5 Resolutions to Make 2012 the Year of the Nonprofit Volunteer Program

Engaged Volunteers of Our City Forest in San Jose, Calif.
Engaged volunteers of Our City Forest in San Jose, Calif.

No matter how you fared with last year’s resolutions, it’s a new year, and now is the time to start fresh for 2012 – what do you want to accomplish by this time next year? How will you help your nonprofit and volunteers to have a bigger impact?

Here are 5 resolutions we think are the most important for volunteer managers in 2012:

Go Viral

These days, social media and online engagement require a holistic approach. As our president Greg Baldwin pointed out in his presentation at the Social Media for Nonprofits conference, volunteers are donors are volunteers are supporters, so when you talk about your volunteer needs, talk to your donors, and vice versa.

It’s also important to use multiple channels and multiple strategies to make your organization’s needs and news go viral among your supporters. Just using Twitter won’t necessarily engage the college students on Facebook, and it probably won’t reach the Mommy bloggers on their network, either. So do your homework about where your supporters are, and spread your message as far and wide as you can.

Concentrate on Impact and Measurement

It’s now more important than ever for nonprofits to showcase their impact in measurable, concrete ways. This includes the impact of volunteers, as Tobi Johnson points out in her ebook, “The New Volunteer Manager: The First 90 Days.”

Believe it or not, this is not as daunting a task as it seems. You can learn how to measure the value of your volunteers, use data to make your decisions, and illustrate your impact to funders and other supporters.

Partner with Businesses

There is no doubt about it – corporate volunteering is on the rise. In 2010 45% of volunteer referrals that happened in the VolunteerMatch system came from our corporate network, and we’re expecting an even larger number for 2011.

Engaging corporate employees will definitely be a relevant topic for volunteer managers over the coming year, and developing a strategy to partner with businesses looking to help your cause and community is a big step towards creating a vibrant, sustainable, impactful volunteer program.

Engage Skilled Volunteers

With the launch of LinkedIn’s “Volunteer Experience & Causes” section, volunteering became an even more relevant aspect of the professional world. It also highlighted the growing importance of skilled volunteering to nonprofits.

Whether you’re talking about someone to create a new database system for you, draft up a marketing plan, or be your on-call plumber, there are skilled volunteers ready to work for your organization for free simply because they believe in what you are doing. So go find them! Tools like LinkedIn and VolunteerMatch’s Listing Wizard can be a big help with that.

Continue to Focus on Professional Development

We said it last year, and we’ll say it again: You should always be looking for new ways to learn and grow in your position. This will in the long run be better for you, for your volunteers and for your organization.

This year will be a big year for VolunteerMatch’s Learning Center, so take a look now and sign up for the free webinars that interest you. And to take it one step further, consider getting your CVA credential (you can learn more about the CVA during our free webinar on Tuesday, Jan 17th).

I hope this list has you as jazzed up about 2012 as I am. As you develop your own resolutions for the coming year, these tips can arm you with the know-how you need to make 2012 the year of the volunteer program at your organization.

Have any other volunteer-related resolutions to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!