Would your nonprofit organization be able to accomplish its mission without volunteers? For most NGOs, the answer is no. With limited staff and budget, most organizations depend on volunteers. So, it makes sense to actively involve volunteers in-the-know.
New technologies make it much easier to keep volunteers “up to date”. Social media and volunteer management systems are important tools that should be seriously considered today. You can (and should) use these technologies to keep (and improve) your volunteers’ experience.
How can you involve volunteers and ensure their continued return? Use the tips in this guide to take your volunteer strategy to the next level – your volunteers will appreciate it!
How to Retain Your Volunteers
Your volunteer’s time is very valuable. Don’t take it for granted. Make sure that volunteers do not come too early or stay too late to perform their tasks for no reason if there is no work to be done. Consider their gift of time a gift of money – some will say that the gift of time is more valuable.
Make sure they have a consistent duty, even if they are volunteers for your nonprofit organization. They have dedicated a few hours to you, so use their time consciously. It is important that the work you give them continues to motivate them.
Develop a plan (and stay to it!)
Continuing with the advice from above: As coordinator of these volunteers, you must have a plan. not just an outline of what they can do, but a solid plan that will make all their time worth it and allow them to work continuously.
Do you have a plan in case someone gets hurt, you don’t give time for the planned volunteer work, if someone doesn’t show up, or if people don’t show up, etc.? A positive volunteer experience could mean return volunteering. A negative experience means they probably won’t be coming back.
Make the work important to the cause
If your organization is saving polar bears and your volunteers are collecting garbage on the local road, there is no connection. We know that your volunteers can’t go straight to Antarctica to help their fluffy friends, but they have to get in touch with your mission to be drawn back. These volunteers have chosen your charity for its cause. Make sure they feel they’re helping the cause.
Using texting within your organization
Look closely at how sending a text message can help your nonprofit organization.
Why send your volunteers text messages?
Texting can be a huge time-saver for all parties, including you and your volunteers. For example, CreativeVolunteer allows volunteer coordinators to send important information directly to volunteers through international messaging apps like WhatsApp. The volunteers have access to the texts within minutes or even seconds after delivery. In addition, the texts allow the volunteers to bypass mailboxes that may or may not be check by the volunteers in real-time
Situations where text messages are beneficial
It is impossible to list all possible situations in which a text message communication strategy could be useful. Here are some examples of how our volunteers use the functionality of SMS messages within the CreativeVolunteer project communication system.
- Is the weather a problem? You have everything ready for a big outdoor event, and then it starts to look cloudy. Some volunteers start calling to see if the event will go on. You have to make a decision and don’t want the volunteers to just show up to be sent home. A quick text that cancels the event can save time and energy for everyone.
- For rescue workers: In the event of a natural disaster, there is obviously no time to waste. In the event of a tornado or flood, it is important to be able to quickly get to the volunteers and organize their work.
- In the event other volunteers cancel: I have prepared a volunteer gameplan, but now some volunteers cancel at the last minute. This happens from time to time in all organizations. But as a volunteer coordinator, you are in a difficult situation. You realize that you lack help. Instead of limping during an event, you have the option of quickly canceling your reservation via SMS or involving additional volunteers.
When it comes to helping others, time is often the deciding factor. Text messaging helps you respond to smooth situations and keeps volunteers informed about changes or cancellations. This not only makes the coordinator’s job easier but also shows that you value your volunteer’s time.
If you haven’t already done so, use a texting app such as WhatsApp in managing volunteer efforts and make the most of the technology and your volunteer’s willingness.
6 Ways to Get Your Volunteers to Come Back and Get Involved Again
1. Encourage your volunteers to contribute to the cause, not the organization
Do not ask for volunteers to help the organization, but to help the cause. Inspire them with stories about the real people they will help and the real challenges they will face in their work.
2. Ask the volunteers to help you in a concrete and useful way
If you really want them to help, avoid general calls to action such as “Join our cause” and “Help us change the world. Be specific and give practical ways for people who can help you and make it easier for them.
3. Make your volunteers feel valued and needed
No matter how idealistic and dedicated the volunteers are, they all need a healthy dose of external recognition to continue their work. This sounds like a piece of cake, but remember to tell your volunteers – as often and as often as possible – that without their help, your organization could never have achieved everything it does.
4. Stay in touch and make sure your channels of communication work in both directions
Keep in regular contact with volunteers. With the increasing use of social media, email, text messages and other forms of communication, communication is easier than ever. You can provide training and advice to support volunteers, as well as up-to-date and relevant information, including updates on the development of your organization.
In addition, be easily accessible to hear what your volunteers have to say. As frontline employees, you often have a lot of valuable information to share and important issues and concerns to address.
5. Show the volunteers how much they have impacted the cause
Highlight the achievements of your volunteers to show them how their work has served the cause. Whether it is the smile of a hungry child when they receive a meal bag packed by a volunteer, or the first book a mentally disabled child reads after several months of study, your volunteers will show the results of your efforts. There is no greater motivation than knowing that this has changed the world.
6. Building a volunteer community
Build a sense of community among your volunteers. They should feel connected to each other, not just to the organization. Internet forums can be useful in this respect, but nothing can replace good, old-fashioned, personal interaction. Organise a conference, or better yet a party, to celebrate the contribution of your volunteers.
Engage your volunteers, make them happy, retain them!
You will see that, overall, volunteers just want to feel like they are making a change. If you can enact that feeling within them, they will be happy, work hard, and you will — in turn — get great quality production and help from them, further pushing the cause to achieve its mission.