Originally published in Engage Journal Q4 2021
8 Tech-Driven Strategies for Managing Volunteers That You Should Know
Volunteers are the pulse of a nonprofit, but it’s not easy to retain them. Managing volunteers effectively using modern technology is one of the best ways to ensure your volunteers feel inclined to keep coming back to you!
Although stats from Americorps show about 30% of Americans taking part in community service, more than one-third of volunteers leave the nonprofit they’re working with before a full year of service, according to an insightful article in Stanford Social Innovation Review. The Corporation for National and Community Service’s survey of its members found that the average volunteer turnover rate was between 24% and 47% in 2015.
The bottom line is that if you don’t manage your volunteers well enough, they will keep leaving your organization. The turnover will impact how well you chalk out your volunteering projects. More importantly, it could also affect your image in the community and your overall brand. People talk, and you do not want your community saying that a high number of volunteers don’t come back to you.
The good news for decision-makers at nonprofits is that managing volunteers and eventually retaining them has become remarkably easier, thanks to technology. You can improve vital processes such as volunteer communication, coordination, and tracking with the right volunteer management software.
An easy-to-use tech tool can help you ensure that your volunteers will access the intangibles that make volunteering so appealing in the first place. As a result, you create a better bond with them and they continue working with you.
Understand Why Volunteers Do What They Do
Volunteers do what they do for you, not for any payments or financial incentives. So, it’s vitally important that you holistically understand what drives them to put in the effort to make your projects successful. To make sense of that, you need to dig deep into why volunteers do what they do for you.
Let’s look at what inspires them to give you a feel of why managing volunteers is crucial, especially now that there are some really useful platforms to help you do that effectively.
- Feeling Appreciated
A great way to bond with your volunteers is to show gratitude and recognition. If you make them feel appreciated for their work, they will stay with you. Giving awards to volunteers after a successful event is an impactful way of showing appreciation. Other effective volunteer appreciation ideas include hosting events or simply saying “thank you” as often as possible in your communication.
- Learning New Things
It’s essential to train volunteers, regardless of whether or not it’s a requirement for the work they’re doing with you. They need to know how to help you best, but they also need to feel that you’re making an effort to help them learn new skills. Sometimes, the motivation to volunteer is to learn new skills and build upon their resume. This is often the case with young people who have limited work experience and are eager to learn new things as they start their careers.
To keep your volunteers by your side, helping them master new skills needs to be worked into your strategies for managing volunteers successfully.
- Enjoying the Work
The more enjoyable an experience is, the more we want to do it again. It’s true for volunteering experiences, as well. Nonprofits should try to figure out how to make volunteer experiences enjoyable. One strategy is to organize events for different age/peer groups. Another strategy is to find ways to make the experience fun, such as rewarding points based on the tasks accomplished. Also, you can simply present the volunteering opportunity in a fun way in your communications.
- Finding a Sense of Belonging
People often volunteer to connect with other volunteers and the community at large. Many of them search for groups that understand them and reflect their values. Your nonprofit must have a warm and inclusive brand message in your communication with the volunteers. It will drive them to bond with you and keep volunteering at your events.
- Making an Impact
Volunteers passionately care about your cause. Working with you is a way of showing them and their broader community that they are part of a positive solution to address a problem. It is crucial to monitor, evaluate and share each volunteer’s impact on the cause and your organization. You should also do the same with the collective impact, reporting to volunteers on how much money you raised in an event they helped with, how many miles of beachline you could clean up, or other simple metrics. Tech tools that help in impact measurement for managing volunteers can be very useful here.
Managing Volunteers: 8 Strategies You Must Know
Since retention and turnover depend primarily on how effectively you’re managing volunteers, your nonprofit should ideally focus on the most intelligent tech tools designed specifically to help you with that.
The best volunteer management software helps organizations in a major way by streamlining communication, administration, and other processes to make their workflow more efficient and achieve better outcomes for volunteers.
The goal is to have volunteers sign up to work with you and keep volunteering. Intelligent software can also make it easier to recruit more volunteers using your network and spread your message to new outlets. Nonprofits that want to focus on managing volunteers can benefit from such tech tools. Here are some strategies and trends that organizations use as they look to manage their volunteers with the latest software.
- Communicate Better
Communication is the most critical aspect of a sound plan for managing volunteers. A smart tech tool such as the one Golden offers is designed to ensure smooth communication between you and your volunteers. It can integrate data from CRM platforms such as Salesforce, Kindful, and NationBuilder in just minutes.
This tool provides alerts for a communication schedule and automates dynamic notifications to volunteers’ devices. Crucially, it will help you stay on point with a clear, concise brand message integrated into your communication and posts. The feature will eventually enable your existing and potential volunteers to be much more engaged with you with much less effort.
The software also helps you intelligently segment your volunteer lists to send the right messages to different audiences with the proper communication techniques. Opportunities and messaging sent out to senior volunteers will differ from your communication style with younger people!
- Respect Availability and Time
It’s practical to always factor in the availability of your volunteers. You can’t presume your best volunteers will be available all the time. For effectively managing volunteers, create different types of opportunities with different time slots and on varying days to ensure that more people can participate. Tech tools come in handy here. They make it easy for an existing or new volunteer to choose opportunities based on availability and time. The software has integrated calendars and search options for volunteers to select opportunities based on their preferences and availability.
- Stay Informed
This is an essential part of modern-day volunteer management. The technology that Golden offers you on this front takes managing volunteers to the next level. Whenever you post a volunteer opportunity on Golden’s platform, you receive a unique link that can be posted anywhere - SMS, WhatsApp, TikTok, LinkedIn, Slack, MS Teams, and your marketing emails.
These links have a proprietary technology called Deep Influence that will show you who has signed up, attended, how much they volunteered, and how much they donated in real-time. The feature lets you stay informed, and encourage and thank your volunteers for their invaluable contribution.
- Streamline Administrative Processes
Handling spreadsheets for various events can be time-consuming and inefficient. Technology brushes that problem aside and streamlines your administrative processes. It lets your team work together in one space, thus, saving time and effort by managing volunteers on one central database.
With Golden’s best-in-class software, you can organize system access in any hierarchy you like, depending on your needs and your nonprofit’s structure. The most significant advantage of Golden’s platform is that it can be accessed from any smart device; organizers can work on the go!
- Make Your Brand Stand Out
Branding helps volunteers feel a strong sense of attachment with your organization. Making your brand stand out in the crowd is essential for managing volunteers effectively, as it creates a powerful impression on them. Golden’s software is worth trying out on this front, too. It functions as a white label, giving your nonprofit’s brand a prominent display. The tool will also work with your existing websites.
Golden also makes it easy to keep branding consistent across platforms, whether you are posting to social media, sending an internal message, or contacting specific volunteers. The intuitive tool helps to customize your branding while utilizing Golden’s enterprising software.
- Reward and Recognize
The best tech tools for managing volunteers help you thank your donors with warmth and in distinctive ways. Golden comes with a feature that serves this purpose well. It supports a program called Karats, which rewards volunteers in a unique manner. When someone volunteers with an organization that uses Golden, they earn Karats for the time they complete. Karats are like a social currency, entering volunteers in drawings for rare opportunities, such as meeting a pop star, flying a fighter jet, or sitting courtside for an NBA game.
Your nonprofit can customize the feature by creating your own rewards within the Karats system. Some companies use Karats to motivate volunteerism among their employees. The system makes recognition and rewards innovative and fun!
- Regularize Training
As we discussed earlier, managing volunteers effectively also requires giving them the scope to learn new skills. It’s a great way to make them bond with your entity. Use the latest volunteer management software to provide training through flexible online courses on one integrated platform.
No more sending out multiple links to various sites or a disjointed sequence of information! Everything is all in one place, in the order you want volunteers to go through the materials. You also can track their progress and encourage them to finish so they can begin or continue their volunteering with confidence.
- Ensure Safety
The right tech tools can help you meet safety standards for domestic as well as national regulations without having to go through tedious administrative processes like in the past. Golden, which itself conforms to high-security standards, including GDPR and COPPA, is ahead of its competitors on this front. The platform has the only consumer-facing live background checking feature on the market.
The right tech platform also helps with keeping sign-offs and paperwork in one place, so you can keep track and volunteers can easily sign the forms needed to volunteer, if necessary. Golden wants to keep the processes of being safe while volunteering seamless.
Are you an organizer looking for the best app for managing volunteers? Look no further than Golden. Give it a try now!
Golden Rule: Tech Makes Managing Volunteers Easier!
Managing volunteers is hard work. It’s a continuous process involving skill, strategy, and innovation. In a world where technology is transforming the way we work, fortunately, you can use a suitable volunteer platform to make the process easier and more effective.
We know that about 72% of volunteers work with just one organization. Volunteers tend to be loyal and invest quality time in one place where they feel they can be the most impactful. If you can retain your volunteers, you’ll be able to build a base of support that can help you achieve your goals.
Among the top tools out there for managing volunteers, Golden stands out because of its simplicity and ease of use. Golden’s client portfolio, which includes UNICEF and the state of California, speaks for itself.
No matter which platform you use, the key to success when managing volunteers is ensuring you have a system that works well with your organization and its unique culture. Stay true to your brand and make sure volunteers feel appreciated, have fun, and keep coming back to help you with your cause!