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Nonprofit Strategies

Volunteer management made easy: Follow these 4 key steps

Create a strategy for managing volunteers that saves your organization time, effort, and money—and helps amplify your impact.

Rachel Ayotte
September 27, 2023
May 27, 2021
Nerd Mr Butter

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Cultivating healthy relationships with your volunteer team is critical to your nonprofit’s success. 

Volunteers contribute their time, knowledge, and enthusiasm for a cause, pushing your campaign across the finish line. It's important to put as much effort into maintaining those relationships as you would a high-gift donor.

Below, we dive into what volunteer management is, why it matters, and how to make it a central focus in your nonprofit strategy.

What is volunteer management and why does it matter?

Nonprofit volunteer management is the process of investing energy, resources, and technology into new and long-standing volunteer relationships.

No matter what your volunteers' responsibilities are, research shows that volunteers are just as important to your mission as major donors:

How to create a successful volunteer management strategy in 4 steps

Successful volunteer program management requires planning, coordination, and the right people to see it through.

To kick start you volunteer management plan, follow these four steps:

1. Set your goals upfront 🎯

The first step in devising a volunteer management program is to set goals and develop a plan upfront that will spare resources in the long run.

When considering your goals, ask yourself about your objectives:

  • Do you want more volunteers? 
  • Do you want to increase your volunteer retention rate? 
  • Do you want current volunteers to be more knowledgeable at fundraising events? 
  • Do you need specific volunteers for niche tasks?
  • Do you want new strategies for engaging volunteers?

Your answers will influence how you dedicate people and resources to your efforts.

2. Create a volunteer management program 💪

With your goals in place, begin developing a volunteer program. How can your organization improve the overall volunteer experience?

At a minimum, you should look at the following areas:

  • Volunteer recruitment 🙋 Launch an email campaign or a social media push to reach new prospective volunteers.
  • Volunteer communication 📞 How you can improve the lines of communication between your team and volunteers? You could send out quarterly surveys, conduct a focus group, or send feedback cards to volunteers after a fundraising event.
  • Volunteer engagement 🙌 To keep volunteer talent coming back, start a bi-monthly newsletter specifically for volunteers, or start a thank-you note campaign to express your gratitude.
  • Volunteer opportunities 💭 Keep volunteers excited by offering a broad range of volunteer roles, tasks, and jobs. Could you recruit volunteers to actually help start your volunteer management program, have them train new recruits, or start a "takeover" campaign on social media?

3. Assign roles and resources 👯

Effective volunteer management is all about leaning on your team.

Assign a volunteer coordinator at your organization to develop actionable steps toward your goals, and empower them to do their job well with the help of a few tools:

  • Project management system 📆 Tools like monday.com, Asana, Trello, or Basecamp make it easy to break ambitious goals into actionable tasks.
  • Communication tools 📣 High-quality marketing and engagement tools can streamline and automate volunteer communication via email and text blasts.
  • Training 👋 Develop a volunteer onboarding system using something as simple as sharing a slide deck, creating a shared folder in Google Drive or Dropbox, or investing in onboarding software.
  • Nonprofit CRM system 📊 A nonprofit CRM can help you keep track of all your contacts (donors and volunteers) and log key data and activities in an organized way (more on this below).

4. Invest in a volunteer management system 💻

If you invest in just one piece of technology, it should be a volunteer management system where you can house all information related to volunteer service. This includes contact information, volunteer activities and correspondence, logged volunteer hours, and notes from your team.

POINT is a modern, powerful, and easy-to-use volunteer management platform that provides free tools to nonprofits so they can grow their volunteer programs. Whether you’re a local nonprofit or a large national organization, POINT is the easiest way to manage, engage, and mobilize your people power.

Here is just a sample of POINT's time-saving tech:

  • Volunteer hub (and mobile app!) with no limits on the number of volunteers you can manage
  • Automatic volunteer time tracking
  • Self-submit volunteer hours
  • Admin dashboard with unlimited admin seats
  • Event sign-up website integration
  • Check-in stations

Nonprofits can also access additional features—like program management, ongoing events, award-winning priority support, background checks, waivers and document storage, and more—with the affordable POINT Pro Plan.

The best part? POINT now integrates with Givebutter’s all-in-one nonprofit fundraising platform, so you can convert volunteers into donors and easily keep track of everything using the built-in nonprofit CRM.

Simplify volunteer management with Givebutter & POINT

Volunteer management best practices

To make the most out of your strategy, follow each of these volunteer management practices:

  • Be flexible 🤸 To accommodate volunteers' busy schedules, offer volunteer opportunities that range in time commitments.
  • Include clear procedures 🗒️ Have well-documented policies in place that govern expectations so volunteers feel comfortable and confident contributing to your organization.
  • Define roles 👤 Just like advertising job descriptions, be sure to clearly outline the responsibilities of volunteers—then match volunteers with tasks that align with their skills and interests.
  • Reiterate your mission and goals 🏆 Whether your volunteer is an ambassador for your organization or not, ensure that volunteers understand their purpose and the impact of their work to keep them motivated.
  • Offer support and resources ⚒️ Ensure that volunteers have the necessary resources and support to perform their tasks effectively, including specific equipment and a point of contact for questions or concerns.
  • Be transparent 💛 Treat volunteers as trusted partners and provide transparency regarding how they contribute to your organization's mission.
  • Make onboarding easy 🧈 Volunteering for your organization should involve little to no hurdles. When onboarding volunteers, be sure the process is smooth as butter.
  • Understand incentives 🧐 Some volunteers contribute their time simply to give back. Others, though, appreciate the chance to enhance a resume or CV or are interested in making friends. Knowing these incentives will help you understand how you can engage and mobilize your volunteers.
  • Offer learning opportunities 🍎 Offering opportunities for learning and development helps make volunteers feel valued. Plus, for those looking to enhance their resumes, a volunteer opportunity that involves skill-building is a perfect match.

Launch your volunteer management strategy with Givebutter

The right volunteers share their expertise, passion, and time in furthering your good cause, which directly impacts your bottom line. To nail volunteer management for nonprofits, organizations need to allocate people, resources, and technology. 

Carve out a volunteer coordinator role, empower them with the resources they need, and find the right volunteer management tools to keep things organized. With Givebutter and POINT, your organization can streamline all of your volunteer management efforts into one centralized place—for free. 

Ready to launch your volunteer management strategy? Create your free account Givebutter today to get started.

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