Volunteers are becoming increasingly instrumental in helping non-profit organizations achieve their goals and overarching mission. In fact, over 40% of public charities rely partly or entirely on volunteers.
Consequently, more and more non-profit organizations are looking for ways to enhance the volunteer experience and create additional value to recruit new volunteers and boost volunteer retention.
This article will take a closer look at some of the benefits an online community can bring your volunteers and your non-profit organization!
Creating a More Personalized Volunteer Experience
An online community offers an exclusive and branded private space for your volunteers to communicate with each other and your non-profit organization.
You can streamline all communication with your volunteers, sharing news, updates, and documents directly in the community.
You can also segment volunteers into different groups and tailor the content you offer based on criteria indicated in their profile, such as location, team, and affinities.
By sharing the content that matters most to each volunteer, you can offer a more personalized and meaningful experience, stay top-of-mind, and drive volunteer engagement.
Strengthening Relationships and Loyalty
Online communities empower volunteers to directly reach out to your organization with questions, ideas, feedback, and more.
By encouraging authentic two-way communication between your organization and volunteers, you demonstrate that you listen and care about what they have to say on a human level. Volunteers will understand that they have an essential role within your organization, strengthening their relationship with you and, ultimately, their loyalty to your organization.
You can respond directly to volunteers' wants, needs, and ideas while gleaning their unique perspectives to improve your organization and the volunteer experience. You can also encourage volunteers to share their experiences and insights with others in the community (more on this below).
Encouraging Connections, Innovation, and Growth
Online communities unite people around a shared purpose in a safe and caring environment and often make us feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves. They provide volunteers unique opportunities to learn from, inspire, and encourage each other.
Volunteers can connect on both a local and global level to share best practices and help each other excel in their volunteer roles.
Say one of your teams is running outstanding fundraising events; you could encourage them to share their tips for success to help and inspire other teams in the community.
Creating Better Onboarding Experiences
Onboarding volunteers is essential to ensure that they fully understand your organization's mission, work, and expectations.
An online community can help you get newcomers up to speed on your organization, facilitate their integration, and strengthen your relationship with them.
You can make all your onboarding resources accessible and searchable in your community's media center, as well as organize onboarding and training sessions, live Q&As, and more directly within the online community.
You can also create a dedicated online space within your community for new volunteers to ask questions and connect with other newcomers. You could even consider implementing a buddy system in your online community pairing new volunteers with more seasoned volunteers who can guide them and answer questions.
By giving your new volunteers the best onboarding experience, you ensure that they gain the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in their new roles and maximize the likelihood that they will stick around for the long haul!
Better Training Equals Better Volunteers
Some of your volunteers may want to develop specific new skills to grow personally or take on more responsibility. You may also have events and projects that require specialized volunteers.
You can use your online community to train volunteers by running training webinars directly within the community. You can store all training materials in the online community's media center, including training recordings and guides.
You could also empower your most engaged volunteers to lead training sessions for the community. By allowing them to shape the direction of your programs, they become a more invested part of your organization.
Showing Appreciation for Your Volunteers
Recognizing your volunteers for their time, effort, and impact is critical to better volunteer engagement and retention. Volunteers are more likely to become lifelong supporters of your cause when they feel appreciated.
An online community can be used to spotlight different volunteers or teams to thank them for their contribution to your non-profit and celebrate the impact of their excellent work.
You can create a volunteer of the month (or year) award, encourage volunteers to share their different volunteer stories in the community to inspire others, or organize an appreciation event to thank your volunteer community.
Enhancing Volunteer Recruitment and Participation
An online community can be used to help recruit more volunteers. By enabling non-members to view past events and activities displayed in your online community, you can give them a taste of what life is like as a volunteer in your organization and encourage them to sign up!
An online community can help you manage your volunteer data and identify your most engaged volunteers. You can offer your super volunteers rewards for their loyalty by giving them special access in the community or more responsibilities such as inviting them to serve as volunteer ambassadors to help recruit other volunteers. Equally, you can also identify your least active volunteers and set up a strategy to re-engage them.
Build Your Online Volunteer Community Now
Virtual communities have blossomed in recent years. An increasing number of organizations are creating them to support their business goals.
The non-profit sector should also capitalize on this movement and harness online communities for volunteers to increase satisfaction, boost awareness of the organization and volunteer programs, facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration, and more.
Read this article to discover more on how to create an online community for your non-profit.
Hivebrite is a comprehensive and flexible community engagement platform. It empowers organizations of all sizes and sectors to launch, manage, and grow fully branded private communities. Schedule a demo today!