Tip of the Week October 15, 2018

System Operators can access the Volgistics Store from inside account.

The Volgistics Store is where accounts can create invoices, pay for service, change service levels and perform other administrative tasks. Volgistics Administrators can access the Store by visiting www.volgistics.com, hovering over Try or Buy, clicking Store, and entering their credentials. But there is another way into the Store that you can use to save time:

  1. Login to your Volgistics account as you normally would.
  2. Select Setup from the Menu.
  3. Expand the “Account management” link.
  4. Click Store.

Don’t like YouTube? Click here instead.

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Guide to Volunteer Management

Volunteer logistics — it’s a fancy term that’s a whole lot easier said than done.

For every volunteer manager in the industry with a finely tuned, perfectly cemented, top-to-bottom volunteer management system in place, there are ten trying to get there. And by no fault of their own. Nonprofits face a host of duties and responsibilities balanced against the backdrop of the nonprofit industry’s laundry list of concerns, from tight finances and a competitive donor landscape to stretched staff and overall organizational growth.

What’s more, that list of concerns is only made longer without a solid base of volunteers serving at its heart, engaging, supporting, and catalyzing the missions of the entire organization.

These are not easy tasks for volunteer leaders in the real world. That’s precisely why we’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to effectively manage volunteers to improve volunteer engagement.

Successful volunteer management goes far past feel-good fluff. Behind every nonprofit is a family of individuals whose work goes beyond the routine call of duty. With the right tools, steps, and strategies in place, you can maximize that work and ensure that your volunteer family feels as much a part of your mission as possible — for years to come.

We’ve got tips on volunteer management best practices, plus tangible ways to organize and improve key volunteer management domains to make your practices efficient, streamlined, scalable, and cost-effective. It’s a winning recipe to attract and retain volunteers, helping your nonprofit achieve what it was meant to be.

What Is Volunteer Management?

Before taking a deep-dive into the step-by-step strategies to improve volunteer management, we must first peel back what exactly this role is and how it fits into an institution’s larger organizational structure.

Volunteer management is the umbrella term for the collective tactics, strategies, and processes in place for an organization to use volunteers. Within those strategies are certain stages, or domains, which together are known as the volunteer lifecycle.

Volunteer management is the umbrella term for the collective tactics, strategies, and processes in place for a nonprofit to use volunteers.

If a nonprofit has the resources, they will appoint a volunteer manager — a staff member whose role it is to implement and oversee the volunteer lifecycle exclusively. However, it is not uncommon for program managers or a nonprofit’s director themselves to adopt aspects of a volunteer manager, given the size or current capacities of their organization.

Tips on Volunteer Management Across Nonprofit Types

There are approximately 29 different classifications of nonprofits in the United States, defined according to the Internal Revenue Service. The most common type, however, is the 501(c)(3) Nonprofit, encompassing the gamut of charitable, educational, civil service, and religious organizations with certain tax-exempt statuses who do work within and for the general public.

There are apporximately 29 different classifications of nonprofits in the United States, defined according to the Internal Revenue Service.

You are likely most familiar with a number of 501(c)(3) organizations. Tips on volunteer management for this type of nonprofit tend to center on recruiting, engaging, and retaining volunteers and extend across the following popular volunteerism niches:

  1. Healthcare, Hospices, and Palliative Care

From hospital baby rockers, front-desk greeters and clerical assistance to special-event help and inpatient unit volunteers, hospitals and health services have no shortage of opportunities. Volunteer managers in the healthcare industry often manage in-depth volunteer screenings and interviews alongside volunteer documentation and compliance regulations.

  1. Animal Rescues or Pet Shelters

Volunteering at an animal shelter is one of the most popular service types around. Private and municipally run rescues and shelters have a variety of around-the-clock routines their staff requires help with, from pet walking to grooming and shelter cleaning. Likewise, aquariums and zoos maintain a solid rotation of volunteers for their special events and their own internal maintenance tasks.

Animal Rescues or Pet Shelters

  1. Community Outreach

With an innate focus on bettering their surroundings, community outreach nonprofits can take shape in neighborhood clean-up crews, afterschool programs, or civil services with a hyper-local footprint. They inherently rely on volunteers found within their neighborhoods — indeed, not doing so contradicts their nature. Volunteer managers in community outreach programs need to connect and care about deep-seated community issues, as well as translate that care into clear volunteer pipelines.

  1. Museums and Education Nonprofits

Skill-matching opportunities abound at education-driven nonprofits or places where learning and culture are at the heart of operations, such as museums. Math and literacy tutors are nearly always in demand at after-school programs, while volunteers assist in core capacities that museums or educational foundation don’t have the in-house staff or funding for.

  1. Food Banks

Food banks or food-justice nonprofits deal with one of the most pressing and immediate hardships people experience — food insecurity. They balance high donation turnover with scheduling overlapping volunteer shifts and a near-steady stream of community guests, all of which tends to fall under a volunteer manager’s helm.

Food Banks

  1. Veterans’ Services

Nonprofits dedicated to veterans’ services often wear numerous hats. From medical and related health services, job training and placement, and moving and relocation to general military-to-civilian transitions, they serve a pocket of the population that has served us for so long. Volunteer managers in this nonprofit niche must balance numerous volunteer specialties while remaining sensitive to the needs and interests of their community.

Types of Volunteers

Volunteer managers also know that not all volunteers are the same. In-person, task-specific service, or event staffing is crucial — and the most common type of volunteer. Yet in today’s world, the list of ways for the public to lend their time and talents to an organization doesn’t stop there.

  • Virtual Volunteers: Today’s world allows people to dedicate their time and skills without having to step into a nonprofit physically. Virtual volunteers most often perform functions for an organization that can be done remotely, such as bookkeeping or social media.
  • Mentorship: Considered a type of formal, long-term volunteering, mentorship opportunities allow you to do center relationships, namely through youth mentorship or professional development/career mentorship.
  • Pro-Bono Work: Individuals with a specific trade or talent can apply those skills in the service of a nonprofit free of charge. From legal counsel to designing an organization’s new website to catering an event, pro-bono partnerships are often essential for volunteer managers to cultivate.
  • Corporate Volunteers: Employee groups taking time out of their workday to volunteer not only better their communities, but they grow closer as a team, exercise new skills, and boost the brand of their company’s reputation.
  • Target Demographic Volunteers: Youth groups and retired communities are amongst the most likely to volunteer their time, with older teens — age 16-19 — and seniors — age 65 and up — driving volunteer engagement rates.

Tips on Volunteer Management Domains

How to effectively manage volunteers begins by identifying a clear and succinct role for the volunteer manager.

Many assume a volunteer manager funnels all their time and energy into routine volunteer advertising into the community. They use multiple channels to do so — digital, print, or interpersonal — with the end-goal to attract and secure as much extra assistance as possible.

While it’s intuitive that this individual is a vital member of the staff and the crucial touch point for community engagement, it’s not so straightforward what those day-to-day operations include that equate to evergreen volunteer infrastructure. What’s more, this volunteer-manager cliché doesn’t take into account other essential responsibilities, such as retention, engagement, and community branding, or building long-term volunteer capacity and securing stable revenue or funding across fields for their institution.

A dynamic volunteer manager should have work domains extending beyond being a mere volunteer recruitment voice, participating in the following nonprofit operations:

  1. Ideation and Implementation of a Strategic Plan

Strategic plans are not only meant for the private sector. They’re also not broad swaths of intangible or unrealistic goals your nonprofit dreams of, without concrete actions to get there.

Rather, strategic plans serve as the stepping stones to the future version of your organization. They turn the intangible into the actionable by identifying three or four overall goals, then their target timelines, then the step-by-step measures to reach those goals and the resources necessary to make them happen.

The more specific, the better. Strategic planning for nonprofits starts with building momentum around a strong mission, as this imprints an organization’s identity and helps shape future wants and needs. It is imperative to have a volunteer manager at the table during strategic planning, as well as to review and spearhead a few of its annual goals.

Strategic planning for nonprofits starts with building momentum around a strong mission, as this imprints an organization's identity and helps shape future wants and needs.

  1. Working Volunteers into the Larger Organizational Structure

Likewise, nonprofits big and small should also have an organizational structure in-place. These documents serve as the scaffolding to positions and domains, linking the two in a transparent, defined manner for all in the organization to assess. Organizational structures show the chain of command as well as who to turn to during specific procedures.

A volunteer manager will sit somewhere in the organizational structure, as will other predominant staff roles at a nonprofit, like the director, assistant director, and program coordinators — all nestled under a governing board of directors.

However, where do your volunteers land? It’s inarguable that volunteers are essential to your nonprofit’s framework. Display that value by working them into your overall organizational structure.

  1. Manage the Entire Volunteer Lifecycle

Last but certainly not least, volunteer managers direct volunteer operations across its various stages. Tailoring best practices through their nonprofit’s equipment, technology, procedures, personnel, and networks, they oversee the entirety of the volunteer lifecycle. That volunteer lifecycle, in turn, is broken down into five distinct branches:

  1. Volunteer Recruitment
  2. Volunteer Communication
  3. Volunteer Retention
  4. Volunteer Tracking and Recognition
  5. Volunteer Impact Analysis

These are the domains volunteer managers are best known for — and are the very segments this guide will break down below. We’ll provide in-depth tips, methods, and strategies to capitalize on your available resources to make every stage of the volunteer lifecycle as dynamic and efficient as possible — all while building the smoothest volunteer pipeline for your nonprofit, today and tomorrow.

Manage the entire volunteer lifecycle

1. Volunteer Recruitment

It’s square one in the series of volunteer manager tasks. It’s the foothold upon which volunteer operations depend and the base of the entire service-work lifecycle — without which, a nonprofit cannot execute its full mission and engagement potential.

Thanks to technology, digital volunteer recruitment methods have expanded in the past decade. Yet these tools don’t eliminate the creativity and work that goes into phase one of the volunteer lifecycle. Rather, it lends volunteer recruitment tactics a sharper launching point for easier volunteer advertising, making its subsequent checkpoints more productive, cooperative, and sustainable.

  1. Recruitment Methods

Volunteer recruitment methods combine the warmth and personability of word-of-mouth interactions with the reach and functionality of digital publicity. The following volunteer recruitment methods offer the best means to broadcast service opportunities for today’s savvy volunteer manager:

  • Social Media Networking: Rather than posting events on your social media pages alone, reach out to local businesses and even other nonprofits to share volunteering endeavors. These aggregate partnerships are natural and quickly compound into a wide-reaching volunteer network.
  • Community Boards: On both physical boards in community hotspots and digital boards hosted on your local municipality’s websites, post volunteer schedules, and highlight upcoming events to generate a larger audience.
  • Target Demographic Partnerships: Remember those target volunteer demographics from earlier? Reach youth groups and senior citizens online through websites or digital communities they’re a part of. You can also directly contact places where these groups spend their time, such as community living centers, high schools, or colleges.
  • Online Directories: Most counties host official websites dedicated to linking prospective volunteers with in-need organizations in the area. You can search for these directories online and submit your nonprofit to be featured.
  • Your Own Website: Ensure your nonprofit’s website has a clear, user-friendly volunteer board so that visitors of all kinds can easily access it.

Social Media Networking

  1. Applications

Create volunteer applications, with a special emphasis on digital forms that candidates can fill out and submit directly from your website. Whether you receive these applications via email or through a special software or portal, you have a dedicated place to review, input, and organize volunteers and move onto the screening stage.

  1. Background Checks

Once candidate applications have been vetted, ensure you have the next proper recruitment protocol in place — background checks.

Background checks not only satiate many boards of directors, but they are often a base requirement to meet insurance provider’s nonprofit liability coverage minimums. Depending on the nonprofit type and services you operate, it may be mandatory for your organization to run formal background checks on any candidate.

Whether accomplished through a private screening company, a state agency, or completed in-house using public records, a volunteer manager must guarantee the people entering their space are aligned with its mission. But before running background checks for your applicants, you should decide what you’re looking for and what positions, if any, a volunteer would be prohibited from serving in based on what you find.

  1. Placement Interviews

Placement interviews are key ways to connect with prospective volunteers. After applications and background checks have been processed, setting up placement interviews allows a volunteer manager to get to know the in-depth skills, interests, and growth areas of a person — plus treats that volunteer like a valued, holistic member of the team, not just an extra body.

  1. Health Screenings, If Necessary

Finally, the recruitment process concludes with an official health screening — but only if required due to the nature of the nonprofit or the work a volunteer will be doing.

For example, hospital volunteers are often required to undergo a handful of health screens, such as a two-step tuberculin skin test, before inclusion on a volunteer roster. These health screenings may be worked into a placement interview or even completed beforehand to keep onboarding as streamlined as possible.

For the simplest, most efficient and effective volunteer recruitment processes, consider adding volunteer recruitment software into your nonprofit’s infrastructure. These tools allow you to build a “one-stop shop” for all potential volunteers, with online directories, applications, volunteer descriptions, and scheduling accessible in a single location.

For the simplest, most efficient and effective volunteer recruitment processes, consider adding volunteer recruitment software into your nonprofit's infrastructure.

2. Volunteer Communication

Though it permeates nearly all aspects of the job, volunteer communication strategies tend to go under the radar. It’s an assumed aspect of the volunteer manager’s position — the ability to reach out, communicate, and stay in touch with the community — yet one that sees little definition or strategized tactics.

Understanding how to better communicate with volunteers across the lifecycle directly translates into keeping and improving those volunteers. We’ve got a few strategies for better volunteer communication to adopt in your nonprofit today.

  1. Volunteer Schedules

Coordinating schedules has caused many pounding headaches for volunteer managers — especially without the right scheduling and communication tools in place to make it a little easier.

Outdated models of volunteer scheduling include static programs, such as Excel or similar spreadsheets, where collaboration is non-existent and cyclical versions have to be continuously produced. What’s more, it’s impossible for volunteers to access these schedules on their own.

Instead, volunteer managers have a host of two-way programs they can utilize to create schedules faster and easier:

  • Self-scheduling volunteer software is becoming more and more prevalent. Volunteers themselves can log in, pick volunteer slots, and track their own hours. Volunteer managers get notices when this occurs and can oversee proper shift allotments.
  • Commitment-tracking features also let you analyze what kind of volunteers you most frequently attract as well as their hours and skillsets, from “one-and-done” episodic volunteers to pro-bono work to reoccurring, formal service members. You can use this insight to further tailor schedules.
  1. Role Descriptions and Volunteer Confirmation

Do you post and maintain role advertisements on your organization’s website? Are those volunteer roles clearly differentiated and detailed, containing relevant information such as role expectations, physical work requirements, time commitments, or specialty skills needed?

Conversely, do you have a portal where prospective volunteers can submit a skill or volunteer interest on their own? And are your communication channels — from phone and email to website notices or automated messages — alerting you of a candidate’s interest so you can respond quickly and professionally?

Consider adding the following communication extensions:

  • Automated messages when a volunteer candidate expresses interest, such as a thank-you email and link to your official application page.
  • Automated confirmation and calendar reminders when volunteers are scheduled.
  • E-Newsletters sent out to free subscribers, with the latest news and volunteer opportunities available.
  • Text and email volunteer management software where you can reach out to individuals or entire groups of volunteers, conveniently and with a few clicks.
  1. Training Programs

Role-specific volunteer training is a pivotal part of successful volunteer communications. It signals the start of volunteer onboarding while also fostering a sense that volunteers are as critical to a nonprofit’s mission as paid staff.

Don’t go overboard, though. Develop a handful of volunteer training based on critical service types. Create a tailored presentation and role walkthrough for each, plus a service binder with important materials printed out for volunteers to keep.

Lastly, be flexible with training dates and times. Always ensure you’ve sent clear instructions and a reminder about times and locations where training is occurring.

  1. Feedback Loops and Ongoing Volunteer Support

Just as we’re all familiar with employee reviews, nonprofits can capitalize on volunteer feedback to glean insights on organization, communication, and process improvements.

These feedback meetings, or loops, serve three purposes:

  1. They prioritize volunteers’ opinions and make them feel valued, seen, and heard in the organization.
  2. They allow volunteer managers to gather fresh perspectives on internal processes, which in turn can be used to improve strategic planning and overall organizational management.
  3. They directly increase volunteer retainment retention rates.

Feedback loops work two-ways, as well. You can also use this time to give feedback on the volunteer’s activities and performance itself, if comfortable doing so and agreed upon at the onset of a volunteer’s commitment. That is to say, never surprise a volunteer with a performance review. Include these up-front in role descriptions and get active consent from a volunteer if they wish to have one.

All this lays the foundation of ongoing volunteer support, where service members feel intimately involved in the nonprofit. They tie their presence, attitude, and energy as factors contributing to or detracting from an organization’s progress.

3. Volunteer Retention

Even the most seasoned volunteer managers search for tips on volunteer retention. It’s at the heart of their operations, and one many professional development and industry resources dedicate generous time and resources to.

The most common volunteer retention advice centers on recognition — creating center-stage moments where individuals and their achievements are broadcast for all to see. Yes, this kind of recognition is one of the leading ways to retain volunteers — but it’s not the only way.

Before curating volunteer recognition and rewards, a manager must first keep a volunteer coming back, time and time again. How can volunteer managers imbue meaning and impact into every individual who walks through their door — and translate their work into collective momentum?

Volunteer Retention

  1. Empowerment through Purpose

As a nonprofit, mission and values must be central to everything you do. From the t-shirts you supply and the brochures you hand out to the speeches and presentations you make, your “brand” revolves around a central purpose. So, too, should your volunteer interactions.

This doesn’t mean operating like a commercial, with inauthentic dialogue or brand-centric moments. What it does mean is framing volunteer work always with an empowering, positive message. Openly discuss short and long-term strategic goals and how volunteers help secure them. Discuss the tangibles of their work. Add a purpose — quantifiable, qualifiable, or both — to all events or projects.

  1. Track and Record Service

Look for complete online tools that allow you to easily input and track each volunteer’s service hours. This is a critical internal measure for both volunteer retention and recognition, as well as totaling end-of-year service bulletins or impact reports.

The more detailed this software or system, the better. Beyond totaling hours, you can assign volunteer classifications, designate groups, build data sets, and organize contact information all in one spot.

  1. Balance Work and Play

Show your gratitude while building stronger volunteer connections by hosting celebratory events. These can be upbeat and social, such as sports outings, barbecues, or ice-cream socials for volunteers to mix and mingle in a laid-back environment. Like most gatherings, this helps volunteers feel like a part of a team and more likely to stay engaged with your nonprofit.

  1. Always Say Thanks

From handwritten thank-you cards to small treats and surprises, saying thanks never goes out of style. When it comes to volunteer retention, showing appreciation is not only an industry best practice — it’s a way to maximize connectivity and loyalty over time.

Use your networks and online platforms as a means to say thank you, as well. Consider “volunteer spotlight” posts weekly or bi-weekly, where a volunteer is showcased on your nonprofit’s Facebook, Instagram, or other social media pages — with their permission, of course. Try to quantify their impact as much as possible in these posts, using numbers to shed light on how much they’ve done and what their work means to the organization.

Always Say Thanks

  1. Curate a Safe Volunteer Environment

Volunteers are unlikely to return to your organization if they don’t feel properly equipped or informed — or worse, threatened or unsafe. This falls under the umbrella concern of organizational security, which a volunteer manager can proactively curate through their own management styles.

Beyond making volunteers feel supported and welcomed, managers need to make them feel comfortable. From conflict management resolution amongst volunteers to running proper background checks to clean, sanitary environments, make sure to cross your Ts and dot your Is when it comes to safe volunteer settings. This, in turn, encourages returning volunteers.

4. Volunteer Tracking and Recognition

With the right tools and measures in place, volunteer managers can move on to their next critical domain — tracking and recognizing their volunteers.

It’s a part of the job many say they love, as it adds momentum to volunteerism and puts a personal face on nonprofit achievements. It’s also one of the easiest yet most important PR initiatives for nonprofit organizations to undertake, regularly highlighting the human impact so critical to their success.

Many volunteer managers have their own ways to track volunteer hours, commitment types, and projects. Yet harmonizing these systems and making them accessible to others within the organization not only helps keep volunteer tracking evergreen amidst turnover, but it creates a pipeline where this domain is never lost or overlooked.

  1. Categorize Commitment

A key part of volunteer tracking is not only knowing who’s coming in and when, but also what kind of services they’re performing. For your own nonprofit metrics, categorizing volunteer commitment helps you see where your strengths and weaknesses are so you may tailor improvements accordingly.

For example, with a categorized volunteer report, you may be able to determine that your organization relies heavily on youth groups who are exercising mandatory service-hour obligations. You can see that volunteer names and groups change frequently, with most being short-term or project contingent.

All this categorization shows that your current volunteer recruitment practices skew episodic and highly demographic. You have data in place emphasizing the need for longer-term, lower-turnover volunteers types, and can pitch for those resources. None of these informed decisions would be possible without volunteer categorization software or program extensions.

  1. Run Volunteer Reports

Volunteer reports are often one of the key deliverables under a volunteer manager’s helm.

Whether your organization chooses to run them weekly, monthly, quarterly, or in a custom timeframe, it is absolutely critical for there to be a system in place that turns stored volunteer data into itemized reports.

What’s more, these reports should be versatile and tailored to their respective audiences. Volunteers who request reports for their own accountability or mandatory service hours will get different information than a broader, quarterly report printed for the board. Likewise, volunteer reports will help a volunteer manager execute a range of daily tasks, such as project and task delegation, managing expenditures, or initiating a timely performance review.

  1. Celebrate Service

With a streamlined program in place effortlessly tracking the hours and impact of volunteers, it’s only natural to communicate that information outward. Celebrate and reward the hard work of your most dedicated volunteers with a number of creative volunteering honors:

  • Reach Out: Contact the volunteer’s employer to share their service. This proves not only the dedicated work ethic of that individual but also their integrity and commitment to causes beyond themselves. If possible, consider reaching out to the mayor’s office or local politicians to have them send service thank yous as well, especially if the volunteer has spent time on community endeavors.
  • Treat Them: Treat the volunteer to dinner at their favorite restaurant, a basket of favorite baked treats, festival tickets, music events, or more. The more personalized, the better.
  • Volunteer Hall of Fame: Dedicate space within your nonprofit to showcasing pictures of your volunteers in action, along with service plaques and a list of their achievements.
  • Scrapbook of Service: Have staff members, along with anyone who’s been directly affected by the volunteer’s service, write personal notes to them. Compile those messages in a “service scrapbook” for the volunteer to look back on.
  • Local Store Discount: Consider reaching out to local cafes, grocery stores, coffee shops, and retailers for local service-award discounts. Many of these might qualify as tax write-offs for the business.
  • Nominate Them: Nominate outstanding volunteers for local community awards to have their hard work recognized even further.

5. Volunteer Impact Analysis and Reporting

A volunteer manager can truly showcase the time, talent, and accomplishments of their collective volunteer efforts through annual volunteer impact reports.

Measuring service hours, volunteer categories, projects and events accomplished, money fundraised, and goals quantified, these reports give a logistical perspective to the use and support of volunteers. In fact, 2018 averages show that every hour of a volunteer’s work equals nearly $25 in value — rivaling the impact of even cash donations.

2018 averages show that every hour of a volunteer's work equals nearly $25 is value - rivaling the impact of even cash donations.

Volunteer managers can use impact analyses and reports to calculate the cost-savings or monetarily-backed service enhancements of their nonprofits. These numbers can then be put to use across a number of beneficial applications:

  1. Volunteer Impact Reports

The basics of a good volunteer report should include:

  • Dollar Value of Volunteer Hours: Any calculation that converts the work and hours of volunteers into economic, social, or tangible community enhancements. These are highly specific to a nonprofit and can be easily gathered from value-generating software.
  • Productivity Rates: Based on volunteer and hour-related information collected from surveys and direct observation.
  • Testimonials: Words and insights on the power of volunteers, straight from the sources most impacted by them.
  • Project Outputs: Proof of progress toward strategic goals and initiatives — which are especially pertinent to donors and the board of directors.
  • Other Impact-Report Figures: You can include any other important progress numbers, including social media engagement, funds raised, increased awareness around an issue, events managed, donations procured, and so on.

Volunteer Impact Reports

  1. Grant Writing

Generating volunteer impact reports directly sets you up to prepare better grant proposals. And since grants remain one of the leading sources of funding for nonprofits — yet also one of the most competitive — presenting concrete numbers helps set you apart.

You can use the numbers and calculations to prepare stronger grant applications. That’s because most grant calls specifically ask for impact-based metrics. They want to know exactly how far awarded money can go, and if you have the infrastructure and support in place to deliver.

  1. Volunteer Compliance

Volunteer impact reports and analyses also serve to help volunteer managers document compliance. Nonprofits in the healthcare, social services, or youth mentorship niches, in particular, have volunteer and documentation procedures they must adhere to.

Overall Volunteer Management Trend Dos and Don’ts

As nonprofits adapt to evolving volunteer expectations, shifting demographics, tighter sources of funding, and emerging technologies, their organizational processes must develop as well. Volunteer managers can stay ahead of the game, crowd, or pack to be leaders in a field , succeed, or win. Keep important content above the fold to be noticed by professionally improving upon volunteerism trends of the past few years:


  • Embrace Video: Video has emerged as the dominant digital engagement tool of the 21st century. Harness it for both entertaining and educational purposes, including public-facing nonprofit branding, to volunteer recruitment, or even setting up video modules for new volunteer training.
  • Match Your Message With Your Audience: For volunteer recruitment efforts, use specific, targeted messages that will connect with the demographic you wish to bring onboard. Millennials and youth groups tend to link altruistic acts with their own quality of life, whereas baby boomers separate the two, seeing volunteering as a social duty. Tailor recruitment and mission messaging accordingly.
  • Start Exploring Smartphones: From implementing text-friendly donation platforms, to making your website mobile-friendly, to texting as a point-of-contact with volunteers, don’t shy away from utilizing today’s leading consumer technologies.


  • Forget Structure: While volunteering shouldn’t be as rigid as a job, it should still come with expectations, skill development, training, oversight, and room for growth. Communicate those possibilities effectively at every level.
  • Forgo Insurance: Organizations must mitigate risks and protect themselves from unforeseen volunteer occurrences where the nonprofit is left liable. Research both Volunteer Injury Insurance and Directors and Officers Liability, as well as General Liability to assess your positions, or consult with a pro-bono legal expert.
  • Ignore Software: Software solutions for volunteer managers assist with nearly every aspect of the job, from volunteer retention, advertising, applications, scheduling, information storage, data tracking, report generation, and so much more. The role is only made more difficult without it.

Overall Volunteer Management Tread

Improve Volunteer Management with Software That Works for You

Volgistics serves over 5,000 nonprofits and helps track over 6 million volunteers with its nonprofit logistics software.

Volgistics has served over 5,000 nonprofits and helped track over 6 million volunteers with its nonprofit logistics software.

And it’s only the beginning. We want to make volunteer managers’ roles more streamlined, simple, and efficient through our user-friendly software so you can focus on what really matters — living out your organization’s mission.

Explore our suite of solutions today, or get in touch for a free, no-obligation trial account.

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Tip of the Week October 08, 2018

Preview what volunteers see when they login to VicNet.

If your organization uses the VicNet module you may want to preview what a volunteer sees when they login. This can be useful when you’re doing things such as setting up Vic self-scheduling to see if you’ve set it up correctly. One way to do this is to go to your organization’s VicNet portal and enter the volunteer’s email address and password.

However, you can do this even faster and without knowing their password by previewing VicNet from the Vic tab of their record. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Select Volunteers from the Menu.
  2. Locate the volunteer’s record and click on the name.
  3. Click the Vic tab.
  4. If the VicNet section shows “Access is OK,” click the Preview button to see VicNet.

If the tab does not show “Access is OK,” help topic 1073 may be helpful.

Don’t like YouTube? Click here instead.

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How to Recruit the Best Volunteers for Your Organization

How To Recruit the Best Volunteers For Your Organization

It is the dream of every volunteer-based organization to have so many volunteers knocking on your door that you have to turn some of them away. Being able to fill every volunteer assignment instantly with a cheerful and skilled worker would make your job as a volunteer leader that much easier. Unfortunately, in many instances, organizations have more volunteer opportunities available than they have volunteers to fill them. This is when good volunteer recruitment is essential.

Sometimes a lack of volunteers is simply due to potential volunteers not knowing about the opportunities you have available. Other times, you need a large volume of volunteers for an event or busy season, but cannot fill all of the positions from your current pool of volunteers. If your organization requires skilled volunteers, you may receive applications for assignments, but none with the right qualifications for the position.

No matter the reason you need more volunteers, these recruitment tips and best practices will equip you to find as many volunteers as you need — and ones whose interests and talents are right for your organization’s needs!

Why Volunteer Recruitment Matters

For volunteer-based organizations, the success of your business relies upon having enough volunteers to fill all open positions. You need to have enough hands on deck to direct visitors in your museum, pack boxes in your food bank or shelve books at your library. However, for your organization to really excel, these volunteers need to be those who are best-suited for your business. Volunteers at a theater should not be bored by Shakespeare and people serving at an animal shelter should not be allergic to dogs or cats. When volunteers are enthusiastic about the work they are doing, they will achieve more goals and help your organization succeed.

Why Volunteer Recruitment Matters

Finding the best volunteers not only means your volunteers will be happier and do better work, but also that they are more likely to stick around long-term! Volunteer retention means you won’t need to recruit as often or spend time training new volunteers as frequently. This cuts training costs and allows your volunteers to spend more time actually serving.

Volunteer recruitment has become even more important in recent years as the non-profit landscape has changed. Often, there are more volunteer opportunities than there are people seeking to serve. Potential volunteers have also become more selective about which organizations they want to work with. These changes have made volunteer recruitment somewhat competitive.

To recruit the best volunteers, your organization needs to show potential volunteers why the work you do is important. Volunteers want to know they are supporting a good cause before they commit their time to volunteering with your business. However, through good volunteer recruitment efforts, you can make your organization and its goals visible to potential volunteers who would love to work with you.

How to Advertise Your Volunteer Opportunities

One of the most important parts of successful volunteer recruitment is advertising. Getting the word out about opportunities for volunteering with your organization is essential for attracting volunteers and getting them to apply. The trick to effective advertising is identifying and targeting the right people who are best-suited for your organization’s volunteer opportunities.

These steps will help you create an advertising campaign tailored to your organization and the volunteers you hope to attract:

1. Identify Your Target Audience

When identifying your target audience, there are several factors to consider. Depending on your volunteer opportunities, your volunteers may need to possess specific skills or abilities to succeed. People in different demographic groups may be better suited to different volunteer positions within your organization. Below are a few questions to ask before beginning an advertising campaign:

  • What tasks will my volunteers be completing?
  • Will my volunteers need any specific skills to complete these tasks?
  • Where will I find volunteers with these skills?
  • Will my volunteers be completing any physically strenuous tasks?
  • Will my volunteers be in any sensitive or vulnerable situations?
  • Is there a specific age group that would be best-suited for these roles?
  • What interests should my volunteers have?
  • Is there anything that would disqualify a potential volunteer from this role?

These questions help you identify who would be the best candidate for a certain volunteer opportunity. They also help you examine any challenges your volunteers might face and identify any people who may not be able to complete the necessary tasks. Your volunteer recruitment should be as inclusive as possible and consider all genders, ages, and races. However, it is also important to consider safety and the capabilities of potential volunteers.

2. Select Your Volunteer Recruitment Strategy

Depending on who you want to target for your volunteer recruitment, there are several recruitment strategies you can try. What works best for you depends on the size of your organization and purpose of recruitment:

  • Recruitment for Volume: In some situations, your organization simply needs a lot of people to fill volunteer spots. Also called “warm body recruitment,” this technique works great when the positions you want to fill do not require specialized skills. These positions can be filled by young and old alike and are often short-term commitments. Recruiting for volume typically means doing an advertising blast on social media, speaking to large groups, or disseminating brochures and flyers.
  • Targeted Recruitment: For positions that require specific skills or interests, you should focus your advertising to target those groups. Targeted recruitment is also more effective for gaining long-term volunteers because it attracts people who are passionate about the cause your organization represents. Advertising for a targeted audience could mean speaking to a specific group at a school, posting an ad in a specialized journal or newsletter, or posting flyers in strategic locations where your intended audience will see them.
  • Friend-of-a-Friend Recruitment: A great way to focus your recruitment is to contact people who are already familiar with your agency or connected to it in some way. These may be people who have personally experienced the problem your organization is seeking to solve, or they may be friends or family of current volunteers. If your organization is particularly active in the community, this technique can also work to recruit people living in the neighborhoods around you. Because these potential volunteers already know about you, they will be more comfortable with being contacted directly. When you contact these people, via email or through social media, they will already be familiar with your organization and more interested to hear about your volunteer opportunities.

Select Your Volunteer Recruitment Strategy

3. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!

Now that you know what kind of volunteers you are seeking, consider the places these volunteers are most likely to see your advertisements or connect with your organization. Online advertising may work best for a younger demographic, whereas hanging posters in local banks or churches may better to reach an older generation. Below are some possible ways to advertise your volunteer opportunities:

  • Utilize social media by creating a Facebook page, tweeting about your opportunities, or posting an ad on Instagram
  • Update your website to include current open volunteer positions
  • Hang posters in schools, banks, stores, coffee shops, or anywhere they will be visible to your target audience
  • Air a commercial on the radio
  • Post an ad in your local newspaper
  • Set up a booth at a volunteer fair or school
  • Speak at a college or university that has a volunteer club or social justice organization

No matter what advertising techniques you use, do not underestimate the power of personal experience and storytelling. People are often persuaded through hearing stories they can relate to. Stories often have more impact on the listener than statistics or facts. Cold data only comes alive through stories from volunteers who loved serving with your organization so much they simply had to sign up to volunteer again.

Use personal stories when advertising at volunteer fairs or speaking to students. Bring a current volunteer to your booth or event and ask them to share their experience. They can talk what they love about volunteering with your business, they can describe the day-to-day tasks of the position and can also give honest examples of what has been challenging about serving with your organization. Hearing real stories from someone who has volunteered with your organization in the past will make people feel more confident about applying to volunteer.

How to Get Volunteers to Commit to Your Organization

Once volunteers have heard about the opportunities to serve with your organization, you need to convince them to actually sign up. Many factors determine whether a potential volunteer will apply for an opportunity with your organization or not, including how much they understand what your organization does and how your opportunities fit their schedule. Here are some tips for converting interested people into committed volunteers:

How to get Volunteers to Commit to Your Organization

1. Include Plenty of Information About Your Opportunities

When posting open assignments, include as much information as possible about the position. Include the location, the dates and times of the assignment, whether it is a one-time or repeating opportunity, and what volunteers should wear or bring. Include a detailed description of the tasks they will be completing so they know exactly what to expect when they arrive at the job. People are much more likely to apply for a position when they feel prepared and in-the-know.

Volgistics provides an online directory feature that makes it easy for potential volunteers to access your opportunities and learn everything they want to know about them. The easy-to-read format allows volunteers to see all of the information about an open assignment in one place. They are also able to compare open assignments quickly to see if a different opportunity better suits their interests or schedule.

2. Provide Plenty of Information About What Your Organization Does

People nowadays tend to be pickier about the organizations they want to volunteer with. Potential volunteers will want to know exactly who their service will be helping and where their donations are going. Volunteers want to really get behind the cause of your organization before they serve with you. Clearly summarize how your organization helps the community as well as the impact they could make if they volunteer.

It’s also a great idea to include how serving will benefit the volunteer themselves. Even though the focus is to serve others, people are more likely to sign up to volunteer when they know it will also provide them with valuable skills or experiences.

3. Give a Heads-up About Additional Training or Mandatory Skills

In some cases, volunteers will need to complete additional training sessions before they can jump into serving. Include these requirements clearly in the assignment posting so volunteers are not surprised. Additionally, if your opportunity requires the volunteer to have specific skills, list these in the job description as well. This will ensure only qualified persons submit applications for the position.

4. Provide Tangible Goals for Your Volunteers

Any open assignment should include a set of goals for volunteers to achieve. Having clearly-defined goals for a volunteer opportunity is as important as describing the tasks themselves. People are generally goal-oriented and are more motivated when they have something to aspire to. Describe how the specific assignment will make a difference for the community or your organization through clearly-expressed goals.

5. Give Your Volunteer Opportunities a Descriptive Job Title

While it may not seem important to create a job title for each volunteering role, providing a descriptive job title other than “volunteer” makes a person feel valued. They will know the work they are doing is filling a specific need or role within the organization. They will feel proud of the service they are providing and the title they get to assume. Remember that some of your volunteers might be students who want to include their service on a resume or job application. Give them a job title that reflects the valuable service they are providing.

6. Have an Easy-to-Access Volunteer Page on Your Website

Make it easy for potential volunteers to access information about working with your organization. The volunteer page on your site should be clearly designated for volunteer recruitment with a heading like “How To Get Involved,” “Volunteer Opportunities,” or “Volunteer Today!” Include any relevant links on this page so potential recruits can read about open assignments and submit applications all in one place. To make the most killer volunteer recruitment page, keep it fun and user-friendly.

7. Streamline Your Volunteer Application Process

Using online applications simplifies your onboarding process, which makes potential volunteers more likely to apply. Be sure to include only relevant information on your application forms so volunteers do not waste time entering information that does not apply to the role. This may require you to create separate applications for different opportunities. A good application should include all contact information and any skills they possess and offer a spot for the volunteer to submit any questions they may have about the position.

Make sure volunteers can apply quickly and easily from your website using Volgistics’ online application forms. Our forms can be accessed through a simple link on your site and provide automatic email confirmation to applicants after they submit their application. Using Volgistics, you can tailor your application form to include as little or as much information as you want. You can also create different applications for each opportunity. All of this information will be automatically input into your Volgistics database, so there is no need for manual data entry. Any new applications will be sent directly to your Volgistics Mailbox, so qualified volunteers will never slip through the cracks.

5 More Tips for the Best Volunteer Recruitment Ever

Ready to really take your recruitment to the next level? Here’s how:

  1. Leave some seats empty. It can be tempting to hastily fill every open volunteer opportunity. While it can be nerve-wracking as a volunteer leader when you do not have slots filled, an empty seat is often better than a volunteer who is not really interested or committed. If you choose the wrong volunteer, you may end up spending time tracking them down when they do not show up for assignments or correcting their work when it is not done well. A non-committed volunteer can also bring down the morale or enthusiasm of your other volunteers. If you want your nonprofit or other volunteer-driven organization to thrive, you want to hold out for passionate and engaged volunteers who also want your organization to succeed. Remember that saying “no” to one volunteer may leave that slot open for an even better volunteer to fill.
  2. Appeal to the passions of potential volunteers. If your organization works for a hot-topic cause, consider creating a promotional video or public service announcement that plays to the emotions of potential volunteers. Remind them how passionate they are about keeping the earth clean from litter or getting a state law passed. Sometimes even caring people need to be reminded why they are passionate about volunteering and why your organization is a great place to serve.
  3. Don’t forget to actually ask! Sometimes the best volunteer recruitment efforts fail because they neglect to directly invite potential volunteers to sign up or apply. After describing your opportunities and why the work you are doing is important, be sure to actually ask potential volunteers to commit to serving by prompting them to apply. When reaching out to volunteers who have served with your organization before, tell them why you appreciated their previous service and how you think they will be a great fit for a new service opportunity. When your volunteers feel valued, they are likely to respond positively when you ask them to serve.
  4. Don’t be discouraged if you get a “no.” Volunteer recruitment often involves putting yourself — and your organization — out there for potential rejection. While getting a “no” from a potential volunteer can be discouraging, remember that in some instances a “no” is really a “not right now.” Sometimes people who care about your cause are simply too busy at that time or their schedule does not permit a long-term volunteer commitment. However, they may be able to volunteer for a short-term assignment or in the future when they have more time. Don’t give up on volunteers who show interest in your organization but cannot fit volunteering into their schedule right now.
  5. Be patient and remember that good volunteer recruitment takes time. At first, it may seem like you are spending too much time recruiting for your volunteer opportunities without receiving many applications. However, creating a good advertising campaign and great recruitment page on your organization’s website will definitely pay off in the end. By committing to good volunteer recruitment, you will gain visibility for your organization and its volunteer opportunities that will lead to more volunteers who are a perfect fit.

More Tips for the Best Volunteer Recruitment Ever

How Volgistics Can Help You Recruit the Best Volunteers

As industry leaders in technology for volunteer managers, Volgistics knows how important volunteer recruitment can be. Volgistics offers comprehensive volunteer management software designed for volunteer-based organizations of any size. Volgistics’ volunteer recruiting software is specifically designed to help you recruit volunteers who are the perfect fit for your organization.

How Volgistics Can Help You Recruit the Best Volunteers

Volgistics’ online directory feature allows you to post open positions to your organization’s website by simply adding a link. Your current volunteers can view these open assignments in the directory and sign up for the ones they are interested in. Potential volunteers can learn about your volunteer opportunities and gather all the information they need before they apply. Any time you want to update or edit assignments, you can do so easily without updating your website separately. Opportunities in the directory can be organized by category, too, so potential volunteers can quickly locate the assignments that suit their interests.

Volgistics also provides easy-to-use online applications that take very little time to create and are even faster for your volunteers to fill out. By removing hurdles from the application process, potential volunteers are more likely to submit applications. Volgistics allows you to create multiple applications for each department or volunteer opportunity within your organization. This allows you to have different applications for long- and short-term volunteers or create a separate application for an event you are hosting. These online applications can easily be accessed from your website through a link.

Once you have recruited awesome new volunteers, Volgistics can help you keep them organized through our other online volunteer management features. Volgistics allows you to stay in touch with volunteers easily through automated text and email services. Scheduling volunteers is further simplified through our online scheduling software. You even have the option to allow current volunteers to sign up for assignments on their own though Volgistics’ self-scheduling option. You will save time and energy normally spent scheduling and volunteers will be able to claim a spot serving at their favorite event or volunteer opportunity.

Good volunteer recruitment is essential for the success of any volunteer-based organization. You want to find the best volunteers who are passionate about what your organization does and excited to lend a hand. If you want to see how Volgistics can boost your volunteer recruitment, consider signing up for a free trial today!

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Tip of the Week October 01, 2018

Keep your account’s billing procedures accessible and ready

As renewal dates approach and/or administrative personnel change, it can be important to make sure that there are authorized staff handling the billing for your Volgistics account and that they are able to access the Store, receive billing notifications, and know how and when to plan future payments. Here are a few billing-related tips to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure the billing contact is up-to-date. Advance billing notices, billing confirmations, and other automated billing messages will be sent to the billing contact email address you set. Help topic 1019 explains more.
  2. Make sure the billing contact can access the Store. You can do this by making an administrator the billing contact, or providing the billing contact with your Accounting Access Code. Help topic 2143 explains more.
  3. Volgistics doesn’t generate order-invoices automatically. However, an authorized administrator or accounting operator for Volgistics account can create one at any time. Help topic 2071 explains more.
  4. Volgistics will never adjust your service level automatically. Creating and paying an invoice for a different service level will not cause it to change. You’ll need to update your service level manually. Help topic 2166 explains more.
  5. Volgistics doesn’t accept purchase orders as a form of payment. But if you need to generate one for your internal payment processing requirements, you can still attach it to your invoice. Help topic 2545 explains more.
  6. Volgistics payments can be mailed to our physical or remittance address. If you plan on using a courier service to send a payment urgently, be sure to use our physical address. Help topic 2304Help topic 2304 explains more
  7. If your payment does not arrive by the date your account is due, your account won’t be deleted or become inaccessible right away. Instead, it will be placed on a 30-day ‘Hold’ status. While on hold you will still be able to access the account, but it will be on a more limited basis than usual. Volunteer features such as forms and modules will continue to operate normally and volunteers won’t see any change. However, operators will be unable to add new volunteer records or print most reports until payment is received. An expired Volgistics account will only be deleted if no payment is posted for it within 60 days of its ‘Paid through’ date. Our Terms of Service explain more.

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Tip of the Week September 24, 2018

Use email codes to personalize email messages.

Volgistics has email codes available that allow you to personalize email messages that are sent to volunteers. These allow you to insert specific volunteer information into an email message similar to how the mail merge function works in a word processing program. The codes available allow you to insert the volunteer’s nickname, first name, full name, volunteer/PIN number, or a URL link to reset the volunteer’s VicNet password into most email messages. In addition, the due date (or expiration date) can be added to Checklist reminder email messages.

Help topic 2103 shows how to use the codes to personalize your email messages.

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Tip of the Week September 17, 2018

Clear your own security blocks for your account.

To protect customer accounts from unauthorized access, such as those who are not operators but who might try to guess the password or other information to login, Volgistics automatically places a security block on accounts where too many invalid login attempts have been made from the same IP address. This is sometimes inadvertently triggered if a System Operator forgets his or her login information and tries too many times unsuccessfully to login. In this case, a System Operator who can login and has access to the Setup page can clear the block by following these steps:

  1. If the operator is not logged in already, they will need to login at a computer that has a different IP address than the computer the operator who had the invalid login attempts used. If your organization uses a network where all the IP addresses are the same, you can use a mobile device such as a smartphone to login with.
  2. Select Setup from the Menu.
  3. Expand the “Account management” link.
  4. Select “Remove block.”

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Tip of the Week September 10, 2018

Use the Advanced options on the Volunteer’s page to fine tune searches.

When you’re looking for groups of volunteer records, the Basic options on the Volunteers page provide a powerful search tool. For example, to locate just Active Adult volunteers you select “Active” from the Status dropdown and “Adult” from the Type dropdown and then click the “All” link. Help topic 2023 explains more about how to locate volunteer records.

However, there may be times when you need even more options for locating records. The Sets feature offers one way to do this, but there is also an “Advanced options” button on the Volunteers page that opens a window with more search features. The Advanced options allow you to fine tune your searches more selectively than the Basic options do. For example, you can select to include or exclude multiple Statuses, Types, and Flags. This will allow a search for records with any Statuses except “Inactive” and “Applicant.” Or search for all records that are the “Adult” and “Intern” Types.

The Advanced options also allow you to search for archived volunteer records. To do this, check the “Archived volunteers” box before you click the “All” or letter links.

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Tip of the Week September 03, 2018

Use Sets to make Checklist items apply to volunteers in multiple Assignments.

When you setup a Checklist item, you can have it apply to volunteers who have a specific Assignment by selecting that Assignment’s name from the “Those assigned to” dropdown list. Or, you can select a Site or a Place from the dropdown to make the Checklist item apply to all volunteers who have any Assignment that falls under the Site or Place you select. (You can learn more about the Site, Place and Assignment structure in Help topic 2099.)

However, if you only want the Checklist to apply to volunteers who have certain Assignments that fall under a Site or Place, or under different Sites or Places, you can do this by creating a Scheduling Ground RulesSet based on the “Their Assignment” or the “Their Assignment Cluster” Set rules. After you test the Set to make sure it identifies the volunteers who have the Assignments you want for the Checklist item, select the name of the Set from the “If they are in this set” field on the setup page for the Checklist item. Your Checklist will now apply to volunteers with the multiple Assignments identified in the Set.

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Tip of the Week August 27, 2018

Use Volgistics’ Substitute Tracking feature when volunteers are not able to serve.

When volunteers are sick or unable to serve, you can remove them from the schedule and place a substitute volunteer on the schedule in their place. However, Volgistics’ Substitute Tracking feature provides an easier way to handle short term absences. To use this feature you must first check the “Use substitute tracking” box on the Scheduling Ground Rules page.

To schedule the substitute, go to the date on the schedule the volunteer will be unable to serve and click the Edit link in the row where the volunteer appears. This opens an “Edit a schedule entry” box where you can select the substitute volunteer. If the volunteer is filling an opening on the schedule, be sure to click the Edit link that appears on the left in the row with the volunteer’s name. Clicking the Edit link on the right will open the “Edit an opening” box used for changing the openings options. Help topic 1167 has more information on setting up and using the Substitute Tracking feature.

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