Sunday, May 22, 2011

Preparing Nonprofit Organizations to Meet the Needs of Strategic Volunteers

Just a few moments ago, I completed the PowerPoint slides for my workshop presentation at the National Conference on Volunteering & Service (NCVS) in New Orleans on June 7th. While I typically concentrate on helping professionals utilize the strategic volunteering concept to advance their career goals, this workshop gives me the opportunity to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to meet the need of those interested in applying this concept.

Why should strategic volunteering matter to nonprofit organizations?
This program helps organizations remain relevant and competitive in the volunteer community. You can provide a significant ROI for volunteer time and talent and differentiate your organization amongst a vast pool of options. Utilizing this program within my own nonprofit, I find that it helps increase our recruiting and retention of volunteers. We strive to provide meaningful volunteer placements and clearly link those to their professional goals.

Your organization is also provided an opportunity to enhance your corporate relationships. One of the golden rules that we learn in the nonprofit world is that engagement leads to financial support. Strategic volunteering provides a unique way to both engage and support corporate volunteers.

Getting Started
If you don't have one already, your organization should create a volunteer application. Having an application process helps with the placement process and "weeds out" those with only a mild interest in participating. My theory is that if a potential volunteer will take the time to complete and return an application - that volunteer is MUCH more likely to have an effective level of engagement when placed in a role.

Of course, volunteers can't make informed decisions if they don't know what volunteer opportunities are offered by your organization, so be sure to make that information readily available. Consider including your placement process, volunteer program philosophy, important deadlines, job descriptions, corresponding time commitments, and paths to leadership.

In my workshop, I'll go into more depth about the process of developing the tools to succeed - including the development of the "skills matrix", a useful tool for matching professional skill-sets with nonprofit volunteer needs.