Nonprofit volunteering usually involves a warm and fuzzy feeling somewhere along the line, but warm and fuzzy won’t work if volunteers are not getting a feeling of making a real difference, of really contributing.
An unhappy or disengaged volunteer can be worse than no volunteer at all. “Disgruntled” can be as bad an adjective to describe volunteers as to describe employees.
During the recent Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Fundraising Conference, Fiona Newton, director of donor and volunteer engagement at Johns Hopkins University, offered advice on impact volunteering, ensuring that both the organization and the volunteer get the most out of the experience.
Newton emphasized the following recommendations:
* Get to know volunteers. Understand their preferences and experience. Have staff to conduct an orientation interview with each volunteer.
* Create a broad engagement plan for a volunteer. Other involvement is critical to engagement and motivation, not just fundraising.
* Offer regular strategic support from the CEO and senior Development rep. Don’t rely only on admin and operational staff.
* Educate volunteers. Dedicate time to helping volunteers understand the need for funds and the case for support.
* Let volunteers speak about their passion and commitment to others.
* Tell volunteers about the big difference they are making.
* Communicate regularly and in different ways.