Volunteers are some of your nonprofit’s most valuable gifts!
And yet, only 55% of nonprofits assess volunteer impact.
Let’s look at the facts from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s most recent report:
Fact #1: Volunteers bring value
Volunteers are sometimes viewed as only headaches. Some volunteers are helpful. But at the end of the day, it is tempting to think that volunteers are like “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
And it’s true! In order to properly support your volunteers, your organization has to reach out, find volunteers, train them (limited), communicate with them, and help them understand their role. – That all takes work. But it’s worth it!
“Altogether, Americans volunteered nearly 6.9 billion hours, worth an estimated $167 billion in economic value, based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour for 2017.”
That is a lot of money! It is the equivalent to the gross domestic product of Hungary!
Seeing your volunteers as more than just “more hands” but valuable and helpful hands is important. The next fact will add to the reason why volunteers are so valuable!
Fact #2: Volunteers are great donors since they are already interested and committed to participating and helping!
“The 2018 Volunteering in America report found that 77.34 million adults (30.3 percent) volunteered through an organization last year.”
Millions of adults give their time each year to nonprofit organizations because they want to help and support that organization’s cause!
It’s tempting to categorize volunteers and donors into separate categories.
But why do this?
This tendency can prove to be quite destructive.
Volunteers are engaged and interested in doing what they can!
Engaging and building relationships with your volunteers can bring donations later down the road.
This shows that volunteers tend to be loyal donors.
According to .J. Steinberg, founder of Queen Bee Fundraising, “67 percent of volunteers…support in a more meaningful way.”
Nonprofits consider a 2 to 5 percent response rate successful from appeals.
The question is, why aren’t we doing more to cultivate our relationships with our volunteers?
Here are three ways you can care for volunteers and connect with them better!
1. Create room and space for them!
Delegation necessitates organization and preparation. Prepare a job for your volunteers and make room for them to help! It may seem like a simple “first-step,” but it is crucial!
You don’t want your volunteers to feel like they are just busy work.
Give your volunteers options and a game-plan for the different options!
This way, you’re not sending them an implicit message that might sound like this: “we’ll find something for you to do”
2. Communicate with them early!
As best as you can, make sure to communicate with your volunteers early.
Here are sample of questions you might want to ask yourself…
Do they need to bring anything?
What is the weather going to be like?
Do they need cold-gear to stay warm or some sunscreen to protect themselves from the hot sun?
Will you be providing a safe place for them to leave their valuables or should they leave important items in their car?
How long are they supposed to come?
What day is the event?
Do you need to send reminders of the event?
A simple, ‘thank you” after the event can go a long way.
It’s even better if the “thank you” can be personalized in some way. Some nonprofits write a hand-written card of a few sentences. Others send letters that let the volunteer know why their job was crucial to the overall event!
Also, consider throwing an appreciation “party” for your volunteers!
This also does not have to be large, time consuming, or take a big budget. There does not have to be asks or appeals at this party. This occasion allows your team to connect with your volunteers and cultivate face-to-face relationships with them. Think of it as a networking event.
This kind of appreciation can also be facilitated before, during, or immediately preceding your event! Providing a small area for your volunteers to sit down, relax, rejuvenate with some coffee and food is a wonderful way to let your volunteers know you appreciate all their hard work!