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Volunteers are the beating heart of any charity. They play a key role not just in helping to raise funds, but also as ambassadors for your cause. They help to raise your profile, involve local networks, and even generate news and interesting content that can create further conversations to drive your other channels.
In short, a strong network of volunteers can make your charity come alive. But most charities work with volunteers on an Ad hoc basis. They miss out on the value volunteers can add when properly engaged. You don’t want that to be your charity.
Here are five vital steps you can take to ensure you’re making the best use of your volunteer network:
1. Don’t start by putting out a call for volunteers! Most of us like to help out – it’s in our nature – but there’s nothing more frustrating than responding to a charity that is looking for volunteers, only to find out the charity isn’t quite ready to provide the support and direction needed. Let’s work on your infrastructure first.
2. Be prepared to persevere. Remember that it takes time to develop a robust volunteer network – and needs to be treated as a work in progress, not a short-term project. Expect to take a year to establish the basics.
3. Create the content. You need interesting and exciting content on your website that encourages people to get in touch. Here are some key things to have:
- The rules and governance of volunteering with your organisation.
- Some convincing reasons why people should volunteer with you.
- How-to guides and tips on simple activities and fundraisers that volunteers can run themselves.
In addition to these, you’ll want four to five key charity events on your own schedule that volunteers can get involved with. This can include fundraising dinners, Ramadan-related activities or sponsored outdoor challenges that run throughout the year.
This way, you equip volunteers with the ability to run their own events without impacting your resources too much.
4. Establish a communications plan. You’ll want to provide regular updates and information to your volunteers (point 3 will help you do this.) And you’ll also want to acknowledge the work that your volunteers do publicly. They deserve the appreciation.
Share their achievements and good news stories across your social media networks. Share them over email newsletters and even in your annual reviews and direct mailings. This will boost your credibility as a charity that receives widespread support and acknowledges its supporters. It will also inspire others to do more for your cause.
5. Designate a volunteer coordinator. You’ll want to make sure that a member of your team is responsible for responding to emails and calls from volunteers. As you grow, you’ll identify hotspots – where there is a density of donors – and you’ll want to work on training your volunteer coordinators to reach out to local networks and support local people.
Eventually, you’ll want to reach a point where you can hold trainings and events for volunteers where they can meet you and hear about your work; but also, where they can meet other volunteers and share stories and achievements.
To conclude, your volunteer networks won’t drive your growth. Relying on volunteers too much – just like with events – can become unsustainable and resource-heavy. For growth and income, digital marketing should is always the driver. But your volunteer programme will help to bolster all your digital efforts.
We’re happy to help review your current digital strategy and provide suggestions and input on how to improve this. Just reach out.
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