Is your association doing all it can to drive a great volunteer program?

Self-assessment is key to volunteer program success. Read on for questions to ask yourself.

Tirrah Switzer, Product Marketing, Membership, Community Brands By Tirrah Switzer, Product Marketing Manager, Community Brands

Whether your association’s volunteer program is brand new, or your existing volunteer program needs a boost, self-evaluation is key to success. Of course, gathering feedback through a volunteer survey will give you insights into what your volunteers want. But it’s also important to take time to ask yourself questions and reflect on your volunteer program.

Here are five areas to consider in a self-evaluation of your association’s volunteer program:

1. Volunteer skill-sets
Your volunteers likely have skill-sets that you aren’t fully utilizing. Take a moment to reflect on these two aspects of your volunteer program:

  • Are our volunteer opportunity descriptions clear? They should identify the skills and attributes needed to help attract the right people for each position.
  • Does our volunteer program have multiple well-defined levels of engagement? Volunteers should be able to choose not only the specific type of opportunity that matches their skill-sets, but also the time commitment required. Giving them multiple options to choose from helps ensure they can choose the opportunities that align with their time and expertise.

2. Communications for volunteer recruitment
Recruitment communications should address your prospective members’ needs. They should target the right people with the right message and opportunities at the right time. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are we targeting the right people for the right opportunities? Think about which members likely have the time, skills, and traits required for each position.
  • Are our messages compelling? Do they convey what volunteering will do for the volunteer, such as teaching them a skill, having fun, and meeting people? Are your text and graphical elements clear, simple, and attractive?
  • Are we using the right communications channels? Are you optimizing how and when you use websites, blog articles, social media, targeted email campaigns, information sessions, video, and personal asks to get the right message to the right people?

TECH TIP: With YourMembership association management software, you can recruit volunteers via your website, emails, and online community, and track who has volunteered for what opportunities through easy-to-use reports.

3. Volunteer orientation and training
In a successful volunteer program, volunteers have the information they need to perform their duties well, feel confident while performing their tasks, and have a positive overall experience. Here are some things to ask yourself:

  • Do we provide appropriate volunteer on-boarding? The more they understand about how your organization and volunteer program work, the more volunteers will be able to contribute. New volunteers must understand how your association is organized. They also need to understand any committee roles and expectations.
  • Do we provide the right volunteer training? Beyond giving them the basics about how everything works, remember that your volunteers may be in roles that have nothing to do with their day-to-day work. They may need (and appreciate!) training on items such as public speaking, technical writing, social media, or office technology. If they are in leadership roles at your organization, they might also require leadership training.

TECH TIP: With YourMembership association management software, you can make first-time volunteers feel more welcome by automatically pairing them with a volunteer member ambassador through your online community.

4. Volunteer engagement and support
Engaging with and supporting volunteers is critically important. You don’t want them to feel lost or frustrated and then resign from their volunteer position. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are we meeting with volunteers regularly? Proactively keeping the lines of communication open with volunteers gives you the chance to ask them about any concerns they may have. It also helps ensure they feel more engaged with the organization.
  • Are we providing the right amount of support? Beyond listening to their needs and concerns, be sure to provide volunteers with guidance and offer them the tools they need to meet the requirements of their volunteer position.

5. Gratitude
Volunteering can seem like a thankless job if you don’t say “thank you”. It only takes a few extra minutes and helps to provide them with a great experience. Consider these questions in your self-assessment:

  • Are we doing all we can to say “thank you”? Volunteers can be thanked multiple ways. You can thank them privately through a handwritten note or phone call. Or maybe you would like to publicly thank your volunteers through a headline in the quarterly newsletter or on social media, for example. These praises not only recognize the volunteer, but also can encourage others to join in. ​
  • Are we thanking all volunteers? All volunteers should be acknowledged: from members of committees and project teams to task forces and working groups to advisory boards, judges, reviewers, and organizers.

TECH TIP: Using YourMembership membership management software, you can give a shout out of thanks to individuals or groups through your online community.

Get more members volunteering today

Evaluating your association’s volunteer program can go a long way toward recruiting and retaining volunteers. Learn more about how to build a strong volunteer program by watching the webinar on-demand: Best practices for developing high-performing volunteer engagements.