A recent post published in the Academic Impressions newsletter by Jim Langley, president of Langley Innovations, stated that volunteers give ten times more than other philanthropic contributors, but that not all volunteer work automatically triggers greater giving. Jim suggested four creative ways to engage even the busiest of your volunteers and gave readers real-world examples of how to enable them to share their voice, skills, passions, and struggles.
His post inspired us to share three additional ways to recruit and empower more volunteers without expanding your staff.
- Make it fast and easy for volunteers to register on your website – not someone else’s. This includes enabling volunteers to select the positions and times most suited to their schedule. Filled positions should be automatically removed from the volunteer sign-up form.
- Store all volunteer data (including volunteers’ availability and interests) in the same database as your donors, supporters, and event participants, eliminating additional data integration and coordination for your organization. This data should be available in real time. And you’ll be able to have a 360-degree point of view into their overall engagement with your organization.
- Give your volunteers the best tools for online peer-to-peer fundraising. Your volunteers are true believers; they see more of the good your organization does than most and will naturally share this information with their friends, family, and colleagues. But you need to make it fast and easy for them to do so, without increasing the administration burden on your end. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Quick sign up/registration should enable participants to be up and fundraising in minutes.
- While the sign up process should always be secure, this does not mean having to require a user ID or password. Just like anyone who is digitally engaged, volunteers already have too many to keep track of.
- Volunteers should be able to just copy and paste a url or one line of embeddable code to easily share, tweet, email, and even embed fundraising forms and real-time progress displays on their personal blog, website, and social media properties.
- All donation forms should be mobile-optimized, because everyone is mobile.
- Individuals should be able to join, leave, and manage teams (if applicable) with just a few clicks and have all of the revenue stay with the individual, because at the end of the day, it is individuals who do the direct asking, not a ‘team’ entity.
- There should be a simple way to track offline donations to provide a more complete view of results.
- A campaign dashboard should be available to enable administrators to configure status bars and monitor overall progress in real time.
- There should be a self-service center to enable real-time updates, changes, and emails, reducing your support time.
Volunteers bring you their experiences, skills, passion, and networks. Enabling them to make the most of all of these is the best way to reward them.