Your volunteer program can make a real difference in your local community. Learn how to strengthen your volunteer efforts with a community needs assessment.

Community Needs Assessment: Tips to Strengthen Volunteering

Volunteering takes many forms, whether it’s helping promote your nonprofit’s digital fundraisers or devoting a few hours a week to further one of your nonprofit’s initiatives. Volunteers give their time for a variety of reasons, such as a desire to support a cause they believe in, make friends with other volunteers, or even fulfill a school or work requirement. 

Many volunteers work with nonprofits that promise to help their communities. If your nonprofit is interested in launching a local volunteer initiative, you should start by completing a community needs assessment. Get Connected by Galaxy Digital’s guide to community needs assessments explains that these evaluations are tools nonprofits can use to identify what needs are present in a community and if the community has the resources available to meet those needs. Then, you can create a framework for ensuring those necessities are fulfilled. 

Completing a community needs assessment and using it to guide your volunteer program will lead to a stronger, more focused volunteer effort that will effectively meet the needs of your community and be fulfilling for participating volunteers. 

To help your nonprofit make use of this tool, this article will first explore how a community needs assessment can be used to make practical improvements to your volunteer program, before diving into three top tips for putting your assessment into action. Let’s get started.

How can a community needs assessment enrich your volunteer program?

A community needs assessment can assist your nonprofit in identifying gaps in your community’s services that your volunteer program can fulfill. The first thing a community needs assessment can help you do is categorize different types of needs and sort them by importance. 

There are four types of community needs:

  • Perceived needs. Perceived needs are subjective assessments made by community members about what they feel their community needs. 
  • Expressed needs. Expressed needs are similar to perceived needs in that they are defined by community members. However, expressed needs have a demonstrated history behind them, such as community members voicing formal complaints about littering due to a lack of trash cans. 
  • Absolute needs. Absolute needs are essential to basic survival, such as food and shelter. 
  • Relative needs. Relative needs are not necessary for survival, but due to outside circumstances have become essential. For example, your local library does not need to offer the community computers with free internet access, but failure to do so can significantly harm enough members of your community that this need should be fulfilled.

Your nonprofit can use these needs types to compare multiple needs that are discovered from your survey. Additionally, you should take into consideration which problems your nonprofit has the resources to solve and where your volunteers’ time will be best spent. 

Identifying these needs can also inform your volunteer recruitment strategy. For example, if your community has a need related to technical skills, your nonprofit would know to add that as a qualification in your volunteer recruitment messages.

Top Tips for Using Community Needs Assessments To Strengthen Volunteering

1. Align community needs and your volunteers’ skill sets.

As mentioned, community needs should influence the volunteers you recruit and assign to specific projects. If you already have a running volunteer program with several individuals you can reach out to about your new project, be sure to consider their specific skill sets and how they relate to your community’s needs. 

You can learn more about your current volunteers with a volunteer survey and attract new volunteers with the right skills by writing thorough job descriptions. Here’s a breakdown of these two tools:

  1. Volunteer surveys are surveys you give your volunteers to learn more about them and their experience with your organization. These surveys should ask about a volunteer’s specific skills and qualifications, their interests, and what they want to get out of volunteering. 
  2. Your volunteer job descriptions should include details about your program and the skills your nonprofit is looking for in volunteers. Ensure you are also clear about scheduling and time commitments to set expectations right at the start of your program. 

As you focus your volunteer program around specific community needs, you will likely have volunteers whose skills don’t quite align with your highest priority projects, but who still want to help. Do your best to find roles for all of your volunteers to keep them engaged with your organization. Doing so will ensure you have additional hands on deck when a project they are qualified for comes along. 

2. Develop a clear plan of action to address each need.

Your community needs assessment can help your nonprofit gather necessary information and data that can be used to create an action plan for your volunteer program. Essentially, your nonprofit will need to first take into account what needs exist in your community, the resources and budget you have available to solve those needs, and your volunteers and their individual time commitments and skillsets. 

With these various factors in mind, your nonprofit can create a SMART goal for your volunteer programs. SMART goals are goals that are:

  • Specific. While your nonprofit likely has a greater, broad mission statement that all of your initiatives fall under, your volunteer programs should aim to have highly specific goals. These will help you determine without a doubt whether your program was successful. For instance, a goal such as “recruit more volunteers than last year” will be successful whether you recruit one or a hundred more volunteers than you did previously. By contrast, setting the goal of earning 50 new volunteers for your program gives you a specific target to reach for. 
  • Measurable. Qualitative goals can be useful, but your volunteer program should aim to have measurable, quantitative goals whenever possible. For example, an animal shelter’s volunteer program might have a measurable goal of finding homes for at least 40% of their current number of dogs and cats in the next six months.
  • Attainable. Your nonprofit should have to put a considerable amount of effort into achieving your goal, but it should also be within your organization’s potential reach. Setting unattainable goals will likely only demotivate your volunteers, which can cause your program to suffer in the long run as volunteers get discouraged and leave. 
  • Relevant. Choose a goal that relates to both your specific program and your nonprofit’s overall mission. For example, a nonprofit with a mission to help promote tech literacy in low-income communities may have a program-specific objective of helping a local school create a computer lab. Your volunteer program may then have a smaller relevant goal of recruiting 10 volunteers with the necessary technical skills who can help procure and set up 20 computers. 
  • Time-based. Even for ongoing projects, your nonprofit should establish various time-frames for each goal, at which point you will assess your progress and whether the goal was achieved. 

When setting your goal, be sure to account not just for the results you would like to see, but the resources, logistics, and planning that will need to go into your program. For instance, if your volunteers need any training to complete a specific task or use a software program, you will need to schedule some instruction time into your volunteer program. 

3. Spread the word about your plan of action with volunteers.

You can keep your volunteers engaged by sharing with them how your community needs assessment has shaped your program’s strategy. As members of the community themselves, your volunteers will be excited to see you’ve taken community needs into consideration.

You can get the word out about your program and approach by:

  • Using a multi-channel marketing approach. You can thoroughly explain your program and recruit volunteers by creating multiple touchpoints via a multi-channel marketing approach. This means getting in touch with volunteers through a variety of communication methods such as email, social media, direct mail, and even flyers at your local community center. 
  • Applying for a Google grant to reach more volunteers. Google gives nonprofits the ability to create targeted ads with a $10,000 grant. These ads can be used to promote and share information about your volunteer program when people in your local community perform relevant Google searches. Ensure your nonprofit is optimized for the Google grant before starting the application process to reduce the time it takes to get this marketing channel up and running.
  • Partnering with local organizations. You can reach members of your community by partnering with local organizations such as businesses, schools, and community centers. These organizations will likely have a similar investment in improving your community and may appreciate an opportunity to boost their reputation by working alongside a charitable organization like your nonprofit. 

You can give your volunteers an additional way to support your organization, and their community along with it, by sharing information about volunteer grants. Crowd101’s article on volunteer grants defines them as “monetary donations companies make to eligible nonprofits where their employees regularly volunteer.”  

In other words, when eligible volunteers work a certain amount of hours at your nonprofit, they can fill out an application with their employer, who will then donate to your nonprofit. Help your volunteers discover if they qualify for a grant and provide assistance as they complete their applications. 

Your community supports your nonprofit in all its efforts, and you can pay them back by discovering and attending to their needs through your volunteer program. Take the time to learn how you can help your community, and use the information you collect to inform your volunteer strategy. Good luck!

Getting Attention shares seven effective strategies for volunteer recruitment.

Volunteer Recruitment: 7 Effective Strategies

Picture this – an animal shelter with no one there to watch the puppies and kittens up for adoption, a food bank with no one there to collect donations, a crisis hotline with no one there to answer the phone. Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes rely on volunteers to keep their mission going.

While volunteers are important to mission-driven organizations, it can be difficult to find them and to hold onto the ones you do have. That’s where effective volunteer recruitment comes in.

Did you know that in 2014, 67% of people found volunteer opportunities online, compared to only 34% in 2006? This statistic barely scratches the surface of all the best info on how to recruit volunteers.

This guide will cover the following points to help your nonprofit recruit as many amazing volunteers as possible:

Ready to learn the ins and outs of volunteer recruitment? Let’s dive in.

Getting Attention is a Google Ad Grant agency that can help with volunteer recruitment.

Here are the answers to volunteer recruitment frequently asked questions.

Volunteer Recruitment: FAQ

Let’s start by covering a few of the most frequently asked questions to break this valuable topic down:

Why is volunteer recruitment important?

The importance of volunteer recruitment traces back to one central idea: volunteers are vital to keeping your nonprofit going. And recruitment is how you get your volunteers! Here are three ways your organization benefits from volunteers:

  • Volunteers will keep your organization running. Having a group of people so passionate about your cause that they will give you their time for free is a resource you shouldn’t take for granted.
  • Volunteers will save your organization money. According to DonorBox, over 100 million people in the US volunteer annually, equating to a total value of $150 billion. Time is money, so really think about how much money you’re saving with their free support.

Volunteer recruitment is important because volunteers are twice as likely to donate than other people.

How do I recruit volunteers?

So you know they’re important, but how exactly do you recruit volunteers? We cover the seven best volunteer recruitment strategies and ideas later on. For now, here’s a synopsis of how to recruit a volunteer support system:

  • Reevaluate your current volunteer program
  • Identify what you need from volunteers
  • Survey your current volunteers
  • Establish clear job descriptions
  • Clearly plan your recruitment strategy

Speaking of that last step, let’s look at why volunteer recruitment plans are necessary.

Do I need a volunteer recruitment plan?

Volunteer recruitment is important to get the attention of the limited number of volunteers out there.

The short answer is yes, your nonprofit needs a volunteer recruitment program. There are a limited number of potential volunteers out there. For best results, it’s important you have an organized, evidence-based approach to recruiting your volunteers.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 72% of volunteers only serve one organization or cause. Make sure the cause they choose to support is your nonprofit by implementing a strategic volunteer recruitment plan to capture their attention.

Now, let’s move into actually putting together this type of plan.

Getting Attention provides five strategies on how to recruit volunteers.

How to Recruit Volunteers: 5 Steps to Get Started

Don’t get so overwhelmed by the work that volunteer recruitment requires that you don’t get a plan started. To help you out, we’ll break it down into five simple steps.

First, let’s underscore the importance of good volunteer communication throughout the entire process.

If you don’t clearly and effectively communicate with your volunteers— potential, former, and current— none of these steps will matter! Check out this guide for a more in-depth look into how to best connect with your volunteer base.

Now, let’s dive into the five steps on how to recruit volunteers:

Here are Getting Attention's five steps to volunteer recruitment.

1. Reevaluate your current volunteer program.

Begin with a close look at your current volunteer program. In order to get people to participate, you need a program that’s engaging, appreciative, and meaningful. Here’s what we mean:

  • Engaging: Is your volunteer program interactive? Do people get up close and personal with your nonprofit’s work? Are there opportunities to interact with staff and other volunteers?
  • Appreciative: Volunteers should feel valued for their contributions. There are many ways to show appreciation— a simple email, social media post, or even letter can go a long way.
  • Meaningful: Give your volunteers the opportunity to make a significant impact on your nonprofit’s mission. The more an individual feels like they’re making a positive impact, the more likely they are to return.

You can use an internal evaluation to understand the present operations of your volunteer program, but we also heavily encourage you to survey your current volunteers. They’re the people who really experience your volunteer program, and they’ll bring an outside perspective. Plus, asking for your volunteers’ opinions will show you care about what they have to say.

2. Identify your volunteer needs.

After you determine what is and isn’t working in your current volunteer program, you need to identify what type(s) of volunteers you need the most. Ask yourself these questions to articulate your nonprofit’s volunteer needs:

  • What type of organization are we? Many people choose to volunteer for organizations that align with their interests, skills, and passions. Figure out who your nonprofit’s mission appeals to.
  • What type of volunteer program do we offer? There are different types of nonprofit programs: formal, non-formal, project-based, and more. Define your volunteer program so you’ll attract people who will enjoy that type of program.
  • How many people do we need? Do you need one person to come regularly? 10 people a week in shifts? 100 people for one specific day? There’s no one set amount of volunteers, so figure out what suits your nonprofit best.

Answering those questions will be invaluable as you expertly craft your volunteer recruitment plan.

3. Give current volunteers a role.

Current volunteers who sincerely enjoy working with your nonprofit could be your best recruitment tool. Encourage them to reach out to like-minded friends and bring them along for their next volunteer shift. Since they’re familiar with the process, they can also help onboard and acclimate new volunteers.

This peer-to-peer recruiting will come in handy as a more personal recruitment strategy.

4. Formalize your job descriptions and desired skills.

Getting specific with your volunteer job descriptions is a win-win for your nonprofit and prospective volunteers: on one hand, you’ll recruit volunteers with the skill sets you need most, and on the other hand, individuals looking to volunteer will know whether or not you’re the right fit for them.

Volunteer jobs don’t necessarily have to be tasks that everyone can do. Think outside the box to what your organization could benefit from:

  • Graphic design
  • Photography
  • Writing
  • Translation
  • And more!

You won’t get what you don’t ask for, so be sure to include skills you’d love to see in your volunteers for the best recruitment results.

5. Determine your recruitment strategies.

After carefully considering all the information you’ve gathered in the above steps, establish a clear and organized strategy for your volunteer recruitment.

Need ideas for specific strategies to recruit volunteers? Read on for seven of the best volunteer recruitment strategies out there.

Here are seven ideas to inspire your volunteer recruitment plan.

7 Volunteer Recruitment Strategies and Ideas

There’s no one way to successfully recruit volunteers. Actually, the possibilities are endless when it comes to volunteer recruitment strategies. That may seem daunting, but instead, think of it as exciting.

We’ve provided seven of the top ways to recruit quality volunteers. Consider this your nonprofit’s go-to guide for volunteer recruitment strategy inspiration:

School partnerships are an effective volunteer recruitment strategy.

Establish a school partnership.

Over one in four college students and teenagers volunteer with nonprofits. Reach out to local middle and high schools, as well as colleges and universities in your area to recruit this age group for your organization.

College students are a crucial component of volunteer recruitment.

Many schools encourage students to volunteer by offering awards to students who reach a certain amount of service hours. Volunteering also gives students an opportunity to build their résumés for college and job applications, make valuable connections, and balance out their academic responsibilities.

To spread the word, schools could post flyers about your volunteer program, include a pitch for it in their email newsletter, or even set up a time for representatives from your nonprofit to visit classes and encourage students to get involved.

Overall, establishing a partnership with an academic institution is a great way to reach a young audience of potential volunteers, and hopefully, build a strong volunteer base for years to come.

Social media is an important part of volunteer recruitment.

Use social media for promotion.

Social media is a great way to reach a lot of people without having to spend much money. Get creative with your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages to let potential volunteers see how fun it is to work with your organization.

Here are just a few ideas for how to promote your volunteer program on social media:

  • Go “behind the scenes.” Give everyone a glimpse into what a day looks like at your nonprofit. Show people the meaningful work they get to be a part of if they volunteer with you.
  • Post volunteer testimonials. Get some great action shots of your most dedicated volunteers and ask them for a quote about why they love what they do. Then, post the picture with their quote as the caption to illustrate how happy your volunteers are.
  • Let people do an account “takeover.” This tactic could be a day-in-the-life for one of your volunteers. Everyone watching will get an idea of what it means to volunteer with your nonprofit, and hopefully want to get in on the action.

In the digital world we live in, social media is a no-brainer way to reach a large group when it comes to volunteer recruitment.

Recent donors are a valuable part of volunteer recruitment.

Reach out to recent donors.

It’s likely that at least some individuals who go out of their way to give money to your organization will be willing to give their time as well.

Reach out to recent first-time donors to thank them for their contribution, and let them know there are more ways to get involved if they want to. Also, reach out to one-time donors to let them know about your volunteer opportunities—  they may not have the financial means to donate regularly but could offer their time.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, people between the ages 35 and 54 are most likely to volunteer their time with nonprofits. Consider segmenting your donor database and reaching out to this group, among others, who would be most likely to participate in a volunteer program.

Corporate partnerships are a crucial part of volunteer recruitment.

Cultivate corporate partnerships.

Leverage corporate volunteer grant programs as part of your volunteer recruitment plan.

Corporate philanthropy is another excellent avenue for volunteer recruitment. By reaching out to a business and forming a relationship with them, you’re opening the door to them supporting your nonprofit in a number of ways. For example, they could encourage their employees to volunteer with your organization.

Another way they could support you is through a volunteer grant. Volunteer grants are financial support that companies give to nonprofits where their employees regularly volunteer. 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs, so they’re pretty common.

Want to uncover what the most promising corporate partnership leads are for your nonprofit? Consider performing an employer append on your donor database to see what employers you already have strong connections to.

Past volunteers are a great volunteer recruitment resource.

Contact past volunteers.

It’s possible that your organization has lost volunteers over the years. Just because they stopped volunteering for now doesn’t mean they have stopped forever. Reach out to them to try and re-recruit them to your organization!

After you revamp your volunteer program, you can send them an email detailing what the new and improved system is like and encourage them to return.

You could also ask for their feedback at the start of the process and include them in your volunteer survey. Their feedback may be more valuable than current volunteers because you can figure out what about your program, if anything, pushed them to stop volunteering.

Check out this guide on volunteer management for the best ways to keep current volunteers around.

Advertising is a valuable component of volunteer recruitment.

Advertise your open positions.

Potential volunteers won’t know they could work with your nonprofit if you don’t actively promote your open positions. Advertise what opportunities your organization has for people to get involved.

A fantastic, cost-effective way for nonprofits to advertise is the Google Ad Grants program. Google Grants is a nonprofit marketing grant program that gives nonprofits $10,000 a month in AdWord credits. Eligible charitable organizations can use these funds to drive their name and mission to the top of Google search results for relevant niche audiences.

In terms of volunteer recruitment, you could use this grant to target potential volunteers with advertisements of your open volunteer positions. To learn more about this program and determine if your nonprofit is eligible, use our comprehensive eligibility guide.

Interested in Google Ad Grants, but not sure where to start? Getting Attention is a certified Google Ad Grant agency, and we can help you get started.

Strengthen your website as part of your volunteer recruitment plan.

Create a robust volunteer page on your website.

Here are some ideas for things you should include on this page:

Here are four elements to include on your nonprofit website for successful volunteer recruitment.

  • Description of open opportunities
  • A link to the signup sheet
  • An FAQ list
  • Photos of volunteers in action
  • Contact info to reach out to with questions

Make it as easy as possible for individuals to learn how to volunteer with your organization. The easier and more accessible the process is, the more success you’ll have with volunteer recruitment.

Now that you have the best strategies and ideas in your volunteer recruitment toolbox, you’re all set to gather the best group of volunteers for your nonprofit.

Getting Attention concludes its piece on volunteer recruitment.

Wrapping Up

Recruiting high-quality volunteers to support your nonprofit’s mission is essential to your nonprofit’s success. Luckily, there are a number of tips, tricks, and strategies for you to use when creating a volunteer recruitment plan.

Before we go, here are three additional resources to help you in your nonprofit marketing journey:

Getting Attention is a Google Ad Grant agency that can help with volunteer recruitment.

Volunteer Grants - Learn the Basics

You’ve Never Heard of Volunteer Grants?! Learn the Basics

Let me ask you a question.

Yes, you.

Have you ever heard of volunteer grants?

Okay, better question:

Do you know what volunteer grants are and how to get them for your nonprofit?

You might already have an idea of how volunteer grants work, and perhaps occasionally even receive these grants for your organization. But let’s be honest: there’s probably a lot more we can do to maximize revenue from this channel.

That’s why we’ve put together this awesome guide to walk you through the basics you need to know to set your nonprofit up for success.

Because let’s be real: every extra dollar helps get you closer and closer to meeting your goals.

Without further ado, let’s get right to it!

So you might not know what volunteer grants are…

…or you might have an idea already. Either way, we’re going to break it down for you.

Volunteer grants are just one of many types of corporate giving programs. For this one, employers provide monetary grants to organizations where their employees volunteer on a regular basis.

Volunteer grants are monetary contributions companies make to nonprofits where their employees regularly volunteer.

So basically, if your nonprofit has a dedicated volunteer who devotes 15 hours a week to your organization, and their company offers volunteer grants, the company will pay you for those hours.

It’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t have to be 15 hours a week. Many companies have different hour requirements that can be met over a specified period of time. That’s just one example!

So in a nutshell, here’s how volunteer grants for nonprofits work:

First, an individual volunteers with your nonprofit. This can include performing office-related tasks, volunteering virtually, or any other roles your organization offers.

Second, that individual looks up their eligibility for a volunteer grant from their employer.

Third, if they find out they’re eligible, great! They can submit a request for a volunteer grant from their company.

And fourth, once the company has verified the hours with your nonprofit, your organization gets a check!

So what does it take to get a volunteer grant? Companies will vary by their requirements, but in general there will be a minimum number of hours that must be volunteered—sometimes within a year, or within each quarter—and the company will either pay by the hour, or provide a set amount once a threshold has been met.

That means some companies pay $25 per volunteer hour, while others might pay a set $500 after 40 hours have been contributed.

Seems pretty great, right? Unfortunately, a lot of nonprofits aren’t spending much time trying to get volunteer grants. It’s easy to let this opportunity fall to the wayside when you’ve got dozens of other things on your plate. And most volunteers don’t even know whether they’re eligible or how to check. But tapping into this type of corporate philanthropy is so worth it.

Wait…but what about Dollars for Doers?

Good point! Dollars for Doers is just another name for volunteer grants. In fact, there are a few names these programs go by:

  • Volunteer Grants
  • Dollars for Doers
  • Matching Time Programs
  • Dollar for Hour Programs
  • Grants for Time Programs

Regardless of the name, the concept is the same: monetary grants are given to your nonprofit for the volunteer work you’re already getting.

Listen to those volunteer grant statistics!

If you’re still not sold on the idea of volunteer grants, we’ve pulled together some key statistics that demonstrate how important (and common!) these programs actually are.

Here are some key volunteer grant statistics.

For example:

  1. 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs.

That is a huge percentage. And that’s just Fortune 500 companies. There are plenty of other businesses and corporations that offer some sort of volunteer grant program.

  1. 80% of companies with volunteer grant programs give between $8-$15 per volunteer hour.

Those dollars add up! If you have a dedicated group of volunteers, and many of them are eligible for volunteer grants, those accumulated hours will offer you a nice sum.

  1. The average corporate volunteer participation rate is 33%.

So about a third of corporate employees are volunteering. That means the chance that your volunteers work for companies with volunteer grant programs is pretty decent.

Source: Double the Donation Volunteer Grant and Volunteering Statistics

Reap the benefits of volunteer grants!

You’ve probably guessed by now, but there are so many benefits that come with volunteer grants. Aside from the obvious—getting extra money for your organization—volunteer grants are also great for individuals, companies, and the nonprofits they help.

For individual volunteers, these grants allow them to make an even bigger impact with the hours they give to your nonprofit. They already care about your mission and purpose; now they get to give you twice the support through one avenue.

For companies, offering volunteer grants that employees take advantage of means the company gets to maintain a positive public image. It also means their consumers and employees will be happier to work with them.

For nonprofits, you get to reap the benefits of building stronger relationships with both companies and volunteers. Your volunteers know the impact they’re making and will want to keep working with your organization. And company relationships could even turn into sponsorships or other regular programs!

Some companies offer team volunteer grants, where groups of employees from the same company can volunteer together at a nonprofit, and they can get a grant for that too!

There are many ways volunteer grants can help everyone involved. Why not take a step back and think about how they might help your organization in particular?

Manage your volunteers like a pro.

Volunteer grants are awesome for building relationships with your supporters, but part of getting a volunteer grant means communicating with volunteers and making sure they know how to submit those requests to their employers.

If you want to be successful at this, you’ve got to manage your volunteers like a pro.

First, start with the recruitment process. This is where you promote all the amazing work your volunteers get to do and offer up opportunities to get involved.

Second, engage your existing volunteer base and match them with roles they can do well and that they’re interested in.

Third, make sure they log all of their hours and encourage them to look up their eligibility for a volunteer grant.

Lucky for you, there’s corporate giving software out there that can give you easy access to a database of thousands of volunteer grant programs. This software comes with search tools you can embed anywhere on your website, so when volunteers type in the name of their employer, they’ll immediately see their volunteer grant guidelines.

Here’s an example of such a search tool:

Here's an example of a volunteer grant search tool.

And fourth, be sure to recognize your volunteers for a job well done! Thank them for requesting a volunteer grant, and thank them again when you receive it. Showing encouragement and how much you value their time and efforts will keep them coming back.

Managing volunteers can seem like a lot just on its own, but if you have a good process in place to track their hours, communicate with them, and keep them engaged, you’ll build up more loyalty and qualify for many more volunteer grants than you would’ve before.

How about some examples?

Some of us are visual learners, so here are some of the top companies with volunteer grant programs to give you an idea of how much businesses put toward corporate philanthropy.

Verizon’s Volunteer Grant Program

Verizon is one of the top companies with volunteer grant programs.

Verizon offers a Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP), which awards $750 to an organization after an employee volunteers 50 hours with that organization. Even better, Verizon employees can request up to two of these grants per year.

Microsoft’s Volunteer Grant Program

Microsoft is one of the top companies with volunteer grant programs.

Microsoft has another pretty generous volunteer grant program. With no minimum hours required, Microsoft employees can earn $25 per hour they commit to a nonprofit.

ExxonMobil’s Volunteer Grant Program

ExxonMobil is one of the top companies with volunteer grant programs.

ExxonMobil is a great example of a company with multiple volunteer grant programs. For their individual volunteer grant program, employees can get a $500 grant after volunteering 20 hours with an organization—and they can request up to four of these grants per year!

This company also offers team volunteer grant opportunities. Once a team of five or more employees volunteers for a total of at least 20 hours, they can receive a grant of $500. Employees are limited to $2,000 in grants per year, while individual organizations are limited to $5,000.

It’s pretty obvious that, while a lot of these programs vary from company to company, they’re still effective and can significantly boost the amount of money your nonprofit brings in.

Pro Tip: If you’re having trouble keeping track of all these companies and their volunteer grant programs, try a volunteer grant database! This software keeps up with both volunteer grant programs and matching gift programs.

So…how can you tap into these volunteer grants?

And now, the big finale! Now that you understand the basics around volunteer grants for nonprofits, it’s time to put all of that knowledge into action.

Let’s build on what we already know:

Many companies offer a variety of volunteer grant programs, so consider creating individual and team volunteer opportunities. Plan for group community service projects or create teams for your events. This will then boost the number of volunteers you get from a company, increase the grant money you receive, and build a long-term relationship with the company they came from.

Many volunteers don’t know whether they’re eligible for a volunteer grant at all, and many nonprofits don’t track their volunteers’ employer info. So consider educating your volunteers from the start to encourage them to check their eligibility. This can mean adding details about the volunteer grant process to your website or registration page, embedding a search tool into your site that they can use to look up their employer’s program, and adding this same info to your communication channels.

Many long-term relationships between companies and nonprofits start with small volunteer or donation opportunities. So consider taking advantage of corporate partnerships when you can. A lot of companies are into corporate social responsibility (CSR) these days, so think about companies whose values align with your mission and goals and see if they’re willing to partner with you. This partnership can include getting volunteers sent out to your organization and receiving grants for those hours. With the support of a company, you’ll have even more resources available to serve your mission.

Intrigued? Do some more research on volunteer grants!

Tapping into volunteer grants doesn’t have to be daunting. The more knowledge you arm your team with, the more successful you’ll be.

We hope this guide has helped your organization realize all the untapped volunteer grant opportunities you can benefit from! If you want to continue your research, we’ve handpicked some great resources to get you started:

Find more volunteer grant companies with Double the Donation!

How to Train and Onboard Your Nonprofit Volunteers

If you have volunteers within your nonprofit organization, consider the following multiple-choice question:

Volunteers exist to: a) save us money or b) make us money.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer here. But it does reflect on your attitude toward training your volunteers.

If volunteers are all about saving you money, then you might question why you should invest in their training. After all, training is an expense, and they’re about saving, not costing you money. In that case, stop here. You wouldn’t want to look at an alternative, right?

On the other hand, if you see volunteers as a way of making your nonprofit money, read on to find out how to train and onboard your dedicated volunteers!

1. Better understand your volunteers’ value.

When you’re looking to get the most out of your volunteers, keep in mind that “making money” doesn’t just mean an increase in revenue. It’s providing great mission services so that clients talk up your nonprofit to others. It’s keeping your files in order so your staff can make more appointments. It’s treating your assets like their own when stewarding your finances. It’s attending town council meetings so your local government understands how serious your cause is to the community. And yes, it’s selling their share (and more) of tickets to your upcoming fundraising gala.

2. Invest in volunteer management software.

When you look at volunteers like an endowment—a reserve that makes money that you can use to move your mission ahead—that is when you get the most from your volunteers. 

If you take this approach, it quickly becomes obvious that just like a typical finance manager, you’re going to need some organization to track your assets so you can get the most from them. In today’s world, that means investing in software.

In other words, if you’re going to manage more than a handful of volunteers, putting a volunteer management software system in place is essential to carry out key functions such as:

  • Organizing records. This houses your volunteer personnel files, and allows you to send one-to-one and mass communication with volunteers, make notes on conversations, and even record disciplinary actions.
  • Scheduling and tracking hours. The bane of most volunteer managers’ lives is scheduling. Knowing who needs to be someplace and when, how many volunteers are needed in each role, and how much time they contribute gives you a better picture of individual volunteers and your program as a whole. Plus, effective hour tracking is critical for additional funding opportunities—such as volunteer grants
  • Tracking training and qualifications. Volunteers progress in training at various rates, and you need to know who is qualified for what when making assignments.  
  • Evaluating volunteer progress. How are they doing? It’s a question you need to ask and answer from the board down to the office clerk. A formal evaluation system, recorded so you can refer to it on a regular basis, is a great decision-making tool, even if the decision is whether they remain as a volunteer or not.
  • Recognizing accomplishments. Do you have a “Volunteer of the Year/Month/Week” award? Being able to systematize the process through your software can take the politics, and headaches, out of the decision. Plus, it’ll make sure your volunteers feel appreciated!

Remember, for volunteers to make you money, you need to be as time-efficient as possible with both your time and theirs. Using the right software will be a major step in that direction.

3. Emphasize strategic volunteer onboarding processes.

All this is good, but let’s get a little more granular. For instance, what are you tracking? 

Perhaps your mother said to you “what starts right ends best.” You never knew she had volunteer training in mind when she said this! But she’s correct: it’s essential to start off right. Since at some point or another, everyone is a newbie, let’s start there.

Onboarding is a lot more than introducing your volunteers and telling them where the bathroom is. It starts with some data collection. You need all of the basics—such as name, address, phone number, and these days, even their social media account handles—so they get all of your latest news. Don’t forget to get an emergency contact name and number, too!

Getting some professional background information will be very helpful as well. That will give you insight into their skills and interests. Do they already come with some of the mandatory training or clearances that are needed for your work, like child protection and background checks? That’s essential information to have.

Have they already interacted with your nonprofit in another capacity—as a donor, a client, or a customer? Knowing this means they already have some familiarity with your mission, or at least how you fund it.

Need a checklist of 25 onboarding ideas? Get it here.

4. Explore low-cost and effective training resources.

After you get the information you need from your volunteers, it’s time to get them more intricately connected with your mission. You want to strike a balance between time efficiency and personalization. 

You don’t need a high production-value training course. In fact, your volunteers may connect with you and your mission better if your content has a bit of homemade quality. However, it’s important to remember some best practices like these:

  • Create short segments that are hyper-focused on one aspect of your work. Single segments of less than five minutes are best. You want the information to be easily digestible. Long segments could mean that your volunteer stops in the middle and never comes back. 
  • Consider a short quiz with a few questions between segments to help increase retention. 
  • Create an outline of topics like history, mission statement, impact, clients, volunteer roles, and more. If you can get clients, community members, or other volunteers to narrate your training, all the better. 
  • Make training resources available online, preferably in a passworded section of your website. That makes them portable so your volunteer can look at them at any time, and exclusive, so your volunteer feels like they’re getting on the “inside” of your nonprofit.

If you can automate a connection between your volunteer management software and the completion of the quizzes, great! If not, be sure to record their progress manually—a good job for a volunteer! 

As your volunteer progresses through the sequence, ask them about their progress. Do more than say “how are you doing with those videos?” Inquire about their response to certain aspects of what they see. For example, you might ask, “what was your response to our client Betty, when she told the story of why she came to us?” 

If your organization requires mandatory training on topics like child protection, and your volunteer hasn’t completed the necessary program, your next step is to provide or arrange for external training and clearances. 

The information provided in your basic orientation is great for anyone to have, whether they follow through with volunteering or not. But you don’t want to waste time if your volunteer doesn’t qualify to take part in your mission. Plus, it’s important to remember that if these programs are required by governmental authorities or your nonprofit’s policies, you cannot have them do any work until they pass. 

Now comes the specialty training that’s tailored to their specific work with your nonprofit. It may be in accounting, fundraising, board service, marketing, mission services, or a wide variety of other areas. Today, with so much available online (including many of your volunteer opportunities!), you can and should put together a robust program from a variety of sources. 

An online education platform like Nonprofit.Courses can be a great help. It aggregates thousands of nonprofit education videos of a variety of lengths and topics, most of which are free and open access. For a fee, they can even set up a specific page for your volunteers and help you curate content.

Now, with your volunteers trained and ready, it’s time to make some money. Good luck!

Matt Hugg is an author and instructor in nonprofit management in the US and abroad. He is president and founder of Nonprofit.Courses, an on-demand, eLearning educational resource for nonprofit leaders, staff, board members, and volunteers, with thousands of courses in nearly every aspect of nonprofit work.  

Promoting Your Virtual Volunteer Opportunities: 4 Pro Tips

With people and organizations moving to the virtual landscape in the COVID era, there are new ways to empower and engage your supporters. Whether you’re looking to increase virtual event attendance or expand your volunteer base, developing a volunteer management strategy tailored to attracting online engagement is crucial.

In the digital age, effectively promoting your virtual fundraising opportunities is essential for mobilizing people to support your organization’s mission. 

Effectively managing your volunteers has a beneficial payoff for your organization. With a well-planned strategy comes increased engagement, meaningful relationships with your volunteers and community, and boosts to revenue over time. Plus, developing a strong plan will save your team time and expand your events’ turnout. 

Surprisingly, many growing organizations neglect developing a concrete promotional strategy for their volunteer programming. This component is often overlooked due to other priorities taking precedence. Some consider it to take too much time to address, or sometimes volunteer management is an issue not yet on their radar. However, remember that your organization can get ahead and grow your impact by making effective volunteer engagement and management a point of focus. 

Because virtual volunteering is at the forefront of an organization’s recruitment strategies and has staying power, it is a worthwhile endeavor. Digital platforms reach a broad audience regardless of location and can exponentially grow your organization’s reach. However, effectively promoting these opportunities is the challenge, as virtual volunteer involvement is still new for many supporters. 

Here’s what to consider when forming your strategy for promoting volunteer opportunities:

  • Using dedicated volunteer management software.
  • Tapping into the power of peer-to-peer recruiting.
  • Taking a targeted approach to marketing.
  • Promoting new ways for volunteers to grow their impact. 

This year, aim to seek out new ways for your organization to stand out online. Promote your organization’s opportunities strategically while forming meaningful connections with those who support you. Here’s how to promote your nonprofit’s virtual volunteering opportunities to your online audience of supporters. 

Use dedicated volunteer management software.

Anchoring your recruitment efforts with dedicated volunteer management software is a crucial aspect of your growth in the digital age. This software simplifies the management of those who volunteer with and support your mission. It will also provide invaluable data by tracking volunteer engagement. 

With this information, it’ll be easier to refine your marketing strategies over time by showing you what does and doesn’t work to attract and engage new volunteers. The long-term value of investing in management software is beneficial as it helps your organization increase volunteer engagement and retention to better support your cause.

For example, tracking engagement data can help you discover:

  • Which marketing outlets most effectively attract volunteers
  • Trends in volunteer feedback
  • Common characteristics of your most engaged volunteers

With these crucial metrics at your fingertips, your organization has untapped growth potential. Reading into trends and understanding behaviors will help you place your promotional efforts in the right place at the right time.

For instance, if you find that social media is your most effective source for volunteers for a particular type of virtual volunteer opportunity, you can anchor your future outreach strategies with social media. Or, if you find that volunteer sign-ups dropped for a recent event or campaign, you can look back to your marketing strategies to see exactly where your promotional efforts underperformed.

Tap into the power of peer-to-peer recruiting.

Your current volunteers are some of your most valuable assets when it comes to recruiting new volunteers. Provide them with the right tools to recruit volunteers to support your cause! Whether it’s on-the-ground or virtual support, every member is a crucial part of your organization and can act as a powerful ambassador when equipped for the job.

An effective way to gain traction with potential volunteers is through digital communication. This can take many forms on a variety of platforms. Encourage your volunteers to actively share their experiences on their social media platforms and by digital word of mouth; texting.

You want to ensure that your volunteers provide valid links to connect potential supporters with your online pages. Volunteer opportunity networks (like Mobilize) also help with this task too. It provides your volunteers with easy social share buttons and copy-and-paste codes to share via text or email. 

Be sure to include your organization’s social media handles as a point of contact, as well. Here, you might offer a range of engaging content:

  • Testimonials and stories from past volunteers
  • Impact reports and photos or videos of previous volunteer events
  • Volunteer shout-outs
  • The general buzz and conversation around your mission and work

Through social media, potential volunteers can get an accurate and immersive look into what it would be like to volunteer for your organization. Be sure to work these into your broader social media strategies to see the best results over time.

Finally, thank your volunteers for spreading the word. People respond well to appreciation and will be compelled to keep recruiting on your behalf. This directory of thank-you templates from Good United is a handy resource to get started. 

Take a targeted approach to marketing.

In the last year, marketing communication has shifted largely online, especially with people working from home. This sudden change forces nonprofits to rethink communication strategies, especially their approaches to marketing their events and efforts to their volunteers. 

Just as your organization has altered its strategy for communicating with employees internally, make sure your external communication to volunteers is also following today’s best practices. To stand out in a crowded online space, targeting your message specifically to them will be your best bet.

Start by refining your email strategies. With email being a cornerstone of digital communication, messages that seem irrelevant or spammy are much more likely to get ignored by your volunteers. Combat this by keeping your end-user in mind. Write your subject lines and openers to acknowledge that they’re people behind the screens, too. Rather than blasting general announcements about new opportunities to all of your supporters, take a more targeted approach when possible. 

There are helpful resources to refer to for tactful audience-centric messaging. This will help make your messages more effective and prevent them from feeling like generic or irrelevant appeals for support. 

These emails can be personalized by direct your users to the most relevant opportunities based on what you already know about them. An example of this could be tracking which types of opportunities a volunteer has engaged with in the past to promote specific future opportunities to them. This will further enhance their relationship with that supporter and encourage them to continue to support your cause.

This messaging practice can further be used to encourage non-volunteers to get involved. When someone donates to a particular campaign, consider how that campaign’s specific messaging and goals motivated them to give. What action words and attention grabbers did they use to reach the end goal of the user donating? Use those insights to determine which types of volunteer opportunities and messaging tactics will be most appealing to them.

Promote new ways for volunteers to grow their impact.

Giving current volunteers ways to grow their impact on your mission is another vital part of effective long-term volunteer management. When you’ve built strategies to retain volunteers over the long haul, also use them to attract new supporters. Beyond expanding your volunteer base, find creative ways to expand their opportunities with your organization. An investment in their engagement is a powerful motivator.

When you expand opportunities for your volunteers, it can look like a variety of methods. For example, you can provide current and potential volunteers with opportunities like:

  • Volunteer grants that can help them boost their impact on your mission through matched donations from their employers.
  • Training programs and additional development opportunities to learn new skills related to your work.
  • Special membership perks for stand-out members, such as long-term volunteers, and those who are proactive in recruiting new volunteers.

By offering ways for volunteers to grow their impact over time, you essentially give them a reason to stick around. In addition to simply offering a range of different volunteering opportunities, Tactics like these are key to engage and retain supporters over the long run, which is itself one of the best ways to market your programming to potential volunteers.

With new and effective methods to promote your organization’s virtual volunteer opportunities, you can grow your reach and impact. Digital platforms have taken precedent with volunteers and organizations alike to recruit, retain, and motivate volunteers. 

It’s crucial to remain at the forefront of effective volunteer management strategies. If strategic volunteer management is a new undertaking for your organization, brush up with Mobilize’s complete guide, which walks through even more marketing and recruiting tips.

Regardless of the exact tactics you roll out, the main idea is to come up with the best ways to effectively inform others of your opportunities, as you want to expand your reach as much as possible. Your organization’s online presence has the potential to reach a broad audience regardless of location. Your impact can grow in exponential ways as you deepen relationships with your supporters. 

Creating your strategy is as simple as using the right volunteer management software to expand your organization’s mission’s reach and impact. Be sure to supplement it with peer-to-peer recruiting and targeted messages. 

With the new year, there is ample opportunity for creative and practical ideas to bolster your digital presence. With this, your organization’s volunteer base will expand and further the impact you have in your community.

Tips for Engaging E-Learning

Are Your Volunteers Bored? Tips for Engaging E-Learning

This guest post was contributed by Amy Morrisey, President of Artisan E-Learning.

You’ve just unveiled a new volunteer training e-learning course. The content is based on the in-person training you used before your volunteer workforce moved to home offices and you had to create an effective learning experience while keeping people safe. All is well… until you receive the first batch of feedback from volunteers taking the course.

In that feedback? A high percentage of learners quit the course halfway through, and an even higher percentage received subpar scores on the assessments—clearly indicating they’re unprepared to be passionate ambassadors for your cause.

You were hoping for a high-quality, e-learning course, but your volunteers have tuned-out the experience. Easily a worst-case scenario! So, what can you incorporate into your e-learning courses to prevent this from happening in the future?

Let’s walk through three volunteer training scenarios you may encounter and how you can create engaging e-learning to keep supporters of all types returning.

Scenario 1) You’re preparing volunteers for their first day on the job.

If you’re a nonprofit volunteer coordinator now, you’ve surely been a first-time volunteer at some point in your philanthropic career. So, let’s flash back to your first day on the job.

Were you nervous? Excited? We’d guess a combination of both.

The first day volunteering at an organization is full of new things—new experiences, people, and tasks. It always seems to feel like everyone around you is already up to speed, right? It’s that first day of school feeling, and the faster you can learn the ropes, the better.

Flash forward to your position now, at the other end of this interaction. You want volunteers to learn as much as possible in preparation for their first day, to make sure they’re ready to tackle essential tasks effectively. This is where e-learning comes into play as the solution to reach both your goals and your volunteers’ goals.

With initial volunteer training, you have to cover a massive amount of new information to prepare them for the job. But, you don’t want to overwhelm them and have them disengage from the material as a result. Here are a few tips to create e-learning that’s valuable for first-time volunteers and accomplishes your goals:

  • Avoid information overload. While you may see your nonprofit’s history as valuable, an in-depth history lesson may take up too much space in your volunteers’ already overloaded brains. Focus on information that’s actionable and directly valuable for volunteers, and consider using images of your team at work to tell a compelling (but brief!) story of your history.
  • Cover a variety of volunteer opportunities. Give volunteers a good look at the many positions available to them, so they can discover which area of your organization they’re most interested in working with. Consider using microlearning courses to highlight each unique opportunity.

The goal here is to cover a ton of information for learners while also remaining interesting. Don’t slap a textbook in their hands (or even a long brochure). Use these tips and they’ll come back after the first day as a volunteer!

Scenario 2) You’re tasking volunteers with a complicated but essential task.

Now, consider your progression after that first day of volunteering. As one volunteer shift became two, your first month became your second, and so on… your return was rewarded by an increase in opportunities. But of course, volunteering at a nonprofit isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. For every exciting, constituent-facing task is a less exciting, perhaps even complicated, filing task.

As you continued volunteering, you gained access to more and more of the nonprofit’s operations. You became more essential to their efforts and carried more responsibilities. But, you also learned the hard lesson that sometimes, volunteering for a nonprofit can be dull, complicated, and carry a large learning curve.

Clearly, you overcame these obstacles. And now you can help your volunteers do the same. They’ll continue building their knowledge and adding value to your organization.

Here are a few tips to make a complicated, and perhaps even boring, topic engaging in an e-learning course:

  • Find creative ways to display less-than-exciting content. Ditch the droning webinar and voiceover in favor of something more engaging. Live-action videos, simulations—you name it; get creative! And remember, you can always work with an e-learning content development consultant to assist if you’re struggling to do so.
  • Have learners practice challenging skills. Consider using e-learning games that encourage volunteers to practice through repetition. They can make mistakes and learn from them, without the consequences of slipping up on the job!
  • Use examples to convey complicated topics. Don’t just tell a volunteer what to do—show them. Let’s say they’re learning how to check in individuals at a disaster shelter. Don’t list the steps. Walk them through an example of checking in a family (give the family members names!) and have them learn by doing.

Think of it this way: your nonprofit is incredibly intentional with the stories it shares externally to be both ethical and effective. You should be just as intentional with the stories you share internally—including how you present training to existing volunteers. This isn’t the time to get complacent because they’re already returning regularly. Continue to engage them with valuable content.

Scenario 3) You’re training volunteers with diverse backgrounds.

Lastly, we need to acknowledge the nonprofits that are operating here, there, and everywhere around the globe. If your nonprofit is working with volunteers that speak a variety of languages and are from diverse cultures, this section is for you.

If you’re welcoming volunteers whose native language is something other than English, it’s up to you to create e-learning courses that are accessible for all. Here are a few tips we’ve found for engaging e-learning across cultures:

  • Translate your e-learning courses. If you work at a U.S. based nonprofit but you’re welcoming volunteers from other countries, avoid creating content that caters to a U.S. view. Translate your content to be in the learner’s native language and consider working with a narrator that speaks in an accent familiar to the learner.
  • Provide any information about your location’s culture. Specifically, focus on where your nonprofit’s culture differs from the learner’s. What do volunteers need to know to be successful when giving their time with your organization?
  • Use immersive scenarios. Consider taking things a step further by walking volunteers through a day in the job at the new location, via a scenario.

With these strategies, you’ll provide the needed training to all volunteers, regardless of the language spoken. 

To wrap up, we know that volunteers who tune training out will be ill prepared and unlikely to give their time in the future. Whether you’re conducting onboarding, elevating volunteers’ skills with complicated tasks, or working with supporters from diverse backgrounds—it’s up to you to prepare them with engaging courses.

Use these tips to create courses that keep your volunteers engaged for the duration. And, if you need help implementing them, consider bringing on an e-learning content development firm to help you do so.

Amy Morrisey is the President of Artisan E-Learning and serves as Sales & Marketing Manager. Amy started with Artisan as a contract writer/instructional designer. She was our Production Manager for four years and helped the team to double its capacity. As President, she stays focused on maintaining the high standards our clients have grown to expect. She believes that staying close to our clients, our people, and our work is a smart way to do that. One of her favorite things to do in the e-learning world is jump in with a client to write a storyboard that is creative and application-based. Before working with Artisan, Amy spent 17 years in corporate training and development predominantly teaching leadership development and coaching teams and executives. She currently serves on the board of ATD Detroit.

How to Master Volunteer Communications for Your Nonprofit

As a nonprofit professional, you have a lot to juggle: administrative tasks, event planning, fundraising asks, and more. But there’s an important component of your team that helps you push through these challenges and raise your level of success.

These are your volunteers.

Your volunteers make up the backbone of your organization. Without their help, many smaller (but still important!) tasks would be delayed or go unfinished altogether, which could significantly slow down your team’s progress. That’s why prioritizing volunteer engagement is essential. So what’s the best way to keep your volunteers engaged? Communication.

Effective volunteer communication keeps the wheels of your organization turning and ensures volunteers are up-to-date with what needs to be done. That’s why we’ve outlined our top strategies for mastering volunteer communications at your nonprofit:

  1. Make use of social media and email.
  2. Leverage your website.
  3. Make a good first impression.
  4. Regularly check in.
  5. Keep your volunteers updated.
  6. Segment your communications.

Keep your wheels turning and your volunteers engaged with the right kind of communication strategy. Let’s get started.

1. Make use of social media and email.

As you prepare to reach out to both potential and current volunteers, there are two top channels to consider: social media and email. Through social media, you can recruit volunteers, and through email, you can keep them directly updated.

But those are just a few of the benefits of using these channels. Let’s dive more specifically into each so you can get the most out of them.

Social Media

Social media can be used to share your recruitment message, but it’s essential that you don’t just post and walk away. According to the InitLive volunteer management guide, it’s helpful to craft a formal social media campaign. This campaign should outline what your message is and include content that is meaningful to your supporters.

Here are some tips as you prepare to engage with your audience:

  • Be brief. Shorter posts get straight to the point and are easier for readers to digest. This will encourage more engagement from your supporters.
  • Don’t feel the need to post all the time. While regular updates are important, you don’t always need to post multiple times a day. In fact, posting too often might turn off some readers.
  • Post new information. Share content that might not be found on your website or blog, which will add value to the post. For example, offer early access to new opportunities or highlight some of your standout volunteers!

As you share your content, make your recruitment link available on your specific posts and in your page description. Then, you should see more volunteers signing up!


Email is also an important element of volunteer communications. Email not only helps recruit new volunteers, but it also serves as a way to keep your current group of volunteers updated (more on that later!).

Use email outreach to give past volunteers exclusive access to your available volunteer positions. You can even encourage them to share volunteer opportunities with their circle of friends, or offer a referral gift as an additional incentive to get the word out.

There are many ways both social media and email outreach can contribute to a solid volunteer communication strategy. Start by sharing meaningful but relevant content that will boost recruitment numbers, and you’ll be on your way to even more engagement.

2. Leverage your website.

Your website is typically the very first place potential volunteers will go to find out about opportunities with your organization. That’s why you should always keep this information up-to-date, especially if you want to recruit successful volunteers.

Your website will allow you to:

  • Post new volunteer opportunities
  • Offer supporters an easy way to sign up for those opportunities
  • Promote your overall mission

When your website prominently features your organization’s mission and includes clear calls-to-action (CTAs), this will make it easy for supporters to navigate their way to your volunteer opportunities and registration. Even more, a clear and intuitive website will ensure that your volunteers have a basic understanding of your goals and what you need from them.

Once you’ve optimized your website to communicate what it is you need from your volunteers, you’ll be in a better position to communicate with them going forward.

3. Make a good first impression.

Volunteers come to your organization because they believe in your mission. That’s why you should take the time to get to know them, to determine the specific appeal that brought them there and help them learn more.

This starts with your registration process. Use volunteer management software that creates an easy sign-up process and helps you sift through each individual’s information to assign them the best possible fit.

This applies whether you’re organizing an event and need to staff it, or you need people to help with data entry. It’s important to find out what skills your volunteers have and what they would enjoy.

When you clearly communicate with your volunteers and understand what is important to them, you’ll pave the way for a good first impression, happier volunteers, and more work that gets done.

4. Regularly check in.

Even after you’ve successfully recruited volunteers and everything seems to be running smoothly, effective communication doesn’t end there. It’s essential that you regularly check in with your volunteers to keep the engagement going.

For example, you can ask:

  • About any challenges that might have come up
  • If they’re enjoying their role
  • If they’d like to try something else to continue or deepen their involvement

Regular check-ins also include recognition. While it’s probably true that your volunteers aren’t doing this specifically for the glory, it’s important to recognize your volunteers to keep them motivated and ensure they feel appreciated.

Look for ways to communicate your appreciation through social media, email blasts, and even through features on your website. Personalize individual outreach as you say thank you and demonstrate the impact your volunteers have made on your overall goals, whether it relates to fundraising, events, or other tasks. If you’re looking for examples of emails that say thanks, check out these templates, which can be adapted to suit any type of supporter.

Case in point: Regularly keeping up with and recognizing your volunteers will help push your organization closer to achieving its mission. Be sure to openly communicate with them to recognize them for a job well done and make sure they feel fulfilled in their role.

5. Keep your volunteers updated.

Something that’s occasionally overlooked is the idea that volunteers should be treated the same way as your nonprofit’s employees. They offer value, just as your staff does. For that reason, volunteers should know about changes in the organization just like employees do.

Keep volunteers informed and let them know about important developments or challenges that have come up at your nonprofit. In turn, this will help raise engagement and make these individuals feel valued.

You can do this by:

  • Inviting volunteers to certain staff meetings
  • Including them in staff email correspondence
  • Communicating key changes that affect their volunteer positions

The more you involve your volunteers in developments at your nonprofit, the more they’ll feel valued and like they’re a part of your team. This can lead to longer-term engagement and retention, and can also help you build stronger relationships with your volunteers as supporters of your organization.

6. Segment your communications.

We’ve talked about how it’s important to communicate with your volunteers in general and keep them in the loop. However, sometimes certain pieces of information don’t apply to all of your volunteers.

Our last crucial tip for communicating with volunteers at your organization is to segment your communications. InitLive’s volunteer engagement guide notes that sending out irrelevant communications to volunteers will waste their time and lead to frustration.

Just as you would tailor your communications to donors in order to maintain a high donor retention rate, you should also segment your communications for different volunteers so they receive information that’s relevant to them. That way, you won’t waste their time with details that don’t apply to their role or shifts.

In order to do this, consider using a volunteer management solution that helps keep your volunteers updated with automated notifications that apply specifically to them. This way, you’ll be able to keep your volunteers informed, but they won’t need to read every single scheduling issue or other memos that have come up from another team.

The more you respect your volunteers’ time, the more they’ll respect your organization and want to stay involved.

Your volunteers help your organization stay on its feet and keep your day-to-day operations running smoothly. That’s why they deserve to be treated as an essential part of your team, and why communicating with them is so important. Once you’ve mastered your communication strategy with your volunteers, they’ll keep coming back to help you reach your goals.

Be sure to keep these tactics in mind as you build up your volunteer base and continue serving your mission. Best of luck!