Guest post by Shreya Tragad, Digital Marketing Specialist at InitLive
As a volunteer coordinator, you know that sooner or later, your organization’s management tools and processes become outdated. You might have started managing your volunteer program using a combination of spreadsheets, printed-out sign-up forms, and email threads. But as volunteer management tools have evolved, you’ve started looking for ways to modernize your own volunteer management processes.
If this sounds like your organization, you’re in the right place! In this guide, we’ll explore five effective tips for modernizing your volunteer management system and processes. With these innovative tools and strategies, you can build stronger relationships with volunteers and improve your program’s retention rates.
Here are our top five tips for updating your volunteer management process:
Invest in quality volunteer management software.
Empower volunteers to take control of their engagement.
Incorporate a well-rounded training process.
Use a multichannel outreach strategy.
Use reporting tools to track progress.
Ready to update your volunteer management process to be effective in the modern era? Let’s dive in.
1. Invest in quality volunteer management software.
A modern volunteer management process requires modern tools. When updating your program’s toolbox, you should start by investigating your options for quality volunteer management software.
Powerful volunteer management software helps reduce administrative time and streamline your management process. It’s more than just a place to store volunteer contact information. It can be used to enhance communication, boost engagement, identify top talent, and much more!
Your volunteer management system should offer the following features that help you better manage your volunteer program:
A volunteer database: Having a comprehensive volunteer database will help you keep track of and stay in touch with former volunteers to invite them to new opportunities. It also helps make it easier to match your volunteers with roles that suit their preferences and availability.
Recruitment features: These include branded sign-up pages, a customizable volunteer application workflow, and accommodations for group sign-ups. Your volunteers can view all your opportunities listed on your website or branded sign-up pages. With the help of recruitment features, you can simplify the online application process and store all necessary information for screening and placement.
Communication tools: Keep your volunteers up-to-date with different communication methods such as texting, alert notifications, and sending important emails before upcoming events. Your volunteers can also self-check-in and have access to personal schedules and documents such as training materials.
Tracking and reporting features: Attendance tracking tools will provide insight into your most active volunteers and allow you to focus on increasing engagement among those who are not as active. Reporting features also make it easier to apply for grants.
All these volunteer management software features will offer convenience to your volunteers and help keep your team organized. Review Double the Donation’s guide to top volunteer management tools for a comprehensive overview of all of the top volunteer software solutions on the market today.
2. Empower volunteers to take control of their engagement.
Nowadays, volunteers desire more control and self-sufficiency when it comes to managing their volunteer engagement. Giving volunteers more autonomy also avoids any back and forth communications with volunteer managers. Ensure your volunteer management software has each of the following to allow full flexibility for your volunteers:
Self-scheduling: Find volunteer management software that offers volunteers self-scheduling capabilities and empowers them to select the shifts and opportunities for the times that work best for them.
Mobile app: Using a mobile app, volunteers can review important event information and relevant documents, such as waivers or training materials. They can also have full access to their personal volunteer schedules, shift details, and real-time notifications from their mobile device.
Volunteer matching based on interests: Volunteer matching makes your volunteer opportunities feel more personalized and relevant to each participant. Collect important volunteer information such as skills and interests to match each volunteer with the right roles and boost participation.
Automated hours tracking: Volunteers can have their hours automatically tracked when they check in to your opportunities. They can review their hours in their personal profiles for their own reference or to put on their resumes.
These features allow your volunteers to feel like they have just as much access as you do and will help boost engagement! Be sure to offer training on how to use your volunteer management system to avoid any confusion or frustration.
3. Incorporate a well-rounded training process.
Since your volunteers play a crucial role in ensuring your volunteer programs run smoothly and successfully, dedicating some time to plan training sessions will result in the best performance from volunteers. View your training sessions as an opportunity to help facilitate continued learning for volunteers.
Your modern training process should include:
Hands-on and interactive learning activities: This is a great way for your volunteers to learn together and form great bonds right from the start! Your volunteers will feel more comfortable in their roles as they actually practice the tasks they’ll be participating in throughout your opportunities.
Virtual training options: Offering online training for those who may face any restrictions regarding transportation, mobility, or time will allow them to complete training in the comfort of their own home. It also allows your volunteers to learn at their own pace! Check up on your volunteers from time to time to ensure they’re not getting stuck at any point.
A digital resource library for volunteers to reference at any time: The last thing you want is your volunteers feeling confused. Make sure you let them know exactly where to go to access any resources. They should be able to reference these resources at any time to ensure they feel confident and ready!
It’s important to keep in mind that every volunteer will have their own preferred way of learning. Some may prefer in-person training, while others may prefer to learn on their own at home. Depending on the role they’ve signed up for, remember to ask your volunteers what helps them learn best through a brief survey!
4. Use a multi-channel outreach strategy.
It’s crucial to use a multi-channel outreach strategy to reach your audience instead of just one platform. Why? Different demographics prefer receiving information on different platforms. For instance, your younger volunteers may prefer using Instagram or Snapchat, while your older volunteers may prefer LinkedIn, Facebook, or email.
Here are some great places to reach out as part of your multi-channel strategy:
Social media: There are over 4.62 billion social media users worldwide, making it a great platform to reach out to current and potential volunteers! Grow your social media presence by posting available volunteer opportunities or project updates for all your audience members to see.
Email: If you have an event coming up or simply want to deliver important information, email is a great way to deliver longer messages with important information. Your volunteers can store these messages in one central place (their inboxes) and reference them at any point. Remember to personalize your messages to make your volunteers feel special and acknowledged!
SEO: Drive traffic to your website using search engine optimization (SEO) strategies like incorporating locally-popular keywords into your website content and ensuring your website offers a positive user experience.
Flyers: Get creative and design your flyers to promote your nonprofit and all the fun volunteer opportunities you have to offer! Remember to let your readers know where to go for any additional information to ensure they don’t miss out (such as your website or social media pages).
A multi-channel marketing strategy allows you to take advantage of multiple communication platforms to boost the chances that your target audience members will see and engage with your outreach messages.
5. Use reporting tools to track progress.
Just like a modern fundraising or nonprofit event strategy, a modern volunteer management process requires data to help make informed decisions. Reporting on your volunteers’ impact is essential for donors, board members, and other community stakeholders.
There are many different ways you can get this data to help you improve your volunteer impact reporting process. You can pull reports from your volunteer management system on topics such as:
Volunteer hours worked: Keep track of the number of hours and attendance of your volunteers to help you gain insights into whether your monthly averages are increasing or declining. From there, you can create outreach campaigns to encourage your least active volunteers to deepen their involvement or show appreciation to those who are going above and beyond.
Volunteer retention: When you track your volunteer hours, it will also help you keep track of retention rates to see any patterns as to why your previous volunteers have left. This is a great way to understand what issues may be the cause and what you can do about it so that your future volunteers don’t leave for the same reasons.
Communication engagement: Understand what your volunteers prefer in terms of communication styles and what keeps them engaged. You can do this through surveys, analytics such as email open rates and social media engagement rates, or you can simply ask them.
These are great ways to help you assess what’s working and where there’s room for improvement. Plus, having access to clear data and reports allows you to set quantifiable goals for improving your volunteer management process.
Now that you’ve learned some great tips on modernizing your volunteer management process, it’s time to put them into action! Changing up your volunteer management process with more modern and up-to-date techniques is important as it helps attract more volunteers and offers them a streamlined experience. Good luck!
About Shreya Tragad
Digital Marketing Specialist at InitLive
Shreya is a creative content creator focusing on delivering information about the importance of volunteerism for nonprofit organizations. She is passionate about creating engaging content, writing, and graphic design to help viewers easily retain information. You can find her work at www.initlive.com or on Linkedin and Twitter.