4 Ways to Keep Volunteers Engaged
Volunteers create an exceptional opportunity for nonprofits to build their resources, further their missions, and strengthen their programs. But often, this opportunity isn’t capitalized on effectively — even by organizations with robust volunteer programs. A core problem is volunteer engagement. When engagement isn’t a focus of volunteer programs, volunteers can be left feeling disconnected from the organizations and communities they want to serve.
But you can prevent this. Although budgets get tight, resources might be scarce, and schedules are often full, creating a space where you can keep your nonprofit’s volunteers engaged is within your reach!
Not sure where to begin? Start with the following four ways to keep volunteers engaged.
1. Design an onboarding program
According to an article published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the lack of proper volunteer training is one of several key issues in many volunteer programs. The same article listed an onboarding plan as part of creating a solution to this problem within your nonprofit.
Start by determining the key pieces of information you’d like your volunteers to know, and then create a checklist to ensure you address each need. Well-informed volunteers are more likely to be engaged since they’ll feel more comfortable within your nonprofit from day one.
2. Consider abilities and interests
If you have specific projects or niche work that could use a talented set of hands or someone with a specific interest, consider posting your project where skilled volunteers can find it. Catchafire, VolunteeerMatch, and Idealist provide excellent platforms to recruit volunteers.
Give opportunities for professionals to help as well since many are interested in learning new skills and building their experiences. Many people — from interns wanting to learn to retired professionals ready to give back — are looking for ways to use their knowledge, abilities, and interests for good.
One of the best ways to keep volunteers engaged and to help them thrive is to put them in positions where they can contribute the most value for their time. Do this by intentionally connecting volunteer projects with abilities and interests.
3. Create an accommodating schedule
It’s tough to donate your time. That’s why nonprofits need to ensure that, when approaching volunteer scheduling, they are as accommodating as possible. While some projects will require specific times and locations, be flexible whenever you can.
In order for volunteers to remain engaged, they’ll need to feel that their volunteer efforts fit within the framework of their lives. Volunteers will come to you with different levels of personal commitment, so try to accommodate volunteers’ schedules whenever possible.
4. Provide opportunities for feedback
From the beginning, let your volunteers know that you want their feedback. Perhaps you can start by giving them an evaluation sheet to complete immediately after their volunteer project. Or, create an online group to collect feedback through comments and polls.
Provide a clear timeline of when and how often you’d like to receive their feedback. If volunteers know their input is valued and expected, they’ll be more likely to stay engaged.
With some time and effort, you can keep your organization’s volunteers fully engaged. From developing a comprehensive onboarding process to creating a volunteer schedule that works for volunteers, you can harness the power of a talented workforce eager to take your nonprofit to the next level.