Guest post by Carol Williams
Nonprofits are well aware that finding dedicated and motivated volunteers is much more difficult than it seems. People are busy and there are many nonprofit organizations competing for their attention and service. Once you manage to find a volunteer who’s willing to dedicate their time and talent to your nonprofit, it’s in your interest to cultivate this relationship and promote future volunteerism.
Repeated volunteerism is challenging to many nonprofits – in fact, one study found that more than 33% of those who volunteer one year won’t do it the next year. How to best retain volunteers? Through the internet. Here are some tips on how to maintain relationships with volunteers by means of modern communication technologies.
Show the impact of volunteering in the community
It’s the belief in making the difference that drives the vast majority of volunteers. To engage them further, you need to show that their hard work brings a change in the world. And nothing works better than showing them how they helped a community. You can showcase their impact in a variety of forms like social media posts, blog posts, email newsletters or dedicated pages on your website. The medium isn’t that important – it should help you to tell the story in an engaging way.
Build a list for your email newsletter
Email newsletter is an old marketing technique that can be just perfect if you’re looking for a way to keep your volunteers informed about upcoming opportunities. But you should always define your audience – that’s why it’s best to create a segmented list aimed at people interested in volunteering with your nonprofit. It’s a smaller list within your email list which is based on a criterion – an interest in volunteerism. How to segment your list? By giving users an opportunity for indicating their interests when they’re singing up for your mailing list.
Send personalized thank you notes
Depending on the number of your volunteers, you might consider sending out personalized thank you notes by email or paper. A volunteer receiving the note will feel a real sense of appreciation if the executive manager of the nonprofit sends them a personalized message thanking them for their support. Take a few minutes to compose each message. Avoid general statements in the vein of ‘You’ve been great’. This is definitely worth your effort.
Extend individual thank you notes on social media
People like their actions to be publicly recognized and social media are easily the best kind of platform for doing that. Show them that you care by directly mentioning them in various posts about their volunteer work. When on Twitter, use @ and their username to mention them in your thank you tweets – without this symbol users might never know that they’ve been mentioned.
Encourage regular volunteers to share their experience on your blog
If you run a blog, there’s no better way of engaging volunteers than to let them share their experience through a guest post. Not only will they be flattered by your request, but also very likely to promote their post, helping you extend your reach. Such a post can encourage other people to become volunteers at your nonprofit. It’s best to share personal stories, so ask them to tell others about their experience while volunteering at your nonprofit or why they support your mission. They can recount how they got involved with your organization and give advice to future volunteers.
Ask volunteers for feedback
Asking for feedback will help you to gain critical data about the effectiveness of volunteer opportunities at your organization, as well as show volunteers that you really value their opinion. When getting the feedback, it’s important to always reply to it, thanking volunteers for taking their time. It’s best to do this individually.
Help people find future volunteering opportunities
If an individual decides that they’d like to volunteer with you, you need to make the process as easy and smooth as possible. Losing a potential volunteer due to lack of well-suited opportunities to get involved is a great mistake.
Make sure that your website is well-organized and provides lots of information to those who’d like to volunteer. List or link to volunteer opportunities and highlight them prominently in your design. Promote volunteer opportunities on social media as well – you can provide links to specific landing pages designed to target potential volunteers.
The web provides many opportunities for helping you to cultivate the relationship with your volunteers. Using the methods listed above you’re bound to attract even more people to your cause and encourage volunteers to help you out again and again in the future.
About the author: Carol Williams is a team member at Navel Oranges Department of Florida Fruit Shippers where she develops her interest in customer service and blogging. She has a strong background in volunteering which she combines with her love for writing.