10 volunteer management best practice tips

Building out your volunteer management program takes work and observation. Let’s break down how to build best practices and what it looks like in action.

Ever been in line at the supermarket on a busy day and only one cashier is trying to manage the flow of customers? 

What happens in this situation is shoppers begin to lose trust in the store’s ability to manage their needs and may choose to shop elsewhere that has better customer service. 

You don’t want this to happen in your volunteer program where there are large numbers of volunteers, but not enough organisational support to get them the resources they need to achieve their goals. That’s why we put together some helpful tips to optimise and streamline your volunteer operations. 


How to build your management style

Like anything else within your volunteer organisation, nonprofit organisation, or business, you need to tap into the core of your mission and your brand before building a management style. The goal is to build a volunteer management program that is sustainable, scalable, and can resonate with your teams. 


Find your baseline

The first step is taking stock of the practices you already have in place. What do you do to attract and onboard volunteers now? 

Tap into your greatest assets: your team members

After taking a look at what you already have, talk to the people directly involved in volunteer recruitment and onboarding. What has been their experience and do they see any gaps in the process? Perhaps an anonymous survey or a brainstorming session could be beneficial here. 

Extend an olive branch to past and current volunteers

If you have access to current and past volunteers, start a feedback survey to gather more insight from them such as new volunteer expectations. These are the team members who are directly experiencing the program and could offer a better understanding of what it’s like in the field. 

Know what motivates your volunteers

While you have the conversation going with your volunteers about their experience, ask them what motivates them most, and what skills they want to use. When you start to build your management style with your volunteers in mind, you can create an engaged team of people who feel seen, heard, and appreciated. As a result, you’ll have a group of volunteers who are more aligned with your mission and goals which can ultimately improve the longevity of the organisation. 

Make adjustments along the way

You can’t forget why you started adjusting your management style: the old one wasn’t working as well anymore. Make a point to survey your volunteers and full-time staff regularly to ensure you’re still on track and if there are any gaps in the process. The needs of your organisation shift over time and what keeps people motivated and engaged can change, too. 

Effective volunteer management is important for many reasons, from organisation and alignment to improved volunteer involvement and stronger long-term relationships. An April 2021 press release by Independent Sector found that the volunteer work hour is worth $28.54. That’s why it’s vital to invest in your volunteer management like Rosterfy. 


10 volunteer management best practices

So, once you get your foundation set and everything is prepared to put planning into action, let’s go over some volunteer management strategy tips you can follow as your guiding star. 


1. Track volunteer engagement

From the moment new volunteers sign up for an opportunity, you should be able to track their progress through the onboarding process, training sessions, and especially, through their shift. Volunteer management software, powered by Rosterfy, can put all of this information on a single dashboard where you can customise your view and compare your volunteers on productivity and engagement. 


2. Create a plan

Break down your onboarding process from start to finish. Lead with the volunteers in mind to build a system that can thoughtfully bring them on board. The goal for your plan should be to ensure that every volunteer knows their expectations and responsibilities long before they show up to their shift. 


3. Be very clear about assignments

With the use of communication mediums from email and SMS to social media and video training, it’s important to communicate what you expect volunteers to do during their shifts. What to bring and where to go is the first step, but they should also be briefed on what they’ll do when they show up and who to report to. Automating these communications can be a breath of fresh air during this phase — especially if you have a large group of volunteers or remote teams. 


4. Provide supervision and guidance

You would never hire someone brand new to your organisation and expect them to know what your processes and procedures are. The same goes for volunteers! If possible, give the volunteers a walk-through of your organisation and let them meet the other team members and share experiences. Providing guidance and supervision can help improve the productivity of the event or opportunity while offering support whenever needed. 


5. Create a safe environment

Having a lot of volunteers to manage can pose some unique challenges and risks. While you can’t control someone’s every move, you can set policies in place to hold them accountable for their actions as good practice. This is where a manual and volunteer policy discussion can come in handy. Additionally, you want to ensure that the space they are working in is safe. 


6. Provide orientation and training

Whether in person or virtually, orientation and training can get your volunteers up to speed long before they show up on site. You can make training interactive, offer video sessions with prominent members of the company or organisation and so much more to keep volunteers engaged throughout. Rosterfy even offers automated reminders for volunteers who may need to take the next step. 


7. Reward and recognise 

One excellent way to keep volunteers engaged and motivated is with a reward and recognition program. As they move through the onboarding process or reach volunteer milestones, you could automate rewards through a volunteer management system like Rosterfy. This could be anything from company swag, the chance to win a trip, or a personalised call out on an all-organisation chat forum. 


8. Understand the volunteer lifecycle 

As you build your volunteer base, you’ll start to notice patterns of volunteer drop-off. This could be after a certain amount of time with the organisation and during peak seasons when volunteer applications are coming in more often. Understanding the patterns and the holistic volunteer data over time can help you strategically plan your events or volunteer opportunities. For example, when volunteer drop-off is high and you should ramp up recruiting efforts to keep the work volume going. 


9. Set aside a budget

The best volunteer management practices have a budget. Without one, you may try to do too much at once and overwhelm your teams. Get a sense of what your budget is for putting together a successful onboarding process and the necessities for executing your plan. Be sure to set aside some of your budget for unexpected expenses or needs within the organisation. 

Some things you’ll need to make room for in the budget include:

  • Background checks.
  • Recruitment.
  • Staff.
  • Recognition costs.


10. Use a multichannel approach

To recruit and engage volunteers, you need to be able to reach a large audience — and a multichannel approach can get you there! There are 2.85 billion people on Facebook, and Instagram has 1.386 billion global monthly users. That’s nearly 3 billion people you can reach in just a few posts. While the audience may be overlapping, that can drive home your message even further. 

For volunteer engagement and management, you can post updates to several of these platforms:

  • Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, etc.).
  • Email.
  • Recruitment text messages.
  • Your website.
  • Community chat forums. 
  • Paid ads on social media and search engines. 


How to measure management success

Being a good volunteer manager means leading with your volunteers in mind. Check in with their needs and adjust for what works best. Measuring your success can include turnover, but could also be measured by the feedback you’re getting from your team members. Always check in and compare that with the hard data you’ve collected each season. 


Rosterfy is your all-in-one volunteer management solution

Let’s be real, recruiting takes a lot of time and effort — even if you’re a well-known organisation. You can streamline these processes with a strong understanding of where you’re starting and where you need to go. Then, begin to integrate helpful volunteer management software as soon as you’re ready to eliminate manual processes that drag your production level down. When you’re not micromanaging every Excel page and comparing the numbers manually, you can focus on improving the volunteer experience with stellar attention to detail. 

Get the volunteer management software you’ve been looking for with customizable features and personalised messaging all powered by Rosterfy. To learn more, book a demo today.

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