Volunteer onboarding is the process of transforming prospective and new volunteers into regular volunteers. Each organization's onboarding procedures may look different in some ways, but there are a few key elements that are consistent among nonprofits with successful volunteer onboarding. Read on to learn four steps your nonprofit can take to improve its volunteer onboarding process.
1. Create a Seamless Sign-Up Procedure
The sign-up process is often the very first experience new volunteers will have with your nonprofit. What do you want it to say about your organization? A simple, clear-cut sign-up process tells prospective volunteers that your nonprofit is well organized, coordinated, and effective. A sloppy, inconsistent, or frustrating sign-up process can send the opposite message, and it can be enough to turn any excited volunteer away
Volunteers want to donate their time and effort. However, major bumps in the road can be discouraging or prompt them to find volunteer opportunities with an organization that appears more well put together.
Consider investing in a volunteer management software that allows you to build a logic-based sign-up form that will enable you to collect all the information you need to place volunteers in the right roles. Your online sign-up form should clean, simple, and mobile-friendly to ensure that all your potential volunteer receive the best first impression possible.
2. Provide Thorough, Standardized Training
Training is an often overlooked aspect of volunteer onboarding, as many nonprofit leaders think new volunteers can learn everything they need to know by shadowing another volunteer, or by just jumping in and having someone explain procedures on the go. This type of training, or lack thereof, is incredibly off-putting, and it makes new volunteers feel that they are in the way or unwelcome. It can also be an overwhelming and anxiety-provoking experience, leading them to find somewhere else to donate their time.
Training is expensive for nonprofits, and constantly having to train new volunteers due to a high turnover rate can put a major dent in the yearly budget. Fortunately, establishing a standardized training routine helps all new volunteers get on the same page, while also empowering them to feel confident and ready for their first few volunteering shifts. Creating a more formal training process can give new volunteers a great experience, while reducing the costly turnover that is so common in nonprofits.
3. Cultivate Meaningful Connections
Volunteers that feel connected to other volunteers within the organization, and the nonprofit at large, are much more likely to volunteer regularly and even donate money on top of their time. Sadly, it's all too easy for new volunteers to feel disconnected from staff and other volunteers, especially if they aren't given a proper training period. Converting new volunteers into regular ones often comes down to how connected and valued they feel at the nonprofit.
One way to cultivate meaningful connections is by inviting new volunteers to social events with regulars, so they can meet with those who have been around for a while. Another helpful way to forge connections is by pairing new volunteers with a more experienced volunteer as a mentor, whom they can shadow and ask questions during their training period and beyond.
4. Utilize Powerful Volunteer Management Software
Many of the problems that occur in the volunteer onboarding process take place due to a lack of organization or communication. Nonprofits can be busy and chaotic places, but volunteer management software can eliminate many of the common problems that arise with scheduling and communication among new volunteers.
InitLive's Volunteer Management Solution can take care of many of the headaches that disturb the volunteer onboarding process, as well as day-to-day operations. This software allows you to create custom applications for new volunteers that are easy and simple to fill out. You can then quickly screen prospective volunteers, and pair them with tasks that are best suited for their interests and skills. This increases the likelihood that they will stick around for the long haul.
This software also allows volunteers to set their own shifts, creating an invaluable a feeling of autonomy among new and existing volunteers. These are just a few of the dozens features of this software that can help to reduce no-shows by more than 20%! If you are interested in learning more about how InitLive can improve your organization's volunteer onboarding process, please check out our video demonstration and contact us today.