The summer of 2004, I had just graduated high school. Three of my best friends and I decided to...
Volunteer Management: The Essential Guide for Nonprofits
If you think volunteer management is secondary to fundraising in your nonprofit, it’s time to challenge your beliefs. Did you know that while the United States GDP is around $13 trillion dollars annually, the social sector’s GDP is around $2 trillion and nonprofits comprise over $1 trillion in GDP equivalent alone? That means that if American nonprofit organizations were their own country, they’d have one of the largest economies in the world!
In addition to those numbers, the nonprofit sector employs between 9-13% of the United States population, and there are far more volunteers than there are employees in these organizations. According to the Independent Sector, the 2022 national average value of an hour of volunteer time is $29.95. Now you can clearly see how hundreds of billions of dollars of volunteer work are contributed each year. Do you have a sense of how all that valuable time is being spent?
The lifetime value of a supporter is a combination of their value as a volunteer, donor, and advocate.
It’s time to start thinking about the scale and value we can contribute when we think practically about finding volunteers and directing them toward worthwhile projects and desired outcomes. We have the ability to move mountains together, and there are clear tools and practices available now to get us there. That’s what we will cover together in this piece.
Data shows us how precious nonprofits are to the planet. According to a research based on data shared by AmeriCorps, volunteers contribute nearly $200 billion to our communities every year.
Nonprofits provide a wide range of essential community services, such as providing meals and housing to homeless people, raising money for charities, cleaning up parks, roadways, and schoolyards, and simply bringing people together to create better communities.
Their contribution to society tells us how priceless volunteers are, how effective volunteer programs are, and how essential volunteer management technology is in a field fast-evolving from manual to automatic processes.
Today’s nonprofits rely increasingly on intelligent technology to implement the right volunteer management strategies, thereby cutting costs, operating more efficiently, and retaining volunteers more effectively.
This article explores all there is to know about simplifying volunteer management for nonprofits and how tech tools are a game-changer for nonprofit organizations.
The 4 Pillars Of Volunteer Management
Volunteer management is the process of signing in volunteers, engaging them, assigning them tasks, tracking their welcome efforts, and retaining them. Basically, to manage volunteers is to oversee the entire lifecycle of all that they do. Let’s look at the four pillars of volunteer management:
- Volunteer Recruitment
The first step of volunteer management is the recruitment process. During this phase, nonprofits seek to attract, engage, and recruit volunteers with the necessary drive and skills to help the organization achieve its goals.
- Volunteer Empowerment
Once recruited, nonprofits must use technology to empower volunteers to perform at the best of their abilities. Therefore, they may need to provide training through support resources to ensure the volunteers have the desired skills for their specific tasks.
- Volunteer Communications
Communication tools are essential to coordinate the workflow for large nonprofit organizations that deal with a vast pool of volunteers. Volunteers need to know when they're expected to show up, what they're expected to do, and how to proceed.
- Volunteer Recognition
Lastly, since volunteers donate their time out of the goodness of their hearts, nonprofits need to make an effort to recognize and reward them for what they do. However, it doesn't have to be in the form of monetary compensation. So, organizations try out various volunteer appreciation ideas to show volunteers that their work is respected.
How Nonprofits Involve Volunteers
Nonprofits involve volunteers in various ways, depending on the complexity and nature of the goals. It’s what makes managing volunteers all the more challenging. Here are ways in which volunteers can be involved:
- Event Support
Whether an organization hosts marathons, fun runs, bake sales, or any other type of charitable event, volunteers are at the heart of such events, ensuring that everything takes place as planned.
- Skills-Based Volunteering
Often, nonprofit organizations need volunteers with specific skills or aptitudes to help them accomplish their goals. Therefore, such nonprofits look at volunteers’ track records for particular skills or experience before recruiting and later provide them support resources.
- Long-Term Volunteering
Rather than signing in volunteers for short-term, one-off events or charitable drives, many nonprofits prefer longer-term commitments to volunteerism.
- Administrative Support
In some cases, nonprofits might need help with their internal operations, such as bookkeeping, accounting, supply management, training other volunteers, or overseeing internal day-to-day operations.
- Advocacy Work
Advocacy work comes in various forms, but always with the primary intention of creating positive change within a community. Nonprofits that perform advocacy work may need volunteers to help with social media campaigns, participate in local events or rallies, raise volunteer program awareness, etc.
- Committee or Board Services
Overseeing a nonprofit organization's goals, plans, and actions is one of the most important aspects of what goes on within a nonprofit. Although not often, organizations sometimes seek individuals to help on planning committees or to serve on their board of directors.
- Virtual Volunteering
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how many nonprofits operate. Today, due to health restrictions and social distancing rules, organizations nowadays seek volunteers to help with virtual services rather than pre-pandemic era in-person services.
Why Nonprofits Need Volunteer Management
Most nonprofit organizations typically operate with limited budgets. They often rely only on government funding and donor support, leaving them with little wiggle room in how they run their volunteer program.
That being said, smart volunteer management strategies are vital for nonprofits because, eventually, they can help organizations better manage their costs.
Through effective marshaling of volunteers - and especially by tapping into intelligent volunteer management software - nonprofits can simplify volunteer recruitment, tracking, and handling processes despite having limited resources.
How You Can Simplify Volunteer Management (Best Practices)
Now that we know why volunteer management is essential, let's list out some of the best practices that can help nonprofit organizations do more through their volunteer efforts:
- Supercharge the Recruitment Drive
Recruitment is a crucial pillar of volunteer management, as we’ve discussed earlier. By leveraging the correct volunteer management strategies and tools, nonprofits can attract and engage volunteers more effectively than ever. Volunteer management software allows organizations to cherry-pick the right kind volunteers desired according to their strengths, skills, and previous experience.
- Focus on Driving Retention
We know by now that better than one-time engagements, it's much more beneficial for organizations to retain volunteers for the long run. Tech tools make it simple and quick to recognize volunteer efforts. Nonprofits can then follow it up and seek to retain the volunteers. Isn’t it easier to keep the volunteers you have than to look for new ones before every event?
- Make Registration Simple and Easy
When trying to attract and recruit volunteers, it can often be challenging for organizations to provide a simple registration method. So, there you go! Tech is the road ahead here. Volunteer management software can simplify the registration process, allowing candidates to apply and register according to the organization's specific criteria and requirements.
- Leverage Volunteer Grants
An excellent way to improve the nonprofit-volunteer relationship is by distributing volunteer grants. Some businesses hand out corporate volunteer grants to nonprofits whose volunteers regularly donate their time to a charitable cause. Thanks to such acts of corporate philanthropy, volunteers can be compensated for their time and efforts, boosting their involvement in the future.
The Golden Revolution: Managing Volunteers Using Tech
Technology has taken us to a stage where organizations no longer need to rely on traditional methods of attracting, screening, interviewing candidates, and tracking campaign goals. Today, nonprofits can tap into the world of volunteer management software to make things work.
They can use the tech tools to drive sign-ups digitally and recruit volunteers seamlessly. Planning events, prioritizing tasks, scheduling volunteer hours, and simplifying communication between nonprofits and volunteers - all that can be done using cool volunteer management platforms.
Do you want to simplify the most tedious processes involved in volunteer management? - such as tracking volunteer hours, recognizing their efforts, or building easy-to-scan volunteer databases. There are tech tools out there that can take care of all of that and much more - Golden is one such standout platform.
Golden is a leading provider of volunteer management software, helping nonprofits everywhere do more with their limited resources.
You can run live background checks, verify volunteer time with a touchless system, understand your volunteers better through two-way star ratings, and do much more with Golden’s tools, which work on all devices.
Golden’s software stands tall above the rest because of its ease of use. Download it and get started in seconds!
Volunteer Database: Why it Matters to You
When recruiting volunteers for a cause, organizations can benefit from having an easy-to-use volunteer database at their disposal.
A volunteer database is a registry of volunteer profiles, which lists various traits and attributes, such as volunteer age, relevant skills, experience, and so on.
A volunteer database makes it super easy for nonprofits to screen potential candidates according to their specific needs and program.
The bottom line is that a volunteer database can improve the effectiveness of a volunteer program, its recruitment process, and the overall efficiency of the campaign by ensuring the right people are signed in to help.
A Chilling Trend and the Way to Beat it!
Despite the need for volunteerism in the US, the Covid-19 pandemic and its after-effects have given local communities a new problem. Many enterprises are seeing a drop in the number of individuals who volunteer.
According to a report by Fidelity Charitable, 66% of individuals have reduced the number of hours they volunteer or have ceased to volunteer entirely.
The stat is concerning considering that nonprofits are needed more than ever before when a pandemic strikes. The trend underlines the growing importance of more innovative and better volunteer management practices. And it’s in this context that volunteer management tools have become indispensable for nonprofits to go about their remarkable effort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we've thoroughly explored the topic of volunteer management, let's review some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from nonprofits and other types of charitable organizations:
What type of organizations use volunteer management strategies?
Any nonprofit or charitable organization can benefit from implementing effective volunteer management strategies. Additionally, for-profit organizations that leverage the power of volunteer services can also benefit from improving their volunteer management strategies.
What does a volunteer manager do?
A volunteer manager oversees the day-to-day activities of an organization's volunteers. Typically, volunteer managers’ duties include providing topical training and support resources to ensure volunteers have the right skills for the tasks. They also recruit volunteers for upcoming events and use the latest technology to quickly schedule, track, and communicate with volunteers.
Do virtual campaigns, too, need effective volunteer management?
Yes, volunteer management strategies are just as effective for virtual campaigns as in-person events or initiatives. While the volunteering work is carried out virtually, volunteer management software allows organizations to take care of all the processes, including recruitment of volunteers, engaging with them, scheduling and tracking volunteer hours, and so on.
What does an organization risk by not managing volunteers?
When an organization doesn't effectively manage its volunteers, it risks incurring costs it could otherwise have avoided. These costs often result from increased volunteer turnover, low retention levels, poor volunteer satisfaction, and an overall lack of organizational oversight.
Don’t forget to be yourself!
Keep in mind that volunteers find you because they are inspired by your vision, efforts, and culture. Show them what makes your efforts important, enable them to have a hand in contributing to the advancement of your goals, help them feel welcome by crafting authentic volunteer opportunities and engaging with them appropriately throughout the entire lifecycle. These practices will help ensure you have a thriving volunteer community to take your nonprofit organization to the next level!