Volunteer onboarding is the process of transforming prospective and new volunteers into recurring volunteers. Every organization’s onboarding procedures may look different in some ways, but a few key elements are consistent among nonprofits with successful volunteer onboarding. Explore four steps your nonprofit can take to improve its volunteer onboarding process.
1) Create a Seamless Sign-Up Procedure
The sign-up process is often the first experience new volunteers have with your nonprofit. What do you want it to say about your organization? A simple, clear-cut sign-up process tells prospective volunteers that your nonprofit is well-organized, coordinated, and efficient. An inconsistent or frustrating sign-up process can send the opposite message and may be enough to turn any excited volunteer away.
Volunteers want to donate their time and effort. However, significant roadblocks can discourage involvement or prompt them to find volunteer opportunities with an organization that appears more put together.
Consider investing in volunteer management software that allows you to build a logic-based sign-up form to collect all the information you need to place volunteers in the right roles. Your online sign-up form should be clean, simple, and mobile-friendly to ensure your potential volunteers experience the best first impression possible.
2) Provide Thorough, Standardized Training
Training is an often overlooked aspect of volunteer onboarding. Many nonprofit leaders believe new volunteers can learn everything they need to know by shadowing another volunteer or by jumping in and explaining procedures on the go. This type of training, or lack thereof, can be off-putting, making new volunteers feel that they are in the way or unhelpful. It can also be an overwhelming experience, leading them to donate their time elsewhere.
Training is also expensive, and constantly training new volunteers due to a high turnover rate can put a significant dent in the annual budget. Establishing a standardized training routine helps new volunteers get on the same page and empowers them to feel prepared for their first few volunteering shifts. Creating a more formal training process can give new volunteers a positive experience and reduce the costly turnover that is so common in nonprofits.
3) Cultivate Meaningful Connections
Volunteers that feel connected to other volunteers within the organization, and the nonprofit at large, are more likely to volunteer regularly and even donate money on top of their time. Sadly, it’s easy for new volunteers to feel disconnected from staff and other volunteers, especially if they aren’t given proper training time. Converting new volunteers into regular ones often comes down to how connected and valued they feel at the nonprofit.
One way to cultivate meaningful relationships is by inviting new volunteers to social events with regulars to meet with those who have been around for a while. Another helpful way to create connections is by pairing a new volunteer with a more experienced volunteer as a mentor, whom they can shadow and ask questions during and beyond their training time.
4) Utilize Powerful Volunteer Management Software
Many problems in the volunteer onboarding process occur due to needing more organization or communication. Nonprofits can be busy and chaotic, but volunteer management software can eliminate common issues with scheduling and communication among new volunteers.
Bloomerang’s Volunteer Management Solution can reduce some headaches that disturb the volunteer onboarding process and day-to-day operations. This software allows you to create simple, custom applications for new volunteers to fill out and quickly screen prospective volunteers to pair them with tasks best suited to their interests and skills. These steps increase the likelihood that volunteers will stick around for the long haul.
This software also allows volunteers to set their shifts, providing autonomy among new and existing volunteers. These are just a few of this software’s dozens of features that can help reduce no-shows by more than 20%! If you want to learn more about how Bloomerang Volunteer can improve your organization’s volunteer onboarding process, contact us today.
The Buyer’s Guide to Volunteer Management Software
When leading your nonprofit through the thick of things, the idea of buying more software can feel overwhelming. We are here to help you find a solution that works for you and your volunteers.