Top tips for achieving excellence in volunteer management

Charities are competing for volunteers in a crowded marketplace, so looking after and retaining them is becoming increasingly important, writes Heather Black

It's important to retain volunteers for the long term
It's important to retain volunteers for the long term

Increasingly our clients are looking to increase, improve the management and measure the impact of their volunteering, due to political, financial and social influences. Charities are competing for volunteers, and corporates and individuals are looking for compelling volunteer opportunities.

Volunteering organisation, ‘Do-it’ recently shared statistics, that on its website alone, there are 1.4 million live volunteering opportunities with 47,000 organisations represented. These opportunities were being shared with 159,000 potential volunteers who had signed up to the site.

With this momentum, there is increasing pressure on organisations to get volunteer management ‘right’, to attract and retain volunteers for the long-term.

Here are our Top Tips for attracting volunteers

  • Move quickly on expressions of interest and provide adequate information – Do-it undertook a national survey that showed 36% of potential volunteers experienced barriers to volunteering due to a lack of response to their application or lack of clarity and understanding about the role
  • Gain an understanding of what the volunteer would like to gain from the experience and what else they may provide to the organisation to ensure you create a positive relationship
  • Give the volunteer an understanding of how their role contributes towards positive outcomes for the charity, community or beneficiaries
  • Make your role irresistible. Include pictures to show volunteers in action, providing clear job titles of volunteers and state the beneficial outcomes of roles
  • Mobile Accessibility. Make sure your volunteer opportunities are advertised on a mobile accessible website or device as over 50% of prospective volunteers now use mobile instead of a computer.

Tips for managing volunteers

  • Get independent guidance to assess and benchmark your processes against best practice indicators set out in the Investing in Volunteers standard.
  • Provide adequate support for your volunteers either through a peer to peer community or via access to support advisers. Help volunteers to access knowledge or gain confidence to achieve their role.
  • Recognise achievements of volunteers, including qualifications gained, number of hours contributed, outstanding achievements, outcomes related, etc.
  • Improve efficiency and team co-ordination by investing in a CRM solution that helps track and manage volunteer information from application through to delivery and outcomes. Economic Change implements Salesforce CRM to help organisations manage their volunteers.

Tips for measuring impact of volunteers

Demonstrating the value of volunteering is often important to a number of stakeholders, so it’s important to define what you collect, how you collect it, when to analyse it and what to do with the information. The first step is to develop an impact framework that will help you to capture a range of information, for example:

  • The diversity, demographics, goals and motivations of volunteers
  • The extent of delivery e.g. hours and the cash in-kind contribution that volunteers provide
  • The personal, social and economic benefits they gain from the experience.
  • The positive value they contribute for the organisation through their relationship and achievements with beneficiaries
  • The wider contribution of volunteers to the sustainability and growth of your organisation in terms of financial, in-kind and human resources.

Heather Black is managing director of Economic Change CIC

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