The value of a volunteer hour is now estimated to be $31.80. Nonprofit organizations rely heavily on volunteers to fulfill their mission and reach their goals. But, with the average volunteer retention rate sitting at 65%, it can be challenging for nonprofits to keep their volunteer pipeline steady.
Developing a strategy to retain your volunteers is critical to the success of your organization. How can nonprofits already stretched thin with their resources do this? By reinventing the volunteer experience. Here are five ways nonprofits can create a more engaging volunteer experience.
1. Align With Your Community
In order to provide value to your volunteers, you need to take the time to connect and align with your community. People volunteer for many different reasons, so it’s important to understand your volunteers’ motivations and needs.
Magda Scanlan, Manager of Volunteer Services at Advocate Aurora Health, shared that her organization designed a short survey to gauge volunteer motivations in order to determine what her community needed. Through this, her team learned that high school students wanted to explore and develop their careers while volunteering. Advocate Aurora Health now designs its volunteer opportunities and program with those needs in mind.
Consider what the best way to talk with your community is. Whether it be a survey, talking with current volunteers, or something else, the information gained can help you connect with your community and provide more value to your volunteers.
2. Provide Fulfilling Volunteer Opportunities
Just like there are various reasons people volunteer, there are many reasons volunteers stay or leave organizations. Some things that motivate volunteers to stay include enjoyment, a sense of contribution, and pride in the cause. On the contrary, reasons volunteers leave include unmet expectations (motivational needs, unexpected tasks, etc.) and time constraints.
Ask yourself: Is your nonprofit organization providing volunteers with challenging, fulfilling tasks? Do your volunteers feel their contributions matter to your organization’s mission?
Creating fulfilling volunteer opportunities does not have to be challenging or complicated. For example, consider providing volunteers opportunities for growth and advancement within your organization. Making small changes to your volunteer structure, leveraging the input collected by aligning with your community, and providing ongoing value can help your organization attract and retain more volunteers.
3. Be Flexible With Your Volunteering Options
People are busy. A volunteer is choosing to donate their free time to your organization, yet none of your options align with their schedule. So what happens? You both miss out. Being flexible in regard to your volunteering opportunities and schedule can help you engage more volunteers. The best way to gain insight into this information is by connecting with and asking your volunteers. Consider adding low-commitment and remote volunteer opportunities if that aligns with your organization.
4. Provide Volunteers With Valuable Skills
Nonprofits’ relationships with their volunteers need to shift away from being transactional to one more focused on connection and value. While understanding and providing for your volunteers’ needs, you can also cultivate transformational relationships.
Helping volunteers learn something new, like a skill they can apply outside of volunteering, is a great way to provide value. Here are some skills to consider teaching your volunteers:
You do not have to completely rework your existing volunteer opportunities in order to develop these skills. Examine your current programs to see where tweaks can be made to incorporate skill development. Even if there doesn’t seem to be an obvious position for your volunteer, try to adjust their role so they can still gain experience in their desired field.
5. Stay Organized and Communicate Effectively
Effective communication is one of the best ways to build trust with your volunteers and community. Using communication throughout every step of the volunteer process is key to building and maintaining ongoing relationships with your volunteers.
Here are some ways to incorporate transparent communication in your volunteer programs:
- Be transparent with your onboarding process. Clear communication on what will happen during the onboarding process is key to creating structure.
- Share program impact data. Your volunteers want to know how they are impacting the community, so share your volunteer success stories.
- Utilize a people management platform. Streamlining your communication and onboarding process will help you stay organized, manage your volunteer pipeline, and easily communicate with your community. That’s what APS Payroll & Verified First try to help with!
Involve the Right Volunteers With Verified First & APS Payroll
Recruiting and onboarding the right volunteers for your organization is critical to retaining these volunteers down the line. Verified First integrates with APS Payroll via browser extension, making your volunteer recruiting and onboarding process seamless. With this one-click integration, you can easily order, review, and manage Verified First’s background screening solutions without ever having to leave the APS Payroll platform.
Get started with APS Payroll & Verified First!