Throughout the history of movement building, people power has been a key factor to success. Every minute that someone volunteers, organizers can increase their reach and advance their mission. However, managing a volunteer network isn’t easy — there are multiple factors of volunteer management that organizers need to consider.
In our latest webinar, “Building People Power: Recruiting and Managing Volunteers,” Impactive’s Melinda Amato, Chynna Potts, and Mica Willis discussed best practices for converting supporters into volunteers, training volunteers effectively, and motivating new and existing volunteers. Campaigns, advocacy groups, unions, and nonprofit organizations can use these insights to enhance the volunteer experience and see more impact:
- Recognize the power in volunteers’ networks. Studies show that outreach from a friend or family member makes a contact 6.5x more likely to sign a petition, and 8x more likely to opt in to an organizing event than if reached through peer-to-peer texting. There’s incredible potential in relational organizing, and organizers can tap into it by encouraging core groups of volunteers to recruit their friends. Supporters are much more likely to be inspired and get involved if they already know someone who is volunteering.
- Provide multiple avenues for involvement, including access to curated activities and incentives. For some volunteers, their journey with an organization begins with an incentive. Whether it’s a swag bag, access to special content, or free attendance to a ticketed event, there are multiple ways that organizers can motivate interested individuals to begin volunteering. It’s also important for organizers to allow flexibility in a volunteers’ schedule: some may only be able to contribute during the day, and others, at night. Or, they may not feel comfortable performing a certain action, like knocking on doors, but are willing to provide other skills, like translating documents. There are various ways organizers can ease supporters into becoming volunteers, and the first step is to consider what volunteers need or want.
- Be proactive about actions to take and stay available to volunteers. Volunteers need to have a clear understanding of how to get involved. Organizers can outline specific actions and provide thorough information about any tools or platforms being used to reduce confusion. Still, there will be moments when volunteers need guidance, so organizers should commit to at least 30 minutes of training and taking action. And don’t forget: keep an open line of communication to make sure volunteers stay up to date with the latest actions to take.
- Set a strong example of positive morale. Organizers can brainstorm about the times they had the most enjoyable time getting involved and recreate that environment with their organization. Something as simple as creating a friendly competition between volunteer teams can make volunteering more fun! Keep the energy dynamic, and create moments for volunteers to feel gratification. Other ways to increase morale include building a strong sense of community and providing food (an all-around favorite). Plus, organizers can increase motivation in volunteers by sharing their personal reasons for joining the organization.
- Most importantly, reaffirm the volunteers’ impact. It’s helpful for volunteers to see the outcome of their actions, whether it’s a piece of legislation that gets passed or a visibly clean section of a state beach. When organizers emphasize how much more the organization can achieve due to the help of volunteers, volunteers are more excited to come back. This is especially important, as volunteers can feel like they’re a part of something bigger. Another simple way to recognize volunteers is to highlight one or more super volunteers a week, which can go a long way in making volunteers feel appreciated.
Ultimately, the most important part of people power is relationship building, which requires thoughtful commitment by both volunteers and administrators. Organizers should reflect on the volunteer experience and be transparent about what they need from volunteers; in turn, volunteers benefit from the community they build and provide vital support to the organization. With these insights, we hope organizers and volunteers can experience increased fulfillment in organizing for the most impact.
Watch the full webinar here to hear more from the speakers.
To learn more about using Impactive to increase supporter action, schedule a demo here.