Rebuilding and Maintaining Your Volunteer Base

With National Volunteer Week right around the corner (April 18-24), many are reflecting on the past year and the enormous impacts of the pandemic on volunteer recruitment, retention and mobilization in the sector.

The diminished capacity for in-person events means that volunteer opportunities with clearly defined roles and outcomes have decreased. An event that used to take 50 volunteers, may now only require 10 to be run digitally. 

Not all volunteers are able to comfortably make the leap into serving an organization or event virtually; however there may be opportunities to help you keep connected with current volunteers while also growing your volunteer base to fit new technological needs.

Consider the following options, which can be done digitally or by a limited number of in-person volunteers, based on their capacity:

  • Translation of Materials – With greater access to digital connections, your organization has the ability to reach new markets outside of your local community. This means the possibility of having documents, advertisements, and other marketing materials translated for distribution online. From Arabic to Saulteaux, the possibilities of tapping into your multi-lingual volunteer base are possibly endless and can be done remotely.
  • Virtual Meeting Coordination and Transcription – With a new reliance on video meetings, many events are now hosted digitally through platforms like Zoom or Skype. Volunteers are able to help schedule, coordinate, promote, and moderate online meetings. And while there are some options for those with hearing impairments to be able to take part in these events, some platforms lack this capacity. As such, a great volunteer option is to have someone transcribe the video and make the text available as a download for those who want to read along to the video event.
  • Website Review – Maintaining a website is key to ensuring clients, public and stakeholders have timely and accurate information about your organization. A volunteer can comb through your website for typos, outdated or unclear information, or broken URL links, while getting better familiarized with your non-profit (and the webmaster will likely appreciate the help).
  • Office Reorganization – With many workers now working from home, consider the possibility of engaging volunteers to help with an office or stock room clean up. It’s a good chance to reorganize a workspace, while minimizing the impact on employees; it also creates an opportunity for less technologically savvy volunteers to still be able to contribute.
  • Fundraising and Fund Development – You can also turn your volunteers towards new ways of fundraising and fund development. Whether it’s relying on their own personal networks, organizing a ‘phone bank’ time for outreach, or asking volunteers to research new grant and foundation opportunities, your organization likely has opportunity to involve your volunteer base with this task.

These are just a few options that can help you keep your volunteers engaged in new ways, while also exploring new options to tap potential that may not have been used before.

Further reading:

Examples of Virtual Volunteering Activities

Fundamentals of Virtual Volunteering

7 Tips to Help You Manage Remote Volunteers

5 Tips to Save Your Volunteer Program Amid COVID-19

Top Tips for Volunteer Recruitment During COVID-19