Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Preparing Your Nonprofit Organization to Meet the Need: Volunteer Application

As a followup to my earlier post on preparing your organization to meet the growing demand by strategic volunteers, this entry focuses on the volunteer "guide" and application. Many of you have asked for real-life examples of these tools in action, so here you go!

Strategic Volunteering attracts top-level corporate volunteers to assist with WIT programming.

At Women in Technology (WIT), they employ strategic volunteering and have incorporated it into all areas of their volunteer program: promotion of opportunities, application process, selection, training, and succession planning. Here are links to the WIT materials so that you may create something similar for your organization...

WIT Volunteer Opportunities Guide

WIT Strategic Volunteering Application

We worked with a website developer to feed the results of the volunteer application directly into our database, but you could have yours go to a spreadsheet, Google docs, etc. It is important not to let the technology issues stand in your way of implementing a robust strategic volunteering program and on-boarding/application process. When WIT started, we used a blank PDF volunteer application and asked applicants to email or fax back their completed form. It still does the trick!

Whatever format you choose for the volunteer application, be sure to include the following elements:
  • Employer: helps your development folks create a pipeline of potential support (support dollars often flow as a result of employee involvement in a nonprofit)
  • Availability: crucial to determining the initial commitment of the applicant and their match to potential roles
  • Interests (this section was quite an evolution for me over the years): having applicants name specific potential roles and rank them is an immense help in the matching process; it also ensures that thought has gone into their application
  • Areas of Strength and Development: this is probably the most foreign concept for volunteer managers; specific to strategic volunteering, we want to know what skills a volunteer brings to the table and those areas where we provide an opportunity for them to use this experience as a professional/personal development tool (that's the whole point, right?!)

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