Although making money isn't the primary goal of nonprofits, managing funds is a critical practice in ensuring that an organization can continue doing as much good as possible for all entities involved. Follow these five best practices to build an efficient volunteer program budget that will benefit your organization, and those it serves, for years to come.
1. Take Inventory of Current Expenses
An important first step in building a volunteer program budget is to take some time to inventory your organization's expenses and how its assets are currently allocated. Start by taking a detailed look at direct and indirect costs within the nonprofit, meaning costs that are straightforward in helping the cause, like veterinary care would be in an animal shelter, and those that are less obvious, like office supplies or marketing. From here, create a spreadsheet of these expenses, and determine where your current expenses stand.
2. Acknowledge Your Volunteers Whenever Possible
A seemingly easy way to cut costs would be to reduce or eliminate volunteer appreciation events and giveaways, but allocating some funds for volunteer acknowledgement is an effective way to diminish volunteer turnover rates. Recruiting and training new volunteers can be an expensive endeavor, so a small investment in engagement and retention for current volunteers can save a significant amount in new volunteer orientation costs.
3. Research Tools That Could Increase Efficiency
Creating a budget is normally a way to find costs that can be cut out, but it can also be a way to determine available funds that can be used to purchase tools that can increase efficiency in the long run. This could mean investing in more education for staff and volunteers to boost performance, or it could be new software that makes everyone's lives much easier. Identifying where inefficiency lies, and finding proper tools that can help correct them may come with an initial cost, but they may also save money in the long run by enhancing productivity company wide.
4. Collect and Report Impact Data
Recording data from expenses and impact, like volunteer retention rates, survey results, total number of volunteer hours, can be a powerful mechanism for sharing a nonprofit's accomplishments for the year. It's also an important way to determine what programs or aspects of a nonprofit are especially impactful per dollar invested, and those that have less significance. This can help an organization realign money in the future to ensure funds are headed to the most consequential areas of an organization.
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5. Utilize Volunteer Management Software
Volunteer management software from InitLive makes volunteer operations and data tracking simple and easy. InitLive's Volunteer Management program helps nonprofits to create detailed schedules and profiles of volunteers, increase volunteer engagement and retention, and collect performance and productivity data. Their Event Staff Management program helps nonprofits plan and execute events with straightforward tools that aid in effective communication, clear scheduling, and efficient real-time notifications for smooth sailing throughout the entire event. Nothing hampers a volunteering experience or nonprofit event like a little disorganization and chaos, but InitLive is here to help.
Creating a volunteering budget can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be as complicated as it may appear initially. Follow these best practices to create an efficient, effective budget that will help your organization go forward with its missions and values.