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6 Reasons Why Volunteering Is Important
Most nonprofits rely on volunteers, but few understand the importance of volunteers toward achieving their goals.
We often quantify the in-kind value of volunteer hours. Volunteer hours are worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually, saving nonprofits from having to dedicate staff time or consultant time to different tasks. What we do not discuss are the dozens of other reasons why volunteering is important.
One is that volunteers are very likely to be the best donors. Fidelity Charitable found (2020) that nearly two-thirds of donors had volunteered in the past year. While most people give to a charity before they volunteer for a charity, a striking and growing amount of people (40 percent) volunteer before they give. This is especially true for younger generations.
What we learn is that volunteering is closely linked to giving. When nonprofits effectively manage their volunteers, they come closer to maximizing the impact potential that volunteers have for their organization. The more a volunteer feels part of an organization and connects their contribution to the community, the more likely they are to give to help the organization get what it needs.
In the past, volunteer managers may have had trouble tracking volunteers and communicating regularly with them, but modern volunteer management software has revolutionized the process. Tech aids have made it simple to better understand the importance of volunteers and to integrate their roles more clearly within the organizational structure.
Why Is Volunteering Important?
Nonprofit leaders are facing several problems, not limited to but including:
- High rates of staff burnout and turnover
- Problems expanding their donor base
- Issues with communications and marketing, and spreading their reach to a broader audience
- Donor retention and increased giving
- Maintaining an active and engaged board of directors
The importance of volunteers can be summarized in the fact that they are a nonprofit’s best advocates and support agents to help minimize all of these top concerns.
In the past, nonprofits may have been hesitant to integrate volunteers into their core development strategy because of a perception that it would be difficult to manage their fundraising, outreach, and engagement actions. Now though, volunteer management platforms like Golden make it easy for a nonprofit to connect in a meaningful way with a volunteer’s social capital.
Volunteers can easily repost an opportunity to participate in an event to their networks or repost a general message that they would like to share to try to grow their engagement network. They can also use the software to track their hours for their company’s corporate volunteering program. Many times they can even make a direct request to their company to provide matching funding in the form of a grant or sponsorship gift.
The nonprofit leader in charge can use a management software like Golden to track those corporate connections and prompt their best volunteers to help them fundraise. It’s a great way to get your best volunteers, such as your board members, to help support your community impact goals and fundraising goals in concrete ways. The better they understand why volunteering is important to you and your goals, the more connected they will be.
Are you looking for the best-in-class cloud software to schedule volunteers, manage events, and track hours? The answer is Golden!
6 Specific Reasons Why Volunteering Is Important to Nonprofits
There are 6 points to touch on regarding the importance of volunteers to a nonprofit and its management structure and organizational goals.
- Help Boost Visibility. The importance of volunteers is in the fact that they care deeply about you, and they go on to share your messaging throughout the community with their family and friends, and through their social and business networks. This is the best advertising you can hope for, and it is free! Make sure you are engaging them with opportunities to repost pictures of them volunteering, or posts about the events they participate in. Cause days are great ways to get them to share your marketing material, as well. If you work with animals, for instance, you might ask volunteers to post a message for you on National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day on April 30.
- Can be Turned into Advocates of Your Mission. The importance of volunteers is also that they are your strongest advocates. Along with posting messages and advocating for your mission in general, you can likely engage them in peer-to-peer fundraising through specific event days like marathons or walkathons.
- Bring a Diversity of Skills and Innovation. Another reason why volunteering is important is because the majority of volunteers have at least one critical subset of academic or professional skills. Though that training may not directly apply to the volunteer job, it’s a wealth of capacity that you can likely utilize. Make sure you’re asking your volunteers to list their best skills. Better yet, make sure you spend the time to get to know them through volunteer appreciation events or during training sessions. Simply talking with your volunteers can springboard new ideas to help you advance your cause.
- Connect You to Funding Resources. The importance of volunteers also lies in the fact that they can connect you to inaccessible resources, such as corporate giving, private foundations, and the wealthy donors you would not know otherwise. Again, the way to discover their worth is to ensure that you have relationships with them and asking them the right questions to engage them in helping you fundraise. They may not even know that their company has a matching gift program. You need to know and ask them to help.
- Support Your Staff. This is one of the key components of the importance of volunteers because nonprofit staff is burnt out. Any tasks you can take away from their day and place in the hands of volunteers will help them be more effective employees. The beauty of volunteers is that you do not need to pay them! They can free up your staff’s time to focus on the more important job functions, if managed effectively.
- Infect Your Group With Good Energy. Staff burnout often creates negative energy in the office. Another importance of volunteers is that they are a cure for that negative energy, injecting your cause with new voices and enthusiasm for your mission. This can help your entire team be more cohesive, and it also makes the workplace more fun.
Why Volunteering is Important for Youth
A specific subset of volunteers is youth. Youth can provide a boost of vitality and new perspectives. Also, volunteering is the critical support needed for young people and their development. Volunteering improves the “soft skills” that young people need to succeed in higher education and future jobs.
Most youths are compelled to volunteer at least some of their time when in high school or college. This is a great resource of which to take advantage! What you need to do is create meaningful opportunities geared specifically to youth that also help you meet your organizational goals. Make sure it is clear to them why volunteering is important to your organization within your particular context. Some ideas include:
- Create mentorship roles for youth to mentor younger children whom you serve.
- Create reverse mentorship roles for your staff to mentor youth who are interested in the type of work you do, such as internship roles. These roles can help your staff unload some of their more menial tasks and help them feel supported in general.
- Work with schools directly. Schools may want to participate in a day of service, such as creating a butterfly garden at your office for Earth Day, or helping with a fundraising drive.
The Importance of Volunteers to Local Communities
The importance of volunteers can also be seen in their value to local communities. Government resources are stretched. In reality, nonprofits are the backbone of social services in the United States and globally. For instance, 65 percent of America’s firefighters are volunteers.
Supporting volunteers to be more effective and as integrated components of nonprofit organizations helps our entire ecosystem thrive!
Apply the Best Tech Tools Available to Help Manage the Process
The importance of volunteers is clear, but how to best engage them is not. Tech tools can help.
Volunteers can be your best advocates for visibility and for sharing your cause, but you need to make sure you are helping them align with your brand and share the best messages possible. A tool like Golden can help you seamlessly integrate social media networks, corporate networks and any other social capital with that of your volunteers, so they can share your messaging across an integrated brand platform. It even helps with automated message release within your network. In this way your volunteers can help be part of your marketing impact goals in real ways that can be tracked and supported.
Golden can also help with the administrative tasks that, in the past, have made nonprofits hesitant to make volunteering a stronger part of their core operating plan despite understanding the importance of volunteers. Golden has the only instant and portable volunteer background check system integrated into the app. This means that a potential volunteer is automatically screened for whatever checks they need to have in place to work with you, before they even sign up for their first shift or event. The system limits liability for nonprofits to new extents that have never been seen before on the market.
It also helps you use nonprofit event planning to connect with new potential partners in the community. Golden has one of the largest corporate networks in the world who is looking for meaningful volunteer opportunities. The Golden “Day of Service” feature lets a nonprofit list an event and specific ways to give or support the event with volunteers, reaching out to hundreds of new potential partners who may want to dedicate paid volunteer time or provide a sponsorship donation.
How Technology Elevates the Importance of Volunteers
In 2004, a collaborative study found that while 80 percent of nonprofits depend on volunteers and know it, these organizations were ineffectively managing them.
Now, with volunteer management platforms like Golden, there is little excuse to continue to ignore the importance of volunteers. Nonprofit organizations can streamline their administration, improve their donor and volunteer retention, and extend their brand and reach by focusing on the core tenets of successful volunteer engagement and management.
Of principal concern is the way to track and engage volunteers through communicating through a specific brand strategy. Golden allows nonprofits to integrate their brand directly with the software, so that messaging is clear and aligned with both internal and external teams. Also, managers can easily reward and recognize volunteers through Golden’s award-winning innovations like Karats, a gamified rewards system for volunteer inputs.
We know the importance of volunteers, and now tech tools have made it possible to integrate them fully within the nonprofit systems for greater sustainability and capacity.