Editor’s Note: This series explores ways to apply content marketing strategies to help lead a successful nonprofit volunteer program. Using the wealth of information in Kivi Leroux Miller’s book “Content Marketing for Nonprofits” as a jumping-off point, this four-part installment discusses how a solid content marketing strategy will pay dividends in drawing volunteers and supporters, bridging the gap between volunteers and donors, and engaging your community.
You are the in charge of running your nonprofit’s volunteer program. You are ready to implement the two-way conversations, targeted engagement, and multi-channel communication we discussed in the first blog post of this series.
But in order for your program to truly welcome change and successfully apply new content marketing strategies for volunteer engagement, you need to make sure that the other departments and everyone else in your organization are on the same page.
Using the example of a Communications Director, Kivi explains that it is a misconception that other departments are not part of communications and marketing. The fact is that everyone plays a role, and marketing is more successful and done better in a team rather than alone.
Similarly, by getting your colleagues aligned with your volunteer program goals, you will strengthen the internal structure of your organization, which will result in more volunteers and supporters for your cause. This blog post is aimed at strategies you can employ to get everyone on board with your volunteer engagement goals.
Solve Your Organizational Jigsaw Puzzle
Coordinating your nonprofit’s volunteer engagement requires you to be an all-star. You have to constantly communicate with members of your community and other organizations, lead your volunteers, attract new ones, and make sure you are meeting the goals that your organization hopes to accomplish. A solid organizational device like a timeline will allow you to navigate through all of these tasks with efficiency.
One strategy Kivi encourages her readers to try is an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar consists of the different events and deadlines you must meet over the course of a given period. It pushes you to stay focused on your goals and prioritize the tasks that you have to complete at a certain time. With handy online sharing tools like Google Docs and Calendars, you can get other departments to work around your schedule and fit in new assignments on your editorial calendar.
You might want to create multiple editorial calendars, including one specifically for communicating with your volunteers. This will allow both you and your volunteers to get a clear picture of what you hope to accomplish over the next few months or year. Furthermore, you can make sure that you do not have a surplus of volunteers working on an assignment one day and a lack of volunteers on another day.
Get Other Staff Members Involved in Your Volunteer Engagement
It’s easy for us to get caught up in our own work. Each day holds a multitude of tasks that need to be completed, and there simply doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to do them all. It might even feel like the work of other departments isn’t relevant to the mountain of assignments on your desk – and vice versa.
That mindset must be changed, because everyone in your organization plays a role in determining the success of your volunteer program. In fact, engaging volunteers should be the goal of someone on the tech side of operations just as much as the person in charge of running the volunteer program. So how do you get those other departments and staff involved?
One method is to simply invite them to participate in your activities. This past MLK Day of Service, a group of New Sector fellows volunteered their time to explore innovative options for VolunteerMatch to approach volunteer engagement in 2014. VolunteerMatch staff from different departments participated in the event, and the group was divided into four discussion groups: big picture engagement, global outreach, marketing and communications, and technology.
This event invited the fellows to examine different areas of the organization and suggest new approaches. Perhaps even more importantly, the staff gained a reinforced understanding of how volunteer engagement is the thread that ties the different ends of VolunteerMatch together.
By getting everyone on board with your volunteer program goals, your organization will develop a clearer understanding of its overall goals and driving purpose. As a result, your staff will feel unified and on the same page, and you will feel much more organized and prepared.
Be Constructively Self-Critical
As your organization gets stronger internally, it is important to keep asking yourself questions to adapt and make further improvements:
- What does your organization most need volunteers, supporters, and community members to actually do, and how soon do you need these things accomplished? Being able to clearly communicate to your volunteers what you need them to do will make sure they make the greatest impact possible.
- What are the most pressing needs for your volunteer program? If you are lacking volunteers, then perhaps allocating more time for outreach via social media should take precedence on your editorial calendar.
- How is your staff representing your organization’s image? While social media can be a useful tool for communicating with a vast number of people, it also means that your staff have to present themselves professionally. Drafting basic tweets or Facebook posts for your staff to cut and paste is a great way for them to be involved while keeping up-to-date with your volunteer program.
What strategies does your organization use to get everyone internally working together on volunteer engagement?