Volunteer Management Best Practices: Tips for Your Nonprofit

Dec 15, 2022

Your nonprofit organization may see tens, hundreds or thousands of volunteers come through your doors. Depending on the number of paid staff members you have, managing volunteers can become tricky. After all, you’re juggling different schedules, personalities and needs, all while trying to increase volunteer turnout at your organized events. Points of Light is here to help. That’s why we’ve put together these volunteer management best practices to equip your nonprofit with tips and tools for managing volunteers efficiently and effectively.  

Lead Volunteers Through Challenges 

Whether you’re addressing volunteers one-on-one or in groups, as a leader you’ll need to know how to well…lead, whether you’re navigating different personalities or situations. In times of crisis or disaster response, this skill is particularly crucial because your volunteers are champions of your mission and want to know how to support your efforts. 

Empower Your Volunteers 

Empower those volunteers who have leadership potential. Many of these individuals may be looking for ways to spread their wings and use their skills. Recognizing the qualities of “social intrapreneurs” can help you identify which volunteers you’d like to spend a little more time mentoring and offering new opportunities to grow at your organization. 

Leverage Social Networking 

Rallying volunteers for your planned events and encouraging donors to use their purchase power for good takes a lot of effort. In these times, when social media reigns supreme, nonprofit marketing doesn’t have to rely on internal staff alone. Call on your supporters and volunteers to spread your message, like promoting your annual toy drive or Family Volunteer Day. 

Look to Skills-based Volunteers 

For clear, consistent marketing, you’ll need to take the time to establish your mission, find your voice and hone all of your external communication into a cohesive and unified effort. If you don’t yet have a marketing liaison or team to strategize around your content, consider establishing positions for this effort alone. And if you don’t have the capacity or budget, consider engaging a skills-based volunteer to take on this responsibility. 

Recognize Your Volunteers 

Feeling appreciated is integral to volunteer engagement, so make a plan for how to show your volunteers some love. Nominate them for a Daily Point of Light Award, which honors volunteers who are driving real and sustained change in their communities, or become a certified organization that offers the President’s Volunteer Service Award to help recognize your most exceptional volunteers based on annual hours served. 

Build Trust Among Volunteers, Communities and Donors 

Finally, your organization’s efforts amount to little if you don’t receive buy-in from all parties involved. Whether you’re working with families who want to volunteer together, communities that rely on your organization’s people power or donors who help keep your lights on, you’ll need to build trust among your stakeholders. 

Two key activities can help with this effort: listening and learning from your stakeholders and communicating openly with them. First, you’ll need to understand the interests, challenges and values of each group, then address them with authenticity and transparency. Ensure that you have ongoing dialogue with all parties involved in your organization. Seek to understand where they’re coming from, and consider how you can bridge any gaps in trust through communication about your efforts. 

Points of Light

We are champions of civic engagement with a mission to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world.