Your nonprofit relies on a loyal and dedicated group of volunteers to push your initiatives forward. In addition to recruiting volunteers from the community, you can benefit from the support of skilled corporate volunteers. Corporate volunteers are an especially valuable asset because of their professional backgrounds and technical expertise, which can be used to help your nonprofit with everything from web development to organizing your financial records.
However, to retain your corporate volunteers’ support, you’ll need to develop an engaging volunteer program that relates to their interests. Specifically, your corporate volunteering opportunities should contribute to volunteers’ professional development while helping them play a rewarding role in your mission.
In this article, we’ll explore the top ways to keep your corporate volunteers engaged and eager to contribute to your nonprofit’s success:
- Understand Their Interests
- Offer Training and Guidance
- Build a Sense of Community
By keeping your corporate volunteers motivated, you can harness their passion to drive positive change for your cause.
Understand Their Interests
Beyond their enthusiasm for your cause, your corporate volunteers likely have more niche interests that can be met by engaging with different areas of your nonprofit’s operations. For example, a corporate volunteer who is skilled in accounting and wants to learn more about nonprofit financial management would likely be interested in supporting your fundraising strategy.
Providing your corporate volunteers with opportunities that naturally align with their skills and interests will not only keep them engaged, but also ensure that your nonprofit receives the support it needs to advance its mission. To match corporate volunteers with the right roles, consider sending out a survey that asks new volunteers questions like:
- What skills do you possess that would benefit our nonprofit?
- What do you hope to learn from volunteering with our organization?
- What areas of our cause are you most passionate about?
- What volunteer roles have you had in the past and did you enjoy them? If not, what could have made them more fulfilling?
You can also ask corporate volunteers to rank the different available volunteer positions based on what excites them. This shows your volunteers that you care about their preferences and will take the necessary time and care to match them with opportunities that will push forward your nonprofit’s goals while meeting their interests.
Offer Training and Guidance
Once you’ve matched volunteers with relevant opportunities, it’s time to set them up for success in these roles. A robust training program will give your corporate volunteers the foundational knowledge they need to carry out their tasks and responsibilities confidently. Use these best practices to prepare your corporate volunteers:
- Host an orientation session: Introduce corporate volunteers to your nonprofit, from the history of its founding to your strategic plan for the future. Consider offering multiple in-person sessions to allow for flexibility, or host your orientation online and record it for anyone unable to attend. After this general orientation, you might also mandate that volunteers attend a follow-up meeting with the specific team they’ll be working with to learn more role specifics. For example, if you have new corporate volunteers joining your donor stewardship efforts, Aly Sterling Philanthropy recommends walking them through your donor stewardship plan so everyone is familiar with your relationship-building tactics for donors of various giving levels.
- Share your volunteer handbook: Pass out physical copies of your handbook or share it online so your corporate volunteers can familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of your volunteering procedures. Your handbook should cover safety guidelines, sign-in and -out procedures and overall volunteer expectations. To ensure that volunteers review these key details, consider creating a brief and straightforward quiz that tests them on the essentials.
- Create open lines of communication: After attending your orientation sessions and reading through your guidance, your corporate volunteers might still have questions. Assign a point person to field their questions at any time and provide additional resources as needed to support their transition into their volunteer roles.
At the end of your training period, survey your new volunteers to gauge the effectiveness of your orientation meetings and materials in preparing them for their roles. Their perspectives can help you optimize your onboarding experience for new volunteers, so be open to both favorable and unfavorable feedback. Plus, you can use these insights to craft additional resources that will benefit your corporate volunteers as they set off in their roles.
Build a Sense of Community
One of the best ways to keep corporate volunteers invested in your organization is through creating a strong sense of community. When volunteers understand how they fit into the “big picture” and feel connected with your cause and team, they’ll be more inclined to support your organization year after year.
To put community at the focus of your nonprofit’s volunteer program, leverage these tips:
- Host community-building events: Host engaging icebreaker activities before volunteer shifts and invite volunteers to get together on a monthly basis for lunches or dinners. You could also ask them to participate in skill-sharing workshops, where each session is led by a different volunteer. This can help your entire volunteer base pick up new skills while creating a fun learning and bonding experience.
- Create a mentorship program: A mentorship program is a great way to help new corporate volunteers meet their peers and make new friends. Connect each new volunteer with a veteran team member who can answer questions ranging from best practices in their roles to how to secure volunteer grants through their employers. Encourage your mentors to check in with their mentees regularly.
- Express volunteer appreciation: A robust volunteer recognition strategy—led by your staff and higher-ranking volunteers—will help your corporate volunteers feel truly appreciated for their efforts and connected to your team. Fundraising Letters’ guide to volunteer appreciation recommends writing thank-you letters that highlight volunteers’ individual impact, posting shout-outs on social media and giving awards like an “Exemplary Dedication Award” or “Rising Volunteer Award.”
Fostering a sense of belonging among your corporate volunteers will keep them motivated and contribute to a supportive, collaborative environment. As a result, volunteers will be eager to work together to maximize your organization’s success. Plus, enthusiastic corporate volunteers will be more likely to spread the word about your nonprofit to others, helping you to recruit new volunteers and expand your network.
Backed by an engaged corporate volunteer network, your nonprofit will be in great shape to achieve its goals and make a difference in the surrounding community. Remember to check in with your volunteers regularly so you can answer their questions, steer them toward opportunities that will facilitate their growth and create mutually beneficial partnerships.