Within a nonprofit organization there is typically a long list of responsibilities with not as long a list of employees to cover these needs. Therefore, employees typically end up wearing multiple hats. The grants administrator might also be teaching job skills trainings and a project manager might also be working as an event coordinator for a fundraising event. Hours can be long and employees can be stretched thin at times.
For these reasons, and more, are why a volunteer base is critical to ensuring that the community’s needs are met and employees aren’t reaching burnout. Community members have an enormous wealth of skills, experience, and compassion that can be utilized to accomplish any number of tasks or goals critical to the overall function of a nonprofit organization. But how do we get them to volunteer with our organization?
Who Are They and Where Do You Find Them?
The simple answer is anyone. The more specific answer is family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, church members, etc. Most people can be a volunteer. They just have to be asked. So many people are unaware of the needs that most nonprofits have that they might not realize they have a lot to offer other than a monetary donation.
Word of mouth can move mountains in the nonprofit world. Recruit through your contacts, your staff members, and through current volunteers. Encourage everyone to spread the word about volunteer opportunities. Asking for help can be humbling on any level, but when the request benefits a community issue, particularly when aiding vulnerable or marginalized people, the reward of gaining committed volunteers is worth the effort.
Also, make the recruitment of volunteers as part of your marketing strategy. People who devote their time to your organization are a key component to building brand awareness as well the more tangible aspect of getting the work done. Utilizing social media for non profit and volunteer websites to recruit volunteers will help disseminate appeals to grow a larger volunteer base with varied skills and time commitments.
Best Practices for Managing Volunteers
Don’t let your volunteer recruitment success falter by not having a plan in place that provides training and designated task assignments. If feasible, hire a volunteer coordinator to handle all aspects of the volunteer component of your nonprofit. This staff member should be fluent regarding all programs and the unmet needs within each and be skilled in filling the gaps with a diverse group of volunteers. A volunteer coordinator should:
- Offer a variety of volunteer assignments and post each online with detailed descriptions.
- Try to match volunteers according to their skill sets and their personal requests.
- Provide training about the mission of the organization as well as for instructions for each task.
- Communicate expectations and provide a safe environment for questions or problems.
- Encourage both temporary and long-term needs and assignments.
If it’s unfeasible to hire a volunteer coordinator – your nonprofit organization can still make this work. Reach out to KM Clark Consulting Group today to see how we can help find unique ways to fit this into your organization’s structure. We know you’re busy and in the long run, a robust volunteer base will help lessen the work of employees.
How to Say Thank You
Volunteers choose to embrace sometimes difficult and often thankless types of tasks for as many reasons as there are different types of assignments. They choose to devote their precious time to lending their skills as well as their muscle to help nonprofit organizations succeed in their mission.
Volunteers deserve appreciation and recognition just as much as the exemplary employees on your staff. While they are lending their time to share in the responsibilities that make a nonprofit function it is necessary to reward their efforts. Ways to say thank you can include:
- Feature volunteers in digital marketing platforms like newsletters and on social media.
- During organization events highlight the contributions made by volunteers and the difference their work makes.
- Thank volunteers with personalized messages from staff members or the executive director.
- Share the story of a community member who has been directly helped by the work of a volunteer or group of volunteers.
- Ask community members to write personal messages to volunteers showing their appreciation.
- Hold a volunteer recognition event and invite donors as well as community members to share in thanking all of the organization’s volunteers.
Now’s the Time!
The best time to start growing your volunteer base is now. Even if you start small, the key is to just start. A strong, diverse volunteer base is an integral part of a nonprofit success. If you’re still unsure where to begin, KM Clark Consulting would love to assist your team in taking those first steps. Reach out to us today to see how we can help.