Thankful for Your Volunteers? 10 Things to Consider – Part III
Ash Oliver | November 21, 2016
Taking care of your volunteers is beneficial any time of the year.
When you depend on a volunteer workforce, saying “thank you” is a year-around activity. That said, showing them how vital they are to your organization can leave an even more positive impression.
8) Access On-The-Go
Major events, like conferences, are rapidly adopting tech solutions for increasingly unconventional uses. I recently attended a convention that provided their attendee agenda in an interactive app.
The ability to preview all their sessions, select the ones I wanted to attend, and have them automatically populate in my own personal agenda right there on my phone was awesome.
The impressiveness of simple, yet clever conveniences like this really stuck with me. Now I’m excited to attend next year’s event to see what new innovations they have in store.
Volunteers are no different. Innovations that ease someone’s volunteering experience with your organization will enhance their overall impression of your event and stick with them.
Benefits like real-time visibility into schedules and which shifts are available, the freedom to sign up for or swap shifts, clock in or out, and get complementary food or SWAG – all from their smartphone – can really set your event apart from the volunteer’s perspective.
9) Better Referrals
Volunteers talk to each other. A lot. They also talk to others who may be considering volunteering.
That means your people can be your greatest ambassadors, or your worst critics. Plus, with the popularity of social media, the impact of either option is multiplied exponentially. The experience you provide plays a huge part in determining which one they become.
And don’t stop at organic word-of-mouth referrals. Once you have secured positive reviews, don’t forget to encourage your volunteers to talk about their experiences on social media and within their networks.
Casting a wider net with tactics like including a link in your email correspondence for sharing volunteer opps with friends can significantly amplify your grassroots recruitment efforts.
10) A Fresh Perspective
This is implied in everything we’ve already talked about, but it’s worth discussing on its own. To improve your volunteer’s experience in a meaningful way, you need to look at things from their point of view.
Then ask yourself how you would feel under the same circumstances.
- Would your application process frustrate you?
- Do you have time to track down a coordinator to swap shifts?
- Would you volunteer more if you didn’t have to go find a physical signup sheet?
- Is your process for indicating shift availability needlessly cumbersome?
- Are sticky notes or whiteboards convenient and effective for anything?
I could go on all day.
Point is, it’s amazing how much operational clarity you can achieve by simply pivoting your perspective. Viewing everything through a fresh lens can help highlight areas in need of improvement that are specific to your organization. And taking the time to address these pain points can go a long way.
When I give my time to an organization or cause, and they have invested in little things like this that make my life easier, I notice. I can tell they’ve considered the details and it shows that they value me.
Feeling the love from organizers makes it more likely I’ll volunteer again.
So treat your people like you’d want to be treated. These kinds of intangibles can make all the difference in the world.
Finally, whatever you’re organizing, certain special qualities are bound to surface that will give it a distinct culture all its own. Staying true to that essence while building a volunteer base and streamlining operations helps keep the spirit of your organization intact as it grows and evolves over time.
So no matter how you approach upgrading your volunteer journey, make sure you stick to solutions and processes that adapt to the unique characteristics of your community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fueled by a passion for conferences, events, festivals, and non-profit volunteering, Ash Kuscsik has dedicated herself to researching the inner workings of their operations. She now channels her experience into advising organizations worldwide on strategies for improving their staffing and volunteer management.
Her full bio is available on her LinkedIn profile.