What is volunteer management?
Volunteer management is the process a nonprofit organization uses to recruit, track, engage, and retain volunteers. Managing volunteers is key to developing and maintaining an effective, passionate, and dedicated crew of volunteers.
Double The Donation*, a corporate employee matching gift identification and management software, breaks volunteer management into the following four elements.
1. Volunteer Recruitment
Volunteer recruitment is a continual process that includes marketing volunteer opportunities, allowing volunteers to sign up easily, and screening potential volunteers.
2. Volunteer Communications
Just as nonprofits use donor communication, organizations need to develop a volunteer communications plan to keep volunteers engaged. This should include ways to present important volunteer information as well as avenues for volunteer feedback and questions.
3. Volunteer Empowerment
Volunteer empowerment ensures that volunteers feel equipped and excited to do the work before them. By matching volunteers to jobs that suit their skill sets, giving them quality training, and being available for questions during their shift, you can empower your volunteers to do their best work.
4. Volunteer Recognition
We all appreciate being recognized for our hard work, and volunteers are no different. Recognizing your volunteers can be anything from sending a thank you note to giving them a shoutout in your monthly newsletter.
Similar to a donor appreciation event, a volunteer appreciation event can go a long way in showing your nonprofit’s appreciation for the hard work and dedication of your supporters and advocates — and it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. At the core, these events are designed to build trust and show appreciation, respond to volunteers’ questions, and help demonstrate the alignment between your volunteers’ interests and passions with your organization’s mission.
Bonus! These events may encourage volunteers to also become donors and start giving, or increase their monetary contributions to your organization if they’re already donors. It’s also a good opportunity to mention volunteer grants. Encourage your volunteers to see if they qualify through their employer’s corporate responsibility program (if they have one).
Why is volunteer management important for nonprofits?
Managing volunteers is important for nonprofits because it helps them avoid excessive volunteer turnover. Because volunteers are unpaid, keeping them excited and incentivized can be challenging. Prioritizing volunteer management helps volunteers feel a sense of belonging within your organization, hopefully encouraging them to become a part of your mission and continue working to realize your vision.
How do you use a volunteer database to manage your volunteers?
Volunteer databases allow nonprofits to manage their donors in a variety of ways. For example, volunteer databases allow you to build volunteer profiles for each one of your volunteers. These profiles can track volunteer history, contact information, interests and skills, and other important information. You may also be able to attach important documents to volunteer profiles, like background checks and waivers. Additionally, you can use a volunteer database to schedule volunteers for specific projects. Volunteers can access this calendar of activities and express their interest in projects. Lastly, volunteer databases allow you to keep track of volunteers’ involvement with check-in and time-tracking tools.
How do you choose a volunteer database to manage your volunteers?
Just like your donor management system, it’s important to consider what features your organization needs most when choosing a volunteer database. VolunteerPro, an online community of nonprofit professionals sharing information about managing volunteers, suggests thinking about these key functions before choosing a volunteer management system.
- Scheduling tools – assigning volunteers to projects, shift sign-ups, shift reminders
- Data reporting – time-tracking, progress through training
- Communication tools – private messaging, discussion boards and forums
- Software integration – ability to integrate with donor management systems and email marketing tools
As previously mentioned, volunteer management software, or a volunteer database, is another option to house and manage your volunteers, whether that’s included in your nonprofit’s donor database or a separate software. Volunteer management software works much the same way as your donor management software in that your team can keep digital records of all your active and inactive volunteers. With volunteer management software, you can categorize your volunteers by availability, age, gender, geographical location, years of service, and other custom categories of your team’s choosing. This software streamlines all of the administrative work of recruiting, training, scheduling, and managing your pool of volunteers.
Good volunteer management is essential for any nonprofit organization. Recruit and retain valuable volunteers by crafting a plan that includes an effective system for managing volunteers.
- Double The Donation guide: Guide To Managing Volunteers
- VolunteerPro post: Volunteer Management Software
- Galaxy Digital: Volunteer Management Software: 25+ Top Tools for Nonprofits
*indicates the organization is a Kindful integration partner