Volunteers are the lifeblood of nonprofits. And that is doubly true of small nonprofits. When you only have the budget for a handful of paid staff members, volunteers keep your organization running. Volunteers work events, help with your day-to-day operations, help behind the scenes, and act as ambassadors in your community. Recruiting skilled and passionate volunteers is essential to a nonprofit’s growth. And as your nonprofit grows, effective volunteer management becomes vitally important.
The Importance of Volunteer Management
When you have a handful of volunteers, it’s fine to be informal. But volunteer management is part art, part science. It’s a difficult job … and an important one. Because your volunteers not only help you run your nonprofit, they are your biggest supporters. So as you grow your volunteer base, it’s essential to have an organized system for recruiting and managing your volunteers.
Recruiting volunteers is usually more complicated than saying, “Hey, can you help our nonprofit with something?” Not all volunteers are cut out for every job. For instance, if your food bank needs help sorting through donations from a local canned food drive, you’ll need volunteers who can lift 50 lbs or more and are comfortable standing for long periods of time. If you need volunteer social media coordinators, you’ll want to make sure your candidates know their way around Facebook and Twitter. And if you’re recruiting front desk greeters, you’ll want to find volunteers with customer service experience. Oh, and you’ll probably need your volunteers to sign some legal paperwork before they get started.
Having a formal process in place for recruiting volunteers helps your nonprofit match volunteers with the duties best suited to their interests and skillset. It’ll also help you get waivers and agreements signed.
VolunteerMatch and Catchafire are two great recruitment resources you can utilize to find new volunteers. Additionally, organizations on Mightycause have the ability to post and share one-time or ongoing volunteer opportunities right on their organization page. Individuals are able to see the full description of the volunteer opportunity and sign up directly on the platform or through a provided external link.
Managing volunteers is not unlike managing paid staff. It’s important to set expectations, make sure volunteers understand their duties, complete training, follow safety procedures, and show up for their shifts. Volunteer management sometimes also includes discipline and even termination for volunteers who just aren’t working out. The biggest difference between volunteers and paid staff is that volunteers are often donors, so volunteer management requires a delicate balance of donor relations and management skills. Setting up monthly, quarterly, or annual check-ins is a great way to keep an open line of communication between you and your volunteers.
Part Donor Engagement, Part Professional Development
“Volunteer Manager” is one of the most important job titles you can have at a nonprofit. Volunteer managers act as a bridge between your volunteer base and your nonprofit’s behind-the-scenes operations. And it’s not an easy job! The relationship between a nonprofit and its volunteers is an important, often delicate one. Volunteer managers need to balance the needs of the organization with the needs, desires, and skills of volunteers. It requires keeping your volunteers engaged, productive, and excited about your work. But most importantly, it requires thanking your volunteers profusely for their contributions.
When you start utilizing volunteers at your nonprofit, you will probably focus on filling necessary positions as they arise. And that’s why the Mightycause Opportunities tool is great for! As your volunteer base grows, you will need to focus more on cultivating meaningful relationships with your volunteers and helping them grow. Like staff, you’ll get to know their interests, their talents, and their passions. You’ll be able to incorporate them into more aspects of your nonprofit, and perhaps even find that they can help your nonprofit in ways you didn’t even think of back when you were starting out! Many nonprofits develop a formal process for developing volunteers and helping them move up the ranks with training workshops, one-on-one education, and even mentorship programs.
The Opportunities tool can help your nonprofit regardless of where your nonprofit is in the process of growing your volunteer force!
How the Opportunities Tool Can Help Your Nonprofit
How has your nonprofit approached volunteer management? Do you usually send out an email, or post volunteer opportunities on Facebook? Is your website your main point of entry for volunteers? As mentioned above, the Opportunities tool on Mightycause can help you recruit new volunteers and expand your reach.
From Donor to Volunteer
Volunteering is often just the next step for engaged donors. In fact, that’s where most volunteers start. By posting volunteer opportunities on your Mightycause page, you can help inspire people interested in your cause to donate their time in addition to their dollars. It can also be a great way for people who may not be able to donate much money to help your cause in a meaningful way.
Mightycause Advanced offers donor and volunteer tracking with our Supporters tool. Tracking financial gifts is important, but your donors often contribute to your nonprofit in many ways. Supporter records take into account all the contributions an individual makes to your nonprofit, from monetary donations to creating peer-to-peer fundraisers to volunteering their time.
You can sort your supporters by the events they’ve volunteered for, and add donor records with Advanced. Custom tagging makes it easy to organize your supporters in all of the roles they play at your nonprofit, and you can even message them through the Mightycause platform!
Build Your Army of Supporters
The difference between a small nonprofit that makes it and one that struggles is often how well they utilize volunteers. Some nonprofits relegate volunteers to tasks like working events, greeting visitors, or handing out flyers. But the world is full of skilled, talented, passionate people! And you can further your mission by tapping into that talent and passion in your volunteers.
You can recruit for events and day-to-day help using the Opportunities tool, but you can also post positions that require a little bit more skill and will help your nonprofit go even further. Such as:
- Bookkeepers and accountants
- Social media managers
- Marketing strategists
- Graphic designers
- Web designers
Don’t be afraid to think big with your Opportunities! Think long-term in addition to keeping your latest community event staffed. Use this tool to find skilled volunteers who bring unique talent to your nonprofit.
The first step in getting started with volunteer management on Mightycause is signing up for a free demo of Mightycause Advanced. Pick a time that works for you and we’ll walk you through all of Mightycause Advanced tools and help you find a plan that works for your nonprofit’s needs and budget.
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