Tag Archives: Nonprofit volunteer

A Vital Nonprofit Resource: How to Grow and Manage Your Volunteer Base

A Vital Nonprofit Resource: How to Grow and Manage Your Volunteer Base

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 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.

Interns as Potential Employees: Partnering With Local Colleges & Universities

Interns as Potential Employees: Partnering with Local Colleges & Universities

The engine that drives any business, whether in the private sector or the nonprofit world, is a diverse staff with a range of talents and expertise. Any nonprofit consulting firm will advise that maintaining veteran employees while injecting a fresh perspective with newer employees is critical in keeping that engine a well-oiled machine.

One important way that organizations can balance the depth of employees is to create an internship program that boosts staff numbers in the short term but also has the potential to create long-term employees. Forming partnerships with local as well as regional colleges and universities is the perfect place to start.

Define Your Needs

Analyze your programs and determine where gaps exist. An intern could potentially fill those gaps to enable programs to function at full capacity. Nonprofit organizations have an enormous breadth of departments and programs that would be conducive to aligning interns with areas that need attention that staff members can’t create or complete.

Simple observations aren’t enough. Your numbers will tell a more comprehensive story. Are you falling short of fundraising goals? Maybe an intern in your development and marketing departments could provide an added benefit to securing more dollars. Are clients missing out on direct services because there just aren’t enough employees to provide assistance to those who need it? Project-specific interns can assist seasoned program specialists, ensuring that no one falls through the cracks.

And always ask your staff what they need. They are often spread too thin and know where problem areas could benefit from an extra hands on deck.

Win-Win Partnerships

Colleges and universities in your area can provide a wealth of potential intern candidates that match your organization’s needs for augmenting services as well as adding to the depth of expertise on staff.

Students and faculty often look for internship opportunities for specific fields and programs. Depending on the school, look for campus departments like career centers whose purpose is to match students with local businesses and nonprofit organizations in order to fill academic requirements.

It may also be helpful to contact college deans, department chairs, or professors to discuss what you have available or what can possibly be created to not only fill gaps in staff and programs but to also provide a rich, experiential opportunity.

Make sure you convey the benefits of establishing this partnership. Students will gain real-world workplace experience in their fields and will be actively contributing to helping their community. Colleges and universities will improve their position in the community by aligning with nonprofit organizations whose missions are defined by giving back to improve people’s lives. And they improve their track record of turning students into employed graduates.

Thinking Outside the Internship Box

Contemplate the areas of study with which to identify potential interns in. The field of social work is an obvious place to start because many graduates will gravitate to direct services provided by many nonprofits. But there are also other academic majors to consider as possibilities in establishing an internship program.

• Communications: College students are tech-savvy when it comes to online platforms. A communications major intern could help to build your online presence across multiple social media platforms or help with other traditional media like writing press releases.

Advertising and Marketing: Interns from these fields can bring cutting-edge knowledge about building your brand and conveying the purpose of your mission across a variety of media channels.

• Computer Science: Your team has had ideas for a database that links programs or a system that tracks numbers for grants compliance, but the expense has prevented this from going beyond a dream. Interns with software creation skills could help maximize efficiency with their ability to design programs and applications.

Many in nonprofit leadership seek advice from experts in nonprofit consulting about how to conserve or stretch funding while remaining a viable source of assistance in their community. Whether your nonprofit is looking to fill in gaps for the long term or short, we believe that internships can be a great way to help with that, while also providing the often-needed experience that new grads need when finishing up school. For help navigating the internship space, or to learn about other cost sharing employment strategies, contact KM Clark Consulting.