2020 was an exceedingly tough year for non-profits, charities, and foundations. The COVID-19 pandemic largely shut down in-person events, a staple in this sector and a considerable source of volunteer effort. Giving was down dramatically as well, by as much as 60% according to The Globe & Mail.
With the hope of a vaccine arriving now, non-profits across the entire not-for-profit spectrum are hoping that 2021 brings revitalization to their organizations and foundations.
Here at Gigit, we’re hopeful, too. But we also know that revitalizing your non-profit — and especially your volunteer program — in 2021 takes more than hope. There are concrete steps non-profit, charity, and foundation organizations can take to help revitalize volunteer programs in 2021. We’ll look at several of these in today’s post.
1. Commit to Consistent Social Media
Most non-profits have experienced some volunteer attrition in 2020. When there are obstacles to volunteering — or volunteering is completely impossible — it’s natural for people to find other ways to spend their time. It also makes sense that many non-profit organizations have shifted their focus away from volunteer-oriented social posts.
But as we expect restrictions to begin lifting eventually in 2021, you’ll need to start rebuilding your volunteer base. One of the best ways to do this is to reach your existing audience. Recommit to a regular schedule of social media posts targeting your volunteers. Remind them that you’re still here and that you’re ready for volunteers again.
2. Make Sure the Call for Volunteers Is Clear
As a non-profit or charity leader, it’s easy to assume that people know you need volunteers. You’re living in this world, and you’re intimately familiar with it. Your audience, on the other hand, may not be.
Don’t assume your audience understands your needs intuitively. Some may believe you have all the volunteers you can handle. For some, volunteering isn’t exactly on their radar, but they could be interested if asked. And the painful truth is this: many just aren’t thinking about your organization as often as you’d hope.
If you need to expand your volunteer pool in 2021, make sure you’ve made an explicit request to the right audiences. And remember, volunteering doesn’t just benefit your organization – it’s good experience for the volunteers as well. Highlight the skills and experiences that volunteering will provide the volunteers, along with any other benefits of being a part of your organization. You may be surprised at the response you get to a clear, unambiguous call for more volunteer help.
3. Explore Virtual or Distanced Volunteer Opportunities
Unfortunately, we know the pandemic isn’t going away at the beginning of 2021. While you’ve probably been exploring this already, look for new volunteer opportunities that are virtual, online or safely distanced (always following local regulations, of course).
The truth is, not everything has to be done in person or indoors. Some organizations could benefit from volunteers doing digital work, such as outreach, phone drives or peer-to-peer fundraising, for example. These can be organized into virtual events that avoid risky in-person contact.
Also, as weather and local regulations allow, look for volunteer opportunities that can be done safely distanced outdoors. Outdoor cleanup projects are a great example: distancing isn’t problematic when picking up trash.
4. Modernize Your Volunteer Management with Gigit
Many non-profits use quite a few distinct software tools to handle various components of volunteer management. They may use one tool for volunteer scheduling, another for volunteer hours tracking, another for donor tracking and online giving, and still another to manage marketing and outreach campaigns.
To make matters worse, many of the existing tools on the market don’t talk nicely to each other. If you’re a volunteer coordinator, you likely know the headaches of losing countless hours of efficiency just trying to tie all the tools and loose ends together.
Gigit provides a comprehensive volunteer manager toolkit that brings all the functions most non-profits and foundations need into one complete platform. It’s easy to use, it has a great design and user experience, and best of all, it’s free for all non-profits, charities, and foundations to use!
Plus, as a social platform, Gigit brings communities together – helping your organization and other non-profits find and connect with the community members, volunteers, donors, sponsors, and for-profit businesses that make up your community network.
5. Make Your Non-profit Attractive to Volunteers
One reason some not-for-profits struggle with revitalizing their volunteer programs is that volunteers don’t find the organization attractive. Addressing the causes can help organizations find and keep new volunteers more easily.
Fair or not, non-profits sometimes have the reputation of being a bit disorganized or in some way not up to par with other entities. This can take the form of lacklustre facilities, inconsistent communication, unclear messaging, or a host of other qualities.
Some of these elements are virtually unavoidable: your non-profit’s budget is tight, and your priorities are on serving people, not building better buildings.
But others can be addressed. If you take a close look at your own organization and some of this rings true, you’ve identified some problems to solve. Shoring up overall organization as well as communication and messaging will go a long way to making your non-profit more attractive to prospective volunteers.
6. Keep the Mission First
What draws volunteers to your organization? Yes, you likely have some high school students looking to get in their required volunteer hours. But they still chose you, not someone else. Further, your other volunteers — the ones without a coursework or university-acceptance reason to volunteer — what motivates them to do so?
For most, it’s your mission. Your mission drives your organization and informs the sorts of initiatives you undertake. Most of your volunteers are drawn to this mission and resonate with it in some way.
Gallup has done research in the corporate world that identifies Millennials in particular as being passionate about an organization’s mission. In spite of this, few in this cohort report feeling strongly connected to their employer’s mission, leading to a lack of engagement.
For younger people, focus on mission is important even with the allure of a paycheque. If that’s the case for employers, then this focus is exponentially more relevant in the volunteer ecosystem.
Make sure your communications to current and prospective volunteers keeps this in mind. Don’t just talk about specific upcoming volunteer opportunities. Remind your audience of how those opportunities connect with or flow out from your mission.
Check Out Gigit Today
After the year we’ve had in 2020, here’s to 2021 being a better one, especially for Canadian non-profits. Whatever else you choose to implement in an effort to revitalize your volunteer program in 2021, give Gigit Community a try. Anyone can use the Gigit platform anytime, so there’s no risk in exploring what we have to offer.
If you’re ready to take charge of your volunteer management, reduce the chaos and clutter that comes from using too many tools, and want to be part of a bigger non-profit community, Gigit is the solution you’ve been looking for. Check out Gigit today— for free!