Since the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1985, individuals have been allowed to volunteer their time to different public organizations, charities, and programs. Volunteers are undoubtedly an essential asset to any organization looking for devoted, energetic people who are willing to work toward a community goal.
Your nonprofit organization may have plenty of staff but may want to focus on growing your team of volunteers. Through proper planning and coordination, you can make a positive experience for all and attract volunteers to replace organizational staff or add to your operations. If finding and enrolling volunteers has been challenging for you, think about how your organization runs and how receptive you are to volunteers’ needs.
Steps for Nonprofits Replacing Staff With Volunteers
Cultivating and expanding your volunteer team may involve a little patience and the right resources. You and your team can practice implementing a few steps to create an organization that is more volunteer-oriented than staff-oriented. Understanding what inspires and encourages volunteers to choose your program or organization is key to attracting more reliable and enthusiastic volunteers. These tips might also be helpful in more than just nonprofit organizations.
Find Experienced Volunteers
Exploring ways to recruit more volunteers is the first step to growing your team of skillful participants. Substituting more volunteers for paid staff means you may need to work hard to attract trustworthy workers. Rounding up people who have adequate knowledge and experience in volunteering benefits you because you can trust they are probably familiar with the volunteering process and expectations. It may help to think about what motivates your volunteers to do their work and what their goals are.
Consider your specific organization or program and why certain people may feel inclined to volunteer for you. For example, college students may be more willing to volunteer in a setting that will provide them with experience for career development. On the other hand, retired seniors may be more committed to a cause because they have more time on their hands. Advertising specific assignments might help to engage with the volunteer demographic you are looking for.
Create More In-Depth Training and Provide Resources
Your volunteers may become overwhelmed if they do not have prior experience or know what to do when they arrive to begin their day. Taking the time to provide detailed orientations and training sessions can go a long way for new volunteers. Having a designated volunteer program manager can help volunteers feel supported and improve their feelings of satisfaction.
If you want to build your team of organizational volunteers, make sure they are set up for success. It is important to provide resources for your volunteers that give their time and energy to your organization or cause. Developing team-building exercises, for example, is a great way to improve social interaction among your volunteers, which may contribute to the overall success of your goals.
Another popular practice for ensuring volunteer fulfillment is staying consistent with supervision and communication. Volunteer retention rates can be directly affected by management practices, so it’s crucial to engage with your volunteers and give them an experience worth talking about.
Uphold Volunteer Expectations
A common reason that many nonprofit volunteers quit or lose interest is that their actual work does not accurately represent what they were told they would be doing during orientation. Nonprofit staff and volunteers who feel they are met with unexpected tasks or goals that don’t align with their interests might be more inclined not to come back.
To prevent your volunteers from having a negative experience, it can be a good idea to let them shadow an experienced volunteer. This way, they will have an understanding of a full day of volunteering and see what conditions they will be working in. It is important to be transparent with your potential volunteers about the reality of their daily activities and set attainable goals so they feel accomplished and motivated to keep succeeding.
It is also practical to refresh their sense of teamwork and solidarity by holding regular meetings to discuss any concerns and hear suggestions.
Design an Updated Program and Reward System
Generating clear guidelines, schedules, and strategies for your volunteers may be a helpful way to improve and manage their engagement. Your volunteer organization or program should build a sense of shared purpose and address needs in the community. As your staff and volunteers work hard to produce results and make an impact, it’s essential to their fulfillment to reward them for their efforts.
Here are a few ways you can administer a reward system for your volunteers:
- Take the time to personally congratulate them after a success or milestone.
- Hand out awards and prizes such as certificates, mugs, T-shirts, etc.
- Create a volunteer of the month program to recognize outstanding workers.
- Organize a fun outing or retreat to celebrate success and increase social interaction.
- Plan a social event, such as a dinner, to publicly recognize your volunteers’ dedication.
These types of rewards can provide more incentive for your volunteers to remain in their position and share what they do with others. Having satisfied and happy volunteers may increase your chances of obtaining more volunteers and program exposure.
Develop a Welcoming Environment
Being respectful of your volunteers and acknowledging that they take the time out of their day to help your volunteer organization can go a long way. Remember, your volunteers choose to work for you, so it’s essential that you make them feel welcome and valued. Fostering a more inviting environment might help you entice more volunteers to join your nonprofit organization.
Your volunteers are part of your team — communicate with them effectively and regularly so they feel supported and appreciated. Try to emphasize how volunteers benefit your organization and show regard for what they bring to the table. Be willing to offer opportunities for growth and challenge your volunteers to take initiative to help them feel gratified.
Strengthen Your Organization’s Reputation
If your organization, program, or business is in the beginning stages or does not already have prominence in your community, try to expand your visibility. Someone looking to volunteer may search for well-known names and familiar brands to ensure they enjoy the volunteer work they do.
Having a favorable reputation can also help attract the best volunteers by creating an environment they can be proud of. Here are some additional ways you can add a spotlight to your cause and improve your reputation:
- Be approachable to the public: Utilize social media to engage with your audience. Embrace transparency and accountability.
- Be consistent with your image: Ensure you and your teamwork toward a clear, unified goal. Try not to assume that the public understands the purpose of your mission.
- Pay attention to strategies that work: Consider the most reputable and trustworthy brands in your industry and what makes them successful. What concepts allow them to be honest and communicative?
- Commit to creating positive actions: Back up your organization’s claims and goals with real action. Show that your efforts are responsible and unwavering.
Projecting your values and objectives to the public can help solidify your name and encourage volunteers to choose you over another organization.
Learn How Volgistics Can Help
Volgistics sets the standards in volunteer management software. We want to help you access features that can assist you in meeting your goals. If you want to attract more volunteers, communicate with them effectively, and improve volunteer engagement to boost retention, Volgistics is here to help. Our dedicated support team can introduce you to our volunteer information technology that allows you to access powerful features in an easy-to-use online portal. Managers and directors can recruit volunteers, create and manage volunteer schedules, record volunteer service, and customize and print reports in one central place.
We invite you to try our free, preloaded sample account so you can get a better idea of what we offer. Connect with us through the website for unlimited support or register for a live demonstration today!