Volunteer management comes with several challenges. You need to keep track of which volunteers are accomplishing which tasks, assign appropriate projects to the right people, and coordinate schedules, all while monitoring a variety of other moving parts to the program. You’ll also need to align your volunteers with your nonprofit’s goals, ensuring they have the necessary skills, knowledge, and time commitments to help you accomplish tasks.
At the core of a successful volunteer management program lies your registration process. After you’ve drafted your volunteer job description, you can begin assessing applicants and finding the best places for them in your volunteer program. But how can you efficiently keep track of everything?
Your registration process can help set your organization out on the right track for proper volunteer management. In this article, we’ll discuss seven registration tips to help your volunteer management process run smoothly:
- Customizable applications
- Necessary questions
- Group registration
- Data analysis
- Volunteer grants
- Online training
Effective volunteer management gives both your organization and your volunteers the resources they need for success. This can include comprehensive registration software, as well as learning opportunities to train volunteers in the skills they’ll need when working with your organization. Let’s get started.
1. Customize your volunteer application.
Determining who your target volunteer audience is and getting the word out should be the top items on your checklist, and once you’re ready to start accepting applications, look into customizable online registration software.
There are several registration software solutions available, and many of them are geared towards different audiences. Be sure to choose a nonprofit-friendly solution that has the essential features you need, such as:
- Customizable options, allowing you to add custom questions and information fields.
- Embeddable forms so you can add it directly to your website. Then, applicants will know they’re giving their information to your nonprofit and not anyone else.
- Reporting tools so you can easily search through your data and pinpoint the information that you need.
Customizing your application will provide the flexibility and convenience that you need. You’ll be able to view reports of everyone who has applied and even filter information to find specific data, allowing you to quickly sort through your volunteer applications.
2. Ask for only what you need from volunteers.
Be sure to ask for only the information you need on your registration form. While it can be tempting to collect as much information as possible from prospective volunteers upfront, pages and pages of volunteer application forms may cause potential volunteers to abandon the form. Plus, there is no reason to gather unnecessary information that you’ll need to spend excessive time sifting through.
During your registration process, only ask pertinent application questions, such as those regarding:
- Contact information
- Professional history
- Time commitments/scheduling preferences
Some volunteers may only be able to come in on certain days, and you may have some opportunities that require volunteers to have specific skill sets. By asking for only what you need, you’ll be able to collect the information necessary to choose the best volunteers and match them to the right projects without overwhelming applicants with too many questions.
3. Allow group volunteer registration.
Some of your volunteers may want to sign up with a friend, significant other, or even as a group with their co-workers. Finding volunteers can be a challenge, so by allowing one person to register multiple people either as a group or as a family, you can recruit multiple volunteers all at once.
According to Double the Donation’s fundraising statistics, 67% of donors worldwide also volunteer in their local communities. With group registration options, you can promote your volunteer program to entire groups of donors at once and potentially gain some great volunteers who are already dedicated to your mission.
4. Use data for volunteer management.
Recruiting volunteers with the skills your program needs can be difficult, but you can simplify the process with efficient data collection and management practices. Consider the following strategies to help you use your data effectively:
- Collect the data you need. Ask your volunteers for the essentials about their skills and backgrounds during the application process to help find the right people. This is so you’ll be able to align volunteers with appropriate opportunities within your organization.
- Use filtering tools. Use your registration software’s filtering tools to sort through applicants who have the skills you’re looking for. This can help you find volunteers with the ability to fill certain time slots, perform unique roles, or whatever else you would like to analyze about your volunteers.
- Stay in touch between programs. Once your nonprofit finds a volunteer with the skills you need, work to establish a relationship with them. By using the data you collected about their volunteer experience, you can send them personalized messages between your volunteer programs, helping to build a connection to your organization. Then, you won’t need to re-recruit volunteers with the same skillset.
With strong data management and collection tools, you can match volunteers to opportunities where they will thrive within your organization. Plus, by providing volunteers with a positive experience tailored to their unique skills, they’ll be more likely to return for your next volunteer opportunity.
5. Personalize your volunteer communication.
When recruiting volunteers, demonstrate why your organization is a great place to volunteer in your communication strategy. Highlight what volunteers can gain from donating their time, why your cause matters, and show appreciation for their support.
When sending messages to your volunteers, be sure to:
- Personalize everything. When contacting applicants, reach out with personalized messages. Address them by name, rather than “Dear Applicant,” and reference the skills they listed in their application that you think would benefit your organization.
- Automate your communication. Use an automatic communication system, which may even be part of your registration system. This will allow you to filter the applicants you want to contact and send personalized emails.
- Segment your volunteer lists. Once you have an established volunteer base, segment your list to send volunteers messages that are most relevant to them. For example, you might create volunteer segments for repeat volunteers, volunteers who are still onboarding, and volunteers who just had their applications approved.
Personalization goes a long way in engaging and retaining your volunteers. Potential volunteers want to feel valued for the skills they bring to the table. Encourage them to join your organization by highlighting what your nonprofit can do for them and how you think they can help.
6. Promote volunteer grants during registration.
An individual’s time and effort can be just as important for your organization’s success as monetary donations, and with corporate volunteer grants, you can get both at once!
Volunteer grants are a part of corporate giving programs that encourage volunteerism. Companies with volunteer grant programs can give monetary grants to organizations where their employees regularly volunteer. For some volunteers, the knowledge that they can help their cause earn donations while they volunteer can be the extra push they need to join a volunteer program.
By promoting volunteer grants during your registration process, you can increase your potential applicants by appealing to individuals who want to offer more than just their time. Plus, if you have multiple volunteers who all work for the same company, you may be able to reach out to that business to set up an employee volunteer day to earn even more support.
7. Provide online training opportunities.
Some of your volunteers might enter your program already equipped with the skills they need to accomplish their roles. Meanwhile, others may need to undergo training to fulfill more skill-based volunteer opportunities. This may initially seem like a barrier to recruitment, but for many volunteers, the chance to learn new skills can be another incentive to join.
In addition to creating a streamlined volunteer registration process, ensure you also have a convenient course registration process so volunteers can easily enroll in the programs they need or are interested in. Some nonprofits may require all volunteers to enroll in a basic onboarding course, while others might offer more flexibility based on the volunteers’ interests.
When selecting training management tools, be sure to consider both the front and backend functionalities you’ll need. Regpack’s training management software page recommends looking for the following features:
- Schedule builders
- Group registration
- Check-in tools
- Brand customizability
- Post-training surveys
- Automated communication tools
- Reporting features
Tools like these will allow you to create a professional training experience for your volunteers and help your staff track where each volunteer is in the training process. By investing in your volunteers’ training and skills, you can further incentivize volunteers to join and stick with your program as they’ll be eager to further their knowledge and test out their new skills.
Volunteer management starts when volunteers first start applying to your nonprofit. Create a more positive experience for them by using registration software to optimize your sign-up process and offer relevant learning opportunities. Plus, your staff will be able to quickly sort through applications to find the right volunteer for each role.