On Wednesday, March 23rd, GlobalGiving hosted a training on volunteer recruitment, management and retention. Listen to the training recording. Visit the training slides. We are blogging about the topics that we discussed in this training. Last week, we talked about recruiting volunteers that are right for your organization and creating a memorable volunteer experience. Today, I want to discuss the importance of and strategies for keeping volunteer engaged after they’ve left your organization.
Volunteers are different from your other donors because they have met the communities that you serve and contributed to your organization’s mission with their time, energy, and skills. They know your organization’s story and have experienced it in a very personal way. This means that volunteers are often the best people to communicate your organization’s importance, accomplishments, and needs. Take advantage of this deep appreciation for your organization to ask volunteers to consider setting up a fundraiser.
Asking your volunteers to set up a fundraiser
Before a volunteer leaves their position at your organization, talk to them about ways to stay engaged. Ask them to identify needs that they see in your organization and work with them to find ways that they can help you to address these needs long-term. Work with your volunteer to set goals and create a plan for staying connected and working together to meet these goals.
If your volunteer expresses interest in hosting a fundraiser for your organization, consider helping them set up a GlobalGiving fundraiser page. Our fundraiser pages make it easy for volunteers to personalize their fundraiser, making it more compelling for family and friends to give. Volunteers can post their own photo, a description of their fundraiser, and a fundraising goal. They can then share this link with their family and friends, who know that they are supporting their loved one’s cause. Learn more about fundraiser here.
Make things easy for your volunteers by giving them ideas and suggestions for helping your organization. Consider putting together a one-page document about ways to help your organization once volunteers depart. This will be easy for you to share with all volunteers, including those who come only for a short time.
Appreciating the value of long-term relationships
Let’s think hypothetically for a moment. Your volunteers can help you in the long-run by: sharing your organization’s story with their family, hosting a fundraiser at their church, organizing a house party with their friends to spread awareness about your cause, or starting a club at their school. Your volunteers could sign up to make recurring donations or organize a virtual fundraiser. Just think, your volunteer could even help you increase your Facebook fans or apply for funding from a foundation. The possibilities are endless!
So how do you get your volunteers to want to help you fundraise or expand your network? Now that’s the tough part. One option might be to establish a long-term relationship with the individual volunteers by letting them know that you are grateful for the time that they spent with your organization and the work they contributed. Establishing a long-term relationship with your volunteers demonstrates your genuine interest in them. Not their money or their skills, but them. This might be one of many reasons that they choose to stay engaged and involved in your organization.
Stay connected with a volunteer by checking in an following up. Here are some simple ways to stay in touch with volunteers:
- Keep them updated about the project(s) they were working on with your organization by sending them snippets from your newsletter or emailing them a quick note.
- Pass on stories from your organization, maybe about the little boy they were tutoring or the school they were helping to build.
- Follow up from time to time to see how they are and what they are up to after leaving your organization.
- Wish them happy birthday or merry Christmas (or Hanukkah, Ramadan, etc.) on Facebook.
- Let them know about opportunities to support your organization, through an online fundraiser, or by spreading the word about an event.
Knowing when to let go
Ok, back to reality. Not every volunteer is going to be a super volunteer like we described above. In fact, most volunteers will not be interested in hosting a fundraiser or staying connected long-term. It is important to be able to identify which volunteers are genuinely eager to stay involved and which volunteers are not interested. Be willing to let disinterested volunteers go.
Are you interested in discussing your organization’s volunteer program? Set up a call with a member of the Project Team at GlobalGiving.