How to Take an Integrated Approach to Volunteer Onboarding

Posted Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 by Sterling Volunteers and VolunteerPro Staff

How to Take an Integrated Approach to Volunteer Onboarding

It takes time and energy to find and retain the right volunteers for your organization. Once your volunteer has started working with you and your program, you want them to stay. But some volunteers show up for just one or two events. How can volunteer onboarding and your volunteer engagement strategy work together to help you keep your volunteers and enable them to grow within the organization?

According to our new partner, VolunteerPro, “Successful volunteer onboarding and deep volunteer engagement doesn’t happen by chance. It takes a thoughtful, multi-layered strategy to convert joiners to stayers and to set the stage for future leadership.”

Effectively introducing new volunteers to the organization takes much more than just sharing policies and procedures and having volunteers fill out required paperwork on the first day. From day one and beyond, volunteers continuously evaluate the volunteer organization, the people they work with and the overall process to see if they want to continue to invest their time and interest. An integrated volunteer onboarding program can have a direct and immediate impact on the volunteer experience and overall organizational success.

Integrated Volunteer Onboarding

In a recent blog post, Volunteer Pro shared their four pillars for volunteer onboarding. VolunteerPro explains that having a developed volunteer onboarding process can help organizations to reduce replacement costs of volunteers, accelerate the time to volunteer role competency and redefine the average level of productivity. Volunteer Pro shares their four pillars of volunteer onboarding. By integrating these essentials, organizations can reach their volunteer goals and foster a deeper commitment from their teams:

  • Interpersonal Connections — Purposefully cultivating connections through mentoring, peer socializing, staff teambuilding, etc. can go a long way toward making newcomers feel welcome and quickly integrate them into the organization.
  • Organizational Culture — During the induction process, volunteer managers need to share vital information about the organization including how the organization’s mission, vision and values occur in the real world and not just on a piece of paper. New volunteers need to understand the team’s roles in the organizations, the scope of work and their level of responsibility.
  • Early Training Support — Volunteer engagement starts before their first activity day. It could be weeks before the volunteer starts their first shift. Therefore, their orientation should start on the day they are appointed or given a training date. Volunteer managers should work with their volunteer teams to develop personal development plans to help them take responsibility for their work and to reach agreed upon goals.
  • Exposure to Strategy — Be transparent with your volunteers about your agency’s objectives. Break down the objectives into distinctive and obtainable layers, so they are not overwhelming. This will help volunteers align their goals with those of the organization and, at the same time, identify possible hidden skills and talents that can further assist the program. This is also an excellent time to gather new insights around current strategies from volunteers with fresh eyes and perspectives.

Organizations with highly engaged volunteers have higher rates of satisfaction and longer retention times. By making sure they are engaging with their volunteers from their first days with the organization, leaders can help foster a stronger commitment and cultivate future volunteer leaders.

Sterling Volunteers is pleased to announce our new partnership with VolunteerPro, an organization which provides online volunteer management training, coaching and an online community to volunteer leaders. VolunteerPro shares “research and best practices and emerging innovations in volunteer management, all based on engaging today’s volunteers”.

Both VolunteerPro and Sterling Volunteers support a high quality, effective and ethical approach to volunteer coordination. Through this partnership, we can help organizations follow the most up-to-date practices in the field and take the necessary steps to safeguard your assets, reputation and the dedicated people you serve.

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