Your volunteers are essential to your brand’s success
For most Nonprofit Organizations and their Directors, resources always seem scarce. Regardless of your size or budget, there never seems to be enough hands on deck to keep things running at optimum efficiency. And since the budget is always tight and there’s a constant reliance on donor support, everyone tends to wear many hats at one time just to keep all the bases covered. And obviously, hiring additional staff isn’t always an option. For all of those reasons, hardly any Nonprofit Organizations could operate without the assistance of volunteers.
Volunteers offer your business a much-needed layer of additional support from a population that actually wants to be present. These are enthusiastic members of the community who want you to succeed — offering time, heart, and muscle to fulfill delegated tasks. So how do you cultivate and maintain an effective, savvy team? Here are 5 Tips for Creating Better Volunteers:
1. Recruit Right
Recruit your volunteers the same way you’d recruit paid staff. Set standards for the type of people who will represent you best and create an “ideal volunteer abstract” to outline expectations. This will serve as an internal document to which you can refer again and again, but it can also be converted into a job description and recruitment tool. Be realistic about the time commitments you’re expecting and the roles your volunteers will play. Most importantly, tell them what they’ll be getting out of it. Give them a reason to come aboard. It’s all about communicating an honest description so they can easily identify whether or not they align with your mission.
2. Know Their Intentions
There are several different kinds of volunteers:
- Those looking to build a resume.
- Those looking to fulfill a community service obligation.
- Those looking to do something fulfilling with his/her time.
- Those looking to make friends and build his/her social circle.
- Those who deeply connect with your mission and want to serve you.
It’s nearly impossible to know exactly why each person is there, and it’s unfair to assume anyone’s intentions. But each one of your volunteer subgroups is going to have different needs and speak a different language. They’re all invested in your organization for a number of reasons, so figure out what they know and teach them what they need to know.
3. Communicate Value
At one time or another, we’ve discussed addressing specific segments of your audience — stakeholders, physicians, donors, patients, the people you’re benefiting, your community, the media — but your volunteers are another key segment you can’t ignore. There’s a system of messaging you have to develop just for them — talking in a language that will resonate and influence them to act. Speak to your volunteers like they are paid, hired members of your team — encouraging them to take ownership in their own stakes in your success. Because once they’ve joined you, they do have a stake.
4. Bring Them In Closer
Most volunteers have no idea what they should be doing at any given time. That’s not an insult, it’s just the reality that comes from having a group of people with abstract rolls. So it’s your responsibility to keep them accurately informed and focused on completing consecutive goals. Your volunteers need to truly believe in what you’re doing and disseminate information in a way that communicates a compelling mission. Because the success of your organization depends on buy-in from the public, but you can’t establish that without buy-in from within. And the best way to benefit from your volunteers is to integrate them into your brand. Bring them in a little closer and empower them to take up a torch on your behalf.
5. Arm Them With Information
Volunteers are already on your side, so it’s just a matter of giving them the right tools and training. So that’s exactly what you should do. Facilitate message training and media relations tactics. Teach them how to use social media to advocate for the organization and attract more supporters — maximizing their social media usage for the good of the organization. Present them with fundraising tools like presentations, pledge cards, and marketing materials. Make them extensions of the brand, armed with the right messages.
Volunteers can help you handle the day-to-day details of publicity and fundraising while you and your board focus on big-picture objectives. Because your organization needs a multi-dimensional approach to success with the help of leaders and men and women who just want to help.