4 Ways to Create an Efficient Volunteer Program
Here are four strategic ways to create an efficient volunteer program that can save your staff time, retain resources and create higher levels of engagement with supporters.
Creating a successful volunteer program should be at the top of your nonprofits priority list. Volunteerism had a value of over $184 billion dollars in 2017, and an individual volunteer is estimated to be worth $24.14, according to a study by Independent Sector. Many charitable nonprofits have no paid staff and are entirely run with the assistance of volunteers.
There is no arguing that the need for volunteers is high in the nonprofit space. Attracting volunteers, engaging them and sustaining a process to reach organizational goals and mission attainment are keys to the success of any volunteer program today.
Creating and sustaining an efficient program starts at the volunteer management level. How your organization manages volunteers, keeps track of data and utilizes data to optimize practices can be the difference between reaching volunteer program goals or not.
Believe it or not, but a recent report by Concord Leadership Group showed that 49 percent of nonprofits operate without a strategic plan.
An efficient volunteer program is all about strategy. Here are four ways to create a program with efficiency at the foundation.
1. Efficiency Starts With Tangible, Manageable and Measurable Goals
If your organization wants to create an efficient volunteer program, the first step is outlining strategic goals that align with your nonprofits vision, mission and values. Defining, recording and communicating goals help to create a roadmap and process for your program.
Remember, processes are built to complement goals (not the other way around). A few questions to ask when developing goals are:
1.) What impact is your program aiming to have?
2.) What communities/ people will your program serve?
3.) How will volunteers be involved in reaching program goals?
Remember to think about volunteer recruitment when developing goals (how will your program appeal to potential supporters).
Once you have developed a list of several tangible, manageable and measurable goals, record their objectives. Keeping a written record can help to verify that goals align with your nonprofits overall strategy and make communicating goals easier with departments and staff.
Goal objectives should include:
- Information about your organizations target demographic (people you hope to help) and how volunteers fit into your capabilities.
- Timeframe accounting for goal attainment—how long will it take your organization to meet the goal?
- Quantifiable process for measuring the success of efforts.
2. Enhance Your Volunteer Program With an Organized Volunteer Database
As mentioned earlier in the post, volunteers have a huge impact on most nonprofit organizations. If your organization wants to make the most out of volunteers and potential volunteer prospects, it is key to have a systematic way of organizing their information. For most organizations, the most practical way to achieve this is through the deployment of a volunteer database.
Trying to organize volunteer information via spreadsheets is not an efficient way of getting the most value from your volunteer coordinators time. Most nonprofits find that they need a volunteer database solution to automate the record keeping process and increase program efficiency.
Efficiency benefits of a volunteer database solution
- Database solutions scale with your organization and can handle large numbers of volunteer data.
- An organized database can improve communication, increase engagement and convert volunteers to donors (and vice versa).
- Database solutions can free up your volunteer coordinators time to build relationships. (Check out these case studies.)
3. Appoint a Volunteer Coordinator
A volunteer program built with efficiency in mind requires someone to actively manage it. Appointing a volunteer coordinator is one step your organization can take to make sure your program runs efficiently over time.
Volunteer coordinators can help manage supporting technology, recruit volunteers, conduct orientation and training, solve problems and focus on aligning volunteer efforts with mission attainment.
It is crucial that a volunteer coordinator is personable and organized, and understands the type of volunteers your organization is looking to recruit (sees the big picture). Volunteer coordinators should also care about your organization’s cause and the community the mission supporters.
Check out this post on making a case for a full-time volunteer coordinator.
4. Make Fulfilling Opportunities a Streamlined Process for Supporters
Creating an easy process for volunteers to fill opportunities is an important aspect of creating an effective volunteer program. A streamlined volunteer registration process can increase fulfillment and make sharing new opportunities easier for staff. Volunteer registration is another area of your volunteer program that can be automated using management tools.
Volunteer management software offers registration functionality such as opportunity landing pages, event tracking, email/text reminders, print rosters and more. Utilizing tools to make registration a breeze can substantially increase your organization’s efficiency and enhance volunteer experience.
Efficiency means a lot when it comes to creating a volunteer program and process that adapts over time. Hiring a full-time volunteer coordinator, investing in a volunteer database, setting tangible goals and making registration easier for supporters are just a few ways that your nonprofit can create an efficient process. How is your organization increasing program efficiency?
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.