Service Sector Snapshot: News and Tips for Nonprofits (October 2014)
Posted Thursday, October 30th, 2014 by Sterling Volunteers Staff
October is coming to a close. All across the United States, focus is shifting from Halloween costumes to Thanksgiving menus, and nonprofit organizations are gearing up for their busiest time of the year – the holidays.
During the holidays, volunteer hours typically skyrocket. This is a great thing, but it can be difficult to manage and utilize a larger number of volunteers effectively – and even harder to ensure a great volunteer experience that inspires them to come back next year. Organizations with volunteer programs need to have a plan in place and now is the time to formalize strategies to engage more volunteers and ensure volunteer loyalty and retention.
In this post, the latest in our monthly Service Sector Snapshot series, you’ll find articles and information to help you plan for success through the busy season and lay the ground work for a successful volunteer program in 2015.
Tips and Tools for Nonprofit Managers
Open (Busy!) Season for Volunteers
When it comes to volunteers, the more, the better, right? In theory, of course! Nonprofits and volunteer programs need lots of support in order to help the communities they serve. The problem is that many volunteer managers and programming staff are not prepared to handle the influx in volunteers that show up in the several weeks that make up the end-of-year holidays. Because of this, each year, nonprofit organizations all over the world find themselves turning away volunteers. That’s quite unfortunate, partially because it usually means that the volunteer program misses a great chance to build a valuable volunteer relationship.
Don’t miss your opportunity to make a connection with a new volunteer: Take a page out of the playbook of The Auckland, NZ Mission. The organization feeds more than 2,500 people on Christmas Day, and requires close to 600 volunteers to assist. Each year, volunteers begin to sign up in early October. Spots fill up quickly but, once full, the organization makes a point to ask people to keep volunteering in mind for other times throughout the year – and to also get involved in some of the Mission’s other initiatives. Keep this in mind as your volunteer positions fill up in the next couple of months.
Building a Volunteer Program that Keeps Them Coming Back
As a volunteer manager or staff member coordinating a volunteer program, you know how important volunteer retention is. That’s why it’s paramount to build loyalty amongst the folks who choose to donate their time to your cause. In this article, author Ilona Bray provides 5 key tips to help you build loyalty with your volunteers:
- Tap into Volunteers’ Motives – Consider what volunteers want from their experience with you – and then develop your volunteer positions and program around that.
- Tell Volunteers What You Expect – Be explicit by creating a clear onboarding and training program.
- Make Volunteering Convenient – Make sure to make your volunteer program work – in terms of timing and schedules – both for your organization and for your volunteers.
- Make Volunteering Fun – Cultivate a great culture.
- Show Appreciation – Demonstrate that your volunteers’ time and efforts are impacting the organization’s success.
Keep these five tips in mind when building and refining your volunteer program and you’ll be better positioned to create a positive experience and long-lasting relationships.
News in the Service Sector
- Google is offering free tools for nonprofits. Do you qualify?
- Pinterest: A collection of pins that speak to nonprofit technology, social media, mobile technology, and fundraising.
- Sterling Volunteers partner Hands On Atlanta celebrated Hands On Atlanta day this month. Check it out.
Making a Difference
October 25th, 2014 marked the 24th Annual Make a Difference Day. The initiative started in 1992 when the leap year’s extra day landed on a Saturday. USA Weekend magazine encouraged its readers to use the day to do something positive in their communities. The response was overwhelming – and has grown every year since.
Make a Difference Day is sponsored by USA Weekend magazine in partnership with Points of Light (Sterling Volunteers’ partner organization and the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service!). It’s a chance for Americans to come together, do some good, and help others. This year, millions of volunteers took part in thousands of initiatives — everything from cleaning up local parks, to helping out at animal rescues, to putting together food packs for underprivileged families.
Events like these encourage citizens to get involved and experience how much difference one person can make. Kudos to all those who participated!
The service sector is constantly evolving and changing. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for more news on industry trends and issues and volunteer management tips. If you’ve read an interesting article, found a useful tool recently, or want to share some useful tips from your volunteer organization, tell us about it in the comments below or contact us and we may feature it in future blog posts.