An impactful volunteer program rallies community members to maximize organizational impact — and can be essential to the sustainability and growth of small, volunteer-led and newer nonprofits. But creating a volunteer program is about more than gathering a couple of willing bodies. It requires careful coordination and the proper tools to make the best use of volunteers’ time. Here are five simple steps for setting up your nonprofit’s first volunteer program .
1. Create a Volunteer Program Mission Statement
A strong mission statement can help guide the planning process and drives your nonprofit’s efforts forward. To properly create your volunteer program mission statement, carefully consider these questions:
1. What are you looking to achieve? Brainstorm the purpose of your volunteer program or what you hope to accomplish. Once you have this, you can create a clear, well-directed mission statement.
2. Where do volunteers stand in your volunteer program? Understand how your volunteers can help you achieve your mission.
3. What should you name your volunteer program? This may be more important than you think as it can catch supporters’ attention and help you stand out from the crowd.
Once you’ve figured out your program’s purpose, you can write your mission statement. These are fundamental components of a successful mission statement:
It addresses an unmet problem or need.
It is focused and succinct.
It inspires stakeholders.
2. Set Your Volunteer Program Goals
Goals give your volunteer program direction. Help your volunteers set achievable goals and make sure to celebrate their successes. This is how you’ll show your appreciation and gain their trust.
Your goals for the volunteer program should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
3. Create a Volunteer Program Strategic Plan
How do you create a successful volunteer program? By having a plan. The plan should outline your approach to setting up the following components of your volunteer program:
● Resource Allocation: What tools will you supply volunteers to get the job done?
● Volunteer Recruitment: Where are your ideal volunteers? How can you reach them?
● Volunteer Engagement: Why would your volunteers want to be involved? What motivates them, especially in relation to your mission and services?
● Volunteer Communication: How will you communicate with potential volunteers? How will you communicate needs, timeframes, etc. with current volunteers? Email is a simple answer, but what about private social media groups or other tools?
● Volunteer Recognition: How will you acknowledge the invaluable support your volunteers offer? Recognition will keep them motivated and engaged, so be sure to invest some time here.
4. Put the Right Tools in Place
There are many tools that can help you supervise all management areas effectively and efficiently. Make sure any tools you’re considering include these aspects:
● Registration and Scheduling
● Hours Tracking
5. Develop and Manage Relationships
No matter its size, a successful nonprofit has a functional, well-organized, and attentively managed volunteer program. A volunteer database is the volunteer coordinator’s essential tool. In addition to their contact information, a good volunteer program database stores detailed records on current and potential volunteers, their skills, interests and availability.
To create a successful volunteer program, you will want to develop meaningful relationships with your volunteers, as well as the community members you serve. Don’t forget to consider the community’s diverse voices to ensure that your program’s mission truly addresses a community need.
By Jackie Sue Griffin, MBA, MS