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6 min read

Virtual Volunteering: Engaging Volunteers in Online Events

March 1, 2024

OneCause-VolunteerMatch-Virtual Volunteering- Engaging Volunteers in Online EventsOnline events are on the rise. Between their flexibility, convenience, and endless possibilities, online fundraisers are a great way to rally your community together—no matter where they are—and raise funds to advance your cause. However, you can’t pull off a successful online event without the help of a dedicated volunteer base!

Volunteers can support your nonprofit with everything from figuring out technical logistics for your livestream to multi-channel marketing so your supporters know your events are happening and can join in on the fun. As a result, your team can save time and focus on pulling off an unforgettable donor experience. 

In this guide, we’ll go over three strategies to successfully engage, inspire, and prepare volunteers to step into their roles with confidence. Whether you’re hosting a virtual walkathon, gala, or auction, a loyal volunteer group can help you breeze through your fundraiser! 

Recruit the right volunteers

Before you can kick off your event planning, you need to recruit a strong virtual volunteer team. While you might already have a veteran group of volunteers willing and eager to join, you’ll likely still have some spots that need to be filled. 

Keep in mind that the best volunteer prospects are passionate about your mission and possess the necessary skills and qualifications to excel in their roles. However, even individuals who don’t have a certain skill set can still be high performers as long as they have a vested interest in learning and pushing your goals forward. 

Leverage these recruitment strategies to identify the right candidates for your volunteer positions: 

  • Create clear role descriptions: List out all the logistical details for your volunteer roles, including their titles, a bulleted list of responsibilities, and expected weekly time commitment. The more straightforward your role descriptions are, the more likely you are to attract applicants who are the right fit. 
  • Add a simple application form on your website: If your application form is too lengthy or complicated to fill out, chances are qualified prospects might abandon submitting their name for consideration altogether. Streamline your application by only asking for the most essential information and materials, such as signed waivers, and ensure that it’s mobile-friendly so prospective volunteers can easily fill it out on the go. Consider adding this application form to a place on your website where people can easily find it, like on your volunteer landing page. 
  • Market your volunteer opportunities across multiple channels: Double the Donation’s guide to digital marketing explains that multichannel marketing will help you increase the number of people you’re able to reach, bringing more visibility to your volunteer opportunities online. Promote your open volunteer roles on your social media, website, email newsletter, and any other channels where your supporters are likely to see your messaging. 

Consider creating a general volunteer inquiry email address, monitored by your volunteer coordinator or veteran volunteers, that prospects can reach out to with questions. This way, you can support prospective volunteers throughout the application process and share opportunities that may be most relevant to their interests. Feature the email prominently on your volunteer landing page. 

Provide extensive training

Now that you’ve recruited the right volunteers, you’ll need to provide them with the necessary resources and training to hit the ground running. Use these tips to get your volunteers event-ready: 

A chart showing three tips to get your volunteers ready for your virtual event, repeated below. 

  • Lead an orientation session: This is a great opportunity to introduce your organization to new volunteers who might not be as familiar with your mission or provide a refresher for current volunteers. Provide background information about your nonprofit, then dive into everything your volunteers need to know about your upcoming online fundraiser, including its purpose, goals, timeline, and their specific roles and responsibilities during the event. 
  • Share a resource library: Create a digital database where volunteers can access important resources, such as your volunteer handbook and any instructional guides that will help them be successful in their roles. For example, if some of your volunteers will be helping with peer-to-peer fundraising, it can be helpful to create a resource dedicated to best practices for creating a fundraising campaign page and meeting fundraising goals. 
  • Set up a mentorship system: A mentorship program is not only a great way for new volunteers to learn from more experienced supporters but it also fosters a strong sense of community, leading to higher engagement rates. Encourage your mentors to regularly check in with their mentees on a weekly basis and make themselves available for questions. 

A robust training program will prepare your volunteers to meet and exceed expectations, ensuring your event can go off without a hitch. Plus, this increases the likelihood that volunteers will have a positive experience with your organization and would donate their time again in the future. 

Conduct a test run of your event

Virtual events typically involve plenty of technical components, so rather than leaving everything up to chance when the big event day rolls around, lead a test run with your volunteers. Use these best practices to lead a smooth test run and identify and resolve potential issues ahead of your event: 

    • Schedule your test run in advance of your event: Set a specific date and time for your test run and share it with all of your volunteers. Ideally, all of your volunteers should be present so you can simulate what hosting your event will feel like. 
  • Use the same platform: Practice using the exact technology that you’ll be leveraging during your virtual event to familiarize volunteers with the tools and user interface. If you’re still looking for the right tech stack, the OneCause guide to fundraising platforms recommends investing in an all-in-one solution that comes with built-in virtual event management tools, like live-streaming, live chat, simple check-in and out options, and gamification to increase donor engagement. 
  • Check equipment and connections: Ensure your volunteers have everything they need to successfully lead their roles, like Internet connection, working audio, computers, and microphones. Troubleshoot these issues as soon as possible so they’re not a problem when your event day approaches. 
  • Run through your event agenda: Act like it’s the day of your event and go through your agenda. Make sure your volunteers have access to your program line-up so they can closely follow along and practice their roles. 

Keep in mind that it’s okay and expected if you run into bumps during your test run. Make sure you give your team enough time between the test run and the actual event to correct any problems. Your volunteers will appreciate your preparation and feel more confident to fulfill their roles and responsibilities during the event. 

Wrapping Up

Your volunteers are the backbone of your organization. With their support, you can lead any event type—in-person, online, or hybrid—with ease and meet and exceed your fundraising goals. Be sure to thank your volunteers after your event so they feel truly appreciated for their efforts and eager to support your nonprofit again in the future. 

Guest Contributer

Written by Guest Contributer

This article was written by a VolunteerMatch Guest Contributor.