15 Aug 5 Reasons Volunteers Are Worth Your Time
It’s safe to say most nonprofit leaders want to leave their community in better shape than they found it. Selfless staff members may go out of their way to attend or host public forums to get community input on an issue, participate in trainings to better steward the organization’s resources, or spend hours planning galas and other special events to raise money for the cause. Even with such a dedicated staff, however, the impact you and your team are able to have on the community will be limited. Volunteers are able to enhance your work and extend the capacity of your organization in a variety of ways:
-Fundraising: Volunteers likely have social networks distinctly different from your own. If they are happy with their experiences, they are likely to talk to friends and family members about the work done by your organization and encourage them to contribute financially.
-Volunteering: Studies show that most new volunteers do so because they were invited by one of their friends. Satisfied volunteers are likely to bring unengaged friends into the fold and help them plug into your organization as well.
-Program Delivery: If done correctly, volunteers will not replace your staff’s duties but will complement them in a way that allows the collective team to achieve greater community restoration.
-Community Input: Volunteers bring a greater number of perspectives to the table and help nonprofit leaders get a better pulse of the attitudes of those on the ground as well as the perceived success of program initiatives. Volunteers may also bring fresh ideas and ways in which the nonprofit can innovate to deliver better results.
-Enhanced Talent: Odds are there are some skills or talents lacking on your team. This is inevitable – even the greatest nonprofit A-Team cannot expect to be great at everything. While many erroneously believe that volunteers are only capable of stacking boxes, mowing yards, or filing paperwork, thousands of educated individuals (e.g., lawyers, doctors, and others) are willing to give their time to help vulnerable populations.
Don’t be misled – building a high-quality volunteer program is a lot of work. In their bestselling book Volunteer Management, authors McCurley and Lynch write, “It often involves a change in the way the agency looks at itself as well as how it looks at volunteers. It requires a new vision of how the agency plans and operates.” If managed properly, however, volunteers are likely to produce several times more value in services and contributions than the organization invests in recruitment, retention, and evaluation.
Before the first recruitment event or speaking engagement, your organization needs to make sure that its purpose is clear and understandable. Learn more about crafting and articulating Mission and Vision Statements with Restore Strategies’ resources here.