4 Ways Your CRM Can Support Volunteer Engagement
As a nonprofit leader, you know that volunteers are a critical component of successful operations. However, recent surveys show that the greatest challenge for volunteer managers is recruitment, making it more important than ever for your nonprofit to engage and retain its current volunteers.
The right technology can help streamline your nonprofit’s volunteer engagement efforts, which is why you should familiarize yourself with your CRM’s capabilities. In this guide, we’ll explore four ways you can use the tool for volunteer engagement. Robust technology can help you:
- Create user-friendly forms
- Personalize outreach
- Tailor marketing messages
- Automate volunteer appreciation
To choose the right CRM for your organization and make the most of your solution, you’ll need to know which features are most important for volunteer engagement. Let’s take a look at some recommended functionalities.
Create user-friendly forms
You may already have forms to acquire and onboard volunteers, but how does your nonprofit interact with volunteers while they’re engaged with your organization?
Forms are central to effective volunteer management. From signing up for shifts to checking in to logging hours, a smooth user experience can help volunteers feel welcome and appreciated. And when you can customize the forms to collect the information you need, you’ll gain insights about your constituents. Volunteer data can also help you measure your impact on your community and even put you in an advantageous position for grant awards.
Use your CRM to create forms for:
- Feedback surveys: Surveys are an excellent way to receive feedback about your volunteer program and specific opportunities. They can also help you measure the user experience provided by your technology.
- Event registration: When you’re planning an event, the number of volunteers is as important as the number of attendees. Ensure you are fully staffed for each time slot by using forms for event registration.
- Additional volunteer roles: Once you have a supporter who volunteers regularly, you can deepen their engagement by sharing additional roles and responsibilities that might interest them. With streamlined forms, it’s simple to list opportunities and accept applications. If, for example, a volunteer at your food bank wants to help with social media, a short application form can make the process easy and efficient.
Since 85% of volunteers also donate to the nonprofits they volunteer with, you can further engage volunteers by using your CRM to create streamlined donation forms. When you think about getting that many volunteers to also support your organization financially, you’re looking at a significant fundraising boost! The more lines of communication and support you have with donors, the stronger and more productive those relationships become.
The key to engaging your nonprofit’s constituents is building relationships with them, which is why you should get to know your volunteers during their involvement with your organization.
Any technology you use for donor management––and any channels you use to reach donors—can be applied to volunteers. How can this help you? If you can segment your volunteer audience, similar to the way you segment your donors, you can use personalized outreach to strengthen and build those relationships. You can do that with the data collected by your CRM, such as:
- Demographic data: Data about where supporters live and work, as well as information about their age and hobbies, can help nonprofits create unique messages for each volunteer.
- Preferred payment method: In a world of swiping, tapping, writing checks, and good old cash, you’ll want to make sure you’re offering donation opportunities that align with volunteer preferences. Plus, CRMs offer secure payment processing for nonprofits, which bolsters volunteers’ confidence in your ability to keep their personal information safe.
- Top communication channels: If volunteers have different demographics and different preferred payment methods, it won’t surprise you that they have different communication preferences, too. Don’t waste time texting someone who will only respond via email or calling a direct-mail diehard. Ask how people want to be approached and your success rate will skyrocket, no matter what you’re measuring.
Additionally, your CRM will help keep volunteer data organized and hygienic, meaning you’ll have up-to-date and accurate information about each volunteer. According to NPOInfo, this involves “verifying existing data, removing duplicate and non-useful records, and appending new data to fill gaps in any incomplete records.”
Clean and updated data enables your nonprofit to reach out to volunteers with personalized communication. Use data, segmentation, and multichannel outreach to keep your volunteers engaged and encourage them to consider other types of support. When your supporters feel individually noticed by you, they’re more likely to further their commitment.
Tailor marketing messages
In addition to engaging volunteers through their current involvement, your nonprofit should deepen relationships with these individuals by expanding their involvement with your organization. This means empowering volunteers to contribute to your nonprofit in other ways by equipping them with the skills and tools necessary to do so.
To highlight these opportunities to volunteers, your CRM can tailor marketing messages according to volunteers’:
- Interests: Offering volunteer opportunities that align with interests is a smart way to engage and retain those supporters! When you look at data on what your supporters are interested in, you can create volunteer opportunities that will appeal to them.
- Availabilities: Knowing when volunteers are available can help nonprofits market the right opportunities to the right people. The more obstacles you eliminate, the more likely the individual is to agree to help.
- Skills: You’ll find many talents and skills in your volunteer pool that can help your nonprofit fill gaps without having to hire staff. For example, a good writer may volunteer to create content for your nonprofit’s website. It’s well worth knowing that information and offering those volunteer opportunities to the right people.
Along with tailoring the content of each marketing message, your nonprofit should also pay special attention to the most effective marketing channels. According to CharityEngine, investing in a CRM with email marketing automation is especially important, since it’s a feature most likely to impact your fundraising efforts.
Automate volunteer appreciation
As your nonprofit reaps the benefits of a committed volunteer team, you’ll see the significant impact of their work. But do your volunteers know just how impactful their efforts are?
Showing gratitude for your volunteers’ efforts can help them feel appreciated by your nonprofit. However, to streamline the process of thanking so many individuals, your nonprofit must automate appreciation messages.
Lean on your CRM to automate many of your communications and free up a great deal of staff time. Plus, the right tool will help you personalize these messages so that every volunteer feels individually recognized. With meaningful appreciation efforts, your nonprofit will make volunteers feel like a valuable part of your nonprofit’s team.
When it comes to selecting the right CRM for your nonprofit, there are a lot of choices on the market. If you don’t already have one, consider your nonprofit’s needs, like volunteer engagement, as they relate to the tool’s features.
Use this list of core functionalities as a shopping list for your research. Reach out to providers and ask for a demo before committing to a solution. Then, rest assured that you’ve found the best software to help effectively engage volunteers.
About the Author:
Philip Schmitz – CEO & Founder
Creative Director | Founder
Philip Schmitz is the CEO and founder of cloud-services leader BIS Global, creators of the CharityEngine fundraising & communications technology platform. Founded in 1999, Phil has managed the vision and strategy for BIS's suite of integrated business applications & hosting tools used by more than 400 businesses & non-profits.