here are some simple ideas:
- Treat your volunteers like the donors they really are. Independent Sector recently estimated the national value of a volunteer hour to be $27.20. Look at how you are engaging your donors and make a similar plan for your volunteers. Keep them up to date on organizational news and success stories.
- Take advantage of features in virtual platforms like Zoom that allow social interaction. Remember, a lot of volunteers find value not only in your mission but in the social aspect of their work. Try Zoom breakout rooms, trivia quizzes with polls, and activities that allow people to actively engage.
- Communicate regularly with your volunteers through multiple channels. Many nonprofits have reached out to their donors over the past year, but remember to also check in with your volunteers. Find out how they are and if they need anything.
- Ask your volunteers what type of training they might want to do their jobs better and find a way to make it happen. A lot of people have extra time now—take advantage of it. Overwhelmed? Ask your volunteers to help or look for outside help from organizations like VolunteerMatch or Taproot Foundation.
- Keep thanking your volunteers. Are you asking board members to call donors during your end of year or other campaigns? Throw in a “thank you” call to a volunteer here and there. The more specific you can get the better: “Your work on our database allowed us to analyze our visitors and identify where we need to do more outreach.”
Start small. Be creative. Test and evaluate your success. We’re in new territory here, but remember that the work to strengthen the foundation of a good volunteer development program has the potential to reap new dividends well after the pandemic subsides.
Read the full article about virtual volunteer programs by Stacey Smith at Blue Avocado.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for North America, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and North America.
Looking for a way to get involved?
Learning with others and benchmarking are key steps towards becoming an impact giver. If you are interested in giving with impact for COVID-19, take a look at these events, galas, conferences and volunteering opportunities to connect with individuals like you.
Are you ready to give?
If you are ready to take action and invest in causes for COVID-19, check out these Giving Funds, Charitable Organizations and Projects related to COVID-19.