At one point or another, it’s bound to happen. Someone signs up for a volunteer slot, then doesn’t show up. In fact, it happens a lot for most charities. Putting a plan in place can save you and your organization a lot of frustration. Try our tips for reducing volunteer no-shows to make this inevitability a less worrisome part of your job.
Open Communication Channels to Discuss Scheduling Difficulties
Volunteers give their own time freely to your organization. When they commit to a slot, they have nothing riding on the outcome. They won’t get fired if they don’t show up. That kind of relationship can make addressing no-shows a tricky process.
You should offer empathy and compassion in every part of the communication process, and make it clear that you’d rather know in advance if someone has to cancel rather than having them not show up for a slot. Handling the issue with kind words and support encourages the person to treat you nicely in return. It also builds trust between you, which can help decrease no-shows in the future.
Offer a Way for Volunteers to Cancel Shifts
No-shows often occur because volunteers are uncertain how to cancel a shift that they’ve already committed to. They may feel bad for canceling or not know who to get in touch with to say they can’t make it.
You could designate someone to touch base with volunteers to confirm shifts, allowing them to cancel if needed. Better yet, automating the process of volunteer scheduling through volunteer management software like Volgistics permits your volunteer to opt out with little effort. They just need to log in to cancel.
Schedule More Volunteers or Staff
One way to combat no-shows is to ensure you have enough people available even if a few don’t show up. This plan may mean scheduling several volunteers for a shift or assigning someone from your charity staff to oversee a volunteer assignment. That person can fill in for missing volunteers.
Provide Reminders About Volunteer Shifts
No-shows can be the result of poor time management. The volunteer wants to help, but they forget to write down the date. Or they might scribble the wrong time in their calendar and arrive two hours after the event finishes. One way around this pesky issue is using a program that can send text message or email reminders about their shift. Schedule these reminders to go out at least 24 hours before the activity — they can serve as a subtle nudge to double-check a calendar.
Reach out After a No-Show
In some cases, no-shows occur as a result of a real emergency. Your volunteer may be too overwhelmed or embarrassed to contact you if this issue happens. Get in touch and warmly ask if they’re okay. This inquiry paves the way to re-engagement, especially for a high-quality volunteer you don’t want to lose.
If you use Volgistics, you can quickly find volunteers who may not have served as scheduled, then follow up with them by text or email.
You can lower the number of volunteer no-shows you experience by following the above tips. In addition, schedule a demo of Volgistics volunteer software management to see other ways it can help.