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Volunteer orientation: A guide to onboarding your volunteers - Rosterfy

Download our free Volunteer Orientation checklist to ensure that you and your volunteers get the most out of your volunteer management program!

Starting any new role can be daunting so it’s important to orient your volunteers to ensure that they feel welcome and a part of your team! Whether you’re a nonprofit, charity, event or church, making sure you put in place a process for volunteer orientation needs to be a part of your volunteer management program to ensure that both you and your volunteers get the most out of the experience.

Treat your volunteers like any new employee. You have invested time and energy into recruiting the right candidate for the role so don’t let this go to waste. Things to consider when orienting your volunteers:

  • A special welcome from the team. This can be done in person but it’s also a nice touch if you can share a pre-recorded message from your CEO just to make them feel extra special. 
  • Familiarise volunteers with their working environment including tours of the office and facilitate introductions to team members 
  • Ensure that your volunteers have a clear understanding of your nonprofit, event or organization’s mission and the goal in which they are trying to achieve
  • Be clear in your expectations of the role including roles and responsibilities of volunteers
Benefits of volunteer orientation

There are so many benefits to orienting your volunteers. We’ve listed our top reasons to invest in onboarding your volunteers below. 

  • Confidence. A volunteer armed with knowledge will perform much better than one who doesn’t feel confident in what they’re doing. 
  • Expectations are set. By orienting your new volunteers you set clear expectations from the outset as to what the roles and responsibilities of the role as well as key deliverables. This helps to mitigate risk of volunteers leaving half way through their role as they have a clear understanding of what to expect from the beginning. 
  • Bring along a friend. A volunteer who is treated well and has a positive experience with your nonprofit, event or organization will sing your praises to their friends, family and colleagues and will become your strongest recruitment tool when you’re looking for additional volunteers. 
Types of volunteer orientation

Depending on the role available there are different ways in which you can orient your volunteers, including:

One on one orientation: For more complicated roles, you may wish to conduct your orientations one on one so that you can really get to know your volunteer and can go into detail about their specific role. For example, if you are looking for a volunteer to fulfil a fundraising role within your team for a certain period of time, it would be good to bring them into your office and acquaint them with their work environment, team and responsibilities. 

Group orientation: If you require multiple volunteers for the same role, it might be more suitable to do a group orientation allowing you to still conduct a thorough orientation, just with multiple volunteers at once. 

Event orientation: Some volunteer orientations may best be conducted on site at an event. This can be done either one on one or in a group setting. If you are planning on conducting a group orientation, make sure you factor time for this - this might mean that all volunteers need to arrive 30 minutes before their shift so that they can be oriented. 

Tools to orient you volunteers

Engaging your volunteers from the moment that they interact with your nonprofit, event or organization is extremely important. Through the use of an online volunteer management system, like Rosterfy, administrators will have the ability to efficiently orient their volunteers through a series of automated processes. This can include:

  • A thank you message sent via email once a volunteer registers
  • Information about your non profit, event or organization and how volunteering will help you to achieve your goal/ mission
  • Overview of the screening process including a timeline for when the successful applicant will be notified
  • The successful volunteer candidate should receive information about orientation and how this will be conducted
  • Remember to follow up with your volunteers after their orientation is complete. A good way to do this is through a survey so that you can better understand what you are doing well and areas that can be improved. This will ensure that over time, you perfect the volunteer orientation experience!

Download our free Volunteer Orientation checklist to ensure that you and your volunteers get the most out of your volunteer management program!