*This is Part II of a series focused on nonprofit volunteering and volunteer programs. Click here to read Part I.
Fundraising events are a lifeblood for so many nonprofits. They can also be a major undertaking where the need for volunteers to support the event is high. From running ticket tables and emceeing raffles to providing snacks and water along a charity 5K, there are several activities involved where you would need volunteers.
While nonprofits are constantly working to increase monetary donations, donations of time are equally important to moving a mission or a cause forward. Data shows that 1 billion people volunteer around the world annually, and 64 million Americans take time to volunteer every year. Further, 85% of these volunteers say they are more likely to donate money to the nonprofits they’re volunteering with.
Volunteers are a multi-faceted group of people and critical to keeping your nonprofit afloat. It’s important to understand what motivates people to volunteer in the first place and what you need to be doing over time to keep those volunteers engaged and coming back. So, once the big event is over, how should you and your nonprofit steward these volunteer relationships?
Understand why someone volunteers
There are several reasons why people choose to volunteer their time. They may want to feel part of a larger community or directly contribute to a cause they believe in. Some might be looking to gain valuable experience in a specific cause area. There are also several states in the U.S. that accept volunteer hours as course credit for high school and college students.
Whatever the motivation, you and your staff need to ensure you fully understand why each volunteer is not only choosing to give their time but also choosing to volunteer with your specific nonprofit, event, or cause. You can glean this information by incorporating a question or two about why someone is volunteering, either in the application process or as a quick poll or survey when onboarding new volunteers for an event. Understanding someone’s why is the first step in building lasting bonds with volunteers.
Why the recruitment and onboarding process is critical to volunteer retention
The long game of retaining volunteers over time begins as soon as they sign up and arrive for their first event. How did you welcome them? Were they given t-shirts or badges to help identify their involvement with your group and make them feel like part of the cause? Did leaders from your nonprofit greet each volunteer and make a point to learn their names? Were volunteers given clear instructions on where their support was needed most? All these touchpoints are critical to a volunteer’s first engagement with, and impression of, you and your nonprofit.
2023 data shows that the average value of a volunteer hour is estimated at around $31.80 and continues to go up year-over-year. As you seek out monetary donations to move your mission forward, donated time continues to be an increasingly important commodity to keep your overhead costs down while keeping work efficient. Giving volunteers an enjoyable, friendly, and seamless recruitment and onboarding experience needs to be table stakes.
Best practices for maintaining volunteer engagement
How you make your volunteers feel is important. Thanking them for supporting an event with goodie bags is a good first step. Following that event, though, you should be doing a multitude of things to ensure volunteers give their time to you again.
Send them thank you messages or emails that not only thank them for the time they’ve given but also provide them with a schedule of upcoming events where their support would be welcome. Volunteers won’t always seek out new opportunities to join events on their own, so it’s important to keep in touch to provide them with these updates.
Take time to show volunteers exactly how their time contributed to moving your mission forward. Did you have a group of people managing a silent auction? Give them insight and transparency into how the funds from that auction are directly benefiting the cause. For example, was enough money raised to provide more services in a medical clinic? Perhaps, enough was collected to open a new community center for at-risk youth. Whatever the achievement, make your volunteers a part of that win, and they’ll want to do more.
Read more from Part I of our Volunteer series: Crafting Memorable Volunteer Journeys: Tips For Success.
Technology is your partner in volunteer retention success
Managing a group of volunteers or a volunteer program comes with a myriad of challenges. Small nonprofit teams lack the time and resources to manually manage these programs. Managing volunteers effectively involves actively engaging in personalized recruitment and onboarding, and demonstrating impact—all time-intensive activities.
Volunteer management platforms, like Bloomerang Volunteer, provide nonprofits with a centralized volunteer management solution that transforms how you attract, retain, and engage those interacting with your nonprofit. Focused on creating great experiences, streamlining interactions, and reporting on mission impact, Bloomerang Volunteer specifically will help your nonprofit maximize revenue by turning volunteers into super supporters who are ultimately giving both time and money. Don’t delay — start building lasting bonds with volunteers today!