Volunteer Retention: 3 Strategies for 2018
Strategic volunteer retention is crucial for nonprofits wanting to make the biggest leap towards reaching their mission in 2018.
Volunteer retention is as important going into 2018 as it has ever been before. Volunteer behavior is changing and supporters want to be engaged in exchange for their time. What strategies is your nonprofit deploying to keep volunteers coming back? How is your organization measuring volunteer impact and communicating with your volunteer base? Did you know that only 55 percent of nonprofit organizations measure the impact that their organizational volunteers are making towards the greater good? The first step in retaining volunteers is understanding how big of a role supporters have towards reaching your organizational goals.
Here are a few impact metrics your nonprofit will want to measure in 2018:
- Overall volunteer experience
- Volunteer training costs
- Volunteer opportunity perception
- Conversions rates of volunteers to donors and vice versa
- Quality of volunteer work
- New versus returning volunteer commitments
- Total impact towards your nonprofit's cause
We will discuss how volunteer management can help measure some of these metrics a little later in the blog post.
First, let’s talk about a few ways that your nonprofit can retain volunteers and use these increased retention rates to have a bigger impact in 2018.
Volunteer Retention Strategy No. 1: Engage, Engage, Engage
Engagement is much more than a buzzword. It is the process of creating collaboration opportunities, building lasting relationships and putting processes in place to keep volunteers interested in your cause. All nonprofits, regardless of size, need to have a strategic engagement plan in 2018. A strategic engagement plan can help your nonprofit better understand volunteer behaviors, ask important questions, analyze how engagement is helping to reach organizational goals and increase retention rates.
Here are a few ways to engagement strategies that could be included in your engagement plan:
- Offer volunteers rewards, recognition and incentives in exchange for fulfilling opportunities.
- Consider using gamification to make the process of volunteerism fun for supporters.
- Provide volunteers with leadership and growth opportunities.
- Communicate often and effectively with your supporters.
- Focus on identifying volunteer interests, skills and intuitions.
Volunteer Retention Strategy No. 2: Simplify Volunteer Registration and Sign-Up
Making the process of identifying, registering and signing up for volunteer opportunities is one of the easiest and most effective steps your nonprofit can take to improve retention rates. If your organization is currently using a manual process, you may want to consider a volunteer management tool to make the process as easy as possible for your staff and supporters. Volunteer management software can make an immense difference in the volunteer recruitment process.
Here are a few additional ways that volunteer management software can streamline registration:
- Volunteer management software makes the process of creating opportunities and sharing them easy.
- Volunteer management software provides insights into volunteer behavior.
- Volunteer management data can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection.
- Volunteer management software can free up staff’s time to focus on building relationships.
Volunteer Retention Strategy No. 3: Stay in Touch
One of your nonprofits biggest assets is your existing volunteer base. Staying in touch with supporters can create buzz around new opportunities, provide your organization with valuable feedback and create new referral prospects. Communication is one form of engagement that your nonprofit cannot afford to miss.
Here are a few ways to stay in touch with supporters:
- Thank your organizational supporters for filling opportunities and helping your nonprofit towards the greater good.
- Let supporters and prospects know of new opportunities that relate to their skill-set and interest.
- Provide supporters with updates regarding your organization and the pursuit of your mission.
- Ask your volunteer base for their feedback regarding your organization and its processes.
- Just say “hi” from time to time.
Investing in and optimizing your nonprofits volunteer retention strategy is a must for 2018 success. Volunteer rates have been on the decline over the past few years and organizations today need take full advantage of their supporters. Your nonprofit can achieve this by focusing on engagement, simplifying the volunteer registration process and communicating effectively. A strategic volunteer management process can help your organization achieve all of these goals today.
Eric Burger is the marketing communications manager for VolunteerHub, an organization that provides volunteer management solutions for nonprofits across the globe. Eric has worked in the B2B software industry for the past two years and has over five years of experience in digital marketing.