How to Incorporate Sustainability Into Your Volunteer Coordination

Climate change is perhaps the most pressing issue of our time, and it’s important that organizational practices – especially in nonprofits – emphasize decreasing our individual and collective footprints. Considering that disposable items are frequently used as thank-you gifts for volunteers, and that food items must be pre-packaged at many events, it’s difficult to organize events that won’t add to our ozone and our landfills – but we have to try!


Let’s say you’re the volunteer manager for a breast cancer research organization, and your biggest event of the year – a 5k – is taking place this fall. You have a few all-star volunteers who you can trust with running teams, and a few dozen volunteers signed up for the day of.


How can you make your race as green as possible while keeping the focus on your organization’s mission?


Provide incentives.

One way to encourage your participants to lower their footprint is to offer special packages or deals for people who consume less before and during the race. For example, you could offer a “Green” package that’s slightly cheaper than the other signup options: in exchange for the discount, participants have to bike or carpool to the race, bring their own water bottles & supplies for eating, or other location and theme-specific behaviors.


Only offer “green” products.

Engage your all-star volunteers to come up with creative ways to provide sustainable products at the race. You can set up water stations instead of providing bottles, offer plant-based food or meals instead of meat (avoiding meat is a great way to lower your carbon footprint), and avoid printing t-shirts on new shirts. Partnerships with local businesses also tend to have less environmental impact than buying your supplies at a big box store.


Get the whole family involved!

Folks often wait on the sidelines to cheer on the racer in their families. This is a prime time to provide educational activities and interact with them. Here is a fun list of potential activities to set up for families. This is also a great opportunity to ask your all-star volunteers for help in leading the activities and gathering people.


Those who participate in charity events are often already civic-minded and want to help out. Reminders that they’re getting fruits and vegetables as snacks for the benefit of the environment will likely increase their level of engagement and pride in what they’ve accomplished. Make environment-themed signs, give verbal encouragement, and thank them for making your event as green as possible!





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Benefit of Using CRM and Volunteer Management Software Together

Choosing CRM (customer relations management) software is a daunting task. Thanks to the dozens and dozens of options, pay structures, and companies, there’s probably something out there for you – but where do you start?


VolunteerLocal set out to figure out how to find the best one for you and how to integrate your CRM with volunteer management platforms like VolunteerLocal. You can have the best of both worlds!


Sites like Capterra give you side-by-side analyses of CRM software based on price, features, industry, and more. Some of the most popular CRM software, like Salesforce, have extensive volunteer management functionality – but they often lack customer-facing signups, instead
relying on your staff to do data entry and manage the process by themselves.


This is where volunteer management platforms come in. Though it may seem unwieldy to use both a CRM and a volunteer management platform like VolunteerLocal, using them side by side can maximize your volunteer recruitment.


The first benefit of using VolunteerLocal alongside CRM software is to keep your information separate. If something goes wrong with your CRM – be it a security breach or accidental deletion of files – it won’t affect your signup process at all. This means fewer worries for you as your event approaches.


The second benefit is that you can keep it simple. Is your company undergoing major changes? Are you revamping your volunteer recruitment system? If you stick with your volunteer management platform throughout the whole process, your volunteers are comforted that everything looks and feels the same – and their information won’t get lost in the process.


At VolunteerLocal, we would love to talk to you about CRM software for your organization and how to best integrate with VolunteerLocal.



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How to Recruit Volunteers for Corporate Sponsored Races

Road races have quickly become a multi-billion dollar industry. While many nonprofits organize smaller races to simply fundraise for their causes, some races have become so huge that they must include corporate sponsorships either as a peripheral or integral part of their budget.


A huge budget doesn’t mean volunteers aren’t necessary, though. These races still need folks to operate water stations, welcome and register participants, and perform other small tasks throughout the morning. It’s important to note that there are potential legal issues surrounding recruiting volunteers as a for-profit organization. In order to avoid misleading or coercing volunteers into doing something they should be paid for, you can do a few things to make it worth your volunteers’ time:


Offer other organizations whose missions are analogous to yours a chance to be a charity sponsor. In exchange for providing a few volunteers the day of the race, another organization can have a booth and advertise at your event. This type of sponsorship takes time to arrange, but can lead to fruitful partnerships that last years!


Offer out-of-this-world swag. With your corporate sponsorship, you might have connections to truly great deals: coupons for spa days, exercise gear, gift bags, and more. You can also set up a volunteers-only raffle – if your volunteers know that the pool is limited, they’re likely to get more excited about their chances!


Offer event tickets – not only for your volunteers, but for their loved ones, as well. Corporate-sponsored races can often be quite expensive to enter, so the ability to get in for free is a huge plus. For example, one person in a married couple who wants to run the race could take the free ticket while their spouse volunteers. This way, the spouse gets to be there for support and the couple didn’t have to pay anything to be there.


Recruiting volunteers in a for-profit race can be sticky! But remember, the sport of road racing is absolutely taking off – there are plenty of folks who are interested in simply being there for the action. Emphasize a morning of togetherness, athleticism, and the awesome swag you’re going to offer them, and you’ll be inundated with potential volunteers.


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Design Tips for Digital Volunteer Recruitment

Have you ever gotten an email asking you to donate time or money, but when you click the link, the design is so overwhelming that it turns you off immediately? Volunteers want to be associated with organizations that really have it together – if signup is a hassle, users might assume that volunteering with you will be a hassle, too. There are many resources you can use to improve your company’s UX/UI design (usability and aesthetic), and VolunteerLocal is here to offer additional creative solutions.  


Start with a moodboard. This is a good way to hone in on how you want your content to look and feel. Pinterest is the place to begin – you can grab any image that speaks to you and visualize it next to other elements. For example, if your company’s colors are red and orange and the event you are promoting is a hike, you can search for forest images and color swatches and arrange them until the moodboard speaks to you.


Streamline the onboarding process. You want your volunteer to know the date, time, and requirements before you get their commitment – it doesn’t do you any good to have contact info for people who aren’t available or qualified for a job. You also want to ensure you don’t overwhelm potential volunteers by offering or requesting all the information at once. You can provide clarity by asking one or two questions per page, by arranging information in an easily digestible manner, and more.


Ensure your content and your brand are cohesive. If your volunteer signup page includes your company’s logo, colors, and general aesthetic, potential volunteers will feel confident about the event’s sponsorship and legitimacy. Conversely, a signup page that is just black text on a white background might have your volunteers asking – is this real? Am I giving my personal information to a third party? This is where VolunteerLocal comes in handy – our professional software can be modified to fit your organization’s look and feel.


Do user testing. This is key! The larger the group you can test, the better, but even just asking your friends or family will give you insight into how your content is received. There are many ways you can test usability – from just getting a feel for how others interact with your design to producing concrete survey results, usability testing will help you get more volunteers.


Your volunteers’ altruism has brought them far enough to be interested in your work – make sure you use the vast resources available to make their signup and volunteering experiences as straightforward and pleasant as possible!





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Make Sure Your Volunteers Know Your Mission As Well As You Do

Your volunteers aren’t in it for the money, they’re volunteering because they’re enthusiastic about your mission! Consistently ensuring that your volunteers have a firm grasp on your organization’s principles and goals is good not only for PR – they’re a crucial interface between you and the public – but helps you retain your volunteers.


You don’t want to overwhelm your volunteers with information – how can you subtly remind them of your organization’s mission throughout the volunteer process? Here are some tips on how to do so during every step of the volunteer recruitment and retention process.


Signup. On the very first signup page, you can throw in a hint of what your organization does. Then, as part of the on-boarding process, you can ensure that there is personal understanding of the mission in a few ways. One way is to insert a quiz about the organization – just to check for comprehension. A more personal way is to ask your potential volunteer what the mission means to them, and how they see it playing out in their personal lives.  


Job descriptions. Each job description can contain language from the mission statement. The more you can repeat the same language, the better. This makes it more likely that they’ll be able to repeat the mission to folks they interact with.


Handouts. Don’t be afraid to hand out one-pagers before an event. The one-pagers can include logistics, maps, tips, and a blurb about how the event forwards the mission.


Thank yous. Again, your volunteers are working with you because they believe in your mission. It’s likely that making that connection – yet again – between their efforts and the goals of your organization will make them feel like they’ve contributed something valuable to their communities. There’s no such thing as overdoing this step!


Streamlining your communication strategy to focus on your mission – in varied but consistent ways – should be an organizational goal to which volunteer managers can contribute greatly.


Do you have any experience with mission-focused communications affecting volunteer satisfaction and retention? We always love to hear from the volunteer coordinators we work with. Email us your tips and tricks at





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5 Great Reasons To Use Social Media to Engage with Volunteers

With all the hype about social media and its potential, it’s easy to lose sight of why using social media is a good tactic. Sure, young people are on it all the time – but does this fact alone make it a great tool? Email remains the preferred method of communication among many adults – and snail mail with seniors – but over 30% of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 prefer social media above all other forms of contact.


Being ahead of the curve in the most quickly-growing marketing landscape is reason #1 that using social media to engage volunteers is a great idea.


Here are four more that will encourage you to diversify your social media strategy to attract and retain the best-suited volunteers for your organization.

2. Targeting
Need 4 volunteers in Bismarck, North Dakota who have a moderate interest in kickboxing, 5 years of experience working with Photoshop, and a passion for beekeeping? Fear not – Facebook will get you there. With its extremely specific ad targeting, you can select interests, hobbies, preferences, education, location and more in order to advertise to just the right people.

If you have great visuals, you can find your beekeeping dreamboat using image sharing platforms like Instagram. A compelling picture with the right hashtags will attract loads of attention. Why bombard your network with requests when you can find the exact people you need in less time? Read more about these “mini campaigns” here.

3. Accessibility
Advertising on social media can be extremely cheap, or even free (if you play your cards right). In the past, volunteer recruitment campaigns could take many months of brainstorming and huge investments in print media and on-the-ground recruitment. But now, you can test out the messaging of your campaign on a select group for as little as $5. If it doesn’t resonate with your targeted audience, just delete and try again.

4. Connect with Freelancers

Sometimes you don’t need to connect with people in your physical community to get work done. Your kickboxing Photoshop specialist might be enthusiastic about doing pro bono work for your organization even if she lives in Hong Kong. Folks who freelance are already on social media and freelancing sites all the time looking for opportunities, it’s just a matter of finding them.


5. Measure Metrics

Social media recruitment has the distinct advantage of being able to measure – up to the second and cent – how effective your engagement strategies are and how they’ve improved over time. Most platforms have analytics built in to their advertising systems, but there are third-party organizations and pieces of software that can compile reports for you if you’re not up to it yourself.

There’s no reason not to develop your organization’s social media presence. Even if your volunteer community largely consists of seniors, starting now will be a distinct advantage in your future. Take advantage of the vast social media volunteer engagement resources available to find your ideal volunteers!

Once your social media is up and running, make sure you have a great website to match by using an easy website builder!


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Mind the Gap: Managing Generational Differences in Your Volunteer Force


While this tactic might work to gather young folks to learn about your cause, it probably won’t be a selling point for older generations. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as enough pizza. As baby boomers begin to retire and have more free time for contributing to their causes, and younger generations feel more connected and civically-minded, it’s crucial to make all ages feel engaged when volunteering.

It’s true that most folks volunteer thanks to a genuine desire to help their communities. However, research suggests that motivations vary by generation.

How can a volunteer manager bridge this gap, pointing out individual successes while cultivating a community that brings everyone together?

Step one – be creative. Flyering in a coffee shop and making a Facebook event might not cut it. Talk to current volunteers about what events they are attending and ask them to help you recruit there. Reach out to new media sources and venture to new parts of town. Utilize your organization’s network – if they’re passionate about your mission, they’ll be thrilled to help!


 Step two – be deliberate. Once you’ve got a solid crew of volunteers, learn as much as you can about them. Consider personality types – who is going to be a great leader of a committee, and who has the technical skills to get work done fast? Establish a clear problem-solving protocol so that your volunteers know from the get-go that they can be honest with you and their teams.


Step three – be gracious. Consider your volunteers’ motivations when expressing your gratitude. A young volunteer might like to know how her contribution directly impacted the organization’s mission, whereas an older volunteer might like to know how his contribution made you feel. When possible, let each volunteer know that you are paying attention to them and are thankful for their specific abilities.


The benefits of age diversity in your volunteer group are obvious: more perspectives, more community engagement, and a better network. But it goes beyond that. One study on age diversity suggests that having people of different generations making complex decisions together leads to higher work performance and self-reported health.  Thinking beyond the free pizza to engage volunteers of all ages is a great step for your organization and for your community.

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