We have all heard the adage, “it takes a village to raise a child,” but, in this case, it takes volunteers to boost a nonprofit!
In some cases, volunteering can be a thankless service. You put in the time for a cause you believe in, and it can definitely dampen your spirits to feel as though your efforts aren’t acknowledged as a valuable contribution or beneficial service.
We all know that happy volunteers not only enhance the image of a nonprofit, but provide an enjoyable work atmosphere and attract other community activists to join the cause. Knowing this, it’s imperative for nonprofits to recognize the importance of establishing a long lasting and transparent volunteer program. Here are five ideas you can implement right away to jump-start a loving relationship between your nonprofit organization and its volunteers.
1) Get Your Act Together
Volunteers enjoy making an impact so steer clear of inviting them to join a program that doesn’t have meaningful ways for them to contribute planned and ready to go. If there’s one thing that will turn off an enthusiastic volunteer, it’s disorganization.
Also many volunteers enjoy some form of responsibility and ownership, so test the waters to see what activities suit your volunteers. Also, make sure you properly train volunteers on how to deal with the local media, parents, and people they serve. When volunteers have a clear idea of what they need to benefit the organization, they feel more empowered to work towards the goals the organization has set and provide better services.
2) Be Visual
Volunteers currently involved with the nonprofit, or an interested candidate, enjoy looking at photos of program successes so try to post photos of volunteers in action for your cause and share photos from group outings, showcase company milestones and events.
Create a photo collage with photos from events and add volunteer testimonies. Pictures are a great way to stir emotion by promoting loyalty to the team and a commitment to projects started. A well-placed photo wall allows potential volunteers to see what types of activities are available while introducing them to a team they could soon become a part of.
3) Update Your Site
Nothing is more frustrating to volunteers or even potential givers than an outdated website. Many nonprofits have websites, but if they appear abandoned it can do more harm than good. A polished website is an absolute must and is a reflection of the company.
A poorly done website is not going to draw people to visit and certainly won’t prompt them to get involved or make a donation. Since volunteers are imperative to a nonprofit’s success, there should be a section dedicated to highlighting services volunteers provide as well as ongoing needs. Make it easy for them to find out how to get involved.
You can even add volunteer stories to your website to show how volunteering or giving back has benefited volunteers. The attention does not have to be on the organization all the time, but it has to provide a strong story. Volunteers want to know they are valued and their hard work goes a long way. Even a simple volunteer of the month article can do wonders for volunteer morale and shows you care about the experience your volunteers have.
4) Put a face to it
When community improvement programs exist they strengthen the community as a whole. Think about all the human interest stories that air about health fairs, The Salvation Army or food banks. Although each may differ in their mission, their focus on the community will help draw media attention to those in need.
People love to see the direct benefits of nonprofits in the area. Maybe an ESL (English as a Second Language) student received a job offer after completing a free English program hosted by your nonprofit. These types of stories tug at the heart and directly benefit the community by adding jobs and increasing personal value. Volunteers can also share how they have been helped by giving back to the community. There is no shortage of stories to tell, position your team so that they not only feel comfortable sharing your nonprofit story, but are excited to do so.
5) Listen Up
Volunteers often bring a wealth of information and skills to the table and that can benefit the organization. Involve them in the process and listen to their feedback. Look for ways to blend their experience with the culture of the organization. If they are techie ask them to build or streamline your social media platform. Focus on their strength so they can help you focus on creating a worthwhile nonprofit. Go ahead. Help volunteers feel the love!