Turning Your Volunteer Program Digital: 4 Tips
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteer program leaders were forced to adopt new, virtual volunteer management strategies to keep their programs afloat. Yet while the transition may have been abrupt, many program coordinators noticed how effective virtual volunteering and virtual management tools can truly be.
From streamlining communication to simplifying scheduling, the right digital tools made volunteer program management easier and more engaging than ever. Many volunteer program organizers continue to rely on these digital strategies to boost efficiency, productivity, and volunteer engagement.
If you’re interested in introducing these benefits to your own volunteer program, we’ve compiled our top four digital tips and essential tools to help get you started:
- Tackle recruitment with multi-channel marketing.
- Diversify your virtual training resources.
- Collect feedback with volunteer surveys.
- Invest in volunteer management software.
Maybe you’re preparing to leap into a fully virtual volunteer program, or maybe you just want to improve your operations with digital strategies. Whatever your goals are, these insights should give you a firmer grasp on how you can use technology to the benefit of your volunteer program.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.
1. Tackle recruitment with multi-channel marketing.
Direct mail, community flyers, and in-person recruitment events are all great strategies for attracting volunteers. But your recruitment methods don’t have to start and end with these classic techniques. Instead, leverage the power of the internet to expand your reach and engage potential volunteers on the same platforms where they already spend much of their time.
For example, consider these simple volunteer recruitment methods using technology you probably already have at your fingertips:
- Create customized volunteer opportunity pages on your main website.
- Spotlight upcoming events and programs on your homepage.
- Send email invites to past volunteers about new opportunities.
- Leverage social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook to advertise different opportunities to various audiences.
Additionally, Getting Attention’s top volunteer recruitment strategies explains how school partnerships, corporate sponsorships, and the Google Ad Grants program can be used to maximize digital volunteer recruitment. Google Ad Grants can be especially helpful, as organizations that qualify for the charitable marketing program can receive up to $10,000 monthly to put towards recruitment advertising and outreach.
2. Diversify your virtual training tools.
Even if you’re new to virtual volunteer management, chances are that you already have some kind of supplemental online training materials like a recorded demo or a program health and safety document. This is a great first step to developing a strong virtual onboarding program.
However, to make your training more effective and ensure new volunteers really absorb important training information, you’re going to need to diversify your virtual training toolkit. After all, each volunteer has their own unique style of learning. Plus, giving volunteers a wide variety of training resources will boost engagement and interest in the onboarding process.
Galaxy Digital’s volunteer training guide offers some valuable suggestions for digital resources, tools, and programs you should infuse into your training process, like:
- E-learning courses
- Downloadable training manuals
- Live educational webinars
- Learning assessments, quizzes, and surveys
These various tools work together to give volunteers a more flexible and immersive training experience. Custom e-learning tools and reference materials allow volunteers to learn at their own pace while live webinars and assessments give them the chance to ask questions and assess what they know about rules and expectations.
3. Invest in volunteer management software.
From tracking volunteer hours to scheduling shifts, the day-to-day management of your volunteer program is one of the biggest challenges you face as a program leader. After all, your volunteers all have different skill sets, experiences, and hour reportage needs, and it can be overwhelming to figure out where all of these individuals will best fit into your program.
Luckily, you don’t have to just rely on paper records or digital spreadsheets. There are software solutions especially built to manage your volunteers, with automated scheduling and hour logging tools built into the interface.
In fact, an especially comprehensive volunteer management platform can virtually streamline every step of the volunteer lifecycle, from recruitment to management, with tools like:
- Customizable volunteer profiles
- Automated, adjustable SMS and email notifications
- Generated, custom volunteer data reports
- Group engagement widgets
- Event management tools
- Mobile companion apps
There are many steps that your organization can take on its own to improve the digital management of your volunteer program, but volunteer management software is the only solution designed to simplify all program operations. If you’re interested in centralizing all of your digital tools into one, efficient suite, volunteer management software is your best bet.
4. Collect feedback with volunteer surveys.
Thanking your volunteers doesn’t just mean sending personalized notes or pinning their names to a recognition board (but these strategies are definitely encouraged!). It may come as a surprise, but digital volunteer surveys are another effective way to show some volunteer appreciation with just a few clicks.
Surveys give your volunteers a platform to share their experiences, voice concerns, and petition for program improvements. Volunteers who really value your program will be pleased to know that they have a say in its management. Their feedback is crucial for you to better understand your volunteers and see what steps you can take to improve the volunteer experience.
With the right management tools, you can even customize and automate your surveys to be sent at critical times in volunteers’ experiences. For example, you could automate annual experience surveys to arrive exactly one year after volunteers’ first registration. Or you could schedule post-event surveys to be automatically delivered to participant volunteers twenty-four hours after an event date.
However you choose to set up these virtual surveys, just remember to be direct and open-ended with your questions. The point of these forms is to give your volunteers the chance to be honest about their experiences with your program and offer constructive criticism in a manner that will benefit everyone.
Making the courageous leap to virtual volunteer management isn’t an easy task for any volunteer program manager, but it’s a risk that is truly worth the reward. With technology already permeating so much of our personal and professional lives, integrating your program into the digital sphere can help you better connect with your volunteers, streamline management processes, and overcome program challenges that may have felt impossible with just papers and spreadsheets.
With these digital strategies and management software solutions, you should have everything you need to begin managing your virtual volunteer program more effectively than ever.
About the Author:
Addison Waters is a Content Writer at Galaxy Digital, the best volunteer management software for managing, tracking, and engaging volunteerism. Addison holds a Master of Creative Writing from Durham University. Say hi on LinkedIn!