As a volunteer coordinator, you know how important volunteers are for helping your organization complete critical daily tasks and projects. At the same time, you understand the challenges of keeping volunteers engaged.
That’s why it’s important to offer exciting volunteer opportunities. But how can you make volunteering more enticing?
Start with this simple rule of thumb: Consider what makes you take the time out of your day to volunteer. For example, would you be motivated to volunteer if the opportunity involved five hours of stapling packets or stamping postcards? While volunteers support necessary tasks like these, there are ways to make your volunteer opportunities more valuable and exciting to keep supporters engaged in your mission.
By taking the time to determine your volunteers’ motivations and what they hope to gain from volunteering, you can craft can’t-miss opportunities that meet supporters’ needs and complete necessary tasks for your organization. You might even be able to gain new volunteers and reengage lapsed supporters in the process.
Start planning your exciting, impressive volunteer opportunities with these tips in mind:
- Make volunteering fun.
- Offer valuable perks.
- Craft opportunities with volunteer feedback in mind.
- Use your marketing channels to build excitement.
- Promote volunteer grant opportunities.
Whether you’re looking to start a brand-new volunteer program or build out your existing offerings, these tips will help you design intriguing, exceptional volunteer opportunities that engage and excite supporters.
1. Make volunteering fun.
Your nonprofit or charitable organization likely has a strong group of passionate supporters willing to volunteer their time and energy to push your mission forward. Even so, you may struggle to find volunteers to fill monotonous roles, no matter how passionate they are about the cause.
So, you’ll want to find ways to make even your most tedious volunteer opportunities more fun. When your volunteers are enjoying themselves, they’ll be more likely to work with your organization again. Plus, they may tell their friends and family members about the great time they had volunteering, which can bring in even more helping hands!
Make your volunteer opportunities more fun with these tips:
- Start with an icebreaker activity: A quick get-to-know-you game can help volunteers feel more comfortable and welcomed right out of the gate. The name game, two truths and a lie, and one-minute “speed dating” conversations are popular crowd-pleasers. Volunteers learn more about each other through these activities, which helps eliminate any awkwardness and can even lead to new friendships.
- Serve food: Food is a powerful motivator. Who doesn’t love a sweet treat, delicious lunch, or yummy snack? You’ll be surprised at how many volunteers you can captivate by serving free food at your opportunity. If your opportunity takes place in the morning, serve breakfast complete with donuts, bagels, coffee, and fruit. If your volunteers are completing laborious tasks, order pizza to be delivered at lunchtime to give everyone a much-deserved break.
- Rotate positions: Your volunteer opportunity may include several different tasks. Create a schedule to rotate volunteers through each position so no one gets bored throughout the project. This ensures that supporters are staying engaged and maintaining motivation throughout the day.
- Play music: Similarly to serving food, it’s surprising how effective playing music can be throughout volunteer opportunities. By playing popular, upbeat songs, you can keep volunteers engaged and motivated. For instance, at a canned food drive, you might see people stacking cans to the beat or singing along.
- Lean on the fun elements of your organization/mission: Depending on the nature of your nonprofit, you may have exciting opportunities that are inherent to the work you do. For instance, if your organization works with farm animals, you can allow volunteers to take some time to pet the animals and amble around your property. Or, if your organization is devoted to clearing local waterways of garbage, you can take a volunteer group out on kayaks to collect trash.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to transform your volunteer opportunities into exciting events that make supporters feel as though they’ve helped the community and had a great time while doing so.
2. Offer valuable perks.
Volunteers donate their time to help your nonprofit, but what if you could also help supporters in return? By offering valuable perks and incentives alongside your volunteer opportunities, you can draw in supporters who may be on the fence about getting involved.
Here are a few perks you can offer your volunteers:
- Training opportunities: According to this training guide, prepared volunteers make for happy volunteers. By conducting thorough volunteer training exercises, you’ll ensure that volunteers are prepared to take on the activities of the volunteer opportunity and you’ll give them valuable skills they can use in other areas of their lives. Prepare volunteers with the proper training exercises, whether they’re online lessons before the volunteer day or on-side instructions. Types of training you might offer include first-aid basics, carpentry knowledge, letter-writing skills, and more.
- Networking opportunities: Position your volunteer opportunity as not only a great way to help an important cause, but also a chance to get to know people in the community. Use your marketing materials to communicate the benefits of volunteering, including the notion that your volunteer opportunities are an effective way to get to know their neighbors and develop new friendships.
- Free merchandise: Offer small rewards to volunteers, such as T-shirts, tote bags, water bottles, gift cards, and other tokens of appreciation. Volunteers will be touched by the recognition of their efforts and feel like their hard work actually made a difference.
In your marketing efforts, let volunteers know about these added incentives. Promote your volunteer opportunities by offering sneak peeks of your beautifully designed T-shirts or valuable CPR class. You can generate lots of excitement before volunteers even walk through the door to give their time.
3. Craft opportunities with volunteer feedback in mind.
As a volunteer coordinator, it can be hard to judge how volunteers feel about each activity when they’re in the moment. Throughout the volunteer opportunity, you’re likely dashing from place to place to ensure everything stays running smoothly. You may not have time to check in with volunteers about how they’re doing.
However, it’s important to gather volunteer feedback. When you gather volunteers’ opinions on your volunteer activities, you can adjust your opportunities moving forward to better incorporate their preferences.
After each volunteer opportunity, be sure to send out volunteer surveys asking specific questions, such as:
- How did you hear about this opportunity?
- What motivated you to get involved?
- What was your favorite part about volunteering?
- What was your least favorite part?
- What would you like to see for our next volunteer opportunity?
Let’s say you hear feedback from volunteers that they enjoyed the experience, but felt it was a little too hot. For your next outdoor volunteer experience, you can ensure that you host your opportunity in the cooler morning hours or offer resources such as plenty of water bottles, outdoor misting fans, and air-conditioning breaks.
When volunteers note that you’ve taken the time to incorporate their preferences, they’ll feel more positively toward your organization and more inclined to volunteer again.
4. Use your marketing channels to build excitement.
Even if you develop exciting, valuable volunteer opportunities, the experience won’t be successful unless you get the word out. Your marketing channels play a major role in informing supporters of your volunteer opportunities and encouraging them to sign up.
To sufficiently spread the word about your volunteer activities, use a communication strategy that combines digital marketing with more traditional marketing efforts. This virtual marketing guide mentions a variety of effective online communication channels that will help you promote your opportunities, including:
- Email: Email marketing allows you to communicate directly with a large number of supporters and segment supporter groups to send tailored, relevant messages to each group. Brush up on your email marketing fundamentals by personalizing messages with each supporter’s preferred name and customizing the content to describe each upcoming volunteer opportunity. This blog post even recommends crafting a dedicated volunteer newsletter to inform supporters of everything they need to know about volunteering with your organization.
- Social media: Provide enticing sneak-peeks or volunteer testimonials using your social media pages. For example, take a video of a pile of free volunteer t-shirts or a past volunteer giving their (positive) feedback to get supporters excited about your next experience.
- Website: Make sure you keep your online volunteer calendar updated with all upcoming opportunities. In addition, your website is the place that many supporters will go to sign up for volunteer opportunities, so ensure that your registration page is easy to find and fill out.
You should also use a direct mail campaign to supplement your digital marketing strategy. Send postcards or letters highlighting upcoming volunteer opportunities and providing all the information supporters need to get involved. You can even include a QR code in your direct mail that sends supporters directly to the online registration page.
Connecting your digital and direct mail marketing efforts generates more touchpoints between your organization and its supporters, making it more likely that supporters will see at least one of your appeals and sign up to volunteer.
5. Promote volunteer grant opportunities.
Volunteer grants are a form of corporate philanthropy wherein businesses donate a specified amount of money to organizations where their employees frequently volunteer.
This volunteer grants guide states that these grants are “essentially ‘free money’ that is often overlooked” Generally, there is a lack of awareness about volunteer grant programs.
Volunteer grants can be a powerful motivator for supporters to sign up for volunteer opportunities. Those who work for companies that offer these grants see how donating their time and energy to your cause translates into real money earned for the mission. This can lead to a sense of fulfillment and pride.
Ensure you promote volunteer grants ahead of each volunteer opportunity using your marketing platforms. Encourage supporters to investigate whether their employers offer such programs. These activities can provide the extra push needed to influence a supporter to become a volunteer.
With these tips, you can transform your volunteer opportunities into can’t-miss experiences that encourage volunteers to continuously support your mission. You can complete the necessary tasks to keep your organization running smoothly while offering your volunteers valuable experiences in return. Good luck and have fun!