The Recipe for an Extraordinary Volunteer Program

Most nonprofits engage volunteers according to a process that was developed in the 40’s and 50’s. This old way of approaching volunteer programs frustrates today’s volunteer force.

Two people are preparing vegetables; one slices potatoes with a mandoline, the other chops Brussels sprouts. A cookbook, fresh herbs, and various vegetables are visible, indicating a meal in progress.
Table of Contents
Book a demo

Most nonprofits engage volunteers according to a process that was developed in the 40’s and 50’s. This old way of approaching volunteer programs frustrates today’s volunteer force. That’s why we’ve created a powerful new approach to find, keep, and grow volunteers so nonprofits can save time and accomplish more without increasing their team’s workload.

This isn’t a recipe we invented – we just are the first people to have both the technology and services to deliver it with precision.

1. Promote Volunteerism

Whether your volunteer is 19 or 79, volunteers are mobile, they’re on social media, they act digitally, they share, and they like to interact where their friends and family are.  This is why we must leverage technology to promote online, via social networks, and direct to our volunteers’ phones.

We publish a mobile-friendly catalog of volunteer opportunities from your website and drive traffic to our tools through targeted email invitations, social media integration, and web searches. We also publish project-specific landing pages to advertise volunteer opportunities via volunteer recruitment sites like VolunteerMatch and All for Good.

2. Eliminate Barriers to Engagement

Once we’ve generated interest, we must not squander that opportunity by asking a volunteer to call or email for further information.  They won’t do it.  We also can’t ask them to fill out paper, download a PDF, wait days or weeks for vetting, or visit four different websites to complete the requirements necessary to make an impact.

Once a volunteer is interested, we get them to work quickly by having them complete all the application requirements in advance in the Volunteer Portal, which can include forms, waivers, background checks, certifications, and training. Plus, our Volunteer Kiosk makes same-day signing simple for certain volunteer jobs.

3. Empower the People

Today’s volunteer expects to have transparency and control over their experience.  They want to self-identify the best job for them.  They want to meet the requirements to volunteer from the palm of their hand.

We empower volunteers to self-apply, set their own schedules, run reports, check-in/out of assignments, and provide feedback, all from the palm of their hand. We even deploy automated reminders for application requirements and assignments, so the volunteer has the control they want while simultaneously freeing up your staff from the tedious work.

4. Show Gratitude

Every aspect of the volunteer experience communicates how much you value the gift of a person’s time.  How easy did you make it to sign-up?  Was the volunteer matched well with their volunteer job?  Did they have the proper training/preparation?  Were they able to make an impact?  Were they asked for their feedback on their experience?  How were they greeted by your organization?  Were they thanked by your staff?  Were they recognized by your organization?

Your new centralized Volunteer Portal will honor your volunteers’ time by creating a standard of efficiency so the volunteer isn’t  bumping into obstacles and instead invests their time making a difference.

The Volunteer Portal automatically tracks your volunteer’s activities, including projects, assignments, attendance, and the total hours they have contributed. This makes it easy to run accurate reports on activities and milestones that are being hit. Our platform allows for automated and tailored thank you emails to be sent as volunteers complete various assignments. You can even configure the service to send out a personalized, ‘handwritten’ note or gift upon registration or completion of volunteer activities.

5. Get Feedback

In order to continuously grow, we need feedback on what is going well (so we can do more of that) and where we can make improvements.  What better source of feedback is there on your volunteer programs than from your volunteers themselves?

Your Volunteer Portal prompts your volunteers to respond to a quick 3-question poll, which includes a rating and written comments on their experience. This provides invaluable insight that is easy to give (by the volunteer) and directly tied to the project and job they performed.  We have found this to be a powerful tool to help identify areas of success and opportunities for growth.

6. Measure Impact

Many nonprofits struggle with getting the reports they want.  VolunteerMatters allows you to quickly report on all volunteer activities and information in a snap. All reports are designed to be Excel friendly so that it’s easy to get data out of the system. We also offer opportunities to use our APIs and Zapier webhooks to integrate our systems with 3rd party systems.

Mark Hopwood
Mark Hopwood
President and Co-Founder

Mark Hopwood began their work experience in 1997 as the founder of Rosewood Computing Solutions, LLC until 2001. Mark then co-founded Synergenic, LLC from 2001 to 2002. Since 2003, Mark has been the President of VolunteerMatters.

Learn more

Free volunteer management resources

Practical tips and expert insights to help your organization recruit, onboard, and retain dedicated volunteers.

The 7 Deadly Sins and How to Avoid Them

Nonprofits have to face a lot of difficulties, but their volunteer program shouldn’t be one of them. Volunteers should be one of the biggest assets every nonprofit organization has, but for many, it’s a consistent struggle and they’re not sure how to fix it.

The 7 Deadly Sins and How to Avoid Them

Let your volunteer coordinators do their best work.

Stop messing with tools that aren’t designed to amplify volunteer programs.  With VolunteerMatters, it’s a delight to manage everything in one place.