There’s an abundance of buzzwords in our industry, and brand ambassador is right up there on the list. But don’t look past this one! Spend some time and resources on the concept of brand ambassadors, and you’ll maximize your volunteers to the great benefit of your organization.
Word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective ways of spreading your message and increasing awareness of your organization, and yet there’s not a lot we can do to control what people talk about. That’s where brand ambassadors come in. The idea is that people get fired up and passionate about your organization—what you’re doing and how you’re doing it—and they can’t help but talk about it and share the great work with others.
Like so much in the world of managing volunteers, it takes intentionality. But here are a few steps you can take to grow your volunteers into brand ambassadors.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.
When you’re asking volunteers to buy into your vision and mission and share it, you’ve got to make sure they know it. Even when it feels like a broken record, keep repeating your central language. Include it in your email communication. Infuse it throughout your conversational language. Ensure every training or meeting includes a focus on your mission statement or on a specific organizational value. The more your volunteers hear it and see it, the more they will use the same phrases when talking you up to their friends!
Increase your Access
While being intentional with your language is important and necessary, seeing really is believing when it comes to converting your volunteers into brand ambassadors. Do your volunteers have access to seeing your organization in action?
Brainstorm with your team to develop ways volunteers can see more of you. Perhaps this looks like having an open door policy or office hours when volunteers can stop by. Or maybe it looks like inviting an individual or family your organization has served to a volunteer appreciation night. If privacy is an issue for the population you serve, think of ways you can create a simulation, so your volunteers can get a grasp of how things work firsthand.
These experiences give depth and meaning to the knowledge they’ve gained from working with you. As they see you demonstrate your effectiveness, they’ll share what they’ve seen!
As you train and invest in your potential brand ambassadors, be intentional about giving them space to grow. As you look at your organizational structure, do you have high-level volunteer roles available and waiting for your brand ambassadors? Think through social media options, guest experience positions, etc. and identify a track for your brand ambassadors to grow. Planning specific roles that promote ownership and responsibility is key to helping your people see they are a part of the team.
As your volunteers continue to buy into your organization and gain knowledge and skill, you have already provided space for them to utilize their passion and to help your organization be more effective.
As volunteer coordinators, we understand how much preparation goes in before volunteers arrive. Creating brand ambassadors is no different! A little intentional planning makes for a smooth path to equipping your volunteers!