First impressions matter, especially with new volunteers. In today's digital world, volunteers expect a convenient, intuitive process for expressing interest, reviewing volunteer opportunities, and getting trained to do the job.
In this article, we'll explore how technology is impacting the relationship between nonprofits and volunteers -- and how to set a great first impression.
Start by Offering Multiple Touch Points
Sure, they’re out there. Many people would love to donate their time to your organization. But how can you get your word out and engage them? What steps is your organization taking to convert them from potential to active supporters?
Your website plays an instrumental role in achieving these goals and is also prime real estate for making a great first impression. When you consider that both prospective and returning volunteers are visiting your website, it’s important to offer touch points that will appeal to multiple audiences. Let’s take a look at a few touch points that prospective volunteers expect to see on your website:
- Newsletter Opt-in
- Social Media Links
- Contact Us Page
- Staff Directory
Offering multiple ways to connect can increase the likelihood of extending your organization’s reach and eventually converting more volunteers.
Make It Easy For New Volunteers to Get Involved
There’s another important touch point to include on your website: a Volunteer Now button. Many organizations find that their biggest supporters start out as volunteers. Offering an obvious, convenient way to get involved as a volunteer is extremely important.
When people click the Volunteer Now button, what should happen next? Many nonprofits send people to a static webpage that lists the volunteer coordinator’s contact information. Although this may work for organizations utilizing very few volunteers, most organizations could benefit from a more automated approach. To offer a more engaging experience, many nonprofits utilize volunteer management software like VolunteerHub.
By moving your volunteer engagement online, prospective volunteers can preview upcoming volunteer opportunities from home on a phone, tablet, or laptop. This provides people with a glimpse into the various ways they could help, which builds trust on a much deeper level. By the time a new volunteer registers for an event, he or she has already self-identified with your organization’s needs.
Why Proper Training Matters…A Lot
Once you’ve attracted a new volunteer, the training process must begin. And, since we’re still talking about trust, orientation is a big deal. In fact, one of the main reasons volunteers stop donating time is because they don’t feel they have been adequately trained.
Due to busy schedules, it can be difficult to coordinate in-person orientation. This is why online volunteer orientation systems are gaining popularity among nonprofits. (In fact, VolunteerHub recently partnered with Comevo for this very reason.)
Online training systems have several obvious benefits. First, instead of working around an organization’s orientation schedule, volunteers are free to access and complete the training at their convenience -- anytime, anywhere. All that is needed is a computer or mobile device and an Internet connection. Online training inspires new recruits to feel energized and connected to the cause.
Not only is online training more convenient for volunteers, but it also helps the nonprofit. Organizations can control the quality and consistency of the training being delivered. Many systems also offer the added advantage of customizing content with audio and video.
New Volunteers are Waiting for You
Using technology allows your organization to be more efficient and clears the way for more trust-building activities. Make sure your organization is capitalizing on what today’s technology has to offer.
The preceding is a guest post by Corbit Harrison, Chief Operating Officer for VolunteerHub, a cloud-based volunteer management software application that offers online event registration, email and SMS (text) messaging, report generation, and much more. Corbit has been actively helping non-profit organizations better engage constituents for over 10 years. Connect with Corbit on LinkedIn. This is part of our ongoing VolunteerCorner series – focusing on issues that you need to know about in the nonprofit sector.