As we continue to switch our fundraising, events, and work to digital platforms, don’t forget to keep your volunteers involved too. Today Elizabeth Neufeld, CEO and Founder of Strat Labs, shares some ways you can still get your volunteers to help. ~Kristina
Guest Post by Elizabeth Neufeld, CEO and Founder of Strat Labs
Let’s set the scene. It’s Spring 2020 and you typically have twenty eager volunteers ready to begin planning, organizing, and executing your Annual Gala. But, your Annual Gala has been canceled. How can you continue the momentum with your annual volunteers to keep them excited and engaged? Offer virtual volunteering opportunities!
People are stuck at home right now and feeling bored, afraid, and isolated. They are not only looking for entertainment, but also a sense of community and glimmer of hope. Your organization can provide that! Here are some of our favorite ideas to engage your volunteers at this time.
Virtual Volunteering Programs:
1. Lobby for Your Cause
On a national level, nonprofit organizations are desperately in need of funding, and there are a variety of bills in the works to provide that. Encourage your volunteers to write letters to Congress about this! Make it easy by providing a template for messaging.
If there are local bills that may impact the populations you support, encourage your volunteers to reach out to local representatives as well. A couple easy ways to do this is through Facebook’s Town Hall feature or an app, such as Vote Spotter.
2. Encourage Your Volunteers to Support Other Organizations
It’s possible that your organization may not have a strong need for volunteers right now. But, are there organizations that you work closely with, or that work with a similar population? Recommend that your volunteers support them during this time. Not only will your volunteers respect this initiative, but you will build stronger partnerships with other organizations in your community.
3. Start an Online Ambassador Program
An Online Ambassador Program will help build a strong community around your brand, and your ambassadors will be more likely to actively promote your organization if they are given this special role. To start a program, you’ll need to:
- Draft a task list for ambassadors, such as:
- Share their personal story on social media
- Repost your social media posts
- Share your newsletter with their contacts
- Tag celebrities and/or news outlets in posts to gain coverage
- Write a blog post for your organization
- Provide tools on a landing page to act as a “resource hub”:
- A variety of approved images
- Messaging: your mission and other statements
- Statistics relevant to your organization and population
- Quotes from your organization’s leadership
- Upcoming dates for events, webinars, and other programs
- Communicate regularly
- Thank your ambassadors
- Highlight ambassador achievements
- Notify about new content added to your “resource hub”
4. Start a Listening Campaign
It is a crucial time to connect and engage with your organization’s supporters. People are inundated with emails, but are searching for personal touches, such as phone calls. This is the perfect time to recruit volunteers to participate in a “Listening Campaign”. To kick off your campaign, follow these steps:
- Draft a list of questions that your organization needs answered at this time.
- Split up your contact list amongst staff members, board members, and volunteers.
- Provide participants with a script to call their respective contacts. The “ask” for contacts will be to participate in an online survey.
- Send the survey to all contacts that agree to answer.
- Analyze the data. Focus on qualitative data, not quantitative.
5. Utilize Volunteer Skills to Fill in Your Organization’s Gaps
Maybe your organization has been in need of social media help, website reconstruction, or public relations assistance. Your volunteers may have these specialty skills that you desire! Identify your gaps and ask your volunteers if they are experienced in the areas you need.
6. Host Virtual Classes to Build Community or Fundraise
As we mentioned earlier, people are looking for entertainment and a sense of community at this time. What better way to meet these needs than with a virtual class? The options are endless, but some of our favorite ideas are cooking, yoga, painting, or music lessons. Ask your volunteers if they are trained in any areas and would be willing to host a class. These classes can be free and simply used to build community, or you can charge a fee to be donated back to your organization.
Has your organization implemented any unique virtual volunteer programs? Let us know in the comments!
Elizabeth Neufeld is the CEO and Founder of Strat Labs, an organizational strategy and marketing agency. As an experienced strategist, she has a demonstrated history of operations, program development, community engagement, strategic marketing, and communications. Throughout her career, Elizabeth has worked with foundations, nonprofits, corporations, and national associations. She has succeeded in crafting well-communicated visions; moving organizations through successful strategic changes; driving impact through active community engagement; and helping leaders and board members reach aggressive revenue goals. Visit www.stratlabs.us to learn more about her current endeavors.