Whether they’re staffing fundraising events, hitting the streets to spread awareness, or helping out with day-to-day operations at your office, volunteers are essential to your nonprofit. Without their willingness to donate their time and talent to your cause, it would be nearly impossible for you to make notable progress toward your mission.
However, your nonprofit’s operations have a lot of moving parts, and it can be easy to let some of your volunteers’ needs fall through the cracks, even if you’re a volunteer coordinator whose primary objective is to optimize the volunteer experience. Your volunteers might need more support and resources to enrich their experience with your organization than they currently have access to.
The good news is that you can easily provide your volunteers with the support they need through your nonprofit’s website. By using a nonprofit content management system (CMS), you can design a website that will help you recruit new volunteers, engage your current volunteers, and ultimately get more done with their help.
According to Morweb’s article on the best nonprofit websites, the design of your site and the content you provide should work together to reach your volunteers. With this in mind, we’ve come up with four tips you can use to take action and start improving your website so it supports your volunteer program. Here’s what we’ll cover:
As you develop your website to become a better resource for your volunteers, take your volunteers’ specific needs into account. Work with your team to think through your volunteers’ experiences with your organization, or better yet, survey your volunteers to see what areas of your program are lacking in support. Use your findings to build a website that will help you manage your volunteers and maintain lasting relationships with them. Let’s go!
1. Create an intranet network and private pages.
Many nonprofits like to offer a volunteer portal with pages specifically catered to their volunteers. With the right CMS, you can easily create a password-protected intranet that can help you keep your volunteer information accessible only to volunteers whose registration you’ve approved.
You’ll also be able to keep parts of your volunteer program secure, like the following:
Volunteer directories that contain contact information
Training materials that may contain sensitive information about your operations
Registration pages for volunteer-only events
Shift schedules/sign-up pages
Taking inspiration from some best practices for building an association membership website, we recommend you add another level of security to your organization’s volunteer portal by consistently reminding your volunteers to update their passwords. Take it a step further by making sure those passwords meet specific requirements, like a certain number of special characters or a specific length. You could also require a two-factor authentication sign-in process to verify users’ identities.
Creating a private network allows you to provide an organized and centralized collection of all the online resources volunteers need to succeed in their positions. Use your CMS to build this resource and then advertise it as a perk on your volunteer program marketing materials. Prospective volunteers will appreciate that your organization offers tools to make volunteering a great experience.
2. Share volunteer stories on your blog.
Your organization’s blog is one of the greatest assets you have to get the word out about your volunteer program. Sharing volunteer stories can be a great way to show your volunteers you care about them. But volunteer stories can also get prospective volunteers to take that first step of actually registering to volunteer.
To make your blog an effective tool for marketing your volunteer program and showing appreciation, try out the following best practices for blogging:
Include striking visuals with each blog post. A great photo can encourage blog visitors to click on an article. However, nearly 37% of content creators say they struggle to create engaging visual content consistently. Make sure when you sit down to draft a blog post that you’re building your written content around the photos or graphics you want to share with your audience. Remember, readers like to see pictures of real people doing real things, so have your camera ready when working with your volunteers. You might also create infographics or charts that show the impact your volunteers are having on your cause.
Find a human angle in every story and lean into it. Tap into your blog readers’ emotions by finding the human angle in the stories you share. For example, instead of talking in general terms about how many volunteers turned out to help you with a beach clean-up, focus on one or two specific participants and their experience at the event. You might even ask a few volunteers for quotes you could use in a blog post. This is one of the paradoxes of writing a good story down— the more specific you can be, the better you’ll be able to connect with more readers.
Connect volunteer stories to your mission. To make your blog posts an effective part of your recruiting strategy, make sure you’re always connecting volunteer stories back to your larger mission and goals. Focusing on how your recent bake sale will help you send more hygiene kits to refugee camps instead of giving a play-by-play of the sale will help everyone see how they can be part of something bigger by helping your organization.
Encourage readers to share your posts. Make sure you include social media and email sharing options for each post. The individuals you write about in your posts will likely want to share their stories with their personal networks and can also encourage people they know to get involved with your organization. People are much more likely to volunteer if someone they know and trust is having a positive experience volunteering for that organization.
Leverage your blog by using these best practices to share volunteer stories. It’ll pay off in the long run as you’ll be able to advertise your volunteer program more effectively, show your donors you value them, and even record fun memories and milestones in your nonprofit’s history.
3. Optimize your donation page.
Because they dedicate so much of their time and effort to your organization at no cost, your volunteers are some of your most dedicated supporters. This means that if you have a dedicated volunteer, they’re likely interested in donating to your cause as well.
Using your CMS, prepare your donation page with your volunteers in mind. Here’s what you’ll want to offer on that page:
Reminders about your mission: The act of donating should feel just as connected to your cause as volunteering for your organization does. Remind donors (and volunteers who are prospective donors) what their contribution will be going to by including your mission statement or some variation of it near the top of your donation page.
Secure payment processing: According to iATS Payments’ article on nonprofit payment processing, online donations are increasing in popularity, so your organization should be prioritizing donor security during the donation process. Make sure you’re using a secure payment processor on the back end of your donation form that protects donor data like contact and payment information. This will make your volunteers feel like your donation form is a trustworthy tool they can use to contribute to your cause even more.
Minimalistic design: As you design your donation form, remember to keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm volunteers interested in donating with too many visuals or questions on your form. Just as you want your volunteers to see your volunteer program as a convenient opportunity that can fit into their schedules, you want your donation process to feel quick and easy as well.
Your volunteers donate their time and talent to your organization because they truly believe in your cause. Tap into their loyalty and encourage them to donate by optimizing your donation page so that it’s easy for them to use and contribute in an additional way.
4. Connect your website with your social media profiles.
Many prospective volunteers will find out about your organization through your social media content. You don’t want their engagement with your organization to start and end on Instagram or Facebook, though. Your website is the central hub for your nonprofit’s online presence, so you want to direct traffic to it. That way, visitors can access all of the great materials you’ve put together so they can start or continue volunteering with your organization.
It’s important you’re prepared to direct social media followers to your website, where they can complete actions that help push your cause along, like registering to help out with work in the community, signing up for your next fundraiser, or even donating. But how do you get them there? Here are a few things you can try to make sure there’s a healthy amount of traffic flowing between your website and your social media pages:
Provide links to your volunteer page on social media. In social media posts specifically targeting current or prospective volunteers, make sure to link to your volunteer page where they can sign up for a shift or learn more about the program. The followers interacting with those posts will be those who are the most likely to take action as a volunteer, so make it easy for them by guiding them directly to the resources they need.
Add live social feeds to your website. Establish your website as a one-stop shop for updates on everything your nonprofit is doing, including social media. With the right nonprofit CMS, you can easily embed a live social media feed into your website. This will update regularly and showcase your recent posts, helping to keep traffic moving back and forth between your social media profiles and your site.
Showcase your volunteers’ accomplishments on social media. Vocalizing your appreciation for volunteers on social media will naturally boost volunteer recruitment numbers and drive traffic to your site. After all, prospective volunteers want to know your organization will value them if they decide to work with you. Share Instagram photos of volunteers at work, shout out hardworking volunteers in tweets, or introduce them one by one in Facebook posts that they can share with their friends and family. However you do it, posting about your volunteers will benefit your organization in two ways— volunteers will love getting a pat on the back, and you’ll get to advertise your volunteer program in a fun and easy way.
Social media is a great tool to increase traffic to your nonprofit’s website. Look for ways to encourage your social media followers to visit your website and make sure to talk up your volunteer program regularly on social media. You’ll likely see a substantial increase in how many people actively participate in your volunteer program!
Because your volunteers do so much for your organization, it’s important to provide them with the tools and resources they need to have a positive experience volunteering. One of the best resources you can provide is an effectively designed website with volunteer-specific information. Use these tips and input from your volunteers to build a website they can use to make the most out of their donated time and effort.